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Gear Drive Milling Machine


C Craft

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When working on knives the hardware takes great amounts of time to make and fit! I can't help but think what an advantage a small mill would be!! 

 

Is there a decent table top gear driven (not belt) driven that won't break the bank? I have been told belt driven is a problem when milling. 

 

Or if I am looking for a used one, is there a model available that is worth brining home? 

Something like this but for less money! Gear driven milling machine.jpg$3,543.75 That's on sale but............. I still can't afford to spend that much  now!! 

And yes I know you get what your pay for. I just can't afford to pay that for one!! I am looking for something that won't break the bank but is a good working machine!! Any advice anyone??

 

Does anyone know of any good auction sites that might be worth looking into??

Edited by C Craft

C Craft Customs ~~~ With every custom knife I build I try to accomplish three things. I want that knife to look so good you just have to pick it up, feel so good in your hand you can't wait to try it, and once you use it, you never want to put it down ! If I capture those three factors in each knife I build, I am assured the knife will become a piece that is used and treasured by its owner! ~~~ C Craft

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Mass is important in a milling machine.  Anything smaller than the one you pictured will be quite limited.  The problem is that you can buy a pretty nice used Bridgeport style mill for less money that that benchtop mill cost new.

-Brian

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Bridgeports and the like bring a 3 phase power issue most dont want to deal with. If you can locate one, a Clausing 8520 is a good choice. Its small enough to move without having to hire a rigger, can run on 110/220 single phase, and is highly accurate. Its a true knee mill. For the size envelope I think bladesmiths would need, it would be a good fit. There are some acceptable versions of mill pictured above. I just havent looked in so long I dont know who has the decent ones these days. It used to be industrial hobbies that took a base and gutted it and put all their own internals and table on it. But I believe they went out of business. True machinists will likely thumb their nose at the RF45 type milling machines, but for whats being asked of the machine in this context, I think it would easily do the job.

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The 8520's are fantastic if you can find one.  However, because of their convenient size and power needs, they bring a premium.  The last one I saw for sale went for over $2k with no tooling.

 

Most milling machine motors are relatively small.  A lot of them are in the 1.5HP range.  That makes running them off a lost cost VFD a pretty attractive option.  This has also driven up the price of used mills in the last several years :(

 

Of course, you still have to deal with moving a 1500lb plus machine...

 

-Brian

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Even just starting out you're going to have to spend money. But if you want to get your feet wet, check out Grizzly. I know they can get a bad rap, but I've yet to get a tool that didn't work. But be prepared, even some of their better lower end table-top models are going to run AT LEAST a thousand. But most have VFD which is a big plus with milling.

Edited by Brian Myers
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OK thanks for the info guys. Once again I have champagne taste on a beer budget! head shake.gif

So has anyone ever used on the mills with a belt and step pullies? There more in my price range! I swear it is hard in this area to find mechanical stuff at a decent price!!

C Craft Customs ~~~ With every custom knife I build I try to accomplish three things. I want that knife to look so good you just have to pick it up, feel so good in your hand you can't wait to try it, and once you use it, you never want to put it down ! If I capture those three factors in each knife I build, I am assured the knife will become a piece that is used and treasured by its owner! ~~~ C Craft

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I have the LMS ( Little Machine Shop ) 3990 hightorque. Not a bad little machine to say the least.  I have used it so far to mill channels in full tang handles for weight reduction ( pre harden ) and for slotting a guards and whatnot. I doubt in knifemaking I will ever reach a point where I will overtax the machine in any way since I bought it to move to folders and get more precision then my old HF drill press could offer. 

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I have an older Index 745 milling machine that I bought for $400 plus another $200 to get it here about 15 years ago.  It has step pulleys (note that early Bridgeports used step pulleys and later variable speed using a v-belt as did Index)  which would be a bit of a headache in a production machine shop but I think in your case not such a big deal as it presents little problem for me.  The machine has been well used but is still tight enough for my purposes.  About 5 years ago, I responded to a craigs list ad for some kind of machine tool, I think a drill press, and while there the seller asked me if I was interested in a milling machine.  It was small bench top unit made by Duro, probably in the 50's in Los Angeles  -http://www.lathes.co.uk/duro/index.html.  It is a bit limited in that there is no quill feed so only the X.Y and Z of the table.  It is also a step pulley drive machine and has different sort of "collet" attachment for the cutters as they require a 3/8" body or shank and a set screw holds them in place.  When the guy said $60 for it I grabbed it!  I use it more than the bigger machine despite its limitations in that I can get close to the work and see what I am doing and it is 120V so no need to fire up the 3phase generator.  My point in this gloat is to remind you to beat the bushes for deals as they are out there.  I have seen machines similar to the one you pictured for $800 on Craigs list before.

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