|Mini Mill Large Working Table Next to The Stock Model|
I've had my Harbor Freight mini mill for over a year. Overall I like the mill, and can't imagine living without it, but after I started making some larger parts for my CNC router, I keep bumping into the limited Y and Z travel. I was almost set on getting an X3 mill, but one evening, while browsing LittleMachineShop's catalog I noticed that they had a "Mini Mill Large Table Assembly" for $299.95 (roughly $340 shipped). According to the description, the table provides 30% of extra movement on both axes. Long story short, I placed my order last Thursday and today UPS dropped (literally) the package at my garage door. The table came preassembled in a standard wooden shipping box, bolted down to the bottom board with two bots. UPS managed to seriously bust the box, but luckily the contents were undamaged. I haven't had a chance to install it yet, since I'm doing some other upgrades at the same time.
As a side note: I was seriously impressed by the service at LMS. Chris was able to answer my questions without any sales BS. I placed the order at 2PM PST and got a shipping notification within 2 hours.
Size & Travel
|Large Table Compared to the Stock Harbor Freight Mill Table|
Obviously, the main selling point of the table is the size and increased travel. Visually, the table definitely looks larger than the Harbor Freight/Grizzly mode, and much more robust. There is more work area, and the difference in corss travel is immediately noticeable. The table below shows the comparison.
|Starndard Table||Large Table||Improvement|
|Table Size X||3.68""||4.73"||28.5%|
|Table Size Y||15.87"||18.11"||14.1%|
|Table Travel X||9.0"||11.8"||31.1%|
|Table Travel Y||4.0"||5.1"||27.5%|
The new table definitely has more meat on it. The larger table assembly weighs about 54 pounds, as opposed to the stock table's 35 lb. Overall, the finish looks similar to the stock table, with color being the only major differenc. Underneath, both assemblies are primed with the same red-orange primer. A welcome difference was the absence of the Harbor Freight's red packing grease. The assembly came covered with fresh assembly oil that is easy to wipe off without soaking in WD-40. There are several differences worth mentioning:
- The saddle (moving on the Y axis) is much wider and includes four gib set screws. The gib surface is about equal to that of the X axis. This in itself should be a huge improvement, since on the stock table Y axis play was a major concern (for me at least). As an added bonus, X axis dove tails are further apart, likely adding to the overall rigidity.
- The base casting is slightly different. From the picture you can see that the area where the column swivel attaches has much more support underneath. I suspect this might add a bit of rigidity to the Z axis.
- The assembly uses 20 TPI screws, so each rotation of the handle moves the table .050", not the crazy 0.0625".
- The X lead screw has both of it's ends supported. The end farthest from the handle goes a bit past the end of the table and is supported by a brass bushing. The screw already has a notch cut for the power feed coupling as well.
- The Y screw has a threaded hole at the far end, and a washer, held by a M6 screw provides a positive stop at the end of the travel.
- The table has a T-slot cut on it's side. I don't know what the intended purpose was, but I suspect it
can be used for mounting a workpiece or making an impromptu angle plate, etc.I will try calling LittleMachineShop... May be they know.
Correction: One of the members of GrizHFMiniMill user group explined that this slot is used for travel stops.
Overall, I'm very happy about getting the larger table. In addition to the extra workspace and travel, the larger table will make for a much sturdier mini mill. Finally, unlike the standard Harbor Freight/Grizzly model, the table comes with 20TPI lead screws. Even though $340 price tag almost doubles the mini mill price (mine was $500 shipped), the expenditure will make the mill much more versatile.