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Milling Machine

Machine tool used to machine materials where the workpiece is fixed to a table and moved in XYZ relative to a rotating cutting tool. They exist in two basic forms: horizontal and vertical, which terms refer to the orientation of the cutting tool spindle.

The most fundamental requirement of a milling machine is that it is stiff. To make it stiff you need a large bedplate, large column with a good connection to the bed. The result is it will be heavy, even a small mill like that shown above is around 60kg.


There are many small vertical milling machines available to model engineers. One we have reviewed recently is the Amadeal XJ12-300 (also shown in the main picture).

Direct Collets

The advantage of the direct collet is obvious in the pair of images as the distance from the end of the mill to the bearing in the head of the milling machine is much greater with the drill chuck.

The advantage with the milling machine is you get much less chatter as a result of this reduced overhang. In addition the chuck only holds the mill at three points whereas the collet holds the mill around it's circumference.

Emco Unimat 3

The Emco Unimat 3 lathe/drill/mill was a very high quality machine just slightly larger than a watchmakers lathe. Perfect as an introduction to model engineering and brilliant for fine work.

This particular machine is nearly 35 years old and going strong.

The lathe motor can be used to drive the mill, but for general everyday use I have fitted an old sewing machine motor - a bit lacking in power for the larger mill and drill bits but it will run continuously unlike the original motor that gets very hot after around 5 minutes.

The nose of the mill is threaded 14x1mm so that it can accept all of the drill chucks and attachments from the lathe. The mandrel that comes with the circular saw attachment works in the mill for holding slitting saws.

A T-slot table fits to the cross-slide and becomes the working table.

XY tables were made by Emco for this so that you could have a dedicated milling machine. I also use this milling attachment with my Hobbymat for cutting gears.


Vertical Setup

Before maching anything it is vital to set the head so that it is at 90° to the bed and this shows one method of doing just that more...


XY Accuracy

It is important that the X and Y axis are at 90° to each other. This is something you can fix by machining the slides, but first thing is to measure it and see if there is a problem more...


See also: Collets, Lathe, Rotary Table, Slot Drill, Tools & Tool Reviews.