Got a vertical mill, now what?

awp101

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Short version, I got one of these for free (at least I'm pretty sure it's this one): https://www.harborfreight.com/two-speed-variable-bench-mill-drill-machine-44991.html

Longer version: The shop where I work bought one of these 3-4 years ago, used it a couple of times, set it outside (under cover though) and left it. Everyone involved with that project has quit, retired or been fired. During the clean up after the new boss got here I expressed an interest in it so it got sent home with me along with either the clamp kit or block and clamp set (I'm not sure which I have).

There's surface rust on the chuck and handles and the plastic accordion baffle thing needs replacing but it runs and has either been converted to belt drive from gear drive or the other way around, I forget which.

The first two things I'd like to know are, is it worth a crap and what can I do with it AFA 1911 work and maybe some 80% stuff later on?

Thanks!
 

SteveO

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I used and just sold a machine very similar to this. I was able to do a few guns on it, but found it to be too travel challenged and the backlash continually got worse. You can get a few good licks out of these machines new with SS or carbon steel slides. But, you have to be extremely careful and I had to install DROs on mine. After a few months I upgraded to a Grizzly and am currently in the process of getting it all set up.. Good luck, but be very careful as this machine is more for alum and plastics then it is solid metals. If your just going to do one or two of your own you should be okay, but these are not designed for longevity and continued use with hard materials.
 

awp101

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Thanks, I figured these were pretty much a light use set up. I lack patience at times when dealing with metal working so if it hadn't been free, I wouldn't have given it any thought. This might be a reason to pick up an 80% Glock frame to try out if I can find one on the cheap.

Or maybe I can replicate this:


:D
 

SteveO

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Thanks, I figured these were pretty much a light use set up. I lack patience at times when dealing with metal working so if it hadn't been free, I wouldn't have given it any thought. This might be a reason to pick up an 80% Glock frame to try out if I can find one on the cheap.

Or maybe I can replicate this:


:D
Now those would be more than doable on this type of mill, don't get me wrong I was able to turn out a couple decent looking slides, but very short lived and it took a ton of patience and very small bites lol. ;) Good luck keep us posted.
 

ZoidMeister

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The Hamlet Squire of Tomfoolery . . .
i could do better with a die grinder a dremel and a couple files , in fact I have.

Last time I got near a 1911 with a dremel, I had "erector set" on my mind . . . . . . was trying to create my own version of a "lightweight" . . . . .

Galvanized it to keep it "rust resistant" . . . . .

HIDEOUS-1911-02.jpeg

Those were someone's attempt to port a BFR. Someone on another forum found it in a shop and took pics. I'm pretty sure I could do better with a file or a Dremel. Maybe even a drunken beaver...
 

Zipper046

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SteveO can help ya out...he started small and has now produced some pretty darn nice stuff!!!
 

FWoo45

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IMO (it's not humble), turd polishers, are just that. I have no use for a blinged out gun that won't run. Nor the facepage hacks that produce and promote them. Not that I am suggesting that you don't have the knowledge to make it run OP. Just adding my feelings to Bender's comment.
 

Babboonbobo

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Didn’t say there was nothing wrong with a pretty gun.

There just seems to be a few that are playing fluff & buff yet know nothing of the internals. Giving praise where praise isn’t due is just plain flipping wrong.
Absolutely agree, that’s why I say they MUST run! I’ve only got one gun that’s been worked on by a member on another forum and really runs great, better than when I bought it. I did the fluff and buff for the most part but am no good at getting them to run. I needed help with that portion.
So I spend the money and only buy semi-customs at the moment. Some day I may have a real complete custom done.
 

SteveO

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Experience comes with time, practice and learning. An airplane mechanic doesn't start out an airplane mechanic, he starts out as a student. Learning as he goes until one day he becomes an airplane mechanic. Anyone willing to apply themselves can learn anything they want if willing to take the time and make the sacrifices. Knowledge always comes with a price. The beauty of knowledge is nobody ever knows it all, this world is chucked full of people who all started at the bottom and how far someone goes is totally dependent upon their own will and desire to succeed.
 
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Bender

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Dark side o the moon.....
Don’t flatter yourself in thinking my comments are directed toward you Steve. But, if ya want to chat with that context in mind, we can do that. What you said is true and I agree with it. However, when dealing with objects that can and will kill people, a proper education should be the foundation for the experience.

Learning of the internal workings is what I am talking about. The bits and pieces you don’t see are more important than the ones you can see. An aviation tech doesn’t start with buying some tools and taking off a wing and refinishing a fuselage. There is an order of advancement that comonly occurs and use widely agreed upon. One starts at the bottom with the basics, receives the needed education and proceeds from there under the tutelage of another.

There are some that are doing work on pistols that don’t even possess an FFL. Some do work around this by simply working under the license of another FFL holder. Some simply don’t have one. Personally, I don’t want to get any work done from a guy who lost his license or simply doesn’t have one.

