CNC Mill Conversion Project

My primary metalworking tool for the past few years has been a Smithy CM-1114 lathe-mill combo machine. This is one of the first lathe-mill combos that Smithy every imported - it dates to the late 1980s - and while it has worked for me whenever I needed to turn or mill a part, there are a number of shortfalls associated with the machine that means I spend as much time dealing with its limitations as I do making chips.

Clearly I need a different machine.

Of the two functions it provides, it is a better lathe than it is mill, so it is time to add a proper mill to the shop - and that opens up an interesting possibility. It turns out that there are a number of benchtop mills with the same or better capability as my Smithy (in terms of work envelope and spindle power), far better accuracy and rigidity, and readly available CNC conversion kits.

And the possibility of CNC is just amazing. CNC brings so much to the table. Operations that are impossible to execute via manual milling - or can only be conducted via specialized tooling - are simple with a CNC mill. CNC adds an enormous amount of capability, and the idea that it would be possible to have a CNC in my shop is frankly incredible.

So I'm going to do it. This page will document the conversion process as I go along.

  • Mill Selection
  • Mill Unboxing and Setup
  • Using the Mill in Manual Mode
  • Ballscrew Conversion
  • Stepper Motors and Drivers
  • Motor Controller
  • Power Supply and Wiring
  • CNC Software Toolchain
  • First Cuts!
  • Tooling
  • Power Drawbar be continued

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