[4]

Lathe milling attachment or milling machine

[3]
[10] Like what you see?
Click here to donate to this forum and upgrade your account!

DiscoDan

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Jul 16, 2018
Messages
146
Likes
68
#1
I have a 12x36 Craftsman lathe. I have considered buying a milling attachment for it and a collet set from Joel (mymachineshop). I recently discovered the Atlas MFC horizontal mill and I found one with a vertical head that appears to be complete but no mention of any tooling or condition for $950. I don't mind somewhat of a project and I enjoy the older American machinery. Thoughts on my choices?
 

JimDawson

Global Moderator
Staff member
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Feb 8, 2014
Messages
7,007
Likes
5,188
#2
Go for the Atlas. Those are nice little machines. That's what I started out with many years ago.
 

DiscoDan

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Jul 16, 2018
Messages
146
Likes
68
#3
I saw a few videos and it looks like the auto feed table moves a little slowly but I'm not in a big hurry. Is there any way to change speed on a stock machine?

Also, what should I be looking for on these machines?
 

JimDawson

Global Moderator
Staff member
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Feb 8, 2014
Messages
7,007
Likes
5,188
#4
Is I recall there are 3 or 4 table speeds that can be selected or changed with change gears. Been a long time ago :)

Like any machine, look at the ways, backlash, and overall condition. As long as it looks reasonably well cared for you are normally in good shape. But it's about a 50 - 60 year old machine, so don't expect it to be in new condition.
 

Bob Korves

H-M Supporter - Sustaining Member
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Jul 2, 2014
Messages
5,411
Likes
5,739
#5
I used an Atlas MFC once, and was really disappointed with it's performance. It had little power or rigidity. Might have been that particular machine. Granted, I am used to my Millrite mill, which is still considerably less than a Bridgeport. I think I would buy a used Chinese bench mill before the Atlas horizontal, probably for a lot less money, too.
 

francist

Active User
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Sep 5, 2013
Messages
980
Likes
1,461
#6
Without getting into a whole lot of detail, there are about 20 different table feeds for the Atlas milling machine. Selection is accomplished with the Change-O-Matic gear assembly by means of a lever. No gears are actually taken on or off as one typically associates with change gears. Here's a clip from one of the catalogues we have in the Downloads here that gives a bit more information on actual settings. Might be worth looking at those for anyone considering one.

-frank

Capture changeomatic.JPG
 

markba633csi

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Apr 30, 2015
Messages
2,769
Likes
1,435
#7
They are ok if a bit light. Not having a quill is a bummer (for drilling)
Lots of folks like 'em tho, and much better than any lathe milling attachment hoopty
mark
 

DiscoDan

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Jul 16, 2018
Messages
146
Likes
68
#8
Wow markba633csi, "hoopty" is pretty harsh!!
 

Winegrower

H-M Supporter - Silver Member
H-M Supporter - Silver Member ($10)
Joined
Jul 29, 2014
Messages
87
Likes
83
#9
Save up your money for a Bridgeport or clone thereof. And a lathe milling attachment always seemed like a horrible substitute for an actual mill.
 

DiscoDan

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Jul 16, 2018
Messages
146
Likes
68
#10
I have no room for a Bridgeport in my already full one car garage workshop. I could buy a small foreign mill but I like the old American iron.
 

coffmajt

H-M Supporter - Sustaining Member
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Sep 25, 2013
Messages
189
Likes
169
#11
I agree that a mill attachment for a lathe is a very poor piece to add unless you intend to take very very small cuts on very small pieces , I had one on my SB9a and soon went to a full size mill with huge improvements in accuracy
 

Chipper5783

Active User
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Sep 25, 2014
Messages
703
Likes
547
#12
I have a good sized SouthBend mill attachment (I believe it was the largest one that SB offered) that I set up on my 15" Enterprise lathe. Strictly speaking it is probably the solidest lathe milling set up a person it likely to find. Granted the 15" Enterprise is not a heavy pattern machine, but it is a respectable mid-sized lathe. Over all, with the mill attachment it is probably more robust and would have more capacity than what you would arrange for your 12" Craftsman. In conclusion, it was lengthly to set up and only practical for very limited milling set ups.

Yes, it is "possible" to perform limited milling operations with a lathe mill attachment. Do not confuse "possible" with it being a good plan. Nearly any small, old, worn out, off shore, junk mill will be more satisfactory than setting up your 12" Craftsman with a mill attachment. The Atlas MFC will be very limited compared to a modest knee mill - but a big step above the lathe mill attachment.

