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Another thread on a new mill purchase

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7milesup

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#1
Hi guys. First thing I would like to say is that I really enjoy this forum and the help that is offered. This is, without a doubt, one of the best sites out here on the webbidy thing.

I have been looking for a mill for a while and I need to buy one this month. I purchased a Precision Matthews 1022 lathe about a year and half ago or so. It is a pretty decent lathe for the money, not perfect, but ok. It was my first lathe and I have learned a lot on it, plus Matt’s service is great. I also have a Horror Fright mini mill that I got for practically nothing from a friend of mine. It has been a learning machine, but that is about it. It is too small and of course, the quality is mediocre at best.

This brings me to my question, or maybe just me rambling out loud so I will apologize in advance if you guys determine that I am just yammering. I originally figured I had $2200 to spend, but I may reconsider that, not that I have extra money but if I am going to be spending money on a mill, I could put a little more towards it. I also would like to have the option of eventually converting it to CNC, but that will be a work in progress due to funding.

I have pretty much ruled out a Bridgeport type because I do not want something that large in the shop and I don’t really have room for it anyhow. Also, it seems that even though I scour the auctions and machinery sites in the Twin Cities area, the stuff that is being offered is either had its life used up or it is too expensive, or lastly, such a behemoth that there is no way I could move it. All of my other equipment has wheels under it, including my lathe. I built custom stand for my lathe utilizing a hockey puck type leveling system, which works great, not that I really move my lathe around, but at least the option is there should the need arise.

I am considering the PM-30MV, the 727, and the PM-932. I figured that the PM-833T was too much money, but now I may reconsider that. I like the thought of a higher quality machine and looking at what few posts I could find about the 833T, it seems like a very nice machine. The 932 and the 940 are the same except for bed size and the hardened way option on the 940, but then again, if I start adding all that to the 940 then we are getting way out of whack for budget. Even if I did convert any of these to CNC, I just don’t see wearing out the ways on it, although I do find it odd that my little 1022 has hardened ways but these mills don’t.
I like the 30MV because of the belt drive (quiet) along with the variable speed, which does go up to 2250 RPM. It is also 110 volt, although that is not a huge deal because I do have 220 in my shop. Most of the other mills are at 1500 RPM (PM833T) to 1750RPM (PM932). Is doing aluminum at those slower speeds going to be problematic?
All of Matt’s mills have a three year warranty except the 833T which has a 5 year warranty, which is quite a long warranty.
I keep coming back to the 833T but just can’t find a lot of information about it, IE. Guys that have one and love them or hate them along with pictures of it. What are it’s drawbacks? Is the quality that far above the 932 for example, or am I better off saving my $1000 and put it towards a power feed or tooling for the 932? Ugghhhh, I’m pulling my hair out. Maybe I should take that extra $1000, which isn't really an "extra" because I don't have it stuffed in my sock, and upgrade my lathe to a PM-1340GT. Crikey, nevermind, now I have lost my mind...
 
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fradish

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#2
Also check out the pm727v (variable speed). That goes up to 3000 rpm. There is also a guy on YouTube
that CNCed the pm727m that you might want to check out. I'll look up his id and post an update...

His ID is CNC4XR7.
 
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7milesup

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Cool, I will check out his vid. I did not see that the 727v went to 3000. Thank you.

That 727 doesn't weigh a whole lot though. ;/
 
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tweinke

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#4
I have a 727m and like it, it has done everything I've asked of it. The 727v probably would be in my shop if it was offered when I bought my mill two years ago but I have no regrets with my 727m. I would think the 727 would complement your 1022 work envelope wise but if you are thinking the lathe is starting to feel too small the 932 or 940 is probably the way to go. My two cents worth from a newbie.
 

