Let's Make Robots!

Thinking of buying a mill

Hey guys. It seems like I keep running into projects where I find myself thinking, "man, a mill would make this step a lot easier" or thinking of a part or bracket that could be useful to be able to make. It seems like a mill is one of the more universally useful tools, so I'm considering investing in one. But I don't know much about them, and I was hoping someone here could provide some input. I remember someone here mentioning they were a machinist.

As far as budget, I could handle something in the $300 range without too much trouble. $600 could be doable if I save up for a bit, and if it's really going to add a lot more utility. If I can't get something useful even in that range, then I guess now is not the time to get one.

I see that Harbor Freight has a small mill for $320. But I don't really know exactly what I need in a mill, so I don't know if that'd meet my needs. The fact that they call it a "Micro mill" makes me wonder if it'd be too small.

There's another larger one for $580. That's a good bit more money, and still it's described as a "mini mill", but maybe that's what I need. I'm looking to fabricate robot parts, brackets, etc, not machine brake rotors or things on that scale.

Do you guys have any suggestions or advice?


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I'm a member at the Team Hack-A-Day forum, and we're not at all as dangerous as we sound.

But there is a dedicated part of that forum for CNC and metalwork mills. The guys there are really abunch of helpfull, tinkering nerds like myself, I'm sure you could get some usefull advice. And who knows, maybe you end up becomming a F@H'er yourself? 

/ vzz-clck-"Maneuver"

I have a friend who has one of the Chinese style 3-in-one's and it is a pretty good unit for the money. Better than that, there is an outfit that sells upgrades and conversions for all this cheap mills to convert them to standard or to replace the parts that break.


www.rocketbrandcustom.com baby!!

But I've looked a bit. What I've seen in advice has been that the Sherline stuff is tiny, but comes ready to work. The various bigger, stronger Chinese Seig products that are sold by Harbor Freight, Grizzly and others may need some tweaking to get accurate precise results from. Also there are some out there that like Taig Tools. If you have a lot of cash, Prazi can be good. Conventional wisdom also says go for a lathe before a mill, but that too has been disputed to an extent. I guess it would depend on how large of parts you would need, and how much shop space you have.  To stay portable, A Sherline, or even a Clisby might be good. The bigger Seig stuff would have you moving 150 + pounds (70 kilo) around.

What I will probably do eventually is get one of the Seig mills, probably the larger or the 2 you have shown. Note on the smaller one, you can't tilt the head. Harbor Freight sometimes has % off coupons, and I'd heard they ship to a nearby store for cheap, where you could pick it up.