Home Turning Milling Welding Projects Contact Keith Marshall

Harbor Freight Mini Mill, Item 44991

I was impressed when I got this thing home.  It was packaged inside a sturdy plywood crate and when I opened it I found the mill was completely enclosed in a block of styrofoam so it was well protected for the trip from China.  It was completely assembled except for the handle for the Y feed so I was up and running in minutes.  Well, actually it was more like an hour because all the bare metal surfaces were covered with a red grease of some sort so I cleaned that off and relubed it before using it.

I've had a lot of fun with it and learned a lot so far but it quickly became apparent that there were a couple of things that I didn't like about it!  The first and most important is that I couldn't reach anything small clamped directly to the table because the counterbalance spring wouldn't allow the head to go low enough.  And since the spring limits travel so much they now use a short rack for the Z travel so even if I solved the counterbalance problem it still wouldn't reach anything clamped directly to the table without the head dropping below the rack and falling. 

Click here to see my quick and temporary solution.

The next thing I discovered wasn't actually a problem with the mill itself but with manual milling in general.  What a pain in the you-know-what cranking the X-axis feed back and forth is!  I looked into power feeds such as this one from Little Machine Shop but I couldn't afford one at the time so I looked for possible alternatives. 

Click here to see my own, low-cost design.

Copyright 2009 Keith A. Marshall, All Rights Reserved.