7milesup

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I have a 727m and like it, it has done everything I've asked of it. The 727v probably would be in my shop if it was offered when I bought my mill two years ago but I have no regrets with my 727m. I would think the 727 would complement your 1022 work envelope wise but if you are thinking the lathe is starting to feel too small the 932 or 940 is probably the way to go. My two cents worth from a newbie.
Thank you. Yeah, the 1022 lathe is a little too small, although not that I do a lot of larger work but that occasional project I find for wanting a bigger machine. The through spindle diameter has left me scratching my head a few times on how to complete a project.

The speeds on the 932 or 833 are a little concerning, but maybe it shouldn't be? There has to be a lot of guys out there working with aluminum on these type of mills. I just did a search again on youtube for the 833 and can't find anything on it.
 

mikey

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The speeds on the 932 or 833 are a little concerning, but maybe it shouldn't be? There has to be a lot of guys out there working with aluminum on these type of mills. I just did a search again on youtube for the 833 and can't find anything on it.
You can answer your own question. Decide on the size of your anticipated tooling needs, pick the cutting speeds for the materials you plan to use and calculate the speeds those cutters/tools need.

RPM = CS X 3.82 / D, where CS = cutting speed for the material in SFM and D = diameter of the cutter.

Ideally, carbide end mills need higher speeds but I, and many others, use them at much lower speeds without significant issues. In general, if you get somewhere around 2200-2500 rpm max then HSS tools will be fine. The higher you go above this the better it is when using smaller tooling and/or carbide for manual machines. CNC machines are all about metal removal rates and higher speeds so if you plan to CNC the machine then I can see higher speed capability; in that case you might want to just buy a CNC mill in the first place.
 

7milesup

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From a manual mill standpoint, it looks like it should not be an issue then since it is SFM dependant. As far as CNC, even if I do convert it, the reason would be more for personal use and enjoyment. Sure, if I came across something to make money with it, great, but that would not be my primary objective.
I don't see purchasing a ready to run CNC due to cost.
 

wrmiller

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#8
Just a suggestion, but if you can afford to keep your small lathe after buying your larger machines, I would recommend keeping it if you can. I had a 8x18 lathe and in a moment of weakness, sold it to a friend who wanted to get into hobby machining. And I can't get him to sell it back to me. :(

FWIW, the only bench mill that was of a size that worked for me was my 9x40 from Charter Oak. I kept running out of Y-axis travel on the smaller bench mills. I solved the spindle speed limitation by converting the geared head to a belt drive w/VFD. Had to replace the spindle bearings as well, for the higher speeds.

I do mostly pistol work and various one-off personal projects so I have no need for really large machines. I started with small(er) machines like you are doing, but ended up with a PM1340GT and a PM935TS mill. The lathe is almost too large for my needs, but I make it work. The quality of these Taiwan machines is significantly better than others I have owned, and worth the extra $$ IMO.

Just my $0.02 :)
 

7milesup

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Hi Wrmiller. Thank you for your input, I really appreciate it. What little hair I had left is gone, since I pulled it all out trying to make a decision which if I take a breath and look at the big picture, it is just a machine. It's not like a wife that is really hard to get rid of.

I did a spreadsheet last night and felt like I had narrowed it down to a couple of machines. Then I started looking at the Grizzly website and it became more confusing and felt like they had some really decent machines for the money (I have some other Grizzly woodworking machines that I am happy with). But then I remembered that the PM has true inch pitch leadscrews, which, until I convert it to CNC (I may not too, just thinking ahead a little) would be quite important, whereas I believe the Griz is a "close" metric.

I had it narrowed down to the PM-932, PM-932M (power feed X and Z) and the PM-833T. The PM-833T has a 23x11x17.5 (XYZ) travel and is made in Taiwan and looks like a really nice machine. However, it is $1000 more than the PM-932M and has no bells or whistles other than it is made in Taiwan of supposedly high grade materials with more attention to detail along with a 5 year warranty. The 932 has 22x8x17 travels and is $2098 shipped. The 932M is $2498 shipped and includes the power feeds for X & Z. Those prices are without stands because I find the factory stands, no matter what mfg, are of limited use. I plan on making my own stand and incorporating a tool cabinet of some sort, either a store bought one or I will make one from oak.

