Thread: Newbie buying a mill
As it says, I'm a newbie thinking about buying a mill to shape putter heads (you know, golf club putters). I've been refurbishing golf clubs and putters for a few years using allsorts of tools (drill press, dremel, grinders, buffing wheels, etc) and would now like to start making some from scratch.
I'd be using 100mm sections of 30mm square bar in 304 stainless and 1017 mild steel and would like some advice on the type of machine that would
a) cope with the size and type of steel I'd be using
b) would be able to be CNC retrofitted at a later date
c) could take an 8" rotary table
Must be single phase and I have a budget of roundabout £1000 for the mill - don't know if that will be enough??
It's for purely personal hobby use, I've no commercial aspirations.
I agree wholeheartedly with Irving.
My Dore Westbury is reasonably heavy and rigid for a small benchtop milling machine, certainly it's a lot stiffer than most of the Chinese machines sold by Axminster, Machine Mart etc. It really struggles when milling stainless, even with tungsten carbide cutters and copious coolant it will only take very small cuts. The main problem with taking small cuts is that stainless then gets very prone to work hardening and becomes near-impossible to cut.
All told I really think you need something along the lines of a big knee type milling machine like a Bridgeport, as Irving suggests, to do any serious work with stainless.
Ok, so 304 or 303 stainless may have to wait until I can afford to upgrade. Let's stick with 1017/1018 mild steel and possibly aluminium bronze/silicone bronze and/or possibly copper - unless those are unsuitable as well.
I'd love to start a hunt for a Bridgeport, but I don't have a suitable place to put it (would probably drop straight through the floor of my shed) and I don't want to go down the route of installing three phase power.
So I've been looking at Warco GH and Chester 626..... still needing some input or recommendations.
If buying new or nearly new some would argue to avoid the round column mills and go for the rectangular column as this gives better registration if you need to move the head up and down and is arguably easier to CNC. The Chester 626 is outside your budget new (about £1300) but you might get one nearly new inside that, but at 410kg its closer to the Bridgeport in weight (1100kg). To be honest by the time you've got a floor that can take 410kg its going to take the ton no problem and with the Bridgeport even secondhand you'll get a lot more mill for your money.
Three phase power isn't needed, you can either get a single to 3phase inverter (as I have on my lathe, which has the advantage of giving continuous speed control) or convert to a single phase motor. Personally I'd go the former route.. I plan to install 3-phase motor on the mill wired to the same inverter (mine has switchable settings for 2 motors).
Someone at work got his lathe at a Warco open day, where they sell ex-demo machines. That might be worth looking into.
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