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Buying a Mill Drill for my boyfriend.

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Forum topic by InNeedOfAdvice posted 09-24-2015 09:07 PM 1293 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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InNeedOfAdvice

3 posts in 442 days


09-24-2015 09:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mill gift

Hi Everyone,

As the title suggests, I’m in the market for a mill for my boyfriend. He’s a fantastic (hobbyist) woodworker and has been wanting one of these machines for a few years now. I think he would use it primarily for woodworking but would want to be able to do some metal working with it as well. I don’t really know anything about woodworking or these machines, but it sounds like the best option would be one with higher spindle speed settings and “variable head ram” (whatever that means…). Obviously it would also need to be able to handle larger pieces of material.

The absolute most I can spend is $2000 and I was hoping to keep it closer to $1700.

If anyone has suggestions for specific mills that might fit these criteria or general advice on what features I should look for in a mill, I’d love to hear it.

Thanks in advance.


16 replies so far

View joey502's profile

joey502

487 posts in 985 days


#1 posted 09-24-2015 09:37 PM

Variable speed is the ability to change the spindle speed without changing belts.

A dovetail column is something you want to look for. The spindle is in the same place relative to the table when you move the head up or down.

An R8 spindle taper. Common taper for future tooling he may want to add.

I would want to have a DRO as well (digital read out). The machine keeps track of exactly have far the table has traveled on the x or y axis. Some machines also have a z axis DRO, not sure if they will in your price range though.

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joey502

487 posts in 985 days


#2 posted 09-24-2015 09:43 PM

I do not want to suggest a specific mill because I do not have any idea what he wants to work on. Grizzly has some nice machines that fit your price range. The size capacity of the work is going to dictate your choice as much as price.

I have been eyeing this one for a while. One day.
http://www.grizzly.com/products/Mill-Drill-with-Stand-and-DRO/G0759

View WoodNSawdust's profile

WoodNSawdust

1417 posts in 643 days


#3 posted 09-24-2015 09:44 PM

Check the metal working section of Grizzly's web site.

If the desire is to use the mill as a router then the spindle speed needs to be around 23000 rpm. The other question is can you mount a router bit into a mill’s chuck?

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View Joseph Jossem's profile

Joseph Jossem

492 posts in 1735 days


#4 posted 09-24-2015 10:22 PM

I don’t know what mill but if your willing to buy one at that cost for your boyfriend he better marry you what a woman!!

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InNeedOfAdvice

3 posts in 442 days


#5 posted 09-24-2015 10:59 PM

joey502, he was storing a friend’s mill for a few months while they were in the middle of a move, and I think he used it to make a bunch of mortise and tenon joints on this really beautiful bookcase. So I know he’d like one for that sort of work, but I’m not sure what other specific jobs he would use it for.

Are dovetail ways the same or similar to a dovetail column? I was looking at this machine: http://www.grizzly.com/products/Heavy-Duty-Benchtop-Mill-Drill-with-Power-Feed-and-Tapping/G0761 and it has dovetail ways. But the spindle speed on that one only goes up to 1970 RPM. Is that fast enough? I don’t think he cares about the DRO. I’ve seem him look at mills before and I don’t think any of them have had one.

WoodNSawdust, I’m not sure how to tell if it’s possible to mount a router bit into a mill’s chuck. Would that be listed as a feature?

Thanks Joseph Jossem, that’s nice of you. :)

Thanks so much for your help guys. I really appreciate it!

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joey502

487 posts in 985 days


#6 posted 09-25-2015 12:29 AM


Are dovetail ways the same or similar to a dovetail column? I was looking at this machine: http://www.grizzly.com/products/Heavy-Duty-Benchtop-Mill-Drill-with-Power-Feed-and-Tapping/G0761 and it has dovetail ways. But the spindle speed on that one only goes up to 1970 RPM. Is that fast enough? I don t think he cares about the DRO. I ve seem him look at mills before and I don t think any of them have had one.

WoodNSawdust, I m not sure how to tell if it s possible to mount a router bit into a mill s chuck. Would that be listed as a feature?

- InNeedOfAdvice

The ways are what the table guides (x and y axis), the column is what the head guides on ( up and down, z axis). The dovetail is the same just different parts of the machine. The dovetail way on the machine you linked Is visible just behind the hand wheel on the front of the machine.

For cutting wood with the machine, the faster the better.

The machine accepts collets as well as a drill chuck, like a router collet, but they have many more sizes available. The router bit would be in a collet and drills be mounted in a chuck.

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mtnwalton

13 posts in 493 days


#7 posted 09-25-2015 03:50 AM

My first choice would be used, hopefully a Bridgeport that may be in your price range.

