View Full Version : Mini Mill

10-03-2005, 03:01 PM
Hey I've been wanting to do some machinging for a while now and finaly have the money to buy some equipment. I will be making mostly parts for R/c cars and trucks. I also have a few friends interested in parts for their 50s. So here's the deal I'm looking at two different machines.

Harbour freight item 44991-2VGA

Sherline 5400A Deluxe Mill Package

I have also been looking at accessories from the lttle machine shop.

Before I get people flaming with their sum flung dung opinions, I really want to know If anyone has used these particular machines and if they have what they can say for them. I will be working in ally primarilly with some steel and even less titanium maybe even stainless a little.

Brandon McCarthy

10-03-2005, 07:49 PM
Hi Brandon,

I was looking at mini mills (a mill/drill combo actually) some time ago, and I posted pretty much the same question here to see what peoples opinions were regarding these small machines. Although the machines you are looking at may be somewhat different from what I was looking for, you may find the replies I recieved from the readership helpful when making your decision.

The forum article can be viewed here:

Good luck in your equipment search Brandon, I hope you find the machine you need to suit the work you are planning on doing.


10-03-2005, 09:34 PM
I have been using Sherline tools for a few years. I would go with the Sherline. Lots of tooling available, user groups for all Sherline products including cnc. One of the best, most complete web sites I have ever seen.
I hope to have my cnc by the end of the year. My son-in-law has a lathe and two mills, manual and cnc. He has a load of Auto Cad and solidworks experience, plus mechanical enginering, electronic development, robotics and photography. So, I should have some reliable instuction close at hand. Then, it is up to me to learn.
There are cheaper machines then the Sherline, but, none with their virsatility and expansion potential. If you haven't taken a good look at their site be sure to go through it. www.sherline.com . Bob.

10-05-2005, 12:40 PM
I had good luck with MAXNC that we had at work used as a prototyping machine.
thay have them as CNC and manual machines

10-05-2005, 03:40 PM
Well I was on ebay today looking at mills and stumbled on two huge ancient old mills for sale within biking distance of my house. It's kinda a big jump going fom mini to gigantice but they're so close. Both mills are Kearney-Trecker model H millwaukee's. If I knew how to make a hyperlink I would>

Brandon McCarthy

anders nørgaard
10-05-2005, 10:30 PM
Hi Brandon,

Posting a hyperlink is just as easy as posting a pic http://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon7.gif
Being on the site you want to post the link to, you just right click once in the address bar (top og screen)
Click "copy"
Go to your post on MM
Click the 3rd buttom (the one with the globe and the chain link) to the left of the image/pic button.
A small window will pop up
Right click in that pop up window
Click "paste"
Press "Enter" and your hyperlink will be therehttp://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon6.gif

Actually it doesn't even have to be THAT "difficult" to post a hyperlink http://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon7.gif
Here's the easy version:
Below the "posting/typing window" there's a field titled "Additional Options" In that field, the upper "subfield" is titled. "Miscellaneous Options"
Check mark the field "Automatically parse links in text"

Now all you have to do is copy the hyperlink in the address bar from the site you want to link to.
Right click in the post field in MM and click "Paste"
The link is in your post http://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon6.gif http://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon12.gif

Hope this explanation wasn't to long http://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon10.gif http://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon10.gif http://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon10.gif

10-05-2005, 10:55 PM
Brandon, those mills will most likely be 3-phase and could be 440 volt. If you have room for one you may have to spend more money moving it and getting it under power than the small one would cost.............something to consider............john

10-06-2005, 02:30 PM
Anders are you messing with me or am I missing something because I don't have any buttons anywhere.

Brandon McCarthy

10-06-2005, 09:23 PM
Brandon, click "post reply" the buttons are at the top of the message box. The hyperlink is the globe/chain link button. If you hover the curser over them a box will come up telling their purpose...........john

anders nørgaard
10-06-2005, 10:57 PM
Anders are you messing with me or am I missing something because I don't have any buttons anywhere.

Brandon McCarthy

Hi Brandon,
Wouldn't even think about messing with you :lol:

Guess you haven't changed the settings in the User Control panelhttp://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon12.gif

In the blue bars on top of the page, left, you'll find the "User CP" button.... click that.
Page will change and a list of oppotunities will show in the left side of page!
There's a button "Settings & Options"... cliclk that!
Page will change again and 5 windows will show.
Bottom field is "Miscellaneous Options"
In that field yo must choose "Enhanced Interface-Full WYSIWYG Editing"
Save changes.

Then, the next time you press "Reply", you'll have all the buttons you'd ever dream ofhttp://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon7.gif

Hope this fixes your problem http://www.metalmeet.com/forum/images/icons/icon7.gif

10-07-2005, 02:24 AM
Anders, Great tip , how much easier is this WYSIWYG editor :grin:

10-07-2005, 08:51 AM
Hey Jon, WISIWYG adds many more options which makes it a lot easier to do what you want to do. Have fun!

