Grizzly metals mini mill versus "woodworking" drill press? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 Old 01-15-2016, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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Grizzly metals mini mill versus "woodworking" drill press?

I have been looking for the "right" benchtop drill press that is both exceptionally compact, and fairly lightweight (see my other posts), but still has at least 3" or 3-1/4" of spindle travel and looks like it might actually be of decent quality, and am coming up with only lukewarm solutions.

Steel city made a good one (Model # 20130VS) but is out of business. Jet made the JDP-12 but discontinued it and there are no more in the distribution channel. Rikon's 30-120 is close but has awful ergonomics (read the online reviews). The "last man standing" is the Shop Fox W1668, but it has zero of the nicer features (e.g. no variable speed - manual pulleys). The drill presses with the features I would like are all full height floor model presses and all weigh 150 lb or much more.

I keep coming back to the Grizzly G8689 MINI MILLING MACHINE. This little guy has true variable speed controlled by a knob, with 0 to 2500 spindle rpm capability, it can obviously mill as well as drill, it has a spindle stroke of 7-1/2" (!!!) with a micro knob depth control in addition to the triple lever handle, a "real" "stop" for drill depth, it can tilt the entire head up to +/- 45 degrees, the table adjusts and has both x and y high precision ways with hand wheels, the table accepts professional vices to hold the workpiece, it has 3/4 hp and pulls 4.5A, etc, etc.

It is only 20"w x 20"d x 30-1/4" high, and weighs only 101 lb.!!!

Basically, it's my dream machine, and at $645+79 ship = $724 brand new, it is not wildly costly compared to a decent quality drill press.

There's just one catch: Grizzly says it has a non-totally-enclosed motor, and they have had at least one case where the owner got enough sawdust into the motor to kill it. Plus, the Grizzly tech thought that keeping the sawdust out of the (lubricated) ways might be tough.

So, on the one hand, it is the machine that most closely matches my needs and wants for a "drill press", but would it actually survive in a wood-drilling environment?

I don't know if the other customer's mini mill failed because of the sawdust from his drilling , OR if it failed because the air in the whole darn shop was full of sawdust! And, would the chips produced by drilling rreally get into the ways, or is the tech being too cautious?

And, is there anything else inherently wrong or stupid about using a metalworkiong mill as a drill press? (I don't know because I have never tried!)

Any experienced opinions?

Jim G
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post #2 of 10 Old 01-15-2016, 02:04 PM
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that's easy ...

Just find a quiet shop vac and place the nozzle as close to the drill as possible to catch any shavings or dust. Go for it, if that's the only concern, it can be managed.
Look for db ratings on shop vacs and customer reviews.

A household vacuum should be able to pick up any small chips and they will be much more quiet. The small wet/dry units are fairly loud if I recall, but you may find a quiet one. My 16 gal Rigids are also fairly quiet.

http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page...t%20shop%20vac

This one looks interesting:
http://www.amazon.com/Hoover-ProGrad...quiet+shop+vac

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 01-15-2016 at 02:07 PM.
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post #3 of 10 Old 01-15-2016, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Just find a quiet shop vac and place the nozzle as close to the drill as possible to catch any shavings or dust. Go for it, if that's the only concern, it can be managed.
Look for db ratings on shop vacs and customer reviews.

A household vacuum should be able to pick up any small chips and they will be much more quiet. The small wet/dry units are fairly loud if I recall, but you may find a quiet one. My 16 gal Rigids are also fairly quiet.

http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page...t%20shop%20vac

This one looks interesting:
http://www.amazon.com/Hoover-ProGrad...quiet+shop+vac
Wow, you are right about that Hoover shop vac being interesting! 10 amps draw only 16" diameter footprint by 39" high, only 30.5 lb., and self-cleaning filter! What's not to like?

If I don't find an even better one, this looks like the right solution. I've put it into my online Amazon wish list.

Maybe get it right after my up-to-4-months contract gig in Indianapolis (not looking forward to the weather in Indianapolis!!)

Jim G
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post #4 of 10 Old 01-15-2016, 02:50 PM
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Have you figured out if there is enough depth with the mini mill, you have 7 1/2 travel but there is a limited space between the bed and end of spindle. Add in drill chuck and the length of a drill bit and you don't have much room left.

I use a rotary table in mine for metal work and with it and a drill chuck rather than a collet there is very little space left.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
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post #5 of 10 Old 01-15-2016, 03:55 PM
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Frank had a good point about clearance. Also what is the throat capacity? I can't imagine it being a very good mill weighing only 100 pounds. The vice on my milling machine weighs that much. I like tools to be more substantial so they don't flip over or break when I use the shop crane to set things on them. I recently moved a "light duty" mill that weighed 1500 pounds. What is the minimum speed it can turn. It says 0-2500, but I'm guessing it can't turn 1 rpm.
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post #6 of 10 Old 01-15-2016, 05:49 PM
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I picked one of those up on CL a couple of years ago for $150. I was more interested in the mill capabilities. It's a decent little machine, I probably wouldn't use it as a drill press though. I sold it as it is a bit under powered/under sized for what I wanted.

I was at the Grizzly store in Springfield today, they had that machine in the scratch and dent room, the table was out from front to back by .022" according to the tag. It was marked $475.
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post #7 of 10 Old 01-15-2016, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by FrankC View Post
Have you figured out if there is enough depth with the mini mill, you have 7 1/2 travel but there is a limited space between the bed and end of spindle. Add in drill chuck and the length of a drill bit and you don't have much room left.

I use a rotary table in mine for metal work and with it and a drill chuck rather than a collet there is very little space left.
I don't have any experience at all with milling machines, so I am glad you raised the question.

