March 2, 2003, 09:21 AM
I've just about talked myself into buying a mini-mill for some light pistol work. Just talking sights, maybe a little fronstrap grooving...
I'd never consider a full-size bridgeport, either in $ or in room. Just want to know if the mini-mills can do any useful work.
Anybody use one?
Thanks for any info.
March 2, 2003, 11:06 AM
You can use the Mini Mill for making small parts. The frontstrap grooves requires the use of indexing centers, so there would be no room for the setup. Do not try to make the grooves with a grip frame held stationary under the cutter; 'twon't work. Also the grooves are cut with a wheel cutter, which requires some kind of an arbor to drive or with a shank wheel cutter at 90 degrees, like the one Brownells have in their catalog. When risking a pistol grip frame to an experimental cut, it is safer to rely on a mill with at least one and a half horsepower (on stainless frames, anyway.) The first time you gouge up a brand new grip frame...and the screaming and cursing dies down...you will have gotten the idea.
Some used bench mills fit in a very small area. If you are careful, you can get by with using one (the setup just fits under an Atlas bench mill with homemade index centers.) Look up the Atlas Shaper and Milling Machine User's Group on Yahoo. Sometimes, you can buy a used mill for what you have allocated for the mini mill, and it has a much wider scope of use.
March 29, 2003, 08:50 PM
I own a Mini-Mill. As Pistolsmith mentioned it's limited. I have cut a dovetail in a SS Colt and blue PO slide but the x,y travel is to restrictive and the gibs are low quality.
March 29, 2003, 10:49 PM
Well, I took the plunge and bought the mini-mill. While I don't doubt everything that's been said, I have found it to be capable of doing everything that I've tried to do so far, even if that's only making a couple of sights...
I can see it's limitations, but I think I can learn alot before I reach them. I think the frontstrap serrations are probably out, but it seems that dovetails would be a snap.
For $400, I feel I got my money's worth. As I learn and accumulate tooling (and find some more space!) I may outgrow it, but I'll be a much better machinist when I do.
Thanks for all the info,
March 31, 2003, 09:07 PM
I'm in a similar boat. I currently have the money to buy the mill that I've always wanted, however, I don't have any place to put it. One of the places I used to work at is generously allowing me the temporary use of there shop where I'm constructing two heavy duty cabinet benches that I will move into my apartment. One will house my stock making tools and the other will play home to my mini lathe and mini mill. Sometimes you have to make do with the small stuff and it's amazing what can be done with them due to need.