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Old July 23, 2013, 12:57 PM   #1
Dixie Gunsmithing
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Mini-Mill for shop

Has anyone tried out the mini-mill below yet, or know anyone who has? I am thinking seriously about buying one to make small gun parts on, but I am wondering what others have found with it so far.

It looks like it could handle almost anything, with lighter cuts, even fluting pistol barrels.


Mini-Mill by matneyw, on Flickr
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Old July 24, 2013, 10:02 AM   #2
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Who is marketing it?
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Old July 24, 2013, 11:58 AM   #3
Dixie Gunsmithing
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Grizzly. Horizontal/Vertical mill. Reminds me of the small horizontal mill that was in the old Browning shop photos.

http://www.grizzly.com/products/Mini...cal-Mill/G0727
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Old July 24, 2013, 02:33 PM   #4
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Not bad for a grand. At this point in life I don't need to start up again. When I was doing a lot of work yet, I always had my eye out for a small table shaper. Never came across one. Boy are they the cats #$% for gun work.
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Old July 24, 2013, 06:56 PM   #5
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Gunplummer,

I highly doubt some of the younger ones know what a shaper is! We're getting too old.

I used to help out at a friend of mines machine shop, when he would get backed up, and he had a Cincinnati floor shaper there, which I ran a good number of times. I made a set of lathe chuck jaws on it once. Had a few old Bullard VTL's there too, that was converted from steam belt to electric.

Anyhow, for the size of this little machine, I thought it might be ideal for gun parts, since its a combination mill.
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Old July 24, 2013, 10:04 PM   #6
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Yeah, 110 volts and R-8 collets. It would be good to have in the corner for small stuff so you would not have to tie up your main miller.
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Old July 25, 2013, 10:19 PM   #7
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I am not sure about this specific mill, but most of what Grizzly, harbor freight, and some others market comes from the same source in Asia. I just had a run in with HF CS on a simple item I needed a part for. I ended up having it fabricated locally rather than deal with them.

Quote:
It would be good to have in the corner for small stuff so you would not have to tie up your main miller.
I asked my instructor about these a few weeks ago. He basically said he wouldn't touch one. The simple reason being that when you are used to taking off .050 on each cut, if you have to drop down to .020 or .010 it will drive you crazy. I have only spent a dozen or so hours on the lathe and just a few on a bridgeport, but I feel like dropping down would drive me a little crazy also.

I have been trolling forums for a bit, and, if I were to make a purchase of a mini-mill today, I would probably go with one of the little Machine Shop designed and branded mills.
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Old July 28, 2013, 03:41 PM   #8
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My experience is very limited with actual product, but from comments/reviews I've seen, I wouldn't lump Grizzly in with HF products in the "quality" dept.

A lot of smiths use Grizzly lathes...I know of none that use a HF.
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Old July 29, 2013, 06:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
I wouldn't lump Grizzly in with HF products in the "quality" dept.
I would. I haven't seen a mill from Griz. But I've tried drill presses and table saws. And I own a couple of vises from Griz. The power tools are horrible in tolerance and repeatability. The current China made Craftsman is the same. The vises I own look exactly like the vises from HF, right down to the tool marks and finish. Even the logo is in the same place, looks done in the same manner. Lots of porous castings, rough bearing surfaces etc. I would bet they're from the same Asian factories.


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Old July 29, 2013, 09:27 PM   #10
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I would bet they're from the same Asian factories.
For the most part they are. Enco and Shop Fox buy the same products as do HF and Grizzly, but have them painted, along with the logo, different. Some stuff is good, and some is not.

I have not seen anyone, but Grizzly, have this little mill, though. The good thing about Grizzly is the warranty they have, and a large parts department.
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Old July 31, 2013, 10:48 PM   #11
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I purchased three Grizzly 9x42 vertical milling machines some years back for the university lab that I teach in. I have them right up against a 1960's Bridgeport and they are pretty much a dead ringer for this machine, some parts are even interchangeable. Accuracy wise they are very good machines, with very nicely finished surfaces. The only real issue I have had with any of the Grizzly machines has been with the motors. The electrical seems to give us a fair amount of trouble, though Grizzly has always been good about supporting us in this.

