According to UPS, my new milling machine is on the truck and out for delivery. Woo! Hopefully I’ll have a chance to get it setup over the weekend.
Why a Mill?
Because I want to create aluminum and plastic parts that are too difficult or imprecise via the tools I already own or have access to. I have been learning the ropes of my new Sherline lathe, and there are operations that I need a mill for.
The mill I ordered is similar to the one above, but without way covers and motor couplers, and with hand wheels.
Why a Taig Mill?
It weighs under 100 pounds, so I can move it from bench to shelf. Or bench to closer. Or bench to bench. Seig mini mills weigh in at over 150 lbs, and micro mills weigh in at 125 lbs or so.
It is said to be built with greater precision that the many Seig micro and mini milling machines.
If I choose to, I can very easily convert it for CNC use. The motor coupler kit will cost about $107.
I plan to machine small parts, so the mill’s small size might not be a limitation.
Why not a CNC Taig Mill?
Added cost, lack of space, lack of experience.
Added costs would be the motor coupler kit ($107), stepper motors and control parts ($600), an emergency stop ($20), limit switches ($8?), a parallel port PC card (<$50) or SmoothStepper USB controller (~$175), control software ($175), CAM software ($??), and possibly a new CAD package.
There would have to be a semi-permanent enclosure and coolant loop (probably Fogbuster + air compressor). That would mean added costs and the need for a dedicated space.
Since I have never milled parts before, it seemed that starting off with an automated milling machine would be counter-productive. Once I gain a little experience and familiarity with manual milling, I will revisit the idea of converting the Taig mill for CNC. Or I will look into getting a desktop/benchtop CNC router, which will offer me greater 2D capabilities. Or, if we move to a bigger place, or I open a separate office, studio, or workshop, I will look into getting a larger and more capable CNC mill.
You have to learn to crawl before you can walk, right?
Why not a 3D Printer?
Because a 3D printer cannot work aluminum, wood, acrylic, or UHMW polyethylene.
Why not a CNC Router?
A CNC router makes more sense for cutting a lot of small 2D parts or larger parts from sheet materials. I could definitely use one, but I can’t see myself using one to its full potential right now.
Carter Tools’ website is somewhat archaic (although not as badly as Taig’s), but it’s very informative and Nick Carter really knows his stuff. I did a lot of research and pretty much knew exactly what I wanted and needed, but there were a few back and forth emails anyways before he accepted my order.
What They Say About Tooling
I have been reading up about benchtop CNCs and small milling machines for a long time now, usually in pockets of interest after which I decide to wait a little longer before buying a mill.
One of the common things I’ve heard over and over is that when you buy your first home milling machine, prepare to spend a lot on tooling. Vises, workholding equipment, end mills, measuring and layout tools, etc. etc.
Because the Taig is a small benchtop mill, I couldn’t just buy vises and tooling designed for larger mills. I did plenty of research, and just placed what I hope will be my last accessory order for a while.
Once I get my feet wet, I’ll be in a better position to determine what kind of end mills to order next. For the time being, I ordered two small USA-made 2-flute end mill sets and a couple of specialty aluminum and non-ferrous bits.
I plan to write a lot about the various tools and accessories that can be used with the small milling machine, so I spent way more than I would have if not for ToolGuyd. A lot of these items are not tied into the Taig, so they can be used with other equipment I might buy or use in the years to come.
This is awesome! I don’t really know much about milling, but it’s a topic I’ve always been very interested in. I’ll definitely be reading about your progress and maybe someday get my hands on one!
Good luck learning the ropes. One thing you will not want to spend money on is bandages – so remember that end mills and other cutters can be razor sharp – and the swarf they produce can also be pretty nasty – so resist the temptation of picking them up with your finger tips.
Thanks for the reminder! I have a flexible chip scraper around here somewhere, a long nylon-bristles cleaning brush, and a wide chip brush on order. Plus 24″ x 24″ x 1/8″ polycarb panels that I will be setting up around the workbench to help keep things contained.
Congrats. I also own a taig mill (and purchased it from Nick too). I bought it with the intent of going CNC. After spending hours and hours researching the various components I was going to need I stumbled upon Birt’s website. He puts together a CNC conversion package tailor made for the taig mill. Its the setup I plan on using when I convert and thought it would be of interest to you. His website is: http://www.soigeneris.com
He also runs a Taig specific forum that has lots of useful info. http://taigownersclub.forumotion.net
Good luck, I look forward to seeing more posts about your adventures into the world of machining !
