Sunday, March 17, 2019

Remember: A Mill Is Not Just For Metal

I have a very nice machinist's chest that I bought from Harbor Freight (yes, it happens).  Two of the drawers have dividers in them that consist of two side pieces of some oak-like wood with notches into which the dividers slide.  A very simple way to add dividers to a standard drawer.  I have used these divided drawers for my enormous collection of taps, but I want dividers in the other drawers.

My first plan was to use aluminum for the side pieces and dividers, but the more I visualized the appearance, the better it sounded to use wood.  I needed side pieces 7.25" long, by 1/2" wide by 1" tall.  I bought a sheet of 1/2" x 8" poplar at Home Depot.  (No oak that wide in stock.)  Then I cut this into 7.25" x 1/2" x 1" sides.  They were just slightly too long to fit.  But the mill cut .050" off the end like a knife through butter.  Perfect fit.  Then I cut .252" wide x .2" deep slots to fit .25" thick pressboard dividers.  Not only does this look better than aluminum, but wood cuts so fast.

Bad Thing about wood and other natural materials: they are inconsistent.  25 ipm worked fine on some, broke others.  Now doing .5 ipm with more success.


  1. I've used modeler's plywood in situations like that.

  2. No personal experience but I recall once reading that there are special endmills for wood. They are fluted in reverse.

    The idea is that the normal endmill, as the flutes revolve up, chips the upper edges of the cut. With flutes going down it cuts rather than chips the edges.

    And of course Bing answers all questions. It's called a downcut mill.

  3. Harbor Freight is decent if you know what you are buying. A lot of the stuff is great if you are just planning on a short (one shot) project. I can't afford a lot of "good" tools for a one shot project, especially if I'll never use them again.

    However, their Prowler generator got some great reviews.

    I keep a lot of HF tools in my range bag or the trunk of my car. Basically, cheap tools that I don't get upset if they get broken or lost. I've lent a few to people at a range match and I might not get it back for 6 to 8 months. (They forget, or we just don't catch the same matches for a period of time.)

    A few months ago, someone needed an allen wrench to adjust the mount on their scope. I have three set in my range bag from Harbor Freight. SAE, Metric, and Torx/Star. I leant him the appropriate one, and instead of actually using it on his scope he went off on his opinion of how much junk Harbor Freight tools were. He then tried to "show me" how much junk it was by trying to snap the allen wrench in half. It's made for screwing and unscrewing, not as a lever. I had to physically take it back from him because he was determined to break it, irregardless of me telling him not to.

  4. Gladorn: As another reader observed, do not buy anything with a motor at HF unless you can start it. They have a lot of okay tools, and I actually bought some garage seals from HF that were American made.