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      Micro-Mark Discount code for IGMA   01/29/2017

      Great News for miniature artists!!!! In support of IGMA and the world of fine miniatures,  Micro-Mark the small tool specialists, have offered IGMA a 10% discount on all their purchases.  Buyer gets 10% off all purchases and in support of the Guild Micro-Mark will donate 5% of your purchased price to IGMA Be sure to enter Promo code IGMASAVE16 www.micromark.com Can be used on sale merchandise, but cannot be combined with another offer.  For example if an item is in the close-out section on the Micromark website, the discount will apply. If they discount some items in an email (a special promotion) the 10% will not be able to be combined with that offer.  Time to go shopping!!!      

Milling wood for furniture tutorial
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40 posts in this topic

I finally bought a mill this last week, after going backwards and forwards between choosing either the Sherline or Proxxon mill for weeks...I settled on the Proxxon MF 70, basically for two reasons, it is a lot cheaper than the Sherline and it can go up to 20 000 rpm and since I do use small cutters a lot I thought it the best choice for now, a friend suggested the ideal would be to have both mills, so I guess I will still buy the Sherline some time in the future.

I have realized over the last few weeks that many people own the Proxxon but don't really know how to use it for woodworking and I thought writing a tutorial is a good idea. Anybody is welcome to add any tips and methods that they like to use.

First I made a wooden base to fit on the XY table using two of the screws that came with the mill, the base hangs over at the back and I glued a strip of wood to the underside of the base flush with the XY table. This will make it easy to reposition the wooden base back in place when I need to take it off.

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Next I milled a groove at the back and sides of the base as far as the movement of the XY table allowed me to go. My groove is about 4mm deep and 1/8" wide to fit the thickness of the wood that I want to use in the grooves to make prefect 90 degrees angles for placing pieces of wood ready for milling. In cutting the groove I went down only 0.5mm at a time so it took eight passes to go down the full depth, the end mill was also smaller than the final width that I wanted, so after reaching the full depth I made the groove wider a little bit at a time until my strips of wood fitted snugly into the groove.

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I don't like the two spanners that comes with the mill much, they are too short and thin in my opinion, so I use regular spanners on permanent loan from my husband's tool box...don't worry, he knows where to find them when he needs them.

87bfb095-8fff-4906-8bd1-f07c52e882e4_zps

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Elga, this is a good tutorial.   Thanks for posting this.

 

Without debating the merits of Proxxon vs. Sherline, Proxxon's XY table appears to be metric only, whereas Sherline seems to offer both "Imperial" (inches) and metric versions. 

 

If Proxxon is available with an "Imperial" option, could someone please point me in that direction?   Thanks.

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Elga, congrats on your new cool tool acquisition; I'm sure you will get a lot of use out the mill.  His & Her Tools... gotta love sharing.

 

Chris, I tried to confirm imperial measurements.  Proxxon's website gives some specs in imperial and metric, so I'm not sure -- perhaps a quick email will solve your problem.  The MF-70 is listed as $400 on their website, which seems like a reasonable price to me.  You may want to contact Prox-Tech in Hickory, NC as they are the US distribution company. 

 

The Micro-Lux R8 is $824.95 on Micro-Mark's website but it has a cool 45degree tilt, which I know I would need for something... yet to be discovered!

 

I am pretty sure my unimat tilts - and I'll stay with this one for a while since Dear Husband was convinced that this is the machine I really needed...

 

In the interim, I'll be reading and looking forward to the learning opportunities.

 

Tamra

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oooo good idea :)

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Thanks Elga, now I understand more about your birthday present!

Mavis

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Chris, I think the Proxxon only comes in metric, a pity since as Tamra pointed out the Microlux mill is double the price.

Funny that you should mention the tilting head Tamra as I made a V block just yesterday to mill 45 degree slots in tiny little doors for the hinges. I found this video that shows you how to make the V block, although he didn't measure before the time I had to as I don't have a full size table saw and the depth of my cut was limited by the size of my blade.

