Not gimmicky, they actually work. The Smithy Granite is considered the Roll Royce of combo machines for small workshops. This appears to be a somewhat copy of that. It seems in my years of having a small metal lathe and metal mill, the combo has gotten a larger community, as it takes up a small space in the usually basement workshop. It also has a lot of upgrade potential.
A lot of model engineering groups recommend these, mostly for model railroading and model steam/stirling/hot air engines.
In the end the tooling/accessories are the biggest costs. My small metal lathe has a runout of 0.0001" on 14 inches. My Mill/Drill is as far as my gauges can detect is even less
Thanks! Ive never had either one…
It will have some limitations as both a lathe and a mill. Mostly to do with lack of stock size and travel distance. If you know this going in, then you’ll be fine.
Most machinests recommend looking for good used individual tools if you have the room.
I look at things like that as similar concept to my Leatherman tool.
Don’t get me wrong, I hardly go anywhere without that on my belt, but it’s not a very good pair of pliers, not a very good screwdriver, not a very good knife, or pair of scissors, and of course it can’t be the pliers and screwdriver at the same time… but if I need one of those things, it’s right there, on my belt, and I don’t have to go to the toolbox to get it.
Well, now I do have limited shop space, because I have more CNC machines than one person should reasonably need, but I’d definitely rather have the two separate.
I started out with a combination machine. Mine was an Eldorado Bridgemill (kind of like the yellow one in the linked video, but a bit newer). I did a LOT with that tool, it was pretty capable. The lathe part was better than the mill part, but both produced passable results. It was small, and it fit into my shop very well. I recently upgraded to a full size lathe and mill and it is a night and day difference, but they are large and do not fit into my shop all that well. Time for a new shop…
What do you plan to do with the machine tools? If you have the room and you know that you will use the tools, buy separates, and get as large as you need/have room for. Size matters. Typically, a larger, heavier tool will be more capable than a lighter weight tool, and if it is in good shape, it can work to the same level of precision.
There are lots of levels of tools out there, and if you know what you’re looking for, you can get a really nice machine for about the same as an import. It helps a lot to know what to look for as far as wear and damage if shopping for a used machine. I am hunting for a better mill, mine’s not bad, but I’d like a nicer one. State surplus auctions are usually a good source. Moving machine tools is not easy, it helps a lot to have a friend with a crane and a large flatbed truck. Make sure that you get all the parts that come with it, some of the accessories for older stuff might as well be unobtanium. Buying used can also mean getting a lot of the accessories you need, tool holders and collets can get expensive quickly.
Good advice. I don’t have or know anyone with crane and flatbed!
U haul will rent flat beds. I bought a 2 ton movable gantry for my shop for moving my mill.
I’ve moved a lot of tools with a flatbed towtruck
If you can find the right guy, it is a quick and easy process, and usually less money than a trailer rental. I moved all my big shop tools in a single trip that way years ago, including the mill/lathe combo, rolled them on and off without any issues.
The crane and flatbed truck was even easier though.
I have a flat deck trailer now, but limited ability to load and unload it. My tractor can’t lift my mill or lathe, the lathe weighs more than the tractor does. Only planning on moving them to get them into place in the new shop, after that, they’re staying put.