10-07-2005, 02:56 PM
Wow thats a lot of buttons. I guess I should pay better attention because it took all to long to find out about those buttons.

Back to the mill here is the machine thats down the road from me.

Brandon McCarthy

10-07-2005, 03:05 PM

Are you going to bring it to MM05?

I am sure I will have something to trade for it at that price! LOL....

David Edwards

10-07-2005, 07:56 PM
I guess what I really want to know is is that a good price for a machine like that? Can I make a rotary phase converter for it? Are accessories like vises milling bits all the stuff gonna be aviable and easy to get? Do I need something with a 40" table?

Branodn McCarthy

10-07-2005, 08:31 PM
I have that mill at work, nice machine! Don't touch it with a 10 foot pole!!!

1. It weigh's about 6000#'s

2. It likes about 30amps of 3 phase 208 volts. You would need a rotary converter of at least 10hp to handle the starting load.

3. You will need a big forklift at each end of the move, and a strong trailer or truck to haul it.

4. Takes up lot's of floor space! Picture 6' x 6' of floor space under it!

5. Tooling is not to bad for this machine, until you try and buy a BIG vice for it. Cubic dollars!!

6. If you have the space, a way to move it, and the desire to own a BIG mill
wait until the last 10 minutes of the auction, then put a bid in on it.
I was at an auction one time that had a 2 headed mill that was HUGE, no one would bid on it. A guy there tried to make a joke about it, and offered $250 for it. SOLD!! He told me later, that it cost $750 to get it home!

So be careful!!!!!!!!!!

10-23-2005, 08:16 PM
Wowzers! My first reply!
I've been lurking around here for a while and I finally sat down and registered on the board. I've been following a few of your posts Brandon and you are farther along with your metal skills than what I have.

Take a look at my website. I am working on a small brass model trailer.


I'm looking for a mini-mill too. Be careful of those cheap ones on ebay because of the wiring and the size of them. I personally would not get anything that is big enough to run 3-phase wiring. You are just going to throw more money at it to get it to run, plus, as stated, these machines are usually really heavy.

Actually...do you want a mini-mill yet? From what I have read, a mini-lathe is actually the first purchase you want if you are starting a machine shop. I bought my mini-lathe about four months ago and I have been extremely happy with it. I guess the reasoning is that you can use hand tools (albeit at a slower pace) what the mini-mill does, but you cannot do the same job with hand tool that a lathe does....or something like that. I picked up my lathe on ebay from Cummins Tools. I think I had around $450 in it with shipping.

The Sherline brand is a great line, although it is going to cost quite a bit more than one of the imports that you are looking at. I have been happy with my import lathe, I figure that I will go with one of the imports when I get my mill.


10-24-2005, 03:01 AM
.......wait until the last 10 minutes of the auction, then put a bid in on it.

Or try sniping it ;-) see:- www.auctionsniper.com

10-24-2005, 02:29 PM
Well I'm still on the lookout for a mill I have seen and passed up a few on ebay that would have been nice. The problem I've been running into on ebay is most bigger stuff people won't ship or it costs a huge amount to ship.

Mike I like your trailer project. Are you going to build something to pull it next?
Does that lathe work well or at least well enough for model work because I've been looking at a very similar one.

Does anyone have any books that they would recomend on machinig in general. I have done a bit of reading but would like to learn more before I actually attempt to start making chips.

Brandon McCarthy

10-24-2005, 03:56 PM
Hi Brandon,
The lathe is working perfectly for what I am doing. My wheels for the trailer started as 2-1/4" solid brass round stock. I had a buddy of mine cut it into a width a little larger than the finished product. Of course, these cheaper import lathes might not turn the metal as fast as a higher quality machine, but since I am just learning, I have been going slow anyway.

I found this website that rents how-to videos on machining:


Click on the Machinist: Lathe link on the left and there are a number of videos availble. Get the one by Jose Rodriguez. He uses a 7 x 10 mini-lathe. The one by Rudy Kouhoupt that I rented (Grinding Lathe Tools) was not quite as good. For one, he uses some heavy duty machinery.

I screwed up my first wheel when I went to drill the holes around the outer edge. I did not have my vise clamped to the drill press table and one of the bits caught and took a good sized chunk out. I bolted the vise down on the next two wheels.

I plan on building another trailer after I am done with this one. I think my scale is 1:8. I'm using 1/8" is equal to 1". I want to eventually build a highly detailed HEMMT or maybe a HMMWV to pull the trailers. The HEMMT is the big eight wheel trucks (four steering wheels up front and four trailing wheels on the back). It would be huge in 1:8 scale! But I definately need my mill for that project.

I am hardly an expert on any of this, but I'll do my best to answer anything. You are going to find people that think you need a "real" brand name mill or lathe to do anything. No disrespect intended, but that is not the case. If you need to make parts that are within .001 tolerances, the import lathe might not be for you. If you want to learn and pick up some experience first, the imports work well.