What's New


Workshop Stuff


Moving the mill

Spindle Noises

ShumaTech Digital Readout

ShumaTech DRO Continued

DRO-350 Repairs

South Bend 9" Lathe

South Bend 405 Lathe Bench

Grizzly Mill Revisited

Surface Grinder Rebuild

Surface Grinder Continued

Grinder April 6, 2008

Grinder April 20, 2008

Grinder August, 2008

Grinder September, 2008

Grinder November, 2008

Grizzly G3103 Mill

Grizzly G3103 Mill
Rebuild - Part 2

Moving the Shop

Moving the Shop 2

Bringing Home a Sheldon 12" Shaper

Sheldon 12" Shaper 2

Sheldon 12" Shaper 3

Sheldon 12" Shaper 4

Sheldon 12" Shaper 5

Sheldon 12" Shaper 6

Sheldon 12" Shaper 7

Sheldon 12" Shaper 8

Sheldon 12" Shaper 8

Way Alignment Tool



Email Jim


I have another scraping project coming up and I thought it was time to make a proper copy of the King Way alignment tool. I think that this tool will help me to keep the ways parallel and plumb on the new project.

The last of the shaper projects has been finished. I've made a new crank handle. Now it's time to ask the shaper to earn its keep.

Time to stop the shaper from trying to walk across the floor. I learn how to attach a machine tool to concrete. This project made a big difference in the way the shaper operates. Well worth the time and effort.

With the shaper now able to make more accurate parts, I wanted to turn a new ball handle to replace the single nut where the ball handle should have been. Since I didn't have a ball turner, I had to make one. The project turned out looking good and all I need to do before I put the shaper to work is to attach it to the concrete floor.

I have finished tuning up the vise. The test cuts came out pretty nice. The table and vise are square with the ram, but there were another couple of issues to deal with. One of these days I just might finish this project.

The shaper is getting closer to being done. I have finished scraping the table support and the boss that it rides on. I finally get to take a test cut to check the work on the tool head.

Still more progress on the Sheldon shaper. I have now scraped in the tool head and swivel block and put a new surface on the tool head lock. Hopefully I am getting closer to being able to plane the vise rails.

I have made some more progress on the Sheldon shaper. I have scraped the swivel base for the shaper vise and have scraped the vise body. The one remaining task to do to finish the vise is to cut the top vise rails. I am going to try to do this on the shaper, so I needed to adjust it to be as accurate as I can get it.

I have made some progress on cleaning up my Sheldon shaper. It is in pretty good shape, but it does have a few issues that need to be sorted out. I now have power to it and have made a couple test cuts. This has led me to pulling out my metal scraping gear to take care of a less than accurate vise. I haven't done any scraping in a long time, so I am enjoying the process.

While in the middle of the air conditioning repairs on my truck, an opportunity presented itself. This was a Sheldon 12" shaper being offered for sale by one of the members of a metal working group in the Washington D.C. area. I happened to be the first to say I wanted it. While I was trying to get cold air back into my truck, I spent time working out how I could get the shaper moved from its current location to my shop. The move went smoothly and I now have a shaper. I am looking forward to getting it hooked up and learning about its capabilities.

Happy New Year.  After months of planning and a lot of work, the last piece of equipment has been moved into the new workshop. More pictures of moving have been posted.

After the short sale from hell we finally bought our new home in late September. Since then we've been doing some work fixing up the place and I've been trying to move the past two decades worth of tools I've accumulated. Some pictures of the moving have been posted.

Closing on the new home should be next week. 4+ months after we made the offer. Short sales are lots of fun. In the mean time, I put together a new bench for the South Bend 405 and scrape in a model B saddle.

In the second installment, I finish scraping the mill. It turned out to be a lot more work than I had envisioned, but the good news is that it's done and the mill is a great deal more accurate. The second part of the adventure may be read here.

After talking about trying to improve the accuracy of my Grizzly G3103 mill for 4 plus years, I have finally begun the project.  In addition to the issues I'd thought I'd see, I've come across some that I didn't expect. The first installment is here. More fun than a barrel of monkeys.

I finally got around to doing some repairs on the Shumatech DRO-350. I also add a pair of glass scales to the mill.

The final installment of the Surface grinder rebuild.   I finish up by overhauling the spindle.

More scraping, Magnetic chuck repairs, coolant system and spindle troubles  The latest updates may be found here and here.

I finish scraping, more lapping, and getting ready to build a copy of a lathe alignment tool.  The latest update may be found here.