I had checked before and found that per Grizzly's spec sheet:
Max. distance spindle to table: 11-1/2"

That SOUNDS like enough, but . . .

I guess that 11.5" needs to handle the SUM of all of the following:
- The drill chuck height that protrudes BELOW the spindle
- The drill bit length that is protruding BELOW the chuck
- At least 3 to 3.25" of spindle travel
- The thickness of the worst case (thickest) workpiece = 4" when oriented correctly to receive its deepest drill hole

That doesn't allow for any fixture to hold the workpiece (just use a "fence"?), and it means that the drill chuck and drill bit TOGETHER can consume a maximum of 11.5" - 3.25" - 4.0" = 4.25 inches of vertical height below the spindle.

OOPS! 7:41pm CST edit: I realized the above is pessimistically wrong.

Here are the CORRECTED dimensions that each consume a portion of the 11.5" available below the spindle:

The exposed length of drill bit = ?, BUT must be at least 3 to 3.25" in order to be able to drill holes that deep. So, 3.25" or longer

The workpiece thickness, which could be as high as 4".

That's 7.25" inches consumed so far.

That leaves 11.5 - 7.25 = 4.25" as before BUT that 4.25" inches can be entirely consumed by the drill chuck. How much vertical height below the milling machine spindle does the drill chuck need?

In addition, my largest drill bit would be a 1-3/8" Forstner. How short can the stems and overall lengths on those be?

And, when such a Forstner bit is inserted into the chuck, how much of its overall length gets swallowed by the chuck?

Jim G

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post #8 of 10 Old 01-15-2016, 06:48 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by hwebb99 View Post
Frank had a good point about clearance. Also what is the throat capacity? I can't imagine it being a very good mill weighing only 100 pounds. The vice on my milling machine weighs that much. I like tools to be more substantial so they don't flip over or break when I use the shop crane to set things on them. I recently moved a "light duty" mill that weighed 1500 pounds. What is the minimum speed it can turn. It says 0-2500, but I'm guessing it can't turn 1 rpm.
The throat capacity is 6-3/8", which is more than I need.

Neither the Grizzly webpage, the spec sheet, nor the owner manual identify the absolute lowest rpm. I figure the lowest I will need will be around 300 to 400 rpm.

The low weight, while a disadvantage on virtually all woodworking machines, is actually a major plus for my unique circumstances - my desire to do woodworking again despite having very little room AND needing to have portability for EACH machine.

Keep in mind that my "large" wood component pieces in my children's toys are typically under 2" x 4" x 9, and the largest pieces might be 1" x 4" by 16", so we are talking no more than an absolute worst weight of 2 lb for the heaviest workpieces. No probability of tipping a 101 lb machine.

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post #9 of 10 Old 01-15-2016, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by shoot summ View Post
I picked one of those up on CL a couple of years ago for $150. I was more interested in the mill capabilities. It's a decent little machine, I probably wouldn't use it as a drill press though. I sold it as it is a bit under powered/under sized for what I wanted.

I was at the Grizzly store in Springfield today, they had that machine in the scratch and dent room, the table was out from front to back by .022" according to the tag. It was marked $475.
In your opinion as a previous Mini Mill owner, given the usage I have described above, would this machine be undersized or underpowered for MY needs?

What exactly was that .022" deviation? I mean, was the table .022" higher or lower from front to back? Or? If the problem is not (easily) correctable, that is a significant problem. For example, in my usage, some of the drilled deep holes are for thru-axles for wheels. A .022" deviation over a 3" to 4" hole length would create a "tilted" toy. The human eye is INCREDIBLY sensitive to non-aesthetic "tilt". This is why pictures hung on walls have to be hung virtually PERFECTLY level!

So, 25% off the price might not give you a usable tool. :)

Jim G
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post #10 of 10 Old 01-25-2016, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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The Grizzly Mini Mill is actually one of a series of mini mills sold by different vendors, all coming from one manufacturer in slightky different versions (Google: "Mini Mill").

I found an even better version than the Grizzly version, at the Micro-Mark website. It has several key advantages over the Grizzly version:

Micro-Mark Item # 84630 High Precision Heavy Duty R8 Miniature Milling Machine:

- BELT drive versus the Grizzly's plastic gear drive. Much more tolerant of shocks & overloading, and much quieter

- 500w (4.3 amps) motor versus the 350 watt Grizzly motor (Yes, I know the Grizzly site says the motor is higher wattage than 350, but it's really 350 per the knowledgeable "mini mill comparison" site)

- Brushless motor so it is quieter, stronger, and longer lasting

- .05” graduation clicks on table x and y adjustments, versus the Grizzly's .0625" (1/16") graduations, so doing the math for x and y movements is easier

- Torsion spring versus gas strut (the gas strut gives up with time as it cannot handle the ongoing constant load of supporting the head)

- Same 7” stroke (!!! )

- R8 spindle in case I want to try machining in addition to woodworking

- Drill chuck pre-installed from factory

- Nice "alloy silver" color

- Reasonable freight ($98), and UPS delivery versus hard-to- pan-for truck delivery)

- Similar size to Grizzly, at 20w x 20d x 30h

- Similar 110 lb weight

- More costly because of the 500 watt brushless motor and belt drive, so $825 + freight is 23.95 +74 = $98 = $923 total versus the Grizzly at $645 + approx $75 = $720, but the belt drive alone is a $155 upgrade on other versions of the mini mill, and the 40% more power plus brushless motor make the whole package a better deal.

Plus, someone on one of the machining sites suggested an easy way to keep drill shavings and sawdust out of the table's lubricated ways: add a homemade wood table cover to keep sawdust out of the ways, AND provide a replaceable "drill into" backing surface for drilling. This makes connecting a vacuum unnecessary to keep the ways clean and unclogged.

Jim G
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