Busy Bee Tools, Craftex Item No: B1976
This is the smaller of two mill/drills currently offered by Busy Bee / Craftex. It is a pretty standard round-column mill/drill. I don’t use it quite as often as the lathe, but it still gets a lot of use since it does double duty as a drill press and mill. I haven’t been as delighted with it as my lathe, but it is a pretty decent machine for the money.
The mill came with a 3” face cutter with brazed inserts, which I’ve gotten decent work from. I suffered with the included drill chuck and drill press vice for almost a year before I finally snapped and bought a decent keyless chuck and a nice 4” milling vice. I wish I had got them the same day I bought the mill; it’s like using a completely different machine now. I also bought the optional stand (Item No: B026900), which needed some modification before it could be assembled, but was a good investment.
The heaviest cutting I’ve done was with the 3” face cutter that comes with the mill. Using that cutter I can get an excellent finish on mild steel and aluminum (in my opinion anyway). I mainly use the mill with end mills and for drilling, usually with good results. The 1hp motor has been overkill for everything I’ve done so far.
Anyone familiar with mill/drills will know that the main complaint about them is the round column. It’s an issue when you need to raise or lower the head, usually for a tool change, because the head can swivel on the column. If you’re trying to do accurate work, it’s a pain since your head is now out of position. Some hobbyists have found creative ways around this, but the best solution is to buy a knee mill instead. The head on a knee mill is fixed in position, and the table moves up and down on a vertical dovetail. They’re also significantly more expensive, so I stuck with the mill/drill anyway.
As it turns out, the round column isn’t my biggest complaint of the mill/drill. Instead, I’ve found that when the quill is extended and not locked, such as when drilling a hole, there is some play around it. It’s still has less play than a drill press, but it is a bit disappointing considering how solid the rest of the machine seems. When milling it’s not an issue, as locking the quill almost eliminates any play. Craftex offers a larger mill/drill as well with a bigger quill, which may reduce this problem.
If I were looking to buy my first mill again, I’m actually not sure what I would buy. My mill/drill hasn’t really prevented me from tackling any projects so far, but it would be nice to have a more solid machine. I would seriously consider a small knee mill, or try to find a used one, but when looking at the prices my mill has been pretty great!
More Pages: The Lathe The Band Saw MIG Welder How I moved my machines Choosing your first machine
Back to the Shop Page
Last updated 5-Apr-09
Copyright ©2009 Alexander Sutherland