Still scraping, but I also do a little lapping on my granite straight edge. Also, using the Automatic Generation of Gages to prove flatness. This installment may be found here.

I've spent most of my free time in the last month working in the garage with a scraper in my hand.I've made some progress on the surface grinder, but I also made a mistake. You can read about it here.

After spending the last year reading about machine repair and scraping and doing LOTS of scraping, I have finally gotten to the point that I am going to attempt a large scraping project. The project is a 1967 DoAll D624-8 surface grinder.The first installment may be found here.

It has been a while since I updated anything here, but there seems to be a lot of email asking questions on how I like the Grizzly Mill after a year of having it. So I came out of hiding long enough to do a small piece on the mill. You can find it here.

Before I take a bit of a break from the workshop to do some spring clean-up on our home, I buy an old South Bend lathe and give it some TLC. A new tool is always fun.

I finish up the Shumatech DRO with the addition of a Jenix scale and adding some ball bearings to one of the calipers. You can take a look here.

I've been busy in the workshop adding a digital readout to the mill.  I've finished the first stage of the project and am quite pleased with the results. ShumaTech Dro-350 Digital Readout

On a follow-up note from the last article, I ended up contacting Grizzly about the play in the spindle. I spoke to one of the technical reps and explained the situation. Rather than being without a working mill for however long it took for them to get parts, I suggested that I would send them a drawing with all of the measurements of both the spindle's splined shaft and the spindle drive. I sent it off a day later with a request for a spindle drive with the smallest measurements that they could find and if it was too tight, I would file it to fit. About a week and half later I received a new spindle drive. Unfortunately, it is not much better than the one I have. It is one thousandth, maybe 15ten-thousandths tighter than the current drive. Better, yes. Right, no.

So, it was out to the web again to do more research. I had been thinking that it would be possible with some of the "pourable" or "castable" metal containing plastics, to build up a shim to remove the excess play between the splined shaft and drive. Well, there's a company named Devitt Machinery with a product named Moglice that repairs lathe and mill ways in all manner of sizes. This stuff is a godsend for repairing large machines where the ways are measured in feet rather than a hobby sized machine. The question I still have is whether it can take the constant "hammering" that this drive is subjected to when the mill is cutting an uneven surface. It would seem that constant compression that a lathe way would see is much different than going from zero force to a ton or more of compression 1000 times a minute or more. It is certainly something to learn more about, though.

Anyway, I have to give Grizzly an "A" for effort, promptness, and being courteous, but a "C"on execution. Maybe this is just one of those things that if I want it right, I'll just have to do it myself.

I found another little annoyance with the mill.  This one got a temporary fix that is working out well, for the time being. Spindle Noises

There's a new piece on moving the mill into the workshop.

Well, the delivery was a bit late, but it did arrive on Thursday. One Grizzly G3103 knee mill.  The mill is a Chinese made piece that appears to be a clone of the Clausing 8520/8530 series and is one of the nicer Chinese examples of this style of mill.

The crated G3103 is about 950 pounds shipping weight, but you can drop about 100 pounds for the crate. As industrial mills go, this is a light-weight.  As a mill for the hobby machinist, it is pretty substantial.  I will be stripping the mill down to pieces in order to move it into my walk-out basement.  It is just too heavy to move as a single piece into the basement.  It will also allow me to clean all of the oil and gunk that somewhat protected it from rusting on its journey from China to Virginia.  I will also be making sure that everything is set up correctly so that it will be as accurate as possible.

Grizzly 3103 Milling Machine
Click To Enlarge

I have been wanting to get a mill for years, no, decades, but something else always seemed to come up that I needed more. When I finally decided to make the purchase, I spent about 2 months of non-stop milling machine research before I finally spent the dollars on the G3103

I started out with the intention of buying a used Bridgeport "J" head, Clausing, or any the better known American/ import standards. However, as I seriously began to look, the former mechanic and sometimes machinist side of me took over.  As a former Mazda mechanic, I knew those cars as well as most Mazda mechanics up until the time I stopped working on them every day.  After that time, I can say I generally know the cars, but I wouldn't call myself a Mazda mechanic anymore.  For a while I specialized in other imports, but never knew them as well as the guy who spent 5 or 6 days a week living and breathing that brand.  So I started thinking about mills in the same context.  What did I know about mills?  I figured that this probably summed it up well:  "I know enough to not fool myself into thinking that I could choose an old mill and not wind up with junk."  Or maybe I don't know enough to choose a mill that would "just" take me many moons to get decent accuracy out of.

