February 2018 Posts

Framebuilder Tooling – Using a Milling Machine

Framebuilder Tooling – Using a Milling Machine

A Milling Machine is usually the second major machine tool any aspiring metalworker will obtain, after a lathe. More correctly known as a vertical mill as horizontal mills do exist. Whereas a lathe mainly turns objects in a circle, the milling machine will make objects square and cut slots as well as performing tasks that can also be done on a lathe such as drilling and tapping (being more flexible for this), boring holes and sawing (using a ‘slitting saw’) and mitering tubes.
 Basically it consists of a drill mounted on a column which can be moved up and down, pretty much the same as a pillar drill. The head is wound down slowly and has an accurate depth scale on the operating handle. There is also a plunge section as you would find on a pillar drill with a large handle which can be used for rapid drilling but is locked out for more subtle milling operations. The column can often be tilted from side to side to enable cutting at an angle but in practice this is not very useful and it is usually better to mount the work at an angle. The mill can be used as a drill press. Some mills are sold as mill/drills but I am not sure of the difference. Drills can be mounted in a drill chuck but other tools are best mounted in a collet chuck system which is more accurate and secure. The drill head itself can only move up and down, so the shaping of the metal is achieved by moving the table in two axes, against the milling cutters of which there are several types. Collet chucks and the like are usually attached to the mill head using a morse taper. These have a tapped hole in the top which is to further secure them in the drilling head with a threaded bar. Unfortunately a lot of potentially interchangeable lathe tools have a tang (a projecting bit of metal) which is to facilitate their ejection from the lathe tailstock. This means they will not fit into the mill head. I am mystified as to why tooling manufacturers do not make interchangeable tools.
*(Belatedly I have discovered my mill can accept tools with a tang by fully extracting the drawbar, I do not know if all mills are capable of this. I have not seen any reference to it anywhere so it may well be worth asking if you are considering a specific purchase)
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Femi 782XL Metal Cutting Bandsaw – Review

Femi 782XL Metal Cutting Bandsaw – Review

I have wanted a bandsaw for some time but have been deterred by their size and weight in as much as one would have needed a permanent space allocating in the workshop, which I do not have! I then discovered the Femi portable saws, the 782XL being the smallest and only weighing 16kg. It will cut solid metal up to 41/2 inch diameter at a reasonable speed and the blade requires no lubrication during cutting. It stores away under my bench. 
I also obtained one of the matching tables which folds flat so also takes up no space. Although the table is sold as matching the bandsaw I could only match up one hole to slip a bolt through to make sure it is stable in use when being used as a table saw. It seems perfectly stable when used otherwise resting on a bench or the floor.
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Extras available are a small cutting table which attaches easily by clamping in the material clamp and a quadrant kit which in retrospect I probably will not use as it appears to be designed to help feed a large sheet at an angle, the size of which I cannot envisage using. Oddly Femi do not supply a fence guide which I think you really do need when cutting small pieces on the table. It is possible to purchase generic fences from places such as Axminster but I do not know for sure if they will fit.