Large Table Assembly for X2 Mini Mill

Tuesday, January 31, 2012
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%

Construction

Click on sn image for a larger view.

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.

Conclusion

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.

9 comments :

  1. Yuriy,
    Thanks for sharing all of this great information. I also have a Harbor Freight X2 mill and was interested in the large table before I convert to CNC. No one else, not even Little Machine Shop, was able to give me any specs or data about this table. I did not want to just order one to find out how good (or bad) they were. Thanks to your information and photos, as well as your first hand account of the differences between the new table versus the stock table, I have the information I need to make the purchase.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve,
      Thank you for the feedback.
      Would you mind sharing what you have in mind for the CNC conversion? I am starting along that path...

      Thank you
      Yuriy

      Delete
  2. Yuriy,
    I purchased a 4 axis package from kelinginc.com that included the following:
    Gecko G540 4 axis package with 48V/12.5A power supply and four 381 oz-in motors for $564.95 USD.
    Mach3 - 45000Hz 6-Axis Controller for Windows XP and 2000 $149.00 USD
    The power supply blew while I was testing the motors. I called Scott at Kelinginc and he let me return it so I upgraded to a better one, the KL3815 toroidal power supply that cost about $20 more than the switching power supply he first sold me. The toroidal is much better and the motors run much cooler. I recommend going that route. I peeked into the failed Chinese power supply before sending it back and was horrified at the poor workmanship, sloppy soldering, and apparent brute force required to make the components fit into the chassis. It was an electrical fire wating to happen. The toroid supply is well built by comparison and is bery simple with only a hand full of components. It is an open frame design so it has to go into a housing.
    I have Thompson ball screws that I got on Amazon.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002P4XANS/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i00
    I also have a Thompson lead screw:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002P4VPXK/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i01
    and Rulon couplings:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002SJVHM6/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00
    I have not set up anything yet.

    Regards,

    Steve

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  3. Hi Yuriy, nice review here! I have a small question about the table.

    I recently bought a set of used X2 mini mill with CNC (kit from fusionCNC I believe) to start. For what I make the y-travel is very limited (short of 4''). I searched online for the ways to increase the y-travel and accidentally found this mill base:

    http://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=4028&category=

    It is the same base of the large table assembly. I wonder if the dovetails have the same width of the old X2 base so I could just mount my XY table on it. The y-travel would be increased to about 5.1''.

    From the pictures you show they do look very close. But a little difference in dovetails may cause the mod to fail....

    Could you advise me if I could use the base? Thanks a lot!

    Best regards,
    -Fox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fox,
      This looks like the same base (judging from the photo). If that is indeed the case, the dovetails are the same width. The screw that you have on your mill will be too short.
      My suggestion would be to call Chris and ask him. He's knows what he sells and doesn't hesitate to help.

      Regards
      Yuriy

      Delete
  4. While you do gain your x axis movement the y seems to be questionable.

    Seems to me that the milling head would need to be extended roughly 1/2" outward to take full advantage of the 5.1, does that sound right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would definitely help. I use a milling vise on mine most of the time, so I end up mounting it inward a bit. At some point I will probably get a 1" think piece of cast iron from McMaster Carr and extend the head, though...

      Delete
  5. I can see you already purchased an X3 (wish I had the space for one), but one of the best upgrades I did on my X2, aside from the iGaging digital scales, was the Little Machine Shop solid column:
    http://www.littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID=4483

    It replaces the nigh useless tilting column of the X2 with a beefier column which directly bolts to the base via four bolts. It's a much more rigid interface and doesn't get knocked out of tram like the tilting column. An added benefit is increased Y axis travel, and no interference between the base and a digital scale mounted on the back of the table.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Zoltan,
    I was eyeballing the solid column but they were out and didn't expect to get one for more than 2 months.
    I was planning on getting X3 at some point anyway and a buyer for X2 turned up, so I decided to go for it.

    ReplyDelete

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