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Buying a Sherline 5400, looking for advice

Discussion in 'SHERLINE, TAIG, TITAN & SIEG MINI-MACHINES' started by Aaron_W, Sep 1, 2017.

  1. Aaron_W

    Aaron_W United States Active Member Active Member

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    I bought a Sherline 4400 lathe last year with the C package which includes the compound slide and thread cutting attachment.

    Link to listing of the extra bits and bobs

    http://sherline.com/product/4400c4410c-package/


    I'm getting ready to buy the 5400 mill

    I was planning on getting it with the A package.

    http://sherline.com/product/5400a5410a-deluxe-mill-package/


    Rotary tables were on sale for August (20% off) so I picked up the standard 4" manual rotary table.


    What I could really could use is to have somebody look at the A package, and what I've already got with the Lathe C package and see if there is anything else that I will really want right away that I wont have with those. I'm less familiar with milling than with lathes (although that isn't saying much).

    I realize there are many variables based on intended use. I'm just trying to ensure I don't leave off something really useful for basic milling. Like with the lathe, the rear cutoff was not an essential tool, but it is really nice to have because it works so much better.
     
  2. kvt

    kvt Active User Active Member

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    Ok, I have both mine was just the 4400a, but purchased the rest anyway. Also got a separate brand of QCTP,
    I have the 5400 as well, and on it I have purchased the longer axis and rod, then had fun attaching it to the base and tram it. But the extra height makes it more useful or at least to me it is. The motor and the head is the same for both, One other thing that I have done is the block to go behind the head thus give a little bit more space, but makes it a little bit more unstable.
    You just have to remember it is small, can do precision stuff but cannot not hog stuff out, or make deep cuts etc. I use them for small stuff all the time. In fact I am in a project right now, where needed a big part and a small part to attach before drilling. Did the big part, Measured then did the small part on the 4400, then mount on the big part and finish the work on the big lathe.
    Even doing small threading I do it on an old 4000 that I have set up to only do small threading.
    Also keep eyes out on Craigs list and Ebay may be able to pick a decent one for less. Same with the Turn table. My turn table was half the price and did not look like it had been used. Cleaned it up and made me a angle table for it, Then kept going.
     
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  3. mikey

    mikey Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Aaron, I have a 4400 and 5400, too. First, let me say that the Sherline 5400 mill is a really good machine for its size; it does everything a large mill does but the work envelope is smaller. I take cuts on it that I take on my larger mill because oftentimes the cutter is the limiting factor, not the mill. As long as your work is on the small end of the scale, the 5400 will work well for you.

