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Posted: 10/5/2003 6:48:51 PM EDT
Well, I'm about to leap into the world of building your own stuff headfirst. I got a grizzly mini-mill over the weekend, and am in the process of setting it up now.

I'm thinking a 80% ar15 build first, then eventually 1911s, then I'll try my hand at ar15s from blanks.

Yeah, I know its not a bridgeport, but dangit, they're just too expensive -- and I don't think I could put it in my apartment.

Oh yeah, anyone know a really good/easy way to remove the preservative grease that's on it? As soon as I get that done, I'll add some white lithium grease where needed and of course oil the rest of it. *Really* wish I had a digital camera to show off my new toy.

Any advice would be welcome (I *do* know what I'm doing with the mill, it'll just take me a couple day to get used to where everything is on this one while machining various "extras" that I want for it but am to cheap to buy something when I'll be able to build my own exactly the way I want it)

-FOTBR
Link Posted: 10/5/2003 6:53:13 PM EDT
Great news! You will not regret buying a mini-mill.
Link Posted: 10/6/2003 4:44:48 AM EDT
It would be really good if you could post a review in about 6 months when you have had a chance to use it and do a few real projects. I've been looking at one for a while but haven't found a good review from someone who has had one a while and knows about it's drawbacks. Slowworm
Link Posted: 10/6/2003 5:10:54 AM EDT
I bought a Sherline last year. It is small but is well built.
Link Posted: 10/6/2003 6:13:54 AM EDT
I'm looking to buy a milling machine too, what affordable options are there? Best I've seen is $300 for something in a catalog, I think Northern tools.
Link Posted: 10/6/2003 8:16:12 AM EDT
Well, I can give you a first-impressions review right now, and I'll be glad to post my opinions on it after I've used it a while. First of, its packed pretty well, bolted to the bottom of a plywood box. The box itself isn't anything special, made from probably the cheapest chinese plywood you can find, but it held up just fine. They say the shipping weight is 120 pounds, but I'd say its closer to 140, of which the accessories and tools it comes with are maybe 10 pounds total, and the box another 5 or so. This thing is HEAVY. Lots of cast iron components. Which is great until you have to move it. It came VERY well coated in a VERY sticky preservative grease, which requires you to dissassemble the whole thing to clean it (well, you don't have to take the moror/drive assembly apart, but I did anyway, just to find there's no need to). Brake cleaner and paper towels worked pretty good to clean it up though, it just takes time, and the instruction manual is rather useless except for the exploded drawings which will be extremely usefull should I have to order a new part because I broke something. Dissassembly, cleaning, lubing with white lithium grease and 3'n'1 oil where needed and reassembly of just the x-y axis took me about 6 hours, with a lot of distractions. It'll take a bit of adjustment to get everything set up so the movement is extremely smooth (well, as smooth as you're going to get for a $500 mill) but 20 minutes of fiddling got things "close enough" for now. I can't tell you how long it took me to dissasemble, clean, lube, and reassemble the Z axis, since I took everything apart, but figure another couple hours at least. It comes with a 1/2" drill chuck, a 1/2" collet and a 3/8" collet, which is enough for most of what I'm going to do right away. It also comes with all the tools you need to dissassemble/reassemble the mill, with the exception of a phillips and a flat-blade screwdriver. It also comes with two t-nuts, which I wasn't able to find any details about until I opened the thing up -- they're 12mm at the top and 18mm at the bottm nuts, and I'm not sure the threading on them. Thats ALL it came with for clamping up work. So...first thing I've got to do is borrow the mill at the university to make me some clamping equipment. I think micro-mart sells t-nuts for their mini-mill, which will also fit the grizzly, the harbor freight, and some other mill, but hey, I can make 'em myself. The thing to watch out for -- the x and y lag screws are threaded at 16tpi -- which means one turn of the x or y moves the table 1/16 of an inch, so their dial is marked in thousandths, and goes from 0 to 62, with a small gap between the 62 and the 0 that is a half-thousandth (assuming the dial is marked that accurately to begin with). Micromark has a conversion kit that will replace the lag screws with ones threaded at 20tpi for $50 or thereabouts, which I'll probably look into, since it allows true thousandths markings/movement. Two other things I'll very quickly look into is making myself a new draw-bar that uses standard thread instead of metric, since the metric collets are much harder to find, and some form of small vise. The problem with the vise is anything thats too tall eats up a LOT of your work area. I'd put that off until you get the mill and can see how much area you have to work in. One of those nice adjustable vises (that you can rotate the work at odd angles) is probably going to be too tall, unless you're working on very small parts. I think thats it for now -- I need to run to the hardware store after class and get some bolts to bolt it down, and hopefully get some clamping bits made this afternoon/evening. I've got some links that I used while researching different mills, I'll find them and post them later today.
Link Posted: 10/6/2003 9:46:23 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/6/2003 9:46:57 AM EDT by chas66]
be sure to check out this websight and for blueprints too. http://www.roderuscustom.tzo.com/cgi-bin/ib3/ikonboard.cgi
Link Posted: 10/6/2003 1:03:23 PM EDT
Originally Posted By chas66: be sure to check out this websight and for blueprints too. http://www.roderuscustom.tzo.com/cgi-bin/ib3/ikonboard.cgi
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Yup...thats a great one. There's a really nice thread in there where a guy builds an AR15 lower from a 0% blank using a grizzly minimill (proof that it CAN be done -- always nice to know before you start a project) that I'll probably use as a reference when I get to that point. [url]www.mini-lathe.com[/url] has a section on mini-mills, and [url]www.littlemachineshop.com[/url] has parts and accesories and a comparison of various equipment. Not affiliated with either of 'em but I did find 'em useful. [/url]http://www.tedatum.com/thms/[/url] was another one I looked at, and there's some good advice in there, but it can be somewhat hard to find your way around to the good stuff. I also wandered over to the "tools" section of Lowes when I went to get bolts; they carry a "drill press vise" that, while maybe on the large size in the X and Y directions, is pretty low, and fits well. Only runs about $15, so I figure its worth a shot - if I can't get stuff to stay put in the mill, I can always use it on the workbench. Oh yes, the two T-nuts that come with it are metric threaded too, but I *think* lowes has some metric bolts, so I might actually have this thing running tonight [:D] Two questions: 1) Anyplace to get 80% frames other than the tannery shop? I know the tannery shop has a good reputation here, but I do like to know my options before I make a decision. 2) Anyplace to get the 0% AR15 reciever blanks other than DSA? Thanks again
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