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deker

Got a mill! Now, what to do with it...

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So, I've been away for a while because I haven't been in the shop due to work. That said, in October, my wife got me a milling machine I found on Craigslist for my birthday. It's a 1947 vintage Van Norman #12 horizontal/vertical milling machine.

 

For those not familiar, Van Norman mills have a rotating cutter head that can swing anywhere from 0* (vertical) to 90* (vertical) and have an overarm support for horizontal arbors. Thus, it's a proper vertical and horizontal mill. Also, because of the design, I'll never have to tram in the head like on a Bridgeport style mill.

 

Here's a picture right after it landed in the shop

 

vn_in_shop.jpg

 

and a picture from the Craigslist ad with it in horizontal mode

 

vn_horiz.jpg

 

I've cut a few chips with it and I'm very happy with the results, even when being run by this ham-fisted idiot :)

I've been able to hold .001" tolerance over about 6" without any real setup of the machine. From initial measurements it looks like the table is pretty much dead-nuts aligned to the head (<.001" that I could measure at the time) in both the X and Y axes.

 

I've spent a little time so far cleaning out old lubricant and replacing it, and I have to get some proper grease for the spindle bearings before I do a whole lot more.

 

I also got a LOT of tooling with the machine, which was why I decided to go for it. tooling for the "Van Norman C" spindle taper is hard to come by, but it had most of what I'd ever need already. Once I get some more time on the lathe, I should be able to cut tools for the taper without too much trouble as well.

 

Of course, even though I know I've said "if I only had a mill..," about a million times, now that I have one, many ideas have fled. Some things that I know I will get to sooner or later are:

 

  • A new grinder frame. The one I built years ago isn't QUITE square, and my grinding skills have surpassed the machine tolerances...
  • A new quick-change toolpost setup for the lathe so I can banish the old lantern-style one
  • Squaring ricassos and fitting guards
  • Cutting fullers (horizontal mode with a radiused cutter should make quick work of it!)
  • Flattening patternwelded stock to avoid grinding bills (once I figure out a good setup)

 

So, now to the question. For those of you who have and use mills around the shop, what are some of the most useful things you've made, or general uses you put the mill to? What are some good beginner's projects?

 

-d

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Not a beginner project, but make a lathe, and few more mills? :P Lucky guy you.

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As a journey man job shop machinist myself I can appreciate what a versatile machine that is, GREAT score !!! B)

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One of my freashman year year projects was to make a flange nut on miller just like that, makeing solid C clamp was also a handy project

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I recently made a radius turning tool post for my lathe. Lots of mill work squaring and making slots. It can turn up to a 4" ball on a 11" lathe.

Did that come with a good T-slot hold down set or a Kurt style milling vise? How's the knee work on that? Hydraulic or screw? The horizontal mode sure would be great for complex fullers.

I've been doing a lot of lathe and mill work this winter. My new mill is much better at precision drilling than my old smaller one, and better than my drill press. I have a big indexable face mill that's good for squaring up pattern weld stock. It squares up anything really. A fly cutter could do the same, but I find the face mill with its six cutters does a better job.

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I recently made a radius turning tool post for my lathe. Lots of mill work squaring and making slots. It can turn up to a 4" ball on a 11" lathe.

Did that come with a good T-slot hold down set or a Kurt style milling vise? How's the knee work on that? Hydraulic or screw? The horizontal mode sure would be great for complex fullers.

I've been doing a lot of lathe and mill work this winter. My new mill is much better at precision drilling than my old smaller one, and better than my drill press. I have a big indexable face mill that's good for squaring up pattern weld stock. It squares up anything really. A fly cutter could do the same, but I find the face mill with its six cutters does a better job.

 

I got a decent set of workholding studs/clamps/t-nuts/etc. with it. The only power feed is on the X axis. The Y and Z are both hand cranked. I do plan to use the horizontal mode for all kinds of stuff. For example, I picked up some milling cutters off of Craigslist yesterday and one of them is a 4" diameter cutter 3" wide. It needs sharpening (need to call the tool & die shop one town over to see what that will cost), but I'm thinking that it will work very nicely for flattening out patternweld stock until I can get my hands on an indexible insert shell mill for a 1" arbor...I'm also looking forward to getting a bunch of different radius cutters and play with fullers a bit.

 

How are you holding barstock to flatten it? I'm trying to figure out a good way to hold it that won't let it flex too much (for pieces longer than the width of my vise), and will hold the work tightly. The best idea so far is to make a set of soft jaws for the vise with a short step that has a VERY slight dovetail cut into it that I can match on the sides of the bars (5-7 degrees) to lock them in and then put jacks under the ends that overhang the vise. I'm open to any suggestions though!

 

-d

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