David
 

Bi11Hudson

Artificer00
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Feb 13, 2017
Messages
181
Likes
217
#13
Well, you did ask ...... and will get any number of opinions, including mine. Opinions are like *******, everybody has one and they all smell bad. Though, sometimes you can pick out worthy details by reading everything.

I also have a Craftsman 12X36 (101.27440) and an Atlas MFC mill. In response to the query, I can only say that a milling attachment on the lathe, while worthwhile, is for (very) light work. It can get you by in a pinch, but too light for real milling. I do have a milling attachment for mine and use it occasionally. But the work I do is primarily model building in a small scale. It is a little easier to set up than the MFC, read faster. Not a Craftsman, it's all homebrew.

The MFC is a whole 'nuther ball of wax. The spindle is a Morse Taper #2, it will accept a drill chuck from a large drill press. But should have a drawbar arrangement to keep it from falling out. Same with rotary milling tools, I have a number of MT2 tool holders and rigged a reversing switch on the motor. It states somewhere in the documentation that it will not yeild good results for "climb" milling. I am assuming you get a mandrel and drive with the machine.

I do occasionally use mine for drilling, with a right angle block. It's a pain in the wazoo, I have several drill presses. But occasionally have a specialty drill / mill /drill some more where it pays off. The bottom line here is that for the price given, I think the MFC, while light, would be the better buy. Assuming you get the pieces to use the mill in horizontal.

You speak of the vertical head; A good addition, wish I could lay my hands on one. Just be aware it is not made by Atlas, it's an after-market device. I would assume it also is fitted with the MT-2 socket. It ain't a Bridgeport, but is small enough for a bench and uses much of the tooling from the lathe. All in all, my opinion, smelly as it is, is go for it. Worst case, you can sell it later and get most of your money back.

Afterthoughts:
Both the milling speed and the table feed are adjustable. Watch out for broken teeth on the zamak gears, but they are replacable. I would highly recommend rebuilding from the git-go. The back gearing supposedly requires a special "wrench". I sort of jerry rigged a way to enable / disable it. I don't need slow speed for tough metals, I need it to see what I'm doing.

The page [http://www.lathes.co.uk/atlasmiller/] has a good write-up on the Atlas miller. Several of the photos (colour) are of my machine as I was rebuilding it.

Bill Hudson​
 
Last edited:

coherent

Registered
Registered
Joined
Aug 6, 2013
Messages
193
Likes
159
#14
Well, it looks like most everything has been covered. But, in my opinion milling attachments are no match for an actual mill. Even a small clean used mill would be my choice over any milling attachment. Especially considering that a quality milling attachment can be pretty pricey.
 

DiscoDan

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Jul 16, 2018
Messages
146
Likes
68
#15
Coherent, you are correct, the Atlas/Craftsman milling setups for 10" and 12" lathes are $500. I did find one in California for $250 but I will probably just go the mill route and do it right. I'll probably end up with a small vertical but I tend to geek out over the older American iron.

I was sort of down your way last week. My daughter goes to ASU so I was in Tempe getting her ready to start classes this week. Damn if it wasn't 111 the first two days. I honestly don't know how people live in that heat. And don't give me that old line "But it's a dry heat"!
 

Bi11Hudson

Artificer00
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Feb 13, 2017
Messages
181
Likes
217
#16
If ya can't stand the heat, git outta da kitchen.
 

hman

Active User
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Feb 17, 2013
Messages
1,729
Likes
1,354
#17
Damn if it wasn't 111 the first two days. I honestly don't know how people live in that heat. And don't give me that old line "But it's a dry heat"!
I live in the Phoenix area (moved from Oregon) and hear that silliness all the time. My reply: So's a convection oven! :)
... not to mention that, now that the Monsoon season has started, we do have some goodly humidity going on!
 

coherent

Registered
Registered
Joined
Aug 6, 2013
Messages
193
Likes
159
#18
I was sort of down your way last week. My daughter goes to ASU so I was in Tempe getting her ready to start classes this week. Damn if it wasn't 111 the first two days. I honestly don't know how people live in that heat. And don't give me that old line "But it's a dry heat"!
lol.. I live in the Sedona area about 100 miles north of Phoenix and work daily in Flagstaff, so a bit cooler up my way than Phoenix. I just bought a new bass boat a couple weeks ago and took it to a Phoenix area lake for it's maiden voyage and initial motor break in. ... by 10:30 am it was time to go home. I'm really looking forward to cooler weather!
 