    I am going to tell you what my mill is outfitted with, and why. I hope this helps you think things through. Also, if you haven't read it yet, buy Joe Martin's book, Tabletop Machining. It is a showcase of Sherlines products but will also teach you basic machining and how their tools are used.
    • I have the extended column and the mill column riser block. This gives you 17" of headroom under the spindle and you will need it all. I also have the rotary column attachment that adds a tiny bit of room in Y and makes tramming a little easier; you can live without it. The column and block are not optional, in my opinion. If you can afford it, buy them.
    • 1297 headstock spacer: this extends the headstock and spindle out about 1-1/4". This gives you even more room in Y before the vise hits the column. I NEED this spacer; I think you might, too.
    • Tooling plate: mine was made by a company that is no longer around but a tooling plate is a good thing because it allows you to bolt stuff almost anywhere you like. You can also shim between the plate and table to get the bed absolutely level, a good thing.
    • 4017Z/4117Z Mill CNC Z-axis Backlash Adjustment Upgrade: Buy this thing. It will make the common head drop issue a non-issue. Not optional.
    • I highly recommend you forego buying end mill holders and buy a Beall ER-32 chuck. It is useful for holding any cutter you'll use on the mill, is more accurate and you can also use this chuck on the lathe. Good collets are good to have as well and we can go into that if you need recommendations. The Beall collets that come in their set is Chinese, I think, but they're pretty good. If you buy a Beall chuck, be sure to tell them it is for a Sherline so they get the register correct.
    • Buy a better vise. The Sherline vise is fine. It is an aluminum body with steel jaws, is perfectly sized for the mill and its accurate. However, I think a 2" screwless vise is better. I actually use a Wilton 2" machine vise that is no longer made and I have a Wilton 2" precision tool screwless makers vise, too. Since these vises are very expensive, the best option is a generic 2" Chinese screwless vise. It will be more rigid, have more capacity and is probably just as, if not more, accurate than the Sherline vise. If you use the column spacer, the vise should fit under the column for even more room in Y; this is a very good thing. Buy a vise with the long slot at the base instead of holes; this makes it easier to mount it with clamps.
    • Buy Sherline's inserted carbide fly cutter, not the one in the package. You want the 7620 fly cutter. This is a vastly superior tool to the one that takes lathe cutters. You will use this tool for squaring parts in the mill, which is how almost all milling projects start. It will also cut to a shoulder for when you need to make ledges. Trust me; buy this tool.
    • Buy a good drill chuck. I have a 3/8 Rohm Supra chuck for my mill. A Rohm Spiro is better but is much more expensive. An Abrecht is even better but you will need one with a straight shank to fit in a collet and that takes up too much room in Z.
    • You should already have center drills. Actually, you will find spotting drills to be more accurate and useful on the mill. Buy 120 degree spotters if you use 118 degree drills and 140 degree spotters if you use 135 split points. Either way, just buy a 1/4" diameter cobalt spotter and it will last you most of a decade or more.
    • End mills: buy them on ebay. Look for Niagara Cutter, OSG, Brubaker, Regal or any other quality end mill maker. Buy roughing and finishing end mills. For the Sherline, fine roughers work better than coarse ones.
    • LMS sells a nice little 3" long boxed set of parallels, 1/8" thick. Perfect for this mill. When you can, also buy a thin set, 1/32" thick. These are useful for drilling close to an edge but also go up in size by 1/16", which is better for positioning a part than the thicker parallels.
    • For hold downs, I find the 3012 set much more useful than the packaged set. You don't need step blocks with the 3012 and you can fine-adjust your height. This is such a better idea that I have larger versions for my larger mill that I had made to order. If you go for the 3012, buy at least two sets. More is better, and later on you can buy more and longer 10-32 shcs for versatility.
    • Buy a tilting angle table when you can. You will be surprised how often you will use this. The vise and rotary table will mount to this and greatly extends the mill's capabilities.
    Other than the other usual stuff (good quality DTI, calipers, mics, etc) that's about all I can think of that is essential for the 5400 mill. It is as precise and as useful as the lathe is, and both are far more capable than you might think at the moment. Later on, we can all discuss things to make that will make your machines even more capable. Oh, by the way, learn to grind good HSS tools for your lathe; it will greatly improve your work.

    Hope this helps.

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2017
  4. Aaron_W

    Aaron_W United States Active Member Active Member

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    Yes it does. I won't be able to get all this upfront but it is a nice list of things to consider.

    I assume by extended column you mean the 2", 4" or 6" (50055, 50056, 50058) column bases?

    I do have the Table top machining book, I actually bought it before the lathe to help me decide if I really wanted to open the whole mini machine shop can of worms. :calm:


    Although it means getting some items which will later be replaced, Sherline's packages tend to be frustratingly good deals, so I will probably go with that for now. The Headstock spacer, end mill set and vice more than cover the package cost.

    I will add a couple of the 3012 sets, the 7620 cutter and a tooling plate, probably the one for the rotary table.

    If I am reading this correctly the 4017Z is an upgrade for older mills "Sherline CNC-ready mills did not initially incorporate the Z-axis locking lever". It is not really clear if the new mills include this or not, but at $36 it is an easy addition later and provides an excuse to buy other stuff "to save on shipping". I'm sure initially my errors will be greater than any the machine is responsible for.


