Four Letters Re: 3-in-1 Home Workshop Machines

I agree with you on the machine tool issue. You end up with a lot of tooling and accessories by buying a shop. Things like rotary tables, angle plates and clamping stuff make this approach a bargain. A few grand goes a long way if you dig into [the replacement costs]. Like you say, [in the depth of the recession] there will be a lot of stuff out there. I have a good set of machinist tools but no machines and have been thinking the same thing.

I have millwrighted machines for people from closed machine shops. I used a Ryder rental with a lift gate and rolled the machines on bars (a Johnson Bar is very helpful.) The Egyptian method works! I had to remove the table from the Bridgeport to get it through a doorway. The lathe was easier (longer base, lower center of gravity). Buy capable machines and beware of buying equipment with three phase motors.
Thanks again, Jim. Best Regards, – Mike from Michigan


An incredible place to get used industrial tools and equipment is H.G.R. Industrial Surplus, in Cleveland, Ohio. They have 12 acres of equipment under roof. The quantity and quality and very low cost is remarkable. Just check their web site for a complete list of what they have. It changes daily. I’ve found that it is very well worth a drive through states to go there. – Jim Fry, Curator, Museum of Western Reserve Farms & Equipment, Ohio


I bought one of these milling machines sold by Lathemaster.
This is one of those Rong-Fu 45 clones, what they call a bed mill; the table stays at the same height and the head goes up and down. It’s a good machine for the money, but not in the same league as big knee mill. Of course, it doesn’t cost $5,000, either.

Like any other low-cost bed mill, it isn’t rigid enough to take really heavy cuts. If you try, it flexes, and the cut goes sideways a little. But if you work your way up to the intended line taking shallow cuts, it’s fine. I’ve made quite a few things with mine, mostly out of aluminum and titanium.
I’m very happy with it. That said, when I get the space, I’ll get a true CNC machine, probably the Tormach PCNC.

In anticipation of this upgrade, I got Tormach tooling for my Lathemaster mill, which turns out to be a pretty nice thing anyway.
Thanks, – PNG

Three follow-up observations:

First, Do not mill in a drill chuck. as one letter said to do. It will cause the drill chuck to fall off of the taper it is attached to, and can also break the jaws.

Second, [If taking the 3-1n-1 approach,] is at the top of everyone’s list.

Third, Take a technological step back 100 years, and everyone should try and find a shaper! See this Wikipedia page. After all, a mill is only good until the cutters run out! – Tantalum Tom