I am certainly vascillating between the 932 series and the 833. Would love to do the PM-8325S knee mill but at $4400 I just can't swing that. Grizzly also has some pretty nice looking little knee mills like THIS one, but it only has 6" of Y travel which is too small IMHO.

Oh, BTW I have a friend that calls me the wood butcher. Attached is a picture of some wood stuff I cobble together.
 

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wrmiller

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#11
I learned the hard way that buying a cheaper machine just because it has 'bells and whistles' that I want only brought dissatisfaction. Buying the best machine I could, and THEN worrying about the extras has turned out much better for me. But that's just me, your experience could be different. :)

Oh, and butcher is not the word that comes to mind after looking at that picture. I'm terrible with wood, so I stick to metal.

So...how much to make me a Girstner look-alike? :D
 

7milesup

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I sent an email to Matt and he responded in about 5 minutes. That alone is amazing. Wonder if the guy eats or sleeps.

Anyhow, here is one of the questions I posed to him. I really hope that he does not mind me sharing this info. His response is in bold.
"The price difference between the PM-932M and the PM-833T is exactly $1000. The 833 comes with essentially no bells or whistles (no power anything, no DRO). Is the quality of the castings and the machining that much better than the 932 for that $1000? Yes it is. No comparison between the machines from China Vs Taiwan. The Chinese machines are still good mills and work well, but not as high end of a machine as a mill from Taiwan."

So, it looks like I am now leaning towards the 833T considering his response, wrmiller's response and my overall desire for a precision machine.

I have plans for a wood tool chest wrmiller. The Gerstner chests are well made pieces of furniture that I am sure take a lot of time to make, although once a factory is set up they can make hundreds of drawer fronts, sides and etc. to keep the cost down. That being said, they are way overpriced in my opinion. But, for me to build one, well, maybe a Gerstner isn't that expensive. :/ Maybe instead of buying metalworking equipment I should look at expanding my woodworking but taylor my products to the metalworking clientele. That jewelery armoire is one of 3 that I made, one for each of my daughters for their high school graduation. Solid walnut and cherry.
 

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#13
I would add , as you found out with your lathe it got smaller on you. So why buy a smaller mill , get the biggest and best that you can , you will be happier in a year or two. Believe me it's happened to so many on this forum why didn't I get the Taiwan made mill my China mills has sand and newspapers stuck in it. If you read some of the posts , but still it's you baby to buy , be happy and enjoy.
 

wrmiller

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I sent an email to Matt and he responded in about 5 minutes. That alone is amazing. Wonder if the guy eats or sleeps.

Anyhow, here is one of the questions I posed to him. I really hope that he does not mind me sharing this info. His response is in bold.
"The price difference between the PM-932M and the PM-833T is exactly $1000. The 833 comes with essentially no bells or whistles (no power anything, no DRO). Is the quality of the castings and the machining that much better than the 932 for that $1000? Yes it is. No comparison between the machines from China Vs Taiwan. The Chinese machines are still good mills and work well, but not as high end of a machine as a mill from Taiwan."

So, it looks like I am now leaning towards the 833T considering his response, wrmiller's response and my overall desire for a precision machine.

I have plans for a wood tool chest wrmiller. The Gerstner chests are well made pieces of furniture that I am sure take a lot of time to make, although once a factory is set up they can make hundreds of drawer fronts, sides and etc. to keep the cost down. That being said, they are way overpriced in my opinion. But, for me to build one, well, maybe a Gerstner isn't that expensive. :/ Maybe instead of buying metalworking equipment I should look at expanding my woodworking but taylor my products to the metalworking clientele. That jewelery armoire is one of 3 that I made, one for each of my daughters for their high school graduation. Solid walnut and cherry.

Your daughters Sir, are very lucky to have a father like you. :)

I too believe the Gerstners chests are way too overpriced. Which is likely why I don't own one. I love good quality wood, but I know nothing about working with it, nor do I have the tools to do so. It is what it is.