    Thank you, there are so many things to consider and budgets never seem to be big enough to cover every angle.
     
  5. mikey

    mikey Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    I mean the Extended Column: https://www.sherlinedirect.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=212. Note that you also need to longer leadscrew.

    The tooling plate I meant is this one: http://sherline.com/product/3560-mill-tooling-plate/. My plate permanently resides on my table and my vise mounts to that plate. I have aluminum plates that cover the rest of the holes until I need them.

    Sherline makes good tools but for some, there are better options. An example to avoid is their boring head; it is small and doesn't work well enough to justify its cost. Better to buy a Criterion S-1-1/2.

    Good luck with this. For what its worth, I've spent over 25 years working with this mill and other than size, I did not feel limited in any way. Like most things, its the operator that makes the difference. With Sherline tools, its the work envelope that limits you, not the quality of the machine.
     
  6. Aaron_W

    Aaron_W United States Active Member Active Member

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    Thank you, somehow I missed the larger column. While over time, I'm sure I will find larger things to make, my main interest is small items less than 2x2" in size which I know is well within the abilities of the Sherline equipment. I'm sure the operator (me) will be the limiting factor.
     
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  7. kvt

    kvt Active User Active Member

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    One of my problems is that I wound up doing and making things that probably were best for a larger mill. But for small stuff like you said it is great. Also some of it is fun to make on your own. Mikey did a good job on things that are good and needed. I hope you have fun with the mill, they can be very precise,
     
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  8. Aaron_W

    Aaron_W United States Active Member Active Member

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    Ken, I'm probably safe for now. I bought the long lathe to provide room, but so far everything probably would have fit on the short lathe. There is also something to be said for small machines that can be lifted in one hand. :)

    Mikey, I'm curious about your comments on the Sherline vise. It would appear the one Sherline offers is a screwless type with a long slot along the base, which sounds like exactly what you are recommending. I'm wondering if Sherline has improved their vise from a screw type to screwless since you bought your mill or if there is another factor that causes you to recommend another?

    Sherline has rotary table accessories on sale this month so I ordered a tilting table and rotary table tooling plate. I wasn't sure but between your suggestion and it going on sale, it seemed a good time to do it.

    Thanks
     
  9. mikey

    mikey Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Sherline's vise is a screwless vise but it has an aluminum body, which will be about 3 times less rigid than a vise made from tool steel. When you crank down on a part to machine it the fixed jaw will deflect with any vise but it will deflect less with a steel vise.

    This is the one I use for most work: https://www.amazon.com/Wilton-11708-Precision-Milling-2-Inch/dp/B001AS35GC

    This is the one I use when I need the best precision I can get: https://www.amazon.com/Wilton-11714-Precision-Makers-Screwless/dp/B001AS5E3Y

    My Sherline vise isn't used very much any more to be honest.
     
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  10. Aaron_W

    Aaron_W United States Active Member Active Member

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    Ok, I suspected it might be the aluminum, but that wasn't specifically mentioned so I wanted to make sure I knew what the difference was. I've seen 2" steel screwless vices for the same price as Sherlines or less. With the vise the A package is still a very good deal, without, it makes more sense to shop around and maybe spend more but not get things that will will eventually want but not need right away and more importantly not get stuff that will sit in a box or be replaced as soon as I can afford to.

    Thanks
     
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  11. DHarris

    DHarris United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    I'll second Mikey's recommendation on the Wilton-11708-Precision-Milling-2-Inch vise. He recommended it to me when I started out and it's been fantastic. (Also, when we were looking - I thought that I'd found the last new one in existence as Wilton has discontinued making it). So, if the one place listed still has it available - I'd look seriously at picking that one up. I don't have the screwless vise so I can't comment on it.
     