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Your comment made me think a bit further as I am starting work on two Chippendale chairs this week and need to mill 10 degree mortises and tenons in the side pieces of the chair rails, three years ago I just used a piece of scrap wood to lift the wood a bit at an angle but it wasn't ideal. After a bit of thinking and working out the dimensions I made a 10 degree jig as you can see in the photos, it is a bit too short to support my wood all the way, I will probably glue a piece of 2mm thick plywood on top to make it a bit wider, with a full size table saw it will be possible to make a wider jig. With this method one can make any degree jig you need...a great solution for those of us who don't have a mill with a tilting head.

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For the second cut I put a scrap piece of wood the same thickness of the blade in the first slot to support the wood while cutting the second slot.

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Milling the 10 degree mortise in the chair rail.

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My brother bought me this great lamp at Ikea in Stavanger, they were a lot cheaper in Norway than here...and this one is long enough to swing to whichever tool I am using as well as to the other side of my desk where all the assembling happens...good lighting is essential when you are working with your power tools.

20151025_143846_zpsob9mu7iy.jpg

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Thank you Elga for pictures and for good explanation

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Very inspiring post! I love tools and jigs. I have a couple different sized blocks, they are handy. 

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Pin routing is a technique that I use a lot, you can do this on a mill or a drill press. I use a 3.2mm (1/8") Dremel cutter (http://www.dremeleurope.com/za/en/tungstencarbidecuttersquaretip3-2mm-118-ocs-p/) for this, to set it up you will need to drill a hole into your wooden base the same size as the cutter and make a pin from brass rod to fit the hole, my brass pin sticks out from the wooden base just a tad smaller than 2mm, I usually use 2mm thick plywood for the bases of the jigs that I built for pin routing.

 

Here you can see the brass pin and cutter ready for pin routing.

 

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In pin routing what basically happens is that the extra wood that overhangs the base of the jig gets cut away by the cutter while the pin stops the cutter from cutting when the jig base starts hitting the pin, hope that makes sense. I cut at the back of the pin so that I can see what I do, as the cutter spins clockwise you need to move your work from right to left against the cutter. Also hold your work tight right where you are cutting, and go slow and remove the wood in small repeated passes.

 

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For symmetrical pieces I cut the profile on only one half of the jig and flip my piece over for the second half of the cut as you can see in this drawer front.

 

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The finished drawer front together with a shelf, since the cutter can't quite cut sharp corners I use a file afterwards to make the corners nice and sharp.

 

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When there is a lot of waste wood that needs to be routed away I put the wood blank in the jig, draw a line and saw most of the waste away on a scroll saw as in this chair leg.

 

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This specific chair leg is shaped on all four sides and needed four jigs...it can get a bit complex, here is the leg and all the jigs, in this case the jig and leg pieces are longer than the final leg needs to be, it will be cut shorter at the top and bottom after the mortises has been cut into the legs. There are also quite a bit of info on this whole process on my blog if you want to read more. http://elgakoster.blogspot.co.za/search/label/Queen%20Anne%20Chair

 

20151029_125354_zpsd8qvalul.jpg

 

Let me know if anyone wants info on how to built the jigs.

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Today I needed to cut rabbets on some drawer pieces and thought I would show you how to do that. My wood is 1mm thick and I wanted to cut rabbets 1mm in from the edge of the wood and 0.5mm deep. To make life easier since I often cut rabbets this size I made a little jig as I actually use a 2mm end mill for this. In the photo you will also see a drawer piece with the rabbet already cut, the base of the drawer will fit into the rabbets.

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The sides of the drawer is fitting into the back of the drawer so I also cut rabbets on the sides of the drawer back pieces.

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And in the last photo you can more or less see how the drawer is going to go together, I haven't cut the bases yet, so that is just a scrap piece of wood for now.

20151112_170123_zpsknj0yguw.jpg

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Elga, I am enjoying this tutorial and learning much! I don't own a milling machine, but do use routers. At the risk of asking the proverbial "dumb question," what do you see as the pros and cons of routers vs. mills?

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Martha, I have only once or twice used my dremel as a router in a router table, so I think somebody else who has used routers a lot would be better qualified than me to answer this.

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Elga - I am enjoying this series as well.  It takes a lot of work to take the pictures while you are working on a project and then writing up the process and those of you who undertake this to help the rest of us should be commended. 

