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Taig Mill

Last updated on:
Dec. 20, 2004

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People often ask me what type of mill I use to make my model engines.  Until 2004, my answer had always been, "I don't".  Although I didn't realize it, I had been going to great lengths to circumvent the need.  When that was not possible, my trusty Taig lathe would spring into action, using the vertical slide attachment and an endmill or flycutter.  Most surfacing jobs were done by rotating the work in the 4-jaw chuck and using a facing cutter.  Jobs like the one pictured - drilling a series of holes in a row - were simply avoided!








I had always planned to build a motorized overhead milling attachment for my Craftex 7" x 8" mini lathe. While visiting friends one evening, I spotted a new catalog on their coffee table from Chipping Away in Kitchener, Canada where I saw the first complimentary picture of the latest version of the Taig mill.

From previous pictures I had always mistakenly assumed the machine was a little light and flimsy.   Not so!   I should have realized, from my years of experience with their lathe, that Taig would not compromise their fundamental principle of very sturdy construction for which they are well known.



Below is my Taig Mill in its first month of residence standing proud in the workshop, seen here with the quick-attaching drilling accessory in position.


For pictures and details of the drilling attachment... Click Here.



The mill occupies the counter space where my 5" Delta grinder was originally located.  The grinder position was handy, but with the addition of the mini lathe so close, flying grit became a concern.   The grinder is now located in another part of the shop which is nearer my "heavy" workbench - but it's not really a long walk!

BELOW:  One corner of the workshop.  This shows how the Taig lathe and mill are positioned on either side of my Craftex 7 X 8 mini lathe.  Of those three machines, the Taig lathe receives the most use, but the others are not far behind.


My mill ended up on a 45 section of the counter, which was fashioned that way for the bench grinder when the workshop was first constructed.  Through no fault of my own, this turned out to be an excellent location for the mill.

The mill column can be tilted 45 either way and long overhanging workpieces can enter empty space in the room or protrude in the direction of the open doorway, which is just to the right of the machine and not visible in the picture.

Using the mill at this location is great, as there is free space on both sides, allowing elbow room.  This is especially convenient on the right side when cranking the X-axis, or when ducking down for a clear sighting of the cutter during setups.

Situating a small mill at an outside corner of the bench is definitely a workable solution, if mounting it on a bench peninsula or island is not practical.



I made the baseplate from MDF board 9" square.  The three mounting bolts pass through the baseplate.  I greatly increased the hole size in the mill to take much larger bolts.  While the original size may be great for metal, I wanted something sizable to grab effectively on the underside of the wood benchtop.  Although it doesn't show here, GM's car color, "Md. Quasar Blue Blue" makes an almost-tolerable color match for the Taig's blue powder coat - if you don't look too closely.




A milling table vise clamp (left) and some T-nuts made on the mill.

      


An exact replica of the end of a Taig spindle can be seen below.  It is used to hold a small workpiece in the usual ways (collets, chucks, faceplate, etc.) while the fixture itself is held between the jaws in the mill vise.  By rotating it in the vise, the hex positioning of the large flats is translated to the workpiece.  It can provide two, three or six positions.  This handy little fixture took me only a very short time to construct from a piece of 12L14 hex bar.

An easy-to-make and very useful gadget.




In order to use this device with long material, I took it one more step and made a simple tailstock from a piece of aluminum angle.  This image shows the setup when used with a standard Taig collet and closer nut.



Here are a couple of samples of small jobs.  It could also be used to make fairly large hex (or triangular) shapes, when held vertically in the mill table vise, or for locating holes in flanges or in the cylinders and covers of small model engines.



The resulting hex stock produced by this fixture can be used in a variety of ways.

To prove a point I made some tiny stock from a nail to produce this hex nut and bolt.

This image was made on a flatbed scanner, with a sheet of paper over the top of the objects.

'Neat, the way that thing floats in mid-air!


What else can you do with a mill?


As a first project, I made this miniature replica of a Taig lathe, dwarfed in this shot by a half-inch drill chuck.  Over the years, I gained some experience with my (normal-sized) Taig lathe and only purchased the mill in late 2003.  This was my first time handling a mill and I hadn't even seen one in use prior to that time.

I wrote a short page with more pictures devoted to this project - if you are interested in this, then click here or on the picture.




Cutting

Shown beneath a commercial Woodruff cutter, is a miniature T-slot cutter fashioned from a broken drill bit, using a Dremel tool with an abrasive disk.



These two images show the results that can be produced by the new cutter, in cutting either a deep or a shallow T-slot.



It was slow but steady cutting in T6061 Aluminum, as constant chip clearing was essential.  I poked the red tube on a can of WD-40 into the preliminary straight slot and sprayed toward the approaching cutter.  That sent the chips back out the newly-made section of the T-slot.



A set of inexpensive flycutters.



I turned the black oxide finish off the barrels during an idle moment to make them look prettier.  I am sure there were more important jobs that I could have found that day!




Below:  I made a holder for my flycutters from a Taig mandrel.



In Machine Shop Trade Secrets , James Harvey suggests that a steeper tool angle with this style of flycutter will produce superior results.    This makes a convincing case for using the Taig flycutter or constructing a similar example from one of Taig's optional blank mandrels.



I found these miniature end mills at the store for $5.95 per package one day, I picked up two packs.  They are not available there anymore - now I wish I had bought a dozen!









The shortest practical 3/8" end mill holder, avoiding drilling out the mill's spindle.





Here a carbide cutter is held in the same holder (now completed).







The following are just some shots of simple cuts made on my taig mill.







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