It all started a couple of years ago when I bought a Sherline rotary table because I was planning a project that needed some gears cut and the cost of the gears I wanted was more than the cost of the rotary table. Besides, I just wanted one. At that time all I had for milling was my Taig lathe with milling attachment, which is really too small for a 4 inch diameter, 2 inch thick rotary table weighing 7 pounds. So, I decided that I needed a real milling machine. Since I wasn't prepared to spend $700+ on a Taig mill, I used my Taig lathe as an X-Y table and set about adding a Z axis.

When I switched my lathe over to the Taig power feed I got a new bed so I could mount it with the foot of the lathe directly under the headstock. Since the power feed also includes a new carriage, this left me with an extra bed and carriage sitting around, just waiting for a cross slide and headstock mounting plate to become my Z axis. So, when I got these things ordered, I was ready to begin. My first attempt was a nearly total flop because the lathe was mounted on 3/4" plywood, and I made the mount for the old bed out of scrap 3/4 inch wood, all this resulting in way too much flex in the column for anything but very light engraving jobs. Obviously, if I was going to use this as a milling machine, the mountings would have to be metal

These two pieces came off of some kind of old pump. I found it in a place where I have permission to salvage stuff that someone either dumped or cached there many years ago. It used to be by a road, but the road was blocked off, and the pump sat there until it was forgotten by everybody except the rust demon. 20 or 30 years later, I came along, noticed the pump, and got permission from the landowner to haul it out. This was no easy matter since it weighed close to 200 pounds, and the only way out had to cross a wash about 20 feet deep. To make matters worse, it was really top heavy and often capsized the hand truck I was hauling it on. To cut a long story short, I finally got it out and set about using the parts to build my milling machine. The base is cast iron .375" to .5" thick, and perfect to mount the lathe and Z axis mount on. I took it off the rest of the works, turned it upside down, and bolted the lathe to the front and the Z axis mount to the back. One of the bearing supports off the pump made a good mount for the Z axis. I made a drawbar to go through the bearing and hold the plate to which I mounted the spare bed. So, put all the parts together, rub my hands, say "abracadabra" a few times, and... Presto! A mill!


Frankly, It's not as rigid as I hoped when I began to make it. But, I don't do an awful lot of milling work,
and the larger capacity than the milling attachment is mostly what I need. Jose Rodriguez also built himself a milling machine, you can see his article about that here