I’ve come across that site a couple of times when planning my purchase. If I end up converting the mill to CNC, what I will probably do is go with 200-300 oz-in motors, a Gecko 540 (unless USB model comes out before then), 48V power supply, and separate emergency and limit switches. The Soigeneris all-in-one kit does have all of this, but so do other vendors. Still, I’ll keep them in mind, thanks for the suggestion!
CNC Zone also has a lot of info on Taig conversions and operations – http://www.cnczone.com/forums/taig_mills_lathes/ .
An obvious question that you left out: Why not a Sherline mill? You already have a Sherline lathe. The modularity, extensive tooling and accessory interchangeability, and particularly, the upgradeability of the Sherline machines
(to DRO and CNC) would seem to be very desirable.
I know your question was aimed at Stuart but I asked myself the same question when I was shopping for a benchtop mill. At the end of the day the major difference between the Sherline and Taig comes down to what materials you can cut and at what rates you can cut them. The Taig is just a heavier machine that is capable of doing thicker material at faster feed rates.
It’s exactly as Pete said. A bit of online research showed me that the Taig mill is a substantially beefier machine. I don’t regret my choice going with the Sherline lathe, but I think their mill would have been a little too puny for my short and long-term needs.
Just remember for aluminum you dont want to use coated tools,the aluminum will weld itself to the coating. And the same type of endmills for Aluminum will work well in plastics too. Also for your aluminum jobs use some sort of coolant,like cool mist or something of that nature. Plastics dont need coolants and its generally bad practice since most plastics are very porous and will absorb the water from coolants, just keep the RPm’s and feedrates low so you wont melt the material.
2 flute endmills are great for aluminum and its alloys and plastics. I prefer 3 flute endmills because they have a large web section so they are stronger.
A good set of Carbide endmills taken care of properly can last a very longtime.
lakeshore carbide makes some nice tooling,he is over at the practicalmachinist.com forums.
Enco also a good place to get nice deals on tooling and they often have good coupons you can get.
Also using WD40 on aluminum will help for preventing built up edge. Gotta live without the luxury of through spindle coolant and mist collection… Air out your workspace well.
I ordered a bunch of end mills to start off with. Two that were specially designed for aluminum and non-ferrous materials, a 5pc set of 2-flute HSS end mills (straight and ball), a 10pc set of 2-flute and 4-flute import end mills, a 2-flute 90° carbide chamfer bit, and an economy set of boring bars. I have a good quality replaceable insert 3/8″ bar for the lathe and might get a 1/2″ one as well to match the mill boring head I also ordered.
I ordered most from Enco, and the economy end mill set from LittleMachineShop.
As far as cutting fluid goes, I have stick and liquid all-metal Tapmatic. I plan to use the stick as much as possible, and the fluid for deeper-cutting applications. For the sized parts I plan on working on, manual application should be sufficient.
Tapmatic is good stuff,we use that at the shop pretty often on lathe work.
my advice dont get carried away. everyone will tell you need this you need that. Get what you need when you need it this sounds to be a hobby interest so a order for a needed item will not be costing you any actual money.. end mills last quite awhile..
Biggest problem with what you just purchased is you will be wanting more machine wise. I purchased a benchtop hoping to learn on it and I have and it does allot. But I want more machine now and honestly probably could have purchased more of a machine used for the same price.
I have already upgraded the lathe to a South Bend 13 the mill will be next.
ToolGuyd exists because I get carried away about tools. =)
I bought the Taig knowing I would immediately want more. But I don’t have the space for anything bigger, or the ability to carry anything much bigger up the 3 flights of stairs.
I’ve been making careful purchases to ensure that as much as possible can be used just the same with a larger machine. My intent is also to learn as much as possible, not only for personal enrichment, but for potential future content.
I hear ya on space and moving the machine..
That seems to be a bigger issue then learning how to use the thing.
It’ll be sweet to see what you use this for. Please post pictures & videos of it in use!
I’ve always wanted to get a mill
I bought this one. Had it for a few months and am still learning.
I came to conclusion that this gave me the best bang for the buck for making small parts for RC cars. So far, set up was simple enough and it seems to be precise enough for what I have done to date. Its all manual but I’m having a blast with it even though I’ve probably made as much scrap as I have usable parts. It was an added bonus that LMS was about 5 miles from my home (so I could pick up the tool and didn’t had to pay for shipping) and I could drive over there and ask the guys who run the place questions in near real time (and they’re as friendly and helpful as you could hope).
That model was on my shortlist, but I ultimately went with the Taig because of its more manageable benchtop size and weight. I like a lot of the LMS HiTorque mini mill’s features, such as the solid column and R8 spindle.
This seemed pretty informative but where’s the rest? I want to see the tooling you bought and the parts you’ve made.