Which mill/lathe combo?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Gillmartin, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. Gillmartin

    Gillmartin Desultory Dilettante Supporter

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    Howdy all,

    So I'm looking at combo mill/lathes (I have the space for separate units in the shop, but not the budget), and wanted some input from anybody that has experience with them.
    Smithy Granite I-Max 1340,
    Grzzly G0791 12x36
    I know, Chinese junk, but if I could afford proper equipment, I wouldn't be getting a combo...

    Thanks.
    #1
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  2. DualSpaz

    DualSpaz Been here awhile

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    Are you buying new? That combo unit looks as though it is $4500.00 I'd be inclined to spend $2000.00 on a mill and $2000.00 on a lathe.
    I've had a version of the Grizzly G0760 mill/drill since the late 90's and it's done everything I've asked it to for 20 years.
    Buy used you could probably find a Bridgeport mill and a good sized lathe for that price.
    #2
  3. Newportcycle

    Newportcycle Adventurer

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    You don't give much information for anyone to give you feedback. What are you going to do with it? As a lathe, their small, limited length and diameter. As a mill, limited small cutting head's cant take off much material at a pass. No DRO.

    I second Spaz, hit craigslist. You can find good full size equipment used for the same price as one of those units new. I refurbished an old south bend 9 x 36, 1942 manufacture date, years ago and sold it for more than I paid for it. It was accurate, strong and had good size swing for lots of parts I needed.
    #3
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  4. ohgood

    ohgood Just givver tha berries !!!

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    Very light duty stuff, motorcycle parts would probably be just over their abilities
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  5. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    Having worked in a tool room, all the hobby stuff seems so inadequate. Too small, too under powered, too lacking in general capability.
    If you are just making the odd bush or spacer or have a use you haven't mentioned, then OK, but it seems an expensive way to go about it if you are somewhat strapped.

    If they will do your work and you are happy with the price, fine, do it. But I bet fairly soon you will be wishing for bigger and better.

    And with all machine tools, to expensive part is the tooling, where buying cheap shit really doesn't pay. Even drills, but on down to measuring equipment, rotaries/indexers, collet sets and mills, tool holders and tips and so on.

    All the best.
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  6. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    Buy used real equipment. Industrial auctions are my go to. A super nice Bridgeport with DRO and power feed can be had for $2500-3000 around here. 13-14" swing lathe for the rest of your budget. Try and get machines with all the tooling you can find. That's what gets expensive. Take some classes or see if you can get a machinist to help get you started. Watch lots of YouTube machinists to soak in the knowledge.

    I bought a 14x40 enco lathe almost new for $2500. Added lots of tooling and DRO. It's been an incredible tool for me use it constantly. I wouldn't want to go smaller in swing than what I have, it's a good size tool for a homeowner hobbyist.

    Also have a full sized Bridgeport. Love these. All Chinese Mills are just inadequate after using a real mill.
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  7. local1

    local1 Long timer

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    This is what I did. Used atlas lathe $1100.00
    Used bridgeport $1000.00
    #7
  8. PunkinHead

    PunkinHead Moobless Adventurer Super Supporter

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    I'm with the others - the mill/lathe combos are just way to limiting in workpiece size. Remember that the work envelope must include not only the piece you're working on but a vise and/or a way to clamp it down plus enough travel to work on all sides of it. The required work area is probably at least double or triple the size of the piece you'll be working on. On a mill you especially need enough Z-travel for long cutters and drill bits. The combo machines just don't cut it. Buy used, at least for the mill. There are actually some good Chinese lathes out there in a 10-12" swing which is plenty for most home mechanic projects.
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  9. Gillmartin

    Gillmartin Desultory Dilettante Supporter

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    Thanks all,
    My main concern with buying used is that I definitely am not qualified to determine if the used piece of equipment is worth buying.
    I can order the Smithy with DROs, an extra $600, or something like that.
    An example of something I'd like to do is finish an 80% AR lower. (I know, I don't need a lathe for that...)
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  10. local1

    local1 Long timer

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    I had looked long and hard at the Smitty's for over a year but I couldn't ever pull the trigger. I glad that I didn't, you will be also.
    #10
  11. PunkinHead

    PunkinHead Moobless Adventurer Super Supporter

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    I don't mean this in a mean way because we've all been where you're at now, but you're not qualified to buy new either if you're looking at a combo machine. Once you've got some machining under your belt you'll understand. Even the sloppiest, most worn out Bridgeport will be better than one of those combo machines. The only reason to have one of those is if you're REALLY strapped for space and you'll only do jewelry sized stuff.
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  12. Nodabs

