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Metal shop tools on wood - advice requested!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by pilotjones, Jun 13, 2005.


  1. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    I believe that several of you have used metal shop tools on wood in their building. Since I have these somewhat available to me, I have some questions.

    First off, with all the recent discussion of pin routers, I thought that a standard Brigdeport mill would be able to be used for that purpose. One would just need to make a table with a pin hole, and pins.

    The difficulty I see is that a router runs around 25000 rpm, and the mills here go up to 2700 or so. So, would one try to use a woodworking router bit, or would you use metalcutting bits? If the latter, would you use 2-flute, 4-flute, roughing bits, etc?

    I also thought that a board could be made with two walls on it, with one slightly offset, with enough opening between them for a side mill. This could be used as a jointer. Has anyone done this?

    Also, any tips on using end cutting mills or shell mills for thicknessing?

    Thanks to all in advance to all of you with the skills and experience I wish I had.
     
  2. Rodent

    Rodent Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Regenerate Guitar Works
    Can't comment on the hardware itself, but ... are these machines used for metal work? If so, I would avoid utilizing them due to the cooling fluids commonly used during the metal work process, and the negative impact they can have with wood finishes.

    A little lubricant soaked into porous wood = a spot where a sprayed on finish will not like to adhere.

    R
     
  3. Tdog

    Tdog

    May 18, 2004
    I use a vertical mill and a metal lathe in much of my work with wood.....I also use them with my metal work.....Rodent is correct, the cutting fluids can be a real problem soaking into the wood, causing finishing problems later.

    Obviously you can use metal machines with wood, but the sawdust build up on the oily surfaces can be a real problem and frequent cleaning of the beds and other surfaces is a must. Some woods, such as walnut can actually rust and pit metal and that is not good to have on a precision metal machine. Some woodturners will actually let the beds on their lathes rust, but putting green shavings onthe ways so the tool rest won't slide around on them.

    I would never use someone else's metal machines with wood projects....Its a different story if these tools are your own. An old school metal guy would probably give you a pretty cold stare by merely asking!
     
  4. The bits I use in the router tables at work are designed for aluminum cutting and they work very well at all speeds we've tried them at from 20,000 rpm down to the slowest that my Porter Cable 690(?) variable speed will go down to. These are 2 flute spiral up end mills.

    The way my mind works I'm thinking that using a 4 flute would be like doubling the rpm so maybe that's a way to "fool" the system. :confused: :D
     
  5. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Thanks for the responses so far. Allan, what's your experience as far as the fluids/wood/rust/mess cleanup situation?
     
  6. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Nope, that'd just double the frequency of blade hitting material, not the speed at which the blade cuts. The real issue is how fast the blade passes through the material you want to cut. RPM only really means anything once you convert it into a linear speed measurement at the blade edge. In other words, if you want to keep the same RPM and have a higher feed rate, you need to increase the diameter of your bit.

    Using a 4 flute bit would let you take smaller bites, though, since there are more blades doing the same amount of work. I think this is generally a desireable thing.

    -Nate
     
  7. See, I told you that was the way my mind works. I understand now how I went wrong. It makes sense to increase the diameter of the bit to increase the speed of the cutter at the point of contact. So where do you get 4" diameter 12 flute spiral up carbide bits? :eek:

    Pilot, we use Tricool in our misting system and it's a vegetable oil and water based thing. I imagine it would be just like any other oily substance if it came in contact with wood that was intended to be finished later on. When I rout on the table, I use an indexing board so that I can flip my blank in registration. The board is 3/4" MDF and it keeps me seperated from the sacrificial surface where all the residue sits. We just turn off the mister and swing it out of the way to do anything non-metallic.
     
  8. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Well, I just walk down the hall to the machine shop and steal one when they're not looking.

    Of course, I'd also have to steal the however many thousand pound milling machine to go with it, and I don't think my little Nissan pickup would deal well with a load like that (let alone my knees).

    -Nate
     
  9. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    PRO:
    Metal tools work great for wood, especially router bits! 4-flute spiral router bits generally produce surfaces that are better than 320 grit sanded.
    Re. using a metal mill, I will just point out a user: David King. He uses it for almost all work on the neck, except blank sawing and back rounding, acc to his website. Including thickness tapering, using this 4" bit! (dimension estimated from the pic)

    CON:
    Using the same machine for both wood and metal will cause trouble. Wood chips and dust don't mingle very nicely with cooling fluid....yuck...
    And the oily coolant will damage the wood.
    If you never use coolant, which is a usual case for drill presses, and even for some metals in other machinery, that is not an issue.
    Acidous wood will cause corrotion.