Beveling the slide, French borders, serrations, all good stuff and people like that. However, the fluff and buff simply draws in those who aren’t experienced with what makes a quality pistol. I see some pistols just getting this smoke and mirrors treatment and they sell like hot cakes.

Keep in mind, I’m not knocking the guy who wants to build pistols for himself. My comments are about the established “smiths” and those that are just getting their foot in the door. I. All about doing things for myself and I can see the allure of building one. However, one can’t simply peek into the rabbit hole and produce a proper pistol. Everything is inner-related and all aspects of the pistol need addressed to a certain degree. Learning how to do this correctly and safely is key. Education is the foundation of learning a trade. If you are building a house, the foundation does not get installed after the trusses are in and before the windows and doors are hung.

Buying a few tools, blue coveralls, a red hat and a shirt with a LOWELL nametag does not make one an A&P tech.
 
Last edited:

Bender

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Short version, I got one of these for free (at least I'm pretty sure it's this one): https://www.harborfreight.com/two-speed-variable-bench-mill-drill-machine-44991.html

Longer version: The shop where I work bought one of these 3-4 years ago, used it a couple of times, set it outside (under cover though) and left it. Everyone involved with that project has quit, retired or been fired. During the clean up after the new boss got here I expressed an interest in it so it got sent home with me along with either the clamp kit or block and clamp set (I'm not sure which I have).

There's surface rust on the chuck and handles and the plastic accordion baffle thing needs replacing but it runs and has either been converted to belt drive from gear drive or the other way around, I forget which.

The first two things I'd like to know are, is it worth a crap and what can I do with it AFA 1911 work and maybe some 80% stuff later on?

Thanks!

Have you made any progress with this?
Would love to have a small mill and a lathe. I would have more use for them making small parts and tools than a gunsmithing use.
 

Bender

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I know PJ has been a bit busy lately. Was hoping to see more of his work lately. APG is sorta homeless so he won’t be doing anything until he gets into the new shack.
 

SteveO

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Don’t flatter yourself in thinking my comments are directed toward you Steve. But, if ya want to chat with that context in mind, we can do that. What you said is true and I agree with it. However, when dealing with objects that can and will kill people, a proper education should be the foundation for the experience.

Learning of the internal workings is what I am talking about. The bits and pieces you don’t see are more important than the ones you can see. An aviation tech doesn’t start with buying some tools and taking off a wing and refinishing a fuselage. There is an order of advancement that comonly occurs and use widely agreed upon. One starts at the bottom with the basics, receives the needed education and proceeds from there under the tutelage of another.

There are some that are doing work on pistols that don’t even possess an FFL. Some do work around this by simply working under the license of another FFL holder. Some simply don’t have one. Personally, I don’t want to get any work done from a guy who lost his license or simply doesn’t have one.

Beveling the slide, French borders, serrations, all good stuff and people like that. However, the fluff and buff simply draws in those who aren’t experienced with what makes a quality pistol. I see some pistols just getting this smoke and mirrors treatment and they sell like hot cakes.

Keep in mind, I’m not knocking the guy who wants to build pistols for himself. My comments are about the established “smiths” and those that are just getting their foot in the door. I. All about doing things for myself and I can see the allure of building one. However, one can’t simply peek into the rabbit hole and produce a proper pistol. Everything is inner-related and all aspects of the pistol need addressed to a certain degree. Learning how to do this correctly and safely is key. Education is the foundation of learning a trade. If you are building a house, the foundation does not get installed after the trusses are in and before the windows and doors are hung.

Buying a few tools, blue coveralls, a red hat and a shirt with a LOWELL nametag does not make one an A&P tech.
I agree with everything you said wasn't flattering myself at all was simply saying the sky is the limit for those who have the will and desire to make things happen. I don't necessarily think one has to learn by being fully tutored by another in this day in age, because of all the information out there and the availability of knowledge that wasn't necessarily their when we were kids.
However, one can't leave out the experience of another either especially when those who have went before and done the things one desires to do. Learning how to do something properly requires the knowledge and the skill comes by way of use.

110% the inner workings are a ton more important, and proper safety and function should be the number one goal of anyone desiring to do anything to a firearm. Was just stating that things like that do take time, and I try and not to discourage those wishing to learn. I personally couldn't live with my own conscience to send anything out of my presence that was faulty in any way, including my own personal collection of firearms, a definitive amount of both ethics and morals when working with something that could be of danger to another definitely is needed. Totally agree.
 

SteveO

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Oh, btw @Bender I'm going to visit Rob over at Alchemy/Cabot next Thursday. Really excited and honored to be able to glean from the knowledge of a true craftsman and see how the pros make it happen. Can't wait, like a kid the night before the first day of school lol.

I plan on coming away from there with a great deal of information and understanding. Told him I didn't have much to return other than my respect and admiration. Hoping to see one of those anomallys up close and personal as well lol. Really looking forward to it for sure.
How's the new job treating ya?
 

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