I have a small benchtop mill (jet15) that I’m just starting to get comfortable with. I’m using it to make a few brackets for my new project out of 3/8 aluminum. Some of these are irregularly shaped. It would be nice to “free hand” some sections. Is there anything I could use to keep a 3/8 plate level to the table but let me safely guide it? For instance, I needed a plate to butt tightly against a timing cover. Easy enough to transfer the shape I needed but difficult to cut that shape with manual xy control. Don’t need much precision just the ability to cut odd curves while keeping control of the plate.
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normally a rotatory table is used.For odd curve you have to offset the material . Might be formula but I have always used try and try again till it works method.LMAO
Check on ebay sometimes there few old ones for sale.
Mills are cheap and accessories can cost lot more than base mill.
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I've bought lots of Bridgeport parts and tooling from these guys, easy to work with and very knowledgeable, give them a look.
Let's start with,,,,,,,,,, you don't buy a mill to freehand parts.
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F J B
Agree 100% with Dave. My mill and lathe are used for 1 off items and repairs. Rarely are duplicate items made on my equipment.
Responding to the original post, a rotary table is a great tool to have. Elevating and safely securing the materials onto the table to follow scribed layout images free hand would be considered S.O.P. in my shop...
I'm gonna need a rotary table next it looks like.
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I would consider "free hand", something not done in a mill vise or clamped to a stationary or rotary table.
Rough it in the best you can.
Finish sand to shape.
Did someone mention a rotary table.
I have one up on craigslist.
Heck you can do what you are talking about in a drill press and or a mill. Take a double cut 1/4" die grinder burr and bring the quill down so the end of the burr is below table top height. Have your part roughed in close to shape. Use LPS-2 for lube (WD-40 if nothing else) and bring your part to final shape at about 1000rpm. Don't get real aggressive and it will work fine. If you use something with too much helix it will try to lift your part that's why I say a double cut burr, which you usually wouldn't use on aluminum. Sand it to a nice finish.
Now is this the best way to do it? No, but it will work easy peasy.
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Good tip on the double cut burr. I never tried that on my drill press cuz I tried it on someone else’s one time and the chuck fell out.
Just for fun i tried sliding 3/8 aluminum along the top table into a 2 flute 1/2” cutter at 1600 rpm. That doesn’t work very well.
Dang, that is scary. Who held your beer?
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