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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone had any experience good or bad with the Shop Fox M1018 multi-purpose machine?  I'm considering getting one, and was wondering if anyone on the board had any pro's or cons about the unit.  Any adice would be aprreciated. Thanks  Chuck K
 

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I have two multi purpose tools. One is a minimax combo mortizer, thickness planer and 14" jointer. I bought it like 20 years ago and it sort of ruined my impression of multipurpose tools.
Things I don't like about it:
1. Switching to the thickness planner ruins the alignment on the jointer
2. The jointer tables are hinged and stick out to far when open making it ackward to walk around the machine.
3. You can't just lock down the jointer tables with the lock down levers, you need to use set bolts or the alignment drifts
4. Its quicker to work with a separate planner and jointer because a lot of times I just want to joint a face on one board and move to the thickness planing, so I bought a little 12 inch hitachi.
5. The mortising attachment is sort of ackward, it is on the side of the machine that normally goes against a wall. As a result, I have to have the machine (with a 21"X64" foot print) in the center of my shop so as to take advantage of the mortising machine.
6. Switching to the mortising machine only requires that you slide the jointer fence all the way over to the outside of the machine so the support doesn't block the work piece as it moves closer to the mortizing bit.
I usually just use the 14" jointer, which in itself does not make the machine worth the 2.5 k I paid for the machine. 
I used a friends shop smith once after buying my minimax. I was not happy with the setup time it took switching back and forth. It wasn't any better than the setup time on the minimax.
I didn't quite learn my lesson though,  My second combo machine is the grizzly combo shear, brake slip roll. After fixing some issues with the tool caused by poor manufacturing and quality control, I find that the brake must be dis-assembled if you want to use the shear or the slip roll easily. But thats not so bad.
In conclusion I would never buy another multipurpose tool. The main reason, I don't like setting up a machine, and then after breaking down the setup find I need to machine another piece of equal dimension. Thats happen to me more than once with the thickness planner, which I use once in a great while when I have lumber over 12" wide. 
 

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While I have no experience with the specific machine you mention, I'll second the negative opinion of multipurpose machines in general. I had a Unimat for many years (in fact, I still have it). Switching from the mill to the lathe to the sander and back is a real PITA, and aligning the mill again each time an even bigger one. Separate machines cost more and take up more space, but are much more a pleasure to use imho.
 

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I'll wade in with an opinion here...
I too have never owned a Shop Fox, but my experience with multi-purpose machines is that for every different "function" available, you have an additional alignment/accuracy variable to contend with when setting up the various "functions".
Take a radial arm saw for instance.
The head moves front and back.
It also turns on its vertical and one horizontal axis.
Plus the arm moves side to side.
That's a minimum of three areas of built in variability, that are subject to constant introduction (every time you move the arm, or change from cross cut to rip, or make a bevel cut).
For precision, I use my table saw.
Sure it cost me some big dough, but it paid for itself diring the installation of the kitchen cabinets alone...
Bottom line = save your cash up, and buy only the individual machines that you will truly use.
And if space is a problem, mount each one on a rolling platform which allows you to move them out of the way when not in use...
Soap box = off...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you to one and all for the advice. The M1018 is a metal lathe/mill combination. I never considered all the alignment and re-alingment time moving back and forth. From everyones input 2 seperate machines is the only way to go. Now I need to figure out which mini-lathe and mini milling machine to get. Maybe I need to start a new thread.
 

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While I agree with the sentiments expressed here, let me tell you a story.

I bought the MicroMark Mini-lathe. (Not a combo machine like you are asking about, but I think the story is apropos anyway).  I had fantasies of whittling out my own live steam locomotive using it.  

I was severely disappointed in the machine.  It is quite "weak" structurally.  In taking any sort of big "bite" in the work piece, it is obvious that the bed twists and warps.  Getting accurate dimensions is very difficult.  Set the depth of cut and make dozens of passes over the same place of the work piece and it keeps removing material... when do you quit taking material off????  I was very frustrated!

