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Grinding fullers on a 19th c. horizontal milling machine

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I can't say no to free tools. 


When considering the purchase of a lathe last year, the seller offered to throw in what he called a 'surface grinder' to sweeten the deal . That machine ended up being a Fox Machine Co. horizontal mill from the turn of the century, and it's turned out to be a remarkably useful implement.  


Yes, I love to do things by hand as much as the next craftsman, but there's nearly equal satisfaction in using a 130 year old piece of machinery that rolled off the foundry floor when swords were still being carried as sidearms. Blade fullers were never something that I was quite happy  with when done by hand … or at least my hand. Painstaking, and always just a bit wavy or crooked or just...off. Some folks here do incredible fullers done free hand, or with basic jigs, though perhaps they have secrets they keep to themselves. 


*Note* photos shown were taken after the job was complete. 

I haven't fully tooled this mill as can be seen by my poor excuse for a vise, but that didn't stop me from proceeding, as this was largely an experiment that happened to yield some satisfactory results. The tapered blade profile was aligned parallel with the table/grinding wheel by carefully placed copper shims in the vise jaws,and slight manipulation of the vise itself, followed by checking the alignment at both ends of travel. Machinist's jacks and blocks supported the blade from underneath on either side of the vise. This fuller is of a set depth, so that made horizontal alignment easy. If grinding a steep distal taper, I'd need a tilting vice for proper orientation. 


The grinding arbor I custom made from 0.5" stainless to fit the tool holder and mount a ¼" thick by 3" abrasive wheel. These are typically used in a small arbor on an electric drill or similar hand tool… I can change out wheels of different thicknesses for different width fullers. 


Currently, the mill is only running a single speed at around 400 rpm. This is slow for grinding, but actually worked nicely to keep things cool . I roughed out the general line of the fuller free hand with an angle grinder first to save time before mounting the blade on the mill. As with any machine tool, the setup is the hard part… after flipping the switch, it was just patience. I had some slippage of the wheel in the arbor but other than that the old girl powered through flawlessly. I think each fuller was 4-5 passes for a finished depth of around 0.06".




Edited by Isaac Humber
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