Metalworking and CNC Machines

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Forum topic by twelvepoint posted 01-07-2014 08:44 PM 928 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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38 posts in 2200 days

01-07-2014 08:44 PM

As I’m sure most of us have encountered, a lot of woodworking projects ain’t all wood! I am messing around with a couple musical related projects (drum-related) and it would be nice to have some custom metalworking for a few parts, typically a few inches by a few inches, machined with a mill, most likely out of brass.

Can anyone share any opinions on the hobby-size machines, like the Sherline or the Taig? I think I could get a lot of use out of a machine like this for prototyping and small production runs, but I don’t know much about metalworking or CNC programming, but I do write code for a living, so I’m not intimidated by it.

I would appreciate hearing about anyone else’s experiences with milling metal, along with opinions about machinery. The cost of a CNC mill seems to be 2-3K for the small ones, so it’s not a trivial purchase!


4 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3885 days

#1 posted 01-07-2014 09:47 PM

If you’re doing something like side lugs, an old
metal shaper may be good for the job and they
aren’t expensive.

Brass can be softened and hardened with heat. When
it’s soft it can be cut without too much trouble with
woodworking machines. I use a print shop type
slug saw for cutting and grooving aluminum and brass.
It does a good job and they are useful for precision
woodworking too.

CNC is attractive but as you’ve noted, it’s an investment
to get into it. I’ll admit a hand cranked vertical mill
is tedious to work with (I have a mill/drill).

View brtech's profile


1054 posts in 3160 days

#2 posted 01-07-2014 11:06 PM

If you only have few parts every once in a while, then use an online CNC service.
Look at “emachineshop” for example.

View brtech's profile


1054 posts in 3160 days

#3 posted 01-07-2014 11:19 PM

Another possibility is 3D printing. They can do brass 3D printing now: for example, but there are others

View twelvepoint's profile


38 posts in 2200 days

#4 posted 01-08-2014 11:57 AM

Loren and brtech, thank you for the advice. The 3D printing may be good to test out a design in plastic, but the actual fabrication of bronze parts (at least according to shapeways) is a wax printout to do lost wax casting. That’s pretty cool but probably overkill and pricey.

I do think thee machine route is a possibility and it would make sense to spend some time in auto cad or intellicad.

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