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Thread: A quick alternative to mill tramming

  1. #1
    Supporting Member Crusty's Avatar
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    Crusty's Tools

    Thumbs up A quick alternative to mill tramming

    Do you find yourself using less than optimum approaches to remove metal because you don't want to tram your mill in again afterwards? I know I did until I adopted this procedure that Keith Rucker uses instead of tramming his mill. He uses a cylindrical square directly against the quill of his mill to set it exactly square to the table (the objective of tramming) but those are really expensive.

    I used a precision shaft chucked in the spindle (I think highly of Thompson QS precision shafting) and one of a pair of 2-4-6 blocks that I bought for this purpose (as well as other setup uses) and my mill was trammed better in 5 minutes than I had previously done with an indicator on a bar in the spindle. The 2-4-6 block is eased against the chucked shaft with a bright flashlight directed from behind and you can easily see .001" out of square like this, and this method when completed is close enough to perfectly square that a surfacing cutter leaves cross marks in the milled surface. Use a portion of the block where the surface is continuous and not interrupted by the holes in the block.

    All in I think I've got less than $100 in this method as well as some more useful items for setup.

    A quick alternative to mill tramming-tramming-alternative.jpg
    Last edited by Crusty; 02-14-2020 at 03:48 PM.
    If you can't make it precise make it adjustable.

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  3. #2
    Supporting Member Crusty's Avatar
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    Crusty's Tools
    Coincidentally, Keith posted a video where he performed his tram procedure and then tested it with a new tramming tool he was evaluating and his manual method was off by 3 ten-thousandths over 6 inches in the nod axis and 3 thousandths over 6 inches in the X axis, and I think he could have gone through his procedure without a camera recording and done better. Either way is close enough for me because I always design for wide tolerances.
    Last edited by Crusty; 02-15-2020 at 10:25 AM.
    If you can't make it precise make it adjustable.

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    Supporting Member metric_taper's Avatar
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    This seems like a faster way then spinning an indicator around and having to jump over the slots. I think I can use a piece of drill rod, that has always seemed very straight.
    Thanks Crusty

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    Supporting Member Crusty's Avatar
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    Crusty's Tools
    Drill rod should work fine and I recommend a 2-4-6 block to judge against because then you'll have a full 6" of reference surface when it's stood upright which will give you better resolution. They're precision ground and heavy which helps too. Judge your drill rod against the block on the bench before you start and that'll tell you whether it's straight enough to use. I used 1/2" precision shafting and that size seemed rigid enough.

    Seriously, it took me all of 5 minutes to adjust my mill better than I've ever been able to do tramming with an indicator in several hours.
    If you can't make it precise make it adjustable.

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    JoeH's Avatar
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    Always glad to learn new ways. This sounds very interesting. I didn't know 2-4-6 blocks existed. Thanks.

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    Supporting Member Crusty's Avatar
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    Crusty's Tools
    Yup and they're useful for supporting odd things too. I found affordable ones on Amazon, as well as a pair of 1-2-3 blocks that I already had.


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    If you can't make it precise make it adjustable.

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