ericc

Active User
H-M Supporter - Silver Member ($10)
Joined
Dec 24, 2013
Messages
316
Likes
89
#19
I'm wondering about this too. I want to cut a flat on my toolpost and only have a lathe. How long would it take to chuck a simple flycutter in the 4 jaw and just buzz it off. Could it maintain a decent DOC? Or would it be faster to do with hacksaw and files? I once had a contest cutting 2" 4140 round. My opponent had a Milwaukee red chop saw. I had a Starrett hacksaw with high tension frame and a special order coarse blade. I beat him by a wide margin, almost a factor of two. He really took it personally, and he immediately bought a horizontal bandsaw. No way I can beat that. The problem is that he had the wrong blade. It was for cutting steel studs, and it glazed really badly.
 

coherent

Registered
Registered
Joined
Aug 6, 2013
Messages
193
Likes
159
#20
I would think that if you can mount the toolpost well in your 4 jaw chuck or on a plate with the area you need to put the flat in "out" you should have no prob just using the lathe to cut the flat with a regular bit? The bandsaw would cut it faster but no where near as precise (if precision is needed). Maybe the bandsaw and clean it up on the lathe?
 

ericc

Active User
H-M Supporter - Silver Member ($10)
Joined
Dec 24, 2013
Messages
316
Likes
89
#21
That's an interesting idea. The toolpost looks kind of like a large mushroom, and it might be difficult to get a good grip on it. On the other hand, it is made for the lathe, so it fastens down to the compound T-slot.
 

epanzella

Active User
Registered
Joined
Apr 8, 2013
Messages
812
Likes
327
#22
Like has been said, a lathe milling attachment is no milling machine. Layout is harder, accuracy is less, rigidity is less. That said, you can mill a lot more parts on a milling attachment than a toaster. Obviously, the bigger the lathe and attachment, the more aggressive cuts you can make. I can conventional mill .050 with a 3/4 cutter on mine. I have absolutely no room for a mill, so the attachment is it for me.
DSC_0085.JPG SPANNER WRENCH AND NUT.JPG SPANNER WRENCH FITTED TO NUT.JPG DSC_0863.JPG
 
Last edited:

Winegrower

H-M Supporter - Silver Member
H-M Supporter - Silver Member ($10)
Joined
Jul 29, 2014
Messages
87
Likes
83
#24
For those of you who have no room for a mill, I say if I could only fit one machine in my shop it would be a mill. I spend more time by far on the mill, and for me trying to do milling on a lathe would be more challenging than to do lathe work on a mill. Who’s with me out there? :)
 

epanzella

Active User
Registered
Joined
Apr 8, 2013
Messages
812
Likes
327
#25
How do you contour and chamber a rifle barrel on a mill?
 

Winegrower

H-M Supporter - Silver Member
H-M Supporter - Silver Member ($10)
Joined
Jul 29, 2014
Messages
87
Likes
83
#26
Epanzella, good question. I don't know how to do this on a lathe either. :)
 

epanzella

Active User
Registered
Joined
Apr 8, 2013
Messages
812
Likes
327
#28
Here's trimming a tool post holder. Interrupted cut. Very satisfactory results.
Trimming the bottom of that holder to get tool O/C, I presume? Although I read that interrupted cuts don't agree with carbide, I've had good luck using carbide as well. The first time I used carbide I was forced to do it. Using HSS to turn some torch cut plate was a joke as the edge wouldn't last 10 seconds. I tried carbide as a last resort and it blew rith thru the jagged torch cut.
 

Downunder Bob

H-M Supporter - Sustaining Member
Staff member
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
May 16, 2016
Messages
942
Likes
372
#29
I have to agree with most of the above comments. A milling attachment is no substitute for a real mill, but some of us have restrictions, mine is space. I already had to compromise with a short bed lathe. I had to settle for only 16"between centers on a 12" swing, so pretty short it also meant I couldn't have a gap.

If I had the space I would love to have a bridgeport or clone thereof. but I simply don't have the space. So I'm making a vertical spindle milling attachment for the lathe. I already do some horizontal milling, either clamping small items to the toolpost, or for larger items remove the toolpost and clamp them to the cross slide. and running various cutters in the headstock, I have some MT3 arbors with draw bar, and a MT3 to 5 sleave, It works quite well and I'm happy with the depth of cut and feed rates that I can get.

I'm always careful to not climb mill, I have never liked the practice anyway, I have seen too many machines damaged, and only rarely use for a fine finish cut if needed.

Sure a real mill would be better, but like I said " no room".
 
[6]
[5] [7]
Top