Matt is giving you the straight scoop. I won't even try to describe the differences between my last mill and my 935, except to say that they are significant. The Chinese machines are decent for their price point, and many good projects have been done on them. But the difference in the materials and machining of the Taiwan machines means that they will last a very long time if properly taken care of.

That was the major point that pointed me to the Taiwan machines. And I'm glad I bought them when I did. Being forced into early retirement means I can barely pay Attention these days, and could never afford to buy the machines I now have. One of the few things I've done right in this life. ;)
 
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ACHiPo

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Oh, BTW I have a friend that calls me the wood butcher. Attached is a picture of some wood stuff I cobble together.
That is a spectacular jewelry chest. Nicely done!

Good luck on the search and keep us posted. As you know, I'm in a similar boat, although I'm leaning toward the PM835 or a Tormach. The 833T is where I started looking, and I still keep coming back to it as a top-flight bench-top machine.
 

7milesup

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Thank you for the kind words sir!

I wish I had it in my budget for that 835 because that is one very nice looking machine. The $400 shipping fee doesn't help my cause either. I have looked at that machine numerous times but I am leaning real heavy towards the 833. I think it would fit my needs well and last a long time for what I am going to do with it.
 

wrmiller

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One last thing: That one-shot oiler on the 833 should be a serious point to consider. I spent considerable time and effort converting my 9x40 to a one-shot oiling system, and the difference was very noticable. I won't have a mill without one now.
 

7milesup

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Good point Mr. Miller. I called Precision Matthews today and they have about 15 or so 833T's in stock. I hope to order one by Monday or Tuesday. I did a little barter work and the other party won't be around until next week. When I talked to Nicole today she did mention that the Tiawanese mills (833T) are really nice with excellent fit and finish.
 

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I just got a pm932m and am still getting it setup but I love it so far having a motor to raise and lower it is awesome and the powerfeed is freaking great :)
 

7milesup

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I just got a pm932m and am still getting it setup but I love it so far having a motor to raise and lower it is awesome and the powerfeed is freaking great :)
That is awesome. I know, I really thought hard about that one and the power feeds. For the price, it seems like an awesome mill. I like Silverbullet's post about buying the best I can than add the doo-dads as I go.
 

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That is awesome. I know, I really thought hard about that one and the power feeds. For the price, it seems like an awesome mill. I like Silverbullet's post about buying the best I can than add the doo-dads as I go.
Yea the next big purchase will probably be a good dro
 

7milesup

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#22
I am looking at doing a BluDRO on my lathe. Not sure if you are interested in that type of system but quite a bit cheaper than "off the shelf" DRO's.

Check out Blue-DRO

Also THIS LINKfor the founder of the above mentioned DRO. I don't have any affiliation with these guys, just thought their system was pretty cool.
 

Bob Korves

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I am looking at doing a BluDRO on my lathe. Not sure if you are interested in that type of system but quite a bit cheaper than "off the shelf" DRO's.

Check out Blue-DRO

Also THIS LINKfor the founder of the above mentioned DRO. I don't have any affiliation with these guys, just thought their system was pretty cool.
Add up the costs and the extra hoops you have to jump through for the BluDRO, and then look at a complete and ready to install 3 axis mill DRO, .0002" resolution glass scales, free UPS shipping, plug and play, for $228. While I really like Yuriy's design and the entire concept of it, and I know it works well, plug and play for cheap won the day. Still, Yuriy's design is becoming more mainstream all the time, and I wish it very good luck.
 

7milesup

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The $228 DRO that you are referring to Bob, is that the AccuRemote that you are referring to or the iGauging type of systems? When I made my comment about the BluDRO being cheaper, I was thinking more along the lines of the $700 systems that you see quite often, like the ones from DRO Pros, not that there is anything wrong with them at all of course.
 

