The RF-45 clone milling machine has been sitting on the garage floor since before Christmas patiently awaiting some support. I, once again, have struggled coming up with a design for the stand and so the game plan turned into more of a game than a plan. There were certain criteria that had to be met. First the stand had to be functional (obviously). What I mean to say is that the factory stand lacks any useable storage space. It is a cabinet that takes up a ton of cubic foot useless storage space. I decided to build in a tool box to allow for tooling storage. Second I wanted a stand that was a few inches higher then the factory one. I am unsure if there is a golden rule surrounding the height a milling machine should stand at. My lathe sits too low and my back aches after extended use of the machine. I wanted to make the machine height more body friendly. Third I wanted to incorporate provisions for a coolant system, which may be added, later down the road. This means coming up with a shield and a drain system. I did a lot of searching to see what others had done in regards to a splash shield. Most of the samples I saw had shields that appeared to be in the way, most of the time; as well they seemed to require some assembly each time they are used. I opted to go with a splash shield that will move vertically on linear bearings. The weight of the shield will be counter acted by a counterweight. The counterweight will be riding in between the upper support columns.  Once the system is built I should be able to effortlessly raise and lower the shield. I had an idea of what I wanted so I started to build “by the seat of my pants”. The blog title got its name from the shape of the stand. Once it is complete I suspect its shape will resemble that of a guillotine.

 

The stand needs to be able to support the 750lbs machine as well as withstand vibrations during machine use. The main structure is built from 2 x 2 x .100 square tubing. Everything was TIG welded and, except for the front face, all the welds were left un-ground to help maintain their strength. The height of the stand reached just over 9 feet. I chose to finish the sides off using some G1S plywood I had kicking around. I typically don’t like to use wood on my projects however my work benches are sheeted with wood so I thought I would keep the theme consistent.

 

To allow for levelling of the stand I chose to add some adjustable feet. Like with most anything I build that needs to sit on the floor I used 6 oz hockey pucks for the feet. I started buying the pucks by the bucket full. The lower frame section got 1” coupler nuts welded on the inside at each corner. The feet were then made from 5” chunks of 1” ready rod with washers welded to them. When I designed the stand I tried to do it in such a way that the welds would not support the weight. Not that I don’t trust my welds I just think it’s a smarter way to build and it allows for more rigidity. The welded washers on the feet breaks my “design rule” and subjects the full weight of the stand and the machine on the welds. Hopefully I was in “the zone” when I welded the feet together. The hockey pucks were drilled out using a 1” drill bit to allow for the ready rod to sit inside. The title picture of this blog post are the shavings from the hockey pucks, I thought they looked cool.

I am not going to spend time describing the linear slide system that will control the splash shield on this post. There will be a separate post dedicated to the design and build. The only thing I will mention is that the rear support columns need to allow for a bearing track on both the outside and inside of the columns. The shield will ride on the outside track and the counterweight will ride on the inside. There will be a cable connecting the two systems together. The cable loops over top of the rear columns. I bought 2 replacement caster wheels for $4 and cut a groove down the center of them to allow for a cable guide. The support columns were plasma cut to allow for caster supports. The outside bearing guide is made from 1” x .250” flat bar while the inside track is constructed from a couple of 5” sections of 3/8” square bar. Since I need the machine mounted on the stand before I can fabricate anymore of the shield system I concentrated my efforts on getting the main stand built.

 

The future coolant system is going to need some way to control, contain, and drain the liquid. I opted to build a tray from 11 gauge steel and incorporate raised sides to help contain the coolant. Since I do not have a bending brake (hmmm…more tools), I was forced to perform the time consuming job of welding, and grinding, the 1” flat bar lips onto the tray ensuring the tray was water proof. I then cut 2 drain holes and welded in a couple of 3” section of 1” steel pipe. This will allow me to thread on a drain attachment at a later date. Since the toolbox does not extend all the way back in the stand it allowed me some clearance for the drains and plumbing.

 

I woke up Saturday morning to the remains of an overnight snow storm. I included a picture of my snow covered gazebo (the roof seems to be holding so far). Since everything, and everybody, was snowed in it gave me a reason to spend the day in the garage (who am I kidding, I don’t need a snow storm to give me a reason). By the end of the weekend I had the main structure fabricated and at paint stage. I plan on spending the week preparing to move the milling machine onto the stand next weekend. If I have time I will try and get some more of the linear slide built.

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Comments
  1. Warren says:

    Awesome work man. Not to mention the way you laid out your blog is beautiful.

  2. john says:

    I have grate intrest in your milling machine bench stand build and your splash shield that will lift vertically on linear bearings. by counterweights. Have you gone an ferther with this consept looking forwerd to hearing from you.
    John

    • gordsgarage says:

      Hi John, I have the bearing plates built and the pulleys fabricated. Since I don’t have coolant running yet I have been slow to completing the task. Your comment helps motivate me to get it done. I work very hard at making sure I do not abandon projects half way through and that I always see them through to completion. I failed on this one. Stay tuned…I will do my best to jump back onto it and get it done. There is not much left to do.

      Gord

  3. Dan says:

    Do you still like the height of your stand after having a chance to use it? I like the idea of having the built in tool box but it seems to drive the height of the table top to about 37 – 38 in. My mill is still setting on the pallet waiting for me to build the stand so I don’t have a feel for a good working height as of yet.

    Dan

    • gordsgarage says:

      Hi Dan, I have no complaints about the height I built the stand. I find that it is a lot easier on my back and I have not run into any issue with the height that I would consider negative. For me space is everything so having a stand that is more then just an empty box is important. Another advantage to setting the machine a bit higher is that my x table clears my work bench.

      Hope this helps
      Gord

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