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TheFridge

5765 posts in 953 days


#8 posted 09-25-2015 03:53 AM

I hope this doesn’t get awkward, but if he doesn’t love you I definitely do.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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InNeedOfAdvice

3 posts in 442 days


#9 posted 09-25-2015 01:11 PM

mtnwalton, I had considered trying to get a used Bridgeport, since many people seem to think those are the best. But I don’t feel like I have any ability to tell if I’m getting a good deal or if the machine is in good condition. Buying a new one just seems a lot more straightforward. Also, my boyfriend always seems really excited about the Grizzly mills when their catalog comes to the house, so I think he would be happy with one of those.

As far as dovetail ways versus a dovetail column, should I definitely be looking for a dovetail column and not dovetail ways? I don’t think I’ve seen any machines that list both in their features.

For cutting wood, is there a minimum RPM that’s acceptable?

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Julian

1039 posts in 2157 days


#10 posted 09-25-2015 03:01 PM

Router bits need to spin in the range of 10,000 -20,000 rpm (depending on size). Mills do not have such a high spindle RPM. You still can use a router bit in a mill but your cut will not be as smooth compared to a router. You will need a collet to hold a router bit in the mill. You would only need one 1/2” and one 1/4” collet.

-- Julian

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Julian

1039 posts in 2157 days


#11 posted 09-25-2015 03:05 PM

Another option: take a look at the website from a fellow lumberjock. You probably would not be able to cut metal with this set up.
www.routermillwoodworks.weebly.com

-- Julian

View joey502's profile

joey502

487 posts in 985 days


#12 posted 09-25-2015 03:50 PM


As far as dovetail ways versus a dovetail column, should I definitely be looking for a dovetail column and not dovetail ways? I don t think I ve seen any machines that list both in their features.

For cutting wood, is there a minimum RPM that s acceptable?

- InNeedOfAdvice

They should all have dovetail ways, but you do want that. The dovetail column is also a big plus. The one you linked to has both.

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2034 days


#13 posted 09-25-2015 03:52 PM

I will say I know very little about mills, but I just spent 2 years buying one. It took 2 years because I didn’t want to buy the wrong thing and I don’t have a girlfriend who would buy me one. Hell, my wife won’t even let me have a girlfriend, but she did let me buy the mill, so I guess thats close enough.

So here is what advice I got while deciding.
I was told not to buy a mill/drill unless most of the operations were to be drilling, not milling because the extension of the chuck put more stress on the spindles and does bad stuff. Also its a different form of operation when the head moves instead of the table.

Go for the mill with the square column, not the round. (not sure why)

If i hadn’t found a used mill from someone I trusted, i probably would have bought this, http://grizzly.com/products/Mill-Drill-with-Stand-and-DRO/G0759

One more note, I wanted a mill for metal working. It does some cool woodworking to, but if your boyfriend is really into woodworking, I’d look to woodworking tools. Mills are slow machines because they are meant to work metal.

I would think cutting mortise and tenons on a milling machine would be a pain.

And at $1700 you can get a mill that’s pretty decent. Don’t forget a vise (which is a must) and end mills to go with it. The vise is expensive, the end mills are not.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

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unbob

719 posts in 1370 days


#14 posted 09-25-2015 08:00 PM

Mill drills are not so good for general work as often the head needs to be re -positioned, the mill drills round column goes off center when the head is moved. The common vertical mill has dove tail ways on the table movements, and the motor head is fixed. Much better and solid then the MDs movable head.
There are often good buys on machines other then Bridgeport, such as Index, Tree and others. In short get a reasonable machine to start with, The MDs just are a waste of time and money.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

3927 posts in 2710 days


#15 posted 09-25-2015 08:44 PM

I would discourage the use of a metal working machine for woodworking. It can be done, but there are many reasons for not doing so. Mills being basically a machine for working metals, will operate at speeds that are not compatible with working wood. Mills need grease and oil for lubrication and that is not a good environment for wood. With a mill, typically has a 6”x26” table, limiting the size of material that can be machined. Unlike a woodworking machine, there are no fences or guides used. They are designed for use with a vise (expensive) and high speed steel or carbide cutters (also quite expensive). A single HSS endmill of 3/4” diameter can run upwards of $50. Although there are imports available from China for a few dollars, you get what you pay for. A metal working mill can produce very accurate and precise work, but it is hardly necessary, or desirable for woodworking. Now, if your boyfriend wants to do some serious metal working, then that tool is for him, but for wood only; no way. In my shop, I have both metal and wood working machines because I work with both wood and metals. I use woodworking machines to build furniture and metal working machines to build riding scale locomotives. The trains I build actually need woodworking in addition to metal working. I hope I have not upset your applecart too much. I wouldn’t like to see you spend a lot of money on the wrong machine. I would go over it with him to see what he really wants, noting that metal working can be a very expensive path.

Bridgeports are out of the question. In addition to my previous comments; first, they operate on 3-phase power. They are over 7’ tall and weigh as much as a small car. It would be difficult to get one into a basement shop. New, they cost an arm and a leg. Used, they still cost a lot and they are usually not in very good condition. People who have them work them very hard.

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