Yes, I could get lucky and find one that was 20 years old, but not used much.   If you read the bulletin boards at the Home Shop Machinist and a half dozen other sites where machinists hang out, you'll find that there's always someone who just got an incredible deal on a "barely used" 25 year old piece of industrial equipment, but after watching Ebay for the last 2 months, I'd have to say that the norm is more like "well used," than "barely used" for the older Bridgeports.  The "barely used" - or even "well cared for"industrial mills in the price range that I allowed myself, (around$2200), do exist, but you'd need to know your mills well to find them. 

Another challenge with the "old iron", is the price of shipping.  The Grizzly would cost me about $160 to get it from Pennsylvania to Virginia, and another $75 to get the shipping company to bring a lift gate and pallet truck (pallet mover) in order to be able to lower the crate from the tractor trailer to the street and then from the street to the garage.  I'm told that Grizzly gets a favorable rate because of the volume of shipping that they do.  On the other hand, since the Bridgeports are about twice the weight of the Grizzly, the shipping is substantially more.  You also usually get hit with a crating charge of $100 to $300, so if the mill you purchased on Ebay turns out to be less than what you thought it would be and you can actually return it for a refund, you are going to be out a substantial amount in shipping and handling.  Perhaps if I lived in an industrial center where there were more mills (or for that matter- ANY mills) listed in the want ads and I could visit each one and check it over, I might have been able to find a good used piece.

Anyway, enough of why I didn't go with a used mill.  When I decided to go with a new mill, there were a few that were in the running and a few that I read about that I never seriously considered.  First to get thrown out of contention were the round column "mill/drills."  On the plus side, they usually have a pretty fair amount of Z axis travel (up and down movement). However, because of the round column, when you change tools - like when starting with a small diameter (and length) drill bit and progressively going to larger and larger sizes, the head must be moved - and the round column makes it hard to get back to the exact location that you started in.  There are a couple of alternatives that avoid this problem.  One, getting a mill/drill with a rectangular column,which allows you to keep the head from moving.  Two, getting a mill with a "knee."  The knee allows the table to move up and down and the head doesn't have to move at all. You can move the head up and down a few inches (depending on the model), but it is usually more accurate to move the knee.  The next type of mill that I had to pass on was the combination mill and lathe.  While I do want a lathe, the combination mill and lathe in the lower price ranges just don't have the accuracy that I wanted.  It is possible to get a combination mill and lathe with good accuracy, but the ones with the great specs start at about 5 times the price I wanted to pay.

Of the mills I didn't consider were the small table models, like the Sherline and Taig.  These are pretty neat little mills if you are working with small parts, but I wanted to be able to work with larger stock.  If everything else is equal, the mill with more mass will do the better job as there is less flex.

So I finally got to the point that I had chosen a general style of mill- a knee mill,  and the size - 6" by 26" - which is the table size.  I decided on a Chinese mill because right now it is the best "bang for the buck."  Which narrowed it down to the Grizzly G3102 or G3103, the same mills by Harbor Freight, or  the
3004-0095 from Wholesale Tools.  I think that I read pretty much everything on the net regarding all of these mills, including a pretty helpful Yahoo group called 6X26 milling machines.  I happen to have a Harbor Freight fairly close to my house and took a drive out there with hopes of seeing their model, but they only had a couple mill/drills. The quality of the two mills I saw were pretty bad.  The geared version of the rectangular column mill/drill was sitting in a puddle of oil from the gearbox and there was so much sand under the paint that it looked like they had sprayed it in a sandstorm.  Whoever had uncrated it hadn't bothered to wipe it down to remove the oil to keep it from rusting in transit from China, but under the oil was rust!  I can't explain that one.

I spent some time trying to decide between the Wholesale Tools version and the Grizzly.  The WT is less expensive, but the Grizzly had great reviews of their customer service.  In the end, I decided to spend the extra money for the Grizzly. and I now have the mill!

That's pretty good.  I have condensed a couple months of studying,searching for information, and learning into a few paragraphs. Suffice it to say that I now feel that I am not a complete rank amateur/ newbie.  I am a more knowledgeable rank amateur / newbie! However, this will change a little more for the better as I strip and reassemble the mill in order to move it to the basement workshop. I have been through the process a few times in my mind and have a stack of notes from articles I have read on things to look for, things to double-check, and a lot of notes on how to scrape the ways.

Next up, stripping the mill down so I can move it.

Coming soon!

The new mill is on its way... more to come.