Bob Korves

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The $228 DRO that you are referring to Bob, is that the AccuRemote that you are referring to or the iGauging type of systems? When I made my comment about the BluDRO being cheaper, I was thinking more along the lines of the $700 systems that you see quite often, like the ones from DRO Pros, not that there is anything wrong with them at all of course.
I just got my system about a week ago, now putting together the plan for installing it. It is a Chinese Siton three axis DRO with glass scales, and that price includes the shipping via UPS. Paid for by PayPal. No worries at all about the order, came as scheduled and the boxes were pristine on arrival. Might as well had come from a USA seller, seamless. If you do some studying, you will find that glass scales have higher resolution (.0002" standard, .00004" for $18 per scale more) than the AccuRemote and iGaging types. The cables are metal clad, the connectors are metal and screwed to the scales and readout, and there is no inaccuracy accumulation with length of travel. The kit comes with the installation hardware and protective covers for the scales. The scales are custom made for each order, in any specified length up to 3000 mm, in 1 mm increments. You get the exact length you want. Slim scales may be substituted for any and/or all axes for the same price. There are other options as well:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/fre...dout-with-3-pcs-linear-scales/1524501216.html the current price is $234.60 delivered. I got mine on sale.
The seller, Wilson, has a good command of English and is helpful. The manual is in readable English. Three (four?) friends all ordered these (separately) at the same time, without any issues.
DROPros will sell you similar Chinese stuff for a lot more money, it will ship from Vacaville, California, and they will hold your hand and answer the phone in English and help you. Study, compare, and make your own decisions...
 
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ACHiPo

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#26
I just got my system about a week ago, now putting together the plan for installing it. It is a Chinese Siton three axis DRO with glass scales, and that price includes the shipping via UPS. Paid for by PayPal. No worries at all about the order, came as scheduled and the boxes were pristine on arrival. Might as well had come from a USA seller, seamless. If you do some studying, you will find that glass scales have higher resolution (.0002" standard, .00004" for $18 per scale more) than the AccuRemote and iGaging types. The cables are metal clad, the connectors are metal and screwed to the scales and readout, and there is no inaccuracy accumulation with length of travel. The kit comes with the installation hardware and protective covers for the scales. The scales are custom made for each order, in any specified length up to 3000 mm, in 1 mm increments. You get the exact length you want. Slim scales may be substituted for any and/or all axes for the same price. There are other options as well:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/fre...dout-with-3-pcs-linear-scales/1524501216.html the current price is $234.60 delivered. I got mine on sale.
The seller, Wilson, has a good command of English and is helpful. The manual is in readable English. Three (four?) friends all ordered these (separately) at the same time, without any issues.
DROPros will sell you similar Chinese stuff for a lot more money, it will ship from Vacaville, California, and they will hold your hand and answer the phone in English and help you. Study, compare, and make your own decisions...
Bob,
That's quite the review and endorsement! I was leaning toward DROPros based on their ease of installation and use, support and the ability to trim the magnetic scales to length. If I can get comparable performance for a 1/3 the price, what's not to like?

How easy is Siton's user interface to use? Supposedly DROPro's UI is very intuitive and easy to use.
Evan
 

Bob Korves

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If I can get comparable performance for a 1/3 the price, what's not to like?

How easy is Siton's user interface to use? Supposedly DROPro's UI is very intuitive and easy to use.
Evan
Well, Evan, I have not had a chance to use the interface yet. Per the manual it does all I want it to and way more, though no experience with it at all yet. Plenty of bells and whistles.

The downsides I have seen so far are:
1. While the user manual appears useful, there is no installation manual included at all. The site states that an installation video is available on request. I do not think I need it, so far. YMMV.
2. The brackets and other hardware supplied are minimal, and will no doubt need to be supplemented to complete the installation. That was no surprise, every installation is different. I will need to come up with some additional stuff for brackets and so forth.

That is all I have found so far that might be described as wanting, but I have not drilled any holes yet, and am not even close to cutting metal with it. The display and the scales work, the readout is bright and easy to read, and that is all I really know for sure so far.
 

wrmiller

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Bob,
That's quite the review and endorsement! I was leaning toward DROPros based on their ease of installation and use, support and the ability to trim the magnetic scales to length. If I can get comparable performance for a 1/3 the price, what's not to like?