    Nodabs Been here awhile

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    You can run small parts on large machines, it is difficult to run large parts on small machines. Not impossible, but very difficult.
    Good tooling is expensive, cheap tooling is even more expensive. Even if your time is free, redoing things that are wrong becomes annoying.
    Trying to make something "work" instead of using the proper tool will end up as a disaster the majority of the time. At best you scrap the part, at worst you hurt yourself or someone else.
    If you have room, a Bridgeport or clone and a decent lathe will be the best way to go.
    Don't mess around with High Speed tooling, use carbide. Learn the formulas for figuring out speeds and feeds, things work so much better when being ran correctly.
    This is what I do, and what I have done every day since I was 17 years old, 40+ years now. People pay me a lot of money for my machining advice, listen carefully! :D
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  13. local1

    local1 Long timer

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    I am going through this 70 yr old Bridgeport because I think I burnt the start cap. When a ladder fell over and semi engaged the motor for a couple of minutes before I saw smoke.
    It gives me a chance to freshen it up.
    Do you think anyone would go through the trouble on a 70yr old Mill,drill? IMG_20180317_175927972.jpg
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  14. Hankus

    Hankus Been here awhile

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    I’ll throw in with everyone else - look for some used machines. Two separate machines will be much more useful than one and even a clapped out Bridgeport is better than a new crappy chinese combo machine. Your proposed budget could buy a lot of good tooling and two pretty nice used machines. Tooling is something you will have to have. The finest new machine of the highest caliber is useless without tooling.
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  15. Newportcycle

    Newportcycle Adventurer

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    There are lots of tutorials out there on examining used equipment, tearing apart and repainting, cleaning, and setting up your equipment is a good learning experience, these machines are not very sophisticated. Unless your buying a machine used in a production shop chances are pretty good clearance's will be within any tolerance you will need. On lathes, examine the bed way's especially under the chuck for nicks or damage lots of folks do not put plywood cover down when changing the chucks and underestimate the weight and drop them on the way's when changing them.

    Its a lot of money and effort to invest for an AR lower, if you want a real challenge, teach yourself to build one of these ........ http://www.agelessengines.com/ that was the reason I began my own home machine shop adventure, then got transferred for work, no place for a shop, plan went to shit sold it all off.

    Good luck either way chum ........ let us know what you do.
    #15
  16. grizzzly

    grizzzly The Pre-Banned Version

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    i would take a class, more often than not the instructor knows lots of locals that have equipment
    i have a smithy
    my dad has a bridgeport
    i spend more time in his shop than i thought i would after i bought the smithy
    #16
  17. JohnE65c

    JohnE65c Been here awhile Supporter

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    I've been around long enough to remember the term "Jap Junk". The term "Chinese Junk" is still valid in many cases, but is wavering. If you disagree, you might have to do a lot of shopping around if you ever need orthopedic surgery or a surgical implant. https://www.beckersspine.com/orthop...st-orthopedic-device-market-12-things-to-know .
    There are decent Chinese machine tools out there but you have to look around, read reviews, prepare to make some mods on the fly, then decide. If you plan on making a living off your machine tools, or have no budget, buy the best money can buy. If you want to make a hobby out of restoring old machine tools before you do any "real machining", buy an old Bridgeport or South Bend (BTW, new South Bend lathes are made in Taiwan). If you want to have some fun in your garage making parts while learning to machine, buy a reputable Chinese mill, lathe, or combo and install a couple $100 digital readouts. If well taken care of, but you still think it's Chinese Junk, you can always sell for nearly what you paid.
    #17
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  18. Mattbastard

    Mattbastard Lazy ass

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    I'll admit, I just bought the Harbor Freight (Sieg X2 Mini mill) and have zero regrets. It's done more than I intended it for, and done it all with enough precision for me. Granted it's all been aluminum work thus far but as long as you understand its capabilities it works great.

    Also, Little Machine Shop does a nice array of upgrades if wanted.
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  19. jar944

    jar944 Long timer

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    I wouldn't get a combo, but (and I wouldn't recommend a round column Mill drill)

    But I don't regret buying a $700 Harbor freight round column Mill drill 15 years ago. It's managed to earn it's keep.

    Attached Files:

    #19
  20. Mad Dog Cycles

    Mad Dog Cycles Adventurer

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    I think the advice of having two separate machines is the way to go, but I'd need to justify their use. I have a Smithy 1220 that I bought for $700 twelve years ago and it serves all the needs I have for doing motorcycle repairs. Mainly making spacers, brackets and the like. If I set the tooling up I'm relatively certain I cold build AR lowers from blanks with it.
    #20