Tormach CNC Mill


As you can see in the help pages I am always looking for help in CNC machining, There is always some funny shaped article that would take an age to produce manually. That just given a few robots could be produced in seconds using nothing but "oughts and ones". Well that's the theory sadly the reality is far form that nirvana.

So lets press the rewind button its 2008 the $ is 2 to the £ the world looks rosy and I am thinking I could do with a nice CNC mill. Building a 15ft loco all these Siege and wabeco mills look a bit on the femmmer (light) side for my needs. After extensive internet research I have landed on the Tormach as a leading front runner. Only trouble is its in the states and although I would like to press the buy button the thoughts of 6 grand or so is getting me nervous. Failure to commit that's my problem the press return to buy never happens the world collapses and all them lovely dollars cost far more than they did a few months ago.

So lets fast forward its 2011 I am thinking I escaped Christmas pretty lightly and seem to have far more money left than I expected. I am looking at all the stanchions and balls and walkway grab handle finials I need to make and my heart is dropping as I contemplate just how many ways I can make a mess of machining them.


on the flat

Tormach Mill arrives Steve Cox and Alan Crow supervise the lift

Well a bit of spare money and my thoughts started turning to a nice one of those's bench top CNC lathes. Nothing too fancy second hand of course. So plenty of idle searching on eBay and CNCUK and all I can find is a £10K emco that seems to sell everywhere else for a couple of grand so no sale there then. More searching followed and then purely by accident a Tomach mill came up in the splash page of CNCUK. so a phone call later I was the owner of one slightly used Tormach mill soon needing collection from Bristol. As there are probably less than five but no more than ten of the things in the UK I think I was pretty lucky to get this one.

Landy lift

Of the Trailer and swinging in the air

So 400 miles and a tank and a half of diesel later I turned up at home. Although I have purchased and moved the Bridgeport and the Colchester into the garage it was always fraught with complications. Lifting gear was always on the edge, and moving things tended to end up in a battle of wills with an uncertain outcome. So this time I went for the sensible option. I hired Landylift to do the lifting as I needed to get the Colchester out then move the mill in followed by repositioning the lathe.

Celaned out and ready to move

Something has got to go and its looks like most of the workshop!

Using someone with all the gear made a huge difference Steve turned up and in two hours we had the lathe out the mill in, the lathe back into position and still time for a couple of hours in the pub on a sunday morning, result! You just cannot beat having the kit, skids, slings, wedges, jacks, you name it Steve had the lot.


Well its landed but where is everything else going

Once the mill was in position then it was time to move everything back in. Dump all the stuff on the benches and retire to the pub

Starting to fill up[

Hmm things are getting a bit neat

Getting there but as the mill came very well equipped with an 8" 4th axis loads of tooling and a computer. So things had to change from where they used to be

Ready to roll

That's better but don't breath out.

A few trips to Homebase for wall brackets and melamine board and things are starting to take shape. I can now reference all the axis and the thing's "alive; alive, I tell you" . It buzzes impressively to the limits and moves back forth all at the touch of a jog button. The other thing that attracted me to the mill is the duality lathe, a small lathe that bolts to the table and turns the mill into a fair approximation of a light CNC lathe. So look out handrails your compound curves are toast.

As of this week end I wrote my first lines of G code the first attempt had the Z axis heading with impressive speed for the table just before I hit the E-stop. But on my second attempt I got it to theoretically to mill a hole about 6 inches above the table but hey every march starts with the first step.

So I have a CNC mill, no idea how to program it, purchasing Solidcam to bolt onto my Solidworks will probably be more than I spent on the mill. Tormach recommend Sprutcam but that's a $1000 so I might be looking at it wistfully for a while yet so stay tuned. There is no fear the Bridgeport will be sulking in the corner for a few years yet. But just in case to keep her happy I bought her a present.


All in and ready for its first run... press the pause button and come back in 2012!

First job here and page down

Second job here and page down and here and here


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