Originally, the old South Bend came is a lantern style tool holder. I am sure a skilled machinist can swap tool bits with a minute. However, for me this soon became a source of much frustration. In order to install the new quick release tool holder, I needed to mill a new South Bend Lathe T-Nut.

The original nut prior to milling pictured on the left.
The original nut prior to milling pictured on the left.

I finally had the opportunity to play around with my new “old” mill. I have never used a mill before, with some minor playing around, so I relished the opportunity to use the mill for deal. The mill in question is a horizontal bench top mill which was probably manufactured in the 1930’s.

My first mill project was to cut a t-nut four my Project South Bend 9A – “The General” quick release tool holder.

The completed South Bend Lathe T-Nut.
The completed South Bend Lathe T-Nut.

So what did I learn from my first mill project?

  1. The men who originally used this mill must have had forearms of steal, because my arms were sore after a two hour mill session.
  2. The first thing I noticed was that compared to my lathe I can do comparatively heavier cuts.
  3. When I feed into the mill bit, I am less likely to lock the cutting head into the material.
  4. I can put a little bit of downward pressure on the motor to increase tension on the belts to help prevent the lathe motor from bouncing on heavier cuts.
  5. There is a little nut hidden under the motor so you don’t need item 4.