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HF Mini-Mill conversion plan review

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  So,  you've got one of these mini mills from Harbor Freight, or one of the other 8 places you can get one these days.  These are about the best for the money in their size class, you get cast iron construction and a Z axis that can travel the full range without losing register in the XY. 

  But CNC machines, of course, are much better if you need to make a lot of something.

  Ron Steele has on his site (for sale) a complete set of plans to convert it over to CNC, while retaining the ability to use it manually if you wish.  For beginners, that latter function is especially handy.

  I have a copy of these that Ron sent me to look at and review.  I have to say I'm very impressed with what he's put together here.

  One thing that clearly stands out is the Z-axis modification section.  Ron lays out options to the builder as to whether to use a ball screw or standard lead screw for the Z axis and details costs, part changes, and trade-offs for both.  He also describes how to modify the ball screw end for mounting, and present options here to help you match the capabilities of your equipment.

  The plans are very instructive, clearly laid out, and include a section that tells where to buy everything with part numbers and stock sizes listed.  This is very important, as I've seen plans that seem to presume that everyone is as good at scrounging up old junk as the plan writer.  Not so with Ron, all this stuff is off the shelf standard hardware, and you can order most of it on-line.

  For the parts you need to make yourself, there are full spec engineering drawings for them, one drawing per part.  Very easy to read, and the plans are in a comb-binding so it lies flat on your workbench.  

  For the $50 he's charging I'd say they're definitely worth it unless you're very experienced or have lots of time on your hands.  I see he's also selling conversion kits as well.  Last I visited him down in Oregon I got the chance to see some of his work firsthand.  I'm sure if you order the kit instead you won't be disappointed at all.

Link to the plans on his site




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This page last updated on January 11, 2015 .