     
  10. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    I am making an assumption here about how a jointer operates, never having used one. Pic:
    [​IMG]
     
  11. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    On second thought, I think what I'm describing here is more like a shaper than a jointer, right? Is a shaper what you use to square up the sides of a piece, or do you just put it edge downward across a jointer? And does a jointer have the two tables offset?
     
  12. Pilot,

    You should use your metal tools to make some of the most deadly cool templates for use with a hand router. This is essentially what I'm doing with the nesting template system I use but mine are made from MDF. You could make yours from a nice 1/2" 6061 aluminum. You would have a lot of fun in the designing process coming up with versatile templates that could do several different things. Then all you would have to do is invest in a good hand router and have at it.
     
  13. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    What exactly are the dangers of using a cheap router? I'm guessing not enough power to cut hard woods, and clumsy depth adjustment. What else? I ask because I inherited a cheapie, but I wouldn't want to use it if things would end badly.
     
  14. Really no "danger" - The motor might not last as long, or the collet might be brittle and break with handling that wouldn't break others but generally you'll get the work out of it. With a good template, you can use a small 1 horse router and just take small bites and still carve a body. One will always be forced to work within the limits of their tools and this isn't any different. Besides, a pretty decent Porter Cable set can be had for under $150 and that is quite a good router and it usually comes with 2 bases. Get creative and you can build a table for the fixed and expand the capabilities even more. I keep my little 1 horse Craftsman around and use it all the time - no longer for heavy stuff but for cavities and other things.

    Get a couple of bearing guided patterning bits - spiral if you can, and a short straight bit for cavities and you'll be in business. There is a lot of depth in this area of tooling. You would be surprised at all you can do with a router and the jigs and other stuff you can build around it. Hell, I'm doing my knobs with one now.
     
  15. u should have a problem running a mill with wood. u wouldnt need to use oil or any thing to keep it cool. i work in a machine shop now and for the most part we dont use any thing like oil to cool the metal on the mills. thats not true for the cnc machines. the guy i work with is gonna help me make a brass adjust anut for a 7 string bass. and iam gonna try mill a bridge from ebony for the bass. its gonna look like a badd ass and the only metal on it its gonna be the springs and screcws.


    note i would just clean the vise and machine alot more then i would with metal.


    at my old work alot of the jigs we would use would be milled from graphite with would glog and stick to every thing. we would tape and masck of parts of the machine so there would be less clean up.
    as a side note at my old work they use to make the trustrods for parker guitar. i got to take one home. i wish i new tb member was building a parker style bass i would of gave him the trust rod for free .
     
  16. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Hey, Pete, I know that picture form somewhere....yeah, that's it, from my private CAD directory! :D

    Yeah, it will work as a jointer. I have also seen in some home shop website, that the offset can be done otherwise... Namely with a rather thick piece of tape on the outfeed part of the fence, thus allowing you to use a traditional fullength fence. Pretty neat to my mind, because aligning the two in your picture has been a major obstacle in my designing.

    And I think you'd call it a shaper - around here, we use the word (translated) table router.
     
  17. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Hey Urban

    Straight walls w/tape is a good idea.

    Also, how about this... Both fences (guides) have a few clearance holes near their base. A step is cut into the base board, and tapped holes are put horizontally into the "rise" or wall of the step. Bolt the fences to the base board. Insert a long, measured, milled shim (with clearance holes for bolts) between the infeed fence and the wall to control the cutting depth. Parallelism guaranteed.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Works. But limits... You need to stay with one cutter type/diameter.
    If you want versatility (how I love that word!), you need to have another way to ensure parallelism, and still be able to move the fence - perhaps even closer to/further from the spindle!

    One way to do that would be to have a three point slide to regulate cut depth. E.g. by routing slots in the table, perpedicular to feeding direction, where you have bolts to fasten the fence. 2 on one side and 1 on the other, or rather one bolt on each, with wing nuts, and an extra guide pin on one.
    To accomodate for the variable opening for the cutter, you could have the fence halves movable along a backing fence. I.e. a backing fence that you attach to the table as above. This has a couple of tapped holes, in which you screw in the screws that hold the contact fance, i.e. the two pieces that the work object is in contact with. The contact fence halves have slots instead of holes, allowing them to slide closer or further away from the cutter.

    Just an idea. Sorry I don't have time to make a pic, this just entered my mind. And what's worse: I have to miss the end of this discussion! Perhaps I'll be able to peek in tomorrow, but then I have to leave for...weeks! :(
     
  19. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Urban

    I can't quite visualize your design. Here's another one, still using a shim, which allows for various sized mills.
    [​IMG]
     
  20. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    Just one thing: when the mill diameter changes, you need to move the feeding table perpendicular to the feeding direction. Otherwise, the tangent fence will not be tangent, and the mill recess in the table will become larger when you start the motor...
    Unless the router spindle position is adjustable.

    Enjoy your summer!