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Well, a mini-mill. Just ordered it from Harbor Freight.

Would have liked to have gotten something a little bigger, but I have serious size/weight limitations. The next biggest one I could find would have been over 400lb, and getting that into the house (and then the basement) would have been an issue (plus it was almost 3x the $).

$510 all in w/ shipping and tax (after using a 25% off coupon).

Did some research for a couple days on this, and it appears to be very popular for hobbyists, with lots of upgrades and add-ons available.

I figure it shouldn't take me too long to cover its costs making things I can sell. Once I pay this off, I'll probably buy one of their mini-lathes as well. Plus it seems like they hold their value pretty well, so I should be able to get most of my $ back when i want to upgrade.

Yea, I know, a Bridgeport would have been better, but would have been useless for me with absolutely no place to put it.

http://www.harborfreight.com/two-speed-variable-bench-mill-drill-machine-44991.html
 

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Molon Labe
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I love my Bridgeport, sits right beside my Axleson Lathe
 

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Nice looking machine!

I have bought several tools from HF over the years. I have seen the quality greatly improve during the last few years. I'll bet you'll be quite satisfied with it's performance.

Thanks for sharing!

Steve
 

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I have one of those. It is definately a hobbyist grade. There is too much flex in the structure to hold really tight tolerance, especially with bigger cutters. The lead screws have a ton of play in them so if the tool starts to hog at all you get a lot of chatter. The bed ways are not real precise or smooth. It will do most hobby work, especially if you go slow and gentle. It beats a hacksaw and a box of files. With the things you learn from it, you will know if your use/skill set warrants a higher quality tool, and you will know what to look for.


I really am not trying to rain on your parade, but it is one sixth the price of a real one for a reason. I am lucky enough to have a friend that works in a machining facility, and a couple of times, I have roughed out my project and had him do the finish cuts when I wanted a more precise job than I could maintain.

It will be a lot of fun learning and making stuff. Good Luck
 

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I have one of their small mini-lathes. If you try to work any hard metal, the rails flex and it's a waste of time. Save up for a better machine.

Ajax
 

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Molon Labe
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You can find some good bargains on machine tools, and with the inverter drives that are out there 3 phase isn't a problem anymore, the only problem is the single to three phase inverters only go to 3 hp, but building a rotary converter is pretty easy, been running my Axleson on one for about 20 years, no problems
 

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When I moved from NY to South Carolina, I purchased one of the Mini-Lathes because I could not transport by larger 1,000# lathe here.

Good thing I was a machine rebuilder / repairman all my life. I have the mini lathe pretty much straighten out now, but I have to take "Baby Cuts" with it, especially on the finish cuts. Using a dial indicator on the cross slide gets me pretty close tolerances.

I looked at one of these mills...About the same quality..It's OK, if you are a machine repairman who can tighten the slides up with some ingenuity. Other than that, baby cuts are in order, and ALWAYS take out the back lash in the screws and nuts or you are looking at disaster...run the slides with some moderate Lock Pressure also, this will help with chatter. Forgot to add that using a drill chuck to mill with isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Have fun !

Dave in SC
 

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Molon Labe
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Especially those chucks from China that are made so precision
 

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Like they told ya', you get what you pay for. That's why you're chucking with a Jacobs clone instead of an R8 collet. Thing'll never cut a tight 3/8th keyway, but I wouldn't be afraid to ball-end flute a barrel with it. Like RLC infers; you have purchased a machine that -if you run it like a jig borer by using a set of digital calipers- will drill, chamfer, and tap holes squarely and precisely where you want them in relation to each other and the rest of the parts. Get a vise--milling, not drilling. And you'll need a bunch more $h!+ in the way of tooling and accessories. Travers is your Friend.

Don't be offended by my profanity, you'll soon realize why I spelt it with a dollar sign.
 

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If you are looking for moderately priced machine tools that will do REAL machining go to Enco. I have their 13x40 lathe and their Rong Fu mill. Both are made in China and are very good machines. I can hold .0005" on the lathe and the mill is totally repeatable. The 13x40 lathe is $4500 (mine was #2500 in 2000) and the mill was around $3000. Both are excellent machines for the money.

Jim Skeel<br>P/W Dealer/Distributor
 

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I have a 15HP CNC Rotary Phase converter for sale. It ran my shop of several lathes and mills providing clean 3 phase power for my OKUMA CNC Lathe as well. Any interest PM me. I bought it new and have been the only one to use it. Sold my machinery but still have it.
 
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