Homier Mini-Mill Review

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Introduction 04/22/02

It's here. It's red, and it's hot! The Homier mini-mill is now being offered for $399.99 and it's every bit as good as the competitors.

Speedway Series Mill Homier Mini Mill, Item # 03497

As word spread about the $299 7x12 Homier mini lathe, speculation soon followed that Homier might offer a mini mill at a comparably low price. Early in April, reports started surfacing about ads for Homier truck sales featuring a mini mill for $399, a full $100 lower than the best prices previously seen. By mid-April a few 7x group members had confirmed that they had purchased the mills and the mill was advertised on the Homier web page.

Needless to say, I had to have one. Not that I need another mill: I have had a Grizzly mini mill for over two years and have been quite happy with it. But I wanted to see first hand, and report to my faithful readers, exactly how this model stacks up. Having never used an R8 spindle version of the mill, I was anxious to see how it compares with the #3 Morse taper spindle of the Grizzly mill.  Is it as good a bargain as it seems to be?  Read on, and find out.


If you have not already done so, please read the Disclaimer (last updated 10/18/09)


Quick Comparison

While pretty similar in overall construction to the Grizzly Mill, a number of subtle differences were immediately apparent to my highly trained eye (after I put on my glasses, that is):

The coarse and fine feed for the Z axis are essentially identical to the Grizzly version.


Receiving and Unpacking

Homier is well known for their travelling tent sales. If one visits your area, you can save the freight cost and drive the mill home the same day. I live in the DC metro area and have never seen a Homier tent sale around here, so freight delivery was my best option. This can be pretty expensive, so be sure to check with Homier to determine the actual charges to your area.

At 150+ lbs., UPS won't deliver this puppy.  Update (7/17/02) Apparently, they are now shipping by UPS for $70-80 freight charges. Several members of the 7x10 group have reported receiving them via UPS. If you order one, expect it to arrive by freight carrier - and plan to be at  home when it arrives, since you will probably need to help the driver unload it from the back of the truck. I did, and it was no big deal for the two us to lift it down to the street. From there, the driver hauled it up my driveway on his hand truck into my shop in the garage. Mine came by Yellow Freight and I have to say that the driver was about as nice and helpful as can be. Here's a shot of the semi-trailer pulled up in front of my house.

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Securely packed in a wooden crate and bolted to the thick wood base, the mill was in perfect condition. You will need some kind of chisel or pry bar to pry off the sides of the box.

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I knew from my prior experience in setting up the Grizzly mill, that the easiest way to tackle the operation is to break the mill down into two parts by removing the big nut at the back of the column.  A large wrench is provided which fits the nut. As you can see in the photo, the mill is coated with the thick red packing grease typical of all of the lathes and mills except the Homier lathe. This suggests that the mill may come from a different manufacturer than the lathe.

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Any time you loosen the big nut, be sure to hold the column steady as it is quite heavy and can easily come crashing down to one side or the other if you aren't prepared for it.  Holding the column firmly, remove the nut and lift the column and head from the base of the mill. This will break the mill down into two sections which are much easier and safer for one person to lift. You can reassemble them after you get the base mounted securely on your workbench.

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Accessories

Just about all the tools you will need for the mill are provided in the bag of accessories which was taped to the table for shipping. The big wrench is securely nailed down to the bottom of the crate. Also included is a pretty nice drill chuck. It's capacity is 13mm, or slightly over 1/2".

One thing that you want to have on hand soon after the mill arrives is a set of R8 collets or end mill holders. These are needed to hold various sizes of end mills and are not inlcuded. Mine have not arrived yet, so I don't have any photos at this time. Two collets are included with the Grizzly mill. Of course you will also need a set of end mills and other accessories.

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  1. Column nut wrench
  2. Spindle nut wrench
  3. Open end wrenches
  4. Drill chuck key
  5. Oil bottle
  6. Handwheel handles
  7. Hex keys
  8. Spindle lock rod
  9. T-nuts

Cleanup

Cleanup procedures are pretty standard: remove the packing grease using a paint brush and some WD-40 or kerosene, wipe all surfaces clean with rags, lubricate moving parts with light oil or white lithium grease and use a brush to remove any grit or swarf you may find in the nooks and crannies - especially around the dovetail surfaces.

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To do a really thorough cleanup job, you need to remove the table, but I don't recommend this if you are very new to machine tools - getting the leadscrews to feed evenly after reassembly can be a little tricky.  This is one task that can wait until another day when you are more familiar with the mil. Just be sure to remove as much of the red grease as you can get to and then lubricate the sliding parts of the dovetails with light oil or white lithium grease.

To remove the table, first remove the end plate from the left end of the table.  Use the handwheel to crank the table all the way to the right until the leadscrew disengages from the nut. Then carefully slide the table to the right until is free from the base.  Careful - it's pretty heavy. Catch the gib strip so that it doesn't get dinged up.

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With the table removed, you can clean the leadscrew and dovetails. You are likely to find swarf and maybe even some casting sand if you disassemble the major parts of the mill. In the picture on the right below you can see quite a lot of swarf where the column mounts to the base.  This is not unique to the Homier mill, rather it is common to all of the low cost Chinese import machine tools. By doing the cleanup yourself, you can have a pretty nice tool at a remarkably low price.

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  Mini-Lathe    Mini-Mill    Bandsaw   Grinder   Links   Safety     Premium Content

Mini-mill:  Accessories    Capabilities   Features    Introduction   Operation    Maintenance    Modifications   Projects   Reviews   Setup   Versions