I was buying magazines to read advertisements to see what was available in the way of a "REAL" (read that, “He Man!”) lathe that I could buy to replace this "toy" I had mistakenly purchased.  I was sweating the prices I was finding... $6,000 for a fair to middlin' sized lathe.  Hmmm... maybe I could stretch the budget and get that $7,000 one... oh, for just a few dollars more I can get one with this other feature... then wow, for just another hundred or so I could get one with some other feature.  WOW, another $500 and it has a much stronger bed and a bigger motor... but how do I get a one ton lathe into my basement???  Round and round I went; price, size, capability, features, price, weight, add-on’s, price, tooling, price, size, price, dollars, price, etc.... oh dear!

Then I met (via the internet) a man (Ted Milson) from England that said he was coming to Iowa to visit his son in Iowa City and wondered if there were any garden gauge tracks in the area where he could run his live steam "Project" engine that he had made.  We corresponded a while and since my track was not installed yet, we settled on meeting at a fellow CVGRS member’s house on a Sunday afternoon where a new loop of track had just been installed.  I would bring my Aster Mikado and he would bring his "Project" engine.  Several other members of the CVGRS came also.

Now, the only "Project" engine I had ever heard of was a "Backwoodsy", "Kludge" of a scraggly vertical boiler 0-4-0, with a single oscillating cylinder with a chain drive to a plain set of wheels.  I am NOT impressed by this sort of thing, but figured in the interest of international relations I could feign some interest in this, uh... "Locomotive"(?).

When we met, Mr. Milson was interested in seeing my Aster Mikado and I was suitably proud of it.  After a few minutes he said, "Well, I guess I'd better get my engine ready."  I watched as he brought up a very nice wood carrying case and opened it.  From it, he withdrew the nicest looking "British" outline 0-6-0 locomotive!  WOW!  For a moment, the thought crossed my mind that he was embarrassed to bring his "Project" engine and had purchased a commercial engine to bring instead.

I generally don't like the looks of English locomotives, but... it was a beautiful locomotive!!!!

As he prepped it, someone asked where he had purchased it (glad it wasn't me asking!).  He replied that he had built it himself, then added, "Well, the wheels and cylinders are from castings, but I turned them on my lathe."

I heard that word, "lathe" and my ears perked up!  If this was the kind of work that could be turned out on a lathe, I SERIOUSLY wanted to know which lathe he used!!!!!! So I asked.

His reply? "It’s that little Mini-lathe from MicroMark.  It is small, but it does what I need it to."

Nice man, that Ted Milson... saved me a lot of money that day!!!!! (Thanks, Ted!)

I have since purchased a Mini-mill (a "Cummins" unit, which is similar to the MicroMark mill, but with an R-8 spindle instead of an MT-2).  It is also a weak structured machine and is frustrating and a bit cumbersome to set up (tram), just like the Mini-lathe.

I have learned that I have no "talent" at running a machine tool, BUT... with patience and time, I have managed to make a few items that have proven to be worthy of keeping, even if not much to brag about.  I don't think I will ever acquire the skill to make my own Live Steam Locomotive from scratch (or castings), but I like what I have and will continue to use them and I see no reason to spend any more money for "bigger" machines.

If you have room for multiple machines, I'd recommend against the single combo/multi-tool type of machine tool.  I would also recommend "bigger" machines if you have room and can afford them.  But I KNOW that a single combo/multi-tool type of machine tool could produce fine output, based on the talent and skill (and patience) of the operator.
 

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My only experieance with  multi  purpose tools  was     SHOPSMITH.  Only thing it taught me is   PLANNING.  You had to have all  your work planned and  done before  converting it for the next  step.     Night mare.    I now know what the guy gave it to me for free.

So  I agree with the others    Save your money and  buy  indivual tools.
 

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Chuck: Others have commented on switch-over times and accuracy concerns, so I won't pile more on those points, but I agree with them 100%. The only legitimate reason I can see for owning a combination tool is lack of space for separate machines. If you have the room, you won't be sorry you bought dedicated machines. Good luck to you!

