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HF milling machine purchasing advice

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ARC-170

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#1
So I'd like to get a small mill. The HF one looks like it might be ok, but the reviews I've seen elsewhere are mixed. Seems like it could work with some modifications and work on my part. What would I need to do to make sure I get a decent one? I'm just a hobbyist, so it doesn't have to be fancy, but I would like it to work. I have to keep it small since space is limited as is my budget. Any advice would be appreciated.
 

ttabbal

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#2
I would consider any machine tool from HF to be more like a kit than a ready to use tool. If nothing else, you aren't disappointed that way.

If you have the budget for it, you might look at Precision Mathews. They have a good reputation here and I have one of their lathes I've been very happy with. I hear good things about the mills, but I haven't used one.
 

ARC-170

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#3
I would consider any machine tool from HF to be more like a kit than a ready to use tool. If nothing else, you aren't disappointed that way.

If you have the budget for it, you might look at Precision Mathews. They have a good reputation here and I have one of their lathes I've been very happy with. I hear good things about the mills, but I haven't used one.
Those are pretty cool, but a bit pricey. I'll keep loking for used.

My other option is this one:
https://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=4962&category=1387807683

I think it's the same one HF sells, but has better QC. My concern from buying from HF is you never know if you're going to get a good one or a crappy one, and if it will arrive in one piece. They don't ship to the store, only your house, so can't be inspected to make sure nothing is broken.

I figured a HF tool is more like a kit. I was wondering what I'd need to do to it to get it working its best. Is there a list on this site?
 

ttabbal

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#4
I've heard better reviews from littlemachineshop.com, so that might be an option. If mini is your work size, you might also look at Sherline.

This site was interesting when I was looking at mini machines. I decided to go bigger, but it might be helpful for you.

http://www.mini-lathe.com/Mini_mill/Main/mini-mill.htm
 

ch2co

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#5
Well I ended up getting a Grizzly version of the same? mini mill thrown in with the lathe I got. Figured it would probably just sit around and maybe get given away or traded for something. After I got the lathe set up and was happy with it, I decided to try the baby milling machine out. I now use it all the time and have been very happy with it although it has limitations. It’s not very powerful, the table is too small, but obviously the guy I got it from had “tuned” it up, added 3 axis digital readouts, and taken good care of it. I was planning on getting a PM 25 or similar, but I can’t believe all the stuff i’ve been able to do with what I thought to be a piece of junk. Mild steel, brass, copper, and mostly aluminum all handled with +- a couple thou accuracy with a little care taken by the operator (me). I still plan on getting a larger higher quality machine, but while I let the old coffee can fill up with spare change I’m thinking of an even larger maybe PM 35 ish machine. But I have been pleasantly surprised by the freebie I got, within its limitations.
 

ch2co

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#6
I should add, a great learning machine. Both in technique and patience.
 

Jason5555

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#7
I have the hf mini mill and its done what I've asked of it. One just has to play within its limits but is completely capable of milling steel. I have completed several projects with it and it takes up minimal space. The only real upgrade I have done to it so far was adding cheap igaging dros to all the axis. l will (hope to) one day buy a bigger "legit mill" if/when I get the space for it and the right price comes along. Make sure you atleast use the 20%coupon with it and if your patient enough, a 25% coupon always comes out on holidays.
 
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