How easy is Siton's user interface to use? Supposedly DROPro's UI is very intuitive and easy to use.
Evan
I have DroPro magnetics on both my lathe and mill. Seemed kinda silly to go cheap on a DRO setup after spending the extra money to buy higher quality machines. But that's just me. I'm weird. ;)

I have the EL700 on my mill, and yea it's quite pricy, but so was my PM935. I even managed to get the electronic touch probe by doing a bit of trading with a friend. I love all the extra functions, and having a display that shows pretty pics is a big help to a visually oriented guy like myself.

Yesterday I finally got around to checking/adjusting the electronic touch probe, and it did get out of wack during the move from CO to AZ. After adjusting (that part is a pain...) I check it with a small bore of known ID and the touch probe repeated to within a half thou every time. Plenty good enough for what I do. :D

Being able to cut the mag scales to length was also a high priority for me, as is the customer service reputation. I've only had to call a few times over the course of owning 4 of their systems, and the guys have always come through for me.

I think of them like I do Matt at PM.
 

Bob Korves

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#29
I have DroPro magnetics on both my lathe and mill. Seemed kinda silly to go cheap on a DRO setup after spending the extra money to buy higher quality machines. But that's just me. I'm weird. ;)
Well, I am on the other side of the coin, Bill, so tight I squeak. I save money everywhere possible, which occasionally turns sour, but in the long run pays off handsomely.
I always try to get the very best deals I can. My 1965 Millrite mill was bought in new, unused, but dirty condition (zero rust, not a single light scratch on the table) a few years ago for $1000. My 13x40 Kent USA lathe was bought with literally only a few minutes use on it (no kidding!) for $3000. I have made lots of unbelievable deals on tooling. I do not brag about how much I spent for something, rather about how little I paid for good stuff. I invest some time in them to bring them to my standards, which are fairly high. This strategy has been very good to me long term. Different strokes for different folks...

Right now I am doing very well with using all my machines manually, no aids beyond the machine dials. I will be completely content with watching the accurate displays of axis travel and simple zeroing with the DRO. That will likely be 99.9% of the usage the DRO will get. The "gee whiz" stuff might get the rest. In fact I will probably be annoyed with the DRO at first, all those numbers flashing by and confusing me... :eek: That has been my experience with DROs so far, hoping it gets better.
 

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#30
Well, I am on the other side of the coin, Bill, so tight I squeak. I save money everywhere possible, which occasionally turns sour, but in the long run pays off handsomely.
I always try to get the very best deals I can. My 1965 Millrite mill was bought in new, unused, but dirty condition (zero rust, not a single light scratch on the table) a few years ago for $1000. My 13x40 Kent USA lathe was bought with literally only a few minutes use on it (no kidding!) for $3000. I have made lots of unbelievable deals on tooling. I do not brag about how much I spent for something, rather about how little I paid for good stuff. I invest some time in them to bring them to my standards, which are fairly high. This strategy has been very good to me long term. Different strokes for different folks...

Right now I am doing very well with using all my machines manually, no aids beyond the machine dials. I will be completely content with watching the accurate displays of axis travel and simple zeroing with the DRO. That will likely be 99.9% of the usage the DRO will get. The "gee whiz" stuff might get the rest. In fact I will probably be annoyed with the DRO at first, all those numbers flashing by and confusing me... :eek: That has been my experience with DROs so far, hoping it gets better.
Given recent lifestyle changes, you'd have to hit me with a 20lb. sledge to get me to move far enough to squeak! ;)

I was still gainfully employed when I bought my machines and their accessories. I certainly couldn't do it now! If I didn't have the DROs I have now, I'd have to cobble together a few long travel dial indicators for my positional monitoring requirements on the lathe and mill. With any luck, the stuff I have now will continue to function until I no longer need them.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed... :)
 
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