 

One thought about your drawers.  I don't know if you are replicating a particular drawer construction of a full size antique, but most drawers that I am familiar with have the drawer bottom extend all the way under the drawer back rather than fitting into a rabbet like on the front and sides.  This method allows the case (sides, front, and back) to be fitted and glued without the bottom in place.  The bottom board or boards are then slid in and nailed to the back of the drawer only to allow for expansion and contraction. 

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hmmm... so I wonder where I can obtain some 1/12th scale nails for my next drawer project?  :D

 

Martha, In my very simple perspective, and very limited experience,  a mill is, in a broad sense a router, except that is always mounted overhead in a fixed position and has this cool cross slide table where the table moves x and y directions..  At least in my head, I differentiate that mills are more commonly used for metals.  In life size wood working applications we use a pin router, where the router is stationary...they looked like really huge drill presses.  A long, long time ago I went to work with DH on the weekend and used their pin router to cut out the canopy for the Judee Williamson bed for our club, the one where she produced a workbook and companion vhs workshop.  I've done that workshop twice now at miniature club.

 

Now with the application of cnc routers we have routers that we can program to cut out shapes just like a laser.  Look Mom, "no hands!" is definitely applicable with a cnc router or cnc laser...   with a CNC router the piece is stationary, and the router is moving up, down, left /right etc for the x and y axis.

 

I have my old dremel mounted overhead and use it as an overhead router, but I have to manually move the part with my hands. 

 

I can use a Cameron drill press as an overhead pin router - Tom Walden has wrote about this, has published articles in American Miniaturist and presents classes at various miniature shows.  Once again, you are manually moving the part with your hands..

 

I think workshops have given me the best opportunity to experience using equipment and then acquiring equipment  quickly to apply the knowledge slows me down... I seldom purchase new equipment as I haven't been able to justify the cost to me-- and besides equipment cuts into my silk and fiber budget.

 

But with the forum, we can see Elga using a mill for those overhead operations.  Elga are you using the cross slide to make you cuts?

 

I think of all those Saturdays I watched Roy Underhill on PBS and then watch my husband work, there is a huge difference in how the two men would approach a project.  (Polar opposites, Roy Underhill is using historical techniques and with hand tools... my husband has a lot of power tools...)   My point is that there are many ways to obtain the same wonderful results in full size or 1/12th scale... 

 

Learning to use a mill was a lot of fun this past year at GS... and even though I was exposed to the milling operation this past summer, I am not drawn to any specific machine at this time... part of it is a comfort level, I'm very comfortable with my dremel router setup.  Jack Blackham used this setup for my class in 2006 at GS for using his very, very cool dovetail jig.  9 years later, I've become very comfortable.  Had Jack used a mill in that class, I would have probably come home and bought mill that year... 

 

I wonder if our instructors know how much they influence us?  :D

 

Tamra

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Thank you Peter. And yes, I have made drawers the way you described with dovetails as well. These drawers were originally for a class where time and tools were very limited plus they are very small so I chose to go this way with the construction. I have a few of the kits left and are putting them together for sale and needed a few more drawer pieces.

Tamra, yes I am using the XY table, with pieces this very small I way prefer that the wood is stationery. I think for very small pieces a mill is probably the safer option. But as you say I guess it all boils down to what you have used and learned on, our club has two mills and that is really where I learned to use the mill. I have only taken one woodwork class in Castine, Carol Hardy's tall clock in 2011 and we used both drill presses and mills but I don't remember using a router.

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Today I milled mortises in the crest rails of chairs that I am busy making.

20151117_162130-1_zpsaqiimoq0.jpg

Because my backsplats are only 1.3mm thick I needed to make quite small mortises, so I used a 0.6 mm Proxxon tungsten carbide milling drill, I guess they are not really meant for woodwork but my first set lasted three years, they give a nice cut and I have never had one break, a big bonus as far as I am concerned. I couldn't find a decent link to them so here is a photo from my catalogue, it is the set on the right.

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And although I didn't mill the tenons in the backsplats I thought you would like to see them and how it all fits together.

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And in case you are wondering the middle tenon is so small because this chair has cutouts in between the tenons.

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And once again I used a jig and pinrouting to shape the backsplats in two steps since the cutter isn't long enough to do the whole width of the backsplat.

