View Full Version : Has anyone converted a drill press into a mill ever?
04-02-2011, 07:01 AM
I know it sounds crazy but now that I have a lathe I am thinking why not have a mill? Well I have this useless piece of @$%#*$(( drill press and the stand bends as I apply the pressure while drilling. But! The motor and the rest is kind of cool having the ability to change the speed and all. So I was wondering if I should just look for a used mill or maybe try to find a mill base and combine the two???? All the two pennies would be appreciated :yo:
04-02-2011, 07:27 AM
Usually, the bearing in a standard drill press is a bit light for millwork, however, for aluminum, if you take it easy, it works OK. Most low-end drillpresses don't slow down enough for steel. I do most of my light milling on a cheapo Home Depot drillpress using a bi-directional vice such as: http://www.harborfreight.com/5-inch-drill-press-milling-vise-94276.html
The main reason I don't use the heavy-duty mill on my lathe is that it takes about 2 hours to setup and 2 hours to convert back to lathe operations. It is an old Atlas Lathe with the Atlas milling attachment circa 1960. Very functional for fine work, but a pain if you just want to make one cut.
I can't imagine using a drillpress without a bi-directional vice anyway, it is the fastest way to line up parts for replication, such as through-drilling square tubing. Line up the first hole, and just crank from there.
It works OK for most cuts. The key is to keep the passes shallow and not try to take as much per line as you would with a Bridgeport.
Sorry Gabor, you have the "machinist disease," now nothing but a "real" mill will suffice to ease the pain.
04-02-2011, 04:22 PM
Try finding one at an auction or some other place, in Canada we have a place called Princess Auto, they sell a portable milling machine and lathe I bought them both for under 1700.00, and if you ever have a problem with it, just take it back and get a new one from them.
There are other places I have found buying things like that, www.craigslist.com, and maybe www.kijiji.com
As for making an drill-press into a milling machine it works but it not going to make you happy with the out come I know a guy that did that, trust me when I say in the long run its cheaper to find a used machine, the drill-press is not a good idea.
04-02-2011, 04:30 PM
Ok here is the machine I should have bought from them, but this is their newest machine at Princess Auto...
I am sure you can find whatever your needs and if you want this machine and they won't sell it to you because your in the states or whatever, just PM me I am sure we can get one to you.
04-03-2011, 12:59 PM
I can be done for very light cuts Gabor, but the quill on a drill press is generally much smaller in diameter and not nearly as stiff as one for a mill. Also the bearings for a drill press aren't made for the side loads a mill sees. Like Jon said, for light cuts it can be done, but once you begin to make parts by milling. you'll probably want a real machine to do it.
You will probably find that the press fit chuck you have on the drill press will come off the shaft very quickly once you try using it as a mill, although they look very similar the two tools are very different, a mill can be used in place of a drill press but not visa-versa.
04-03-2011, 06:36 PM
Thank you all for the replies. I will be looking for a real mill. Of course something on the "hobby" level. Probably Craigslist will be my best bet. I can see how a drillpress is just not going to take the beating a mill can take any time. Thank you al again I do appreciate it a lot :)
See you live in Port Orange Fl. How far would you drive for a good buy. Don't have anything on tap, but just wonder about distance in case I saw something somewhere, say in Florida.
Think what you will be looking for is a good mill/drill
04-03-2011, 07:30 PM
Tony I don't mind to drive if it's worth it. Thinking of driving last Bensen Days I drove over a 1000 miles back and forth between Wauchula and Port Orange in 4 days :)
Hell I even drove up to North Carolina for the Rotors over Carolina fly in. Although I must admit for now the lathe is going to be my main focus. I was just thinking down the line when I get good at this I will need to learn milling too.... So it is not life and death situation.
04-04-2011, 05:26 AM
Cut to the chase and get yourself a nice used bridgeport. Hobby mills are ok but you will quickly find out they all have limits. I have seen a BPT for as low as a grand and up to 5 g. Drill press quills are tapered and will be relieved of their chuck as soon as you put any horizontal pressure on it.
04-06-2011, 10:15 AM
A good full-size mill is a joy to operate and just about the most useful tool in the shop.
Here in Texas, they sell for about $1000 to $2000 depending on age, brand and the depth of the grease layer .... lots of them in estate sales and auctions.
There are excellent American brands other than Bridgeport and the Encos are perfectly good machines as well, so don't agree to pay extra just because it says Bridgeport on it.
When you do find that affordable, full sized mill, try to get all the collets, cutters, vises and rotary tables that should go along with it .... these are worth as much as the base price of the mill itself.
I am strictly a hobbiest, so I don't need production line tools - I buy almost all my stuff from Victor Machinery ( www.victornet.com/ ) I talk to the guy on the phone and my stuff shows up a couple days later - couldn't be simpler.
Most machines will be 3-phase 220V, so you will likely need a phase converter, which can be either commercial or home-brew. I opted for a solid state unit from Phase-A-Matic.
Motor drives for the table are very handy but I generally prefer to crank the handles myself.
Be aware that a real mill will weigh close to a ton. My Index Model 645 is 2150 lbs, with motor. I happpen to have a good overhead lift in the workshop/hanger and room to back a trailer inside, but moving the thing around after unloading was an engineering episode like building a pyramid or transporting Easter Island stone heads.
Of course, once you get the mill running, you'll need better saws and welders. I presume you already have powder coating oven? These are my wish list, anyway...
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