Home > CNC, Machining > “The machine is just the down payment for the tools.”

“The machine is just the down payment for the tools.”

Before I purchased the mill, a machinist friend mentioned:

The machine is just the down payment for the tools.. Ain’t that the truth.”   -Machinist Mike

I thought he was joking, until he later helped me compile the list of things I would need to get a basic manual mill setup and running. So for those of you endeavoring to create your own milling machine shop, here’s the list of things you will need.

Measurement and Setup Tools:

  • Dial Indicator (1″ travel, 0.001″ min graduation)
  • Test Indicator (0-15-0 travel, 0.0005″ min graduation)
  • Dial Caliper(s)
  • Micrometer(s)
  • Depth Gauge Base (For accurate caliper depth measurements)
  • Parallels Set (3″ lengths for Sherline mills)
  • 1-2-3 Blocks
  • Machinist Square
  • Edge and Center Finder
  • Steel Rule(s) and Protractor
  • Step Block Hold-Down Set
  • Milling Vise

Mill Tooling:

  • Drill Bit Set (Screw Machine 115-pc recommended for Sherline, HSS or better)
  • Center Drill Set (Pre-drills and chamfers holes)
  • Fly Cutter (Large surface machining)
  • Mill Collets and Holders
  • Drill Chuck
  • End Mill Set
  • Boring Tool and Bars (For machining large precision holes.)
  • Specialty End Mills (Reamers, Ball-End, Dovetail, etc. as needed.)

Things You Will Eventually May Need:

  • Surface Plate (Ground granite metrology block for accurate measurement)
  • Surface Gauge
  • Indicator Holders
  • Height Gauge and/or Gauge Blocks (To determine height from known flat surface)
  • Scribing Tool (For layout techniques)
  • Grinder (To sharpen dull bits and tools)
  • Air Compressor (Makes cleaning chips much easier. Needed to fabricate a Kool-Mist type spray lubricant for CNC.)

Ex cetera:

  • Machinist’s Handbook (The bible for all machining referencing)
  • Tap and Die Set
  • Cutting Stick Lubricant (For cutting metals on bandsaw)
  • Super Lube (Teflon-based spray lubricant for leadscrews and tables)
  • Coconut Oil (or your choice of a milling lubricant)
  • Stiff Brushes (For cleaning and applying lubricant)
  • Vice (For rough cutting material and holding parts not on the mill.)
  • Hand Files of Various Sizes (Chamfering milled sharp edges)
  • Bandsaw (and/or a Hacksaw)
  • De-burring Tool
  • Eye Protection
  • Someplace to put everything, i.e. Tool Cabinet.
  • General Home Tooling (Hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, rags, etc.)

AND, don’t forget to buy the stock material that you will inevitably need.

AND, this is not including the cost and equipment needed for a CNC mill conversion.

Even going with nearly all imported and the cheapest available equipment, which still is more than sufficient for a home machine shop, the cost of everything is easily equal to or beyond the cost of the mill itself…. Ain’t that the truth.

Categories: CNC, Machining
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