20151112_152819-1_zpsme1fhcmz.jpg

20151112_153320-1_zpsb1hlp5yr.jpg

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Elga,  Are the chairs for your Dutch Cape House?

 

In the first picture of post #16, how are you holding your chair part in place?  I am assuming you are using your X/Y table and moving the table as I am pretty sure the Proxxon mill is stationary.

 

And then in the last photo of post #16, that must be a concave/convex cut following your pin?  Are you using the carrier and moving it following the pin?  The carrier doesn't appear to be fixed to the table.  I would be moving the carrier against the pin with my dremel setup.... and it looks like you are using a brass pin?  I like your setup,  this setup would give you consistent results. 

 

The last time I did a concave / convex back splat I used my drum sander on my drill press.

 

Tamra

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Hi Tamra, I am cutting enough pieces for three chairs, one is meant to go with my sewing table, one is for someone on the forum and if I am lucky and don't have any accidents along the way the third one will be for sale :-)

In the first photo because the cuts are so short I just press the chair piece with my thumb close to where I am cutting.

And yes I move the jig/carrier against the pin...and consistent and quick results is why I like pinrouting so much, and yes it is a brass pin the same diameter as the cutter. When I made my Queen Anne chairs I also used the drum sander on my dremel and frankly I really didn't like that process at all. I made the jig for this quite deep to help keep it stable and 90 degrees to the cutter while you move it along the pin.

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That jig is brilliant! Very interesting thread.

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Thanks to Peter's comment about historical drawer construction I have decided to redo the drawers I showed you in post 10 of this thread, and Bill Hudson's posts on the dovetails for his wooden chest inspired me to get on with it.

These drawers are only 1/4" high and they need blind dovetails on the drawer front, the easiest is to cut them on the mill with an inverted cone cutter, I used size 1.2mm. I decided to have two full pins and two half pins on the drawer front and three full tails on the drawer sides, the groove for the drawer bottom will be hidden from view by the bottom tail.

Because the thickness of my finished drawer front is only about 1.2mm, I milled the spaces for the tails only 0.6mm deep in the drawer fronts and about 0.9mm in from the edge as the drawer sides are 1mm thick. Because these drawer fronts are curved I flattend the area where the sides fits on to the drawer front.

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Of course with the cutter you are left with a rounded edge on the back, here I take a leaf out of Harry Smith's book on making miniature furniture and file the tails to fit, the tails are cut by hand in the drawer side.

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Once it is put together no one will see that you left the edges round.

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The dovetails from the outside, this was just a practise piece as I haven't made dovetails this small before and wanted to practise the layout of the pins and tails, a bit of fine tuning is needed for cutting the tails but overall I am happy with the result.

20151124_122000_001-1_zps8ai7feym.jpg

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Wow! Amazingly precise work, Elga.  Can't wait to see the finished drawer.

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Really nice Elga, thanks for showing your procedure--

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The Micro-Lux R8 is $824.95 on Micro-Mark's website but it has a cool 45degree tilt, which I know I would need for something... yet to be discovered!

 

I am pretty sure my unimat tilts - and I'll stay with this one for a while since Dear Husband was convinced that this is the machine I really needed...

 

In the interim, I'll be reading and looking forward to the learning opportunities.

 

Tamra

 

 

Tamra,  The 45 degree tilt is not a blessing.  You have to tram your mill each time you tilt the column. Tramming means having a dial indicator on a bracket connected to your spindle.  The indicator is mounted on an arm so that the indicator can be rotated around the spindle and in contact with the tabletop. You have to keep adjusting the tilt until all the readings in a circle about the spindle are the same. Then the mill is back in square.  It is  PIA.  

 

Your Unimat motor and spindle can be mounted on a column (you probably have one) and can be rotated to an angle left or right.  

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Bill, that's a really good point.   I always tram the full-sized mill (but don't like doing it).  I appreciate the reminder that it would be necessary to tram the mini- mill.   Thanks!

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Chris, it is a good idea to tram any Chinese made mill including Micro-Mark as soon as you get it.  My mill was off tram front to back so I had to shim the column at the back where it is bolted to the base. 

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