Richard wrote: ...the grizzly combo shear, brake slip roll...poor manufacturing and quality control...the brake must be dis-assembled if you want to use the shear or the slip roll easily.

I owe you a beer, Kahuna...you probably just saved me from making still another mistake. Thanks. ;)

Dawg :cool:
 

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I am a strong believer in individual machines for the job, wood or metal. Planning is foremost and alignment can be a problem with MP machines. Usually a multi-purpose machine is built a little weaker, too. Many years ago, I bought a Mark V Shopsmith. It was a nice machine, but a little unstable as a good table saw. I already owned a large Craftsman table saw, so the Shopsmith became my sander or drill press most of the time. Down the line I purchased a large Craftsman radial arm saw to supplement the table saw. When I started building my inch and a half Gene Allen live steam ten-wheeler, I bought a small mill-drill machine. It served it's purpose, but not at all like the large hydrotels I used at work for the heavier milling. For turning, I found a new Atlas 12" metal lathe. Too many machines in the shop, but they all do great work!:)
 

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I used to own 

A ShopSmith Mk V.. results../DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crazy.gif:mad:

A Grizzly Table saw.. results.. :mad:/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/sad.gif

A Grizzly Jointer.. results../DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blink.gif


I currenty own..

A variety of Delta tools.... Results :D/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/laugh.gif

A Variety of DeWalt tools.. results../DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/wow.gif

Varoius Makita, Milwaukee and Ryobi tools.. Results../DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/wow.gif:D
 

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I owe you a beer, Kahuna...you probably just saved me from making still another mistake. Thanks. ;)

Dawg :cool:


Dawg,
  Make it Guiness Stout, room temprature /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/laugh.gif
 

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"Make it Guiness Stout, room temprature"

Domestic or import? There is a difference. I'm not a beer snob & I can tell.
 

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Chas

Both items look like they would be fine for small work, but again the problem is in the single pedestal supporting the milling attachment. Rigidity is the problem. Most all of these machines are designed roughly the same way, even the mill/drill machine I bought 30 years ago, to build my ten-wheeler and rolling stock. My trade was as a tool maker/ Numerical control machine programmer on large machines, so I was able to compensate for the short-comings of the mill to maintain tolerances down to .0005. The average hobbyist may not be able to do this and will be frustrated with the results. I noticed that the tool holder on this machine has a #3 taper. That pretty small and weak. My mill/drill had a R-8 taper identical to a taper used by a Bridgeport mill. I STILL had some vibration and had to be careful with cutter spring. You HAVE to keep these cutters sharp for good results! Hope this helps.:D
 

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Like several others have mentioned I purchased the Shopsmith Mark V. After watching several demonstrations and hearing the pitch I jumped in both feet. Besides the basic machine, I also got the belt sander, band saw, jointer, and the jig saw. Having all this equipment I was given a "free" 3 day woodworking course at a Shopsmith store. Besides learning how to use the different tools. They also teach you to rethink how you use the equipment and doing change overs. You lose time doing change overs. After a while you start to think it is a waste of your time.
I still have and use all the equipment. I slowly over time have added a power stand with retractable wheels for each piece of equipment. So now all the toys have their own motors and you can walk up to a piece of equipment and turn on a switch. 
I did add a planer, a table saw and a horizontal drum sander and a second dust collector.
I have a 20ft by 30 ft heated workshop that I have all of this equipment in. 
I would not go down the same road again. Each tool or piece of equipment I buy is motorized to run by itself. 
Multi-purpose tools basically save you money on using just 1 motor to power a single tool. You have decide if the trade off of doing change overs is worth using up your spare/free time to do.
 

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I'm leary of grizzly since my experience with their combo slip roll, shear, brake. They ship me a product that was not QA'd to acceptable standards, and I had a month long ordeal getting some satisfaction. Add that to the tollerances required to work metal with having to setup the machine everytime you switch over and I would say stay away.
 