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  12. mikey

    mikey Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Yup, I thought you got the last new one, too. Then I found it on Amazon and quickly linked it.

    Aaron, this is configured like a Kurt vise but without the Angle-lok feature. Still, it is precise and rigid enough for most work on a Sherline mill. I use it about 90% of the time on that mill and agree with Dave; it is a very good vise. There are copies of it from India but I have no experience with them.
     
  13. Aaron_W

    Aaron_W United States Active Member Active Member

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    The Wilton is going to be out of my price range for now, as I'm already extending myself $400-500 more than I initially planned. Good thing I'm working a ton of overtime right now.

    I am seeing these on the Wilton site, so perhaps they have been placed back into production? I am curious about these though, with the swivel and tilt it seems as if they would be somewhat inaccurate. Do they have marks, stops etc to control the angles well? It also seems like it eats up a lot of height, although probably no worse than a rotary table and tilt table with the screwless vise.

    I see the extended column is an option at purchase which is why it doesn't show up under accessories. I can see where the extra 4" would be useful particularly with the ER32 collet chuck which looks like it will eat up a couple of inches. Makes sense to me to get that initially, saves a little money, but more importantly it looks like a fair bit of work to add later.

    I've already got a 3/8" chuck for my lathe which is compatible with the mill, and the mill comes with a 1/4" chuck. The keyless is certainly a nice feature, but I can live with using a key for now. I did order a Beall ER32, that seems a much nicer option vs individual collets and end mill holders. I added the 3/16 collet as well, since with the size work I'm planning it seemed a useful size for smaller bits.

    I'm still shopping around for end mills, found a couple of sets which seem like they would be ok for getting started.
    Are Dremel cutters appropriate for use as really small end mills in soft materials like brass or aluminum? I've got a decent selection of Dremel bits already and some of the specialty bits seem handy if they will hold up to light milling work.
     
  14. mikey

    mikey Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Wilton makes the 2 and 3-axis vises but they do eat up a lot of space. The one that Dave and I have just has a swivel base and it doesn't eat up much room in Z. It is solid and useful. These things are expensive, which is why I suggested starting with a 2" screwless Chinese vise. They are cheap, accurate and will do until you're on your financial feet.

    You are really going to like the Beall chuck, not just on the mill but on the lathe. It will allow you to work up close to the chuck while the machine is running without chewing off meat, and it will swallow up longer pieces of stock and hold it steady as you turn it. Love that thing!

    Edit: I forgot the Dremel thing. Yes, you can use them but be aware that those cutters normally require much higher speeds than the Sherline can generate. They won't cut as they normally would so the risk of breakage is higher. Try it and see.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
  15. DHarris

    DHarris United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    +1 on what Mikey said on the Wilton Vise - I would not get the 3 axis versions. In fact, I've taken the swivel portion of the vise off because I have not yet added the extended column to the mill (She who watches the budget must be obeyed!).
     
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  16. Aaron_W

    Aaron_W United States Active Member Active Member

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    Ok, the picture looked like more than just a swivel.

    The plan for now is to get a tooling plate, a couple sets of hold downs and a screwless vise which still comes in under the price of the Wilton vise. Hopefully they will still be available in 6 months to a year.

    The more I read about the ER collets, the more I liked the idea and thought that was the place to spend some extra money.
     
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  17. Desolus

    Desolus United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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  18. Aaron_W

    Aaron_W United States Active Member Active Member

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    Thanks, those are fairly cheap and I can see how they could be useful.
     
  19. Desolus

    Desolus United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    You might also want to order your machine with the ridged column, if you are doing anything with large diameter cutters moving in y or even thinking about climb milling you will find it invaluable. The only downside is that you can't rotate the headstock in the xy plane, but the times you're going to find that movement usefull are severely limited.

    Edit: nevermind, I just realized that you are getting the 5400 not the 2000 which by virtue of not having that adjustment does not have that problem.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017 at 7:21 PM

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