Another machine tool in our workshop is a milling machine. In some ways this is like a very strong drill press. Only in addition to drilling holes you can cut sideways by precise amounts. With a milling machine you can make anything from a simple bracket to an engine block for a car.
Our machine is a moderately sized one with some nice options. Machines you may see elsewhere could be larger, smaller, and have different options.
Here’s our machine
So, besides being able to drill large holes, what else does it do?
On a milling machine, you bolt the work down to the table or clamp it in a vice like you can see in the picture above.
Then, a cutting tool is spun by the machine and brought into contact with the work to remove part of it. Could be a side, maybe the top, maybe you need a cavity carved into a block of steel. All of these are typical things these machines can do. There are computer controlled machines that do everything automatically, but ours is a manual machine with minor automatic functions.
The most common cutting tool used is an “End Mill”, they can be different shapes for special needs but they often look like a drill bit only they can cut sideways. Some can also cut straight down.
Here’s some common End Mills
A milling machine can also use saw like cutters to make slots in the sides of the work
A milling machine can also make very large holes with a “boring bar”, here’s a picture of one cutting a cylinder in a vehicle engine. The vertical “Spindle” spins and the cutter at the end of the extension scrapes off some metal on each rotation. You then lower it through the hole as far as needed, removing metal as you go.
This has just been a quick review of what a milling machine can do. Come and learn how to use one yourself.