The Chinese machines are really not so different than anything else in life, in that you get what you pay for. If you buy a bargain basement Chinese machine you will probably get at best a kit, and at worst an expensive boat anchor. As you climb the ladder in price the quality goes up. I have encountered a lot of folks that will badmouth Asian tools over the years, most of them have had no experience with what they are talking about. I have worked extensively with both US made vintage machine tools, as well as the Asian variety and can honestly say if you are a competent craftsman you can make either perform, you just have to know their limitations. Most of the US made machines that are the stuff of dreams of a lot of home shop machinists are badly worn out and in need of replacement parts, many of which haven't been available for decades. Repairing and restoring these machines is a hobby in itself and can be very time consuming and expensive. A new Asian machine, even if it requires some tuning, can oftentimes be a better bet for someone starting out.

If I were you, I would look at a small bench top lathe for a first purchase. I have had good experience with the 7x12 lathes on the market and feel you can do a lot with one of these. Even if you feel the need to upgrade to a larger lathe down the road the smaller lathe is still handy to have around for smaller jobs. You can do a lot of work with it, and some basic milling to get you started. Once you feel the need to expand, look for a bit bigger mill. You will be a lot happier I think. Also, the horizontal feature is not really all that useful for gun work in my opinion. I have had a horizontal conversion for my Bridgeport for years and never felt the need to install it on more than a few occasions.
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Old August 1, 2013, 09:19 AM   #12
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Alex,

I already have a lathe and a turret mill, it's just that I like the small size of this, and thought it would be good for smaller jobs, especially the horizontal milling capacity. By the looks of it, it will fit within a 2' x 2' cube, and that would fit well with what I would like to do, and where I have a place for it. The motor HP, though is 1/2, but its speed is stepped down by about 1/2, or a little more, by belt, so the torque should be a good bit. But as you said, the electrical does look cheaper made than those manufactured in the US.
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Old August 1, 2013, 08:55 PM   #13
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In that case your situation is a bit different, it could be a fun toy to play with. If size is an issue this is a handy machine, I have seen some of the older Atlas horizontal benchtop machines and they were cute. If you have the space, odds are you can find a good old horizontal, with much more capacity, for the same money. I have seen a number of decent horizontal mills, half of them loaded with tooling, sell for about that much. People just don't want them as bad as a vertical.
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Old August 2, 2013, 08:51 AM   #14
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I had a HF mini lathe that I bought for my son to play with and get teh "feel" of machining. He made lots of cool little lures etc.. out of wood and plastic. The thing would take a .02" cut in aluminum but wouldnt touch steel or ss. For what its worth I would spend a $1000 on a well used piece of old equipment and have something that will work when you need it to. Old horizontals like that go very cheep from eBay and machine brokers. Very few shops still use a manual horizontal machine for anything. Once we went CNC back in the 90's we never had use for a horizontal again.
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Old August 18, 2013, 07:43 PM   #15
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I have a Griz lathe, and it is so bad that I cannot make a lathe out if it.
I got it new.
They shipped it with a broken belt shim, I called, and they got a new one out to me right away.
Griz could not stay in biz if that were typical or occasional.
I have a freakishly bad example where the gibbs were over cut into the castings and cannot be fixed. There are giant voids in the casting filled with bondo and painted over.
I use it to spin an arbor and wife wheel, which it has done well for 10 years.
I have some tool bits and table saw blades from Griz that are also unusable.
But much of the stuff form HF, ENCO, and CDCO is not useable.
The Chinese junk is so cheap, there is no alternative, but to take a chance, unless you have money like Boeing.
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Old August 19, 2013, 08:38 AM   #16
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@Clark- Buy used. I have over 20 pcs of used machine shop equipment that I use on a daily basis. My shop has been in business since 1964 and the machines keep on turning out A+ quality (due to user) day in and day out.
Colchester lathes hold up very well, Love my Monarch 10ee, I have a 19x96 Cinncinnatti that will cut .0005 or better all day and its 30+ years old.
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Old August 19, 2013, 09:39 AM   #17
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My Grizzly has been in use for twenty years threading chambering barrels etc.
My Smithy 3-in-1 gets used as a mill/drill but also as a lathe.