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" I bought the MicroMark Mini-lathe. (Not a combo machine like you are asking about, but I think the story is apropos anyway).  I had fantasies of whittling out my own live steam locomotive using it.  

I was severely disappointed in the machine.  It is quite "weak" structurally.  In taking any sort of big "bite" in the work piece, it is obvious that the bed twists and warps.  Getting accurate dimensions is very difficult.  Set the depth of cut and make dozens of passes over the same place of the work piece and it keeps removing material... when do you quit taking material off????  I was very frustrated!"


Charles, out of curiosity, is this the Micro-Mark lathe you were referring to?

www.ares-server.com/Ares/Ares.asp

Reason I'm asking is that I'm in the process of building a new workshop, considering one of these for pretty much the same reasons you were (live steam work).

                                                                                                                                                                Tom
 

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That is the 4th (major) version (to my knowledge) of the lathe MicroMark sells.  The first was only a 10-inch long bed, then they went to a 12-inch, which is the one I bought, and not long after, they came out with the 14-inch bed.  Now they have improved it again by replacing some of the drive gears with a metal set (originally they were plastic and subject to being easily broken).

It is basically the same lathe as sold by several other companies, like Grizzly, Homier, Cummins, etc.  I don't know if they are all made in the same Chinese factory or different ones from the same set of plans.  The different brands will have one or two things different from the others; different spindle taper or, in the case of the MicroMark, the "fine" dials use an Imperial thread so adjustments are 0.05-inch per revolution of the dials (instead of approximately 0.0625-inch per rev. which is a remarking of a Metric dial).

They have made other changes over time also.  Mine has an improved motor control so that if it stalls it doesn't burn out as quickly as the original circuit and it will go slower.  They have also, since added a digital tachometer readout.

I purchased the digital readouts for the crossfeeds, but at this point I don't really recommend it.  The batteries don't last very long and mine has a "dead spot" where the display does not update as the handwheel is turned.  I need to dissassemble it to see what is wrong, but haven't done so yet (too lazy... although having to measure and adjust and measure and adjust is a bit more labor intensive!/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/ermm.gif).  I assume it is full of swarf.

There are lots of accessories available for it, both from MicroMark and other places... I particularly like  www.LittleMachineShop.com , for repair parts, accessories and tutorials about how to use it (and neat stuff to make).  www.mini-lathe.com is good also.  Both sites also cover the Mini-Mill and other tools.

If you are thinking about these types of tools, I'd recommend those two web sites (listed above).
 

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I can't say much about the Shop Fox or milling machines in general, as I haven't had the pleasure to play with one for many years now, and I won't give up my Craftsman 10in table saw (15 years and stil rock solid). But I also love my two Shopsmiths ( one I picked up to restore and the second to restore the first). Gary's correct about the tablesaw being a bit loose, mine are the old 1955 500 models maybe with the 510 or 520 upgrades but that's another forum and a different webpage. The planer, jointer, and bandsaw all have their own setup and alignments once completed I haven't had to do any again. Router / Shaper table, I'll let you know when I can find one.

I've done some grinding and shaping (rough cuts) but it works for what I need. For being 50+ years and still running gotta say something for the quality.

I'd love to have a warehouse full of toys, i mean tools but there's no room and not enough power to run them all. As for a mill, well I can only do three things at a time. Everyone has there own like and dislikes, thats why they make different scales of trains isn't it?
 

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The small combo-tools you are talking about, in most cases will be disappointing, most of the tools sold are sold to the inexperienced with big dreams of making a complicated- high precision project, that in most cases will never get done. Either spend more money and get a bigger more rigid machine, or shop on ebay for awhile, I own a 20 man steel-Fab business and it still amazes me at the equippment you can buy on EBAY, for a reasonable price. In most case the equippment comes like your spouse, you take them for better or worse. Of course the new stuff can be a problem also.
Good luck Dennis
 
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