Sherline milling machines

WhelzornWhelzorn Posts: 256
edited 2004-08-24 - 23:47:02 in General Discussion
Well, as it goes, I am in the market for a small, tabletop milling machine. I basically have decided to purchase either the Model 5000 (5100) or the Model 5400/5410 Deluxe mill. So, I would like to know if anyone here owns either or both of these mills (or knows someone who does), and which if the two you/they would recommend. Additionally, I would like to know if anyone thinks that a CNC upgrade for either is worth it, for simple robot chassis/wheel hub/frame work, or is it just a waste of money making a simple thing even simpler than it needs to be?
Oh, and before anone recommends me looking around at other milling machines first, I have, for almost 2 years now, and I am very set on the small/affordable/durable/trustworthy qualities of the sherline series of milling machines, unless of course someone has some extremely super-duper milling machine recommendation that would blow these away in all qualities, then I will be open for a change of mind smilewinkgrin.gif .
Anyway, thanks in advance anyone who responds!
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Comments

  • Tom WalkerTom Walker Posts: 509
    edited 2004-08-20 - 13:26:42
    I have just begun the mill machine journey, myself. Since price was (unfortunately) the overriding concern, I went with a Central Machinery mini mill/drill from Harbor Freight. I have not put it throught its paces yet, but it seems well made. My only complaints are that the y-axis is a little tight, the traverse locking screws are small, and I haven't figured out the voodoo to feel confident in the z-axis precision.

    In any case, be prepared to spend far more for the necessary accessories than you do for the milling machine.

    HTH

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  • WhelzornWhelzorn Posts: 256
    edited 2004-08-20 - 21:46:35
    Aah, yes, the tools/accessories are very expensive, fourtanetely, I have an uncle who owns several mills, and I can borrow tools and parts from whenever I want. Anyway, the reason I chose the sherline machines is that I've heard that they are VERY precise, and are used extensively to produce watch parts. My local watchmaker also uses the 5400, and I have been calling so that I can see a demo of it in action.
  • LoopyBytelooseLoopyByteloose Posts: 12,537
    edited 2004-08-24 - 08:40:12
    Sherline looks very good. I had a Unimat (no longer in business) and though the quality was good, the motor was under powered. This slowed down the rate of feed which in turn slows down everything. The guy I sold it to repaired microscopes and said he worked in brass and always turned it by hand! I am very, very sorry that I sold the tools along with the basic unit (I don't think the buyer needed them, but he was very happy to get them).

    Also, Sherline mentions a complete CNC package for $2500US. This seems reasonalble (includes a computer?) as getting software integrated with a DIY system might be a real snag in the learning curve. If you want to build robotics - not CNC, buy the package and stay with studying PBasic.

    Also, they have a rotary table add on to the CNC.

    Many years ago I did business with Harbor Freight for wood working machinery (a small table saw and a small planer) They were okay and the price was right, but I later moved up to much better equipement.

    If you can afford first rate to start with, you waste less time and money. And you learn much faster. How can one learn piano if it is always out of tune?

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    Hwang Xian Shen, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh.
    All things considered, I can live and thrive without Microsoft products. LINUX is just fine.
  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 6,530
    edited 2004-08-24 - 23:47:02
    Whelzhorn,

    Sherline really steals the show with their support, kind of like Parallax. They certainly have a lot of good tools which makes them like us except for machine tools. I've seen their machines in use in many places and a few friends have them. They can do quite a bit if you take the time. It's a lightweight machine, but if you are like many others getting started it will be a while before you exceed the machine's capabilities. Or, there's another theory. . which is that the machine can hold you back from growing as a machinist because of its limitations.

    Truthfully, if you can afford it I'd step up to a heavier brand from either Taiwan or Germany. My favorite is Wabeco:
    http://www.kengracey.com/wabeco_mill_drainpan.asp
    http://www.parallax.com/html_pages/robotics/machining/machining.asp

    But there's another great value if you can't spend this kind of money. Having researched these quite a bit, I've found some very good quality machines from Microkinetics:
    http://www.microkinetics.com/

    Not that Sherline won't be good, but it is a lighter machine. The most apparent limitations will probably be the size of work you can hold, the amount of cutting you can do, etc. but when it comes to standard tooling they've got a huge selection to choose from at a fair price.

    Oh, most importantly is that I've seen these get sold on eBay for some pretty low prices. Check there first, and know what you're bidding on.

    Ken Gracey
    Parallax, Inc.
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