As for the .050 movement
Use a dial indicator and you can adjust to the .001 easly.

Dixie get the little machine, they work.
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Old August 19, 2013, 01:45 PM   #18
Dixie Gunsmithing
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Quote:
As for the .050 movement
Use a dial indicator and you can adjust to the .001 easly.
That's how I always set up to mill or turn. I never trust the handwheel readings, unless it's a rough adjustment, especially due to backlash. I use a mini-mag magnetic base with a dial indicator to set everything. On a lathe, I use this on the carriage, and a back button indicator with the 4 jaw chuck. I got used to doing this while running turret lathes, and it stuck for everything.
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Old August 22, 2013, 10:31 AM   #19
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Check out the mini mills sold by Micro Mark......
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Old August 22, 2013, 10:04 PM   #20
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Quote:
I had a HF mini lathe that I bought for my son to play with and get teh "feel" of machining. He made lots of cool little lures etc.. out of wood and plastic. The thing would take a .02" cut in aluminum but wouldnt touch steel or ss. For what its worth I would spend a $1000 on a well used piece of old equipment and have something that will work when you need it to. Old horizontals like that go very cheep from eBay and machine brokers. Very few shops still use a manual horizontal machine for anything. Once we went CNC back in the 90's we never had use for a horizontal again.
I have had no such experiences with the mini lathes that I have used in our lab. I did extensive research on several of them some years back and published the findings in both a dissertation and also an engineering journal. None of the ones that we worked with had any difficulty holding .001 tolerances in either aluminum, brass, or steel. My personal mini lathe has been used to do a variety of precision work and it has served me well. As long as the limited capacity is understood, and you understand that it is not a 1000 pound engine lathe, it does great work and the higher spindle speeds are useful for smaller work. It is also worth noting that none of the lathes that we did the tests on had been modified in any way, other than to add quick change tool posts. Many people have done extensive modifications to these machines which has resulted in an extreme increase in precision. They are far from the boat anchors that many would have you believe.

I have a nice old Rockwell 10" lathe in my basement shop, but I find myself using the mini lathe more just because it is plain useful, and it works. Your mileage may (and apparently did) vary.
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Old August 23, 2013, 05:26 AM   #21
4V50 Gary
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Agree with Dixie Gunsmith on using a dial indicator. Machines have backlash that will throw off your cuts. Dial indicators don't lie.
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Old August 24, 2013, 10:08 AM   #22
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Gunsmithing would mostly use it in the vertical configuration, not the horizontal mill configuration.
I have a hard time believing Griz's copy that a DC motor is single phase
Or that a DC motor could not be controlled below 200 r.p.m.
$1k/ 268 lb = ~ $4/ pound

There are machines closer to $2/ pound
http://www.machinetoolonline.com/PM45MMill.html

I use a Rockwell 21-100 for gunsmithing.
My brother uses a Clausing 8520.
Those are great old used small knee mills if you can find them.

Here is a pic of me yesterday milling out a channel in a Douglas Fir 4x6.
The most precise wood working can be done on a mill.
Gun stocks can be inletted with a mill.

What does it all mean?
Mills are like micro wave ovens. They can do things you never thought of when you bought them.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Milling and drilling wood on the mill 8-23-2013.jpg (94.5 KB, 13 views)
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