Mill Turning on a CNC Milling Machine

This is not a page for fundamentalist or traditionalist clock makers so if this is your cup of tea you might want to browse elsewhere …

I come to clock making and metalwork late in life but with an open mind on techniques and methods.  My inherited ethos is if a machine can do it a human should not be burdened with doing it.   I have tried to employ modern techniques to making clocks and other items and CNC sits fair and square in my sights as the solution to this.   CNC has been around a long time but it is only in recent years that it has become accessible to the hobbyist.

CNC offers an ability to produce items to a high accuracy and repeatability.  It does however seem to be shunned by many and regarded as cheating in so far as it replaces traditional hand skills.   It does require a new learning process for those who understand and wish to grasp its potential and perhaps this is the essence of why (apart from the investment) it is still in relatively low use by hobbyists.

In clock making there are many time consuming processes such as wheel cutting and crossing out.   There are processes that require accurate layout and drilling such as plate making.   There are processes that require repeatability such as pillar making.  If Harrison had CNC available to him would he have derided CNC as a new fangled technique and turned his back on it and continued to hand make every item ?

Through learning how to use Fusion 360 CAD/CAM and since the arrival of my Tormach PCNC440 CNC milling machine I have made steps along the road to ‘offloading’ some of these repetitive and time consuming process.   You will find details of some of this activity elsewhere on my site.

The one final irritation in the clock making process was making pillars.   Pillars sit between the clock plates to hold the whole assembly together.   They are items that traditionally are made in a lathe and it is essential that they are all the same length otherwise the plates will not be parallel and so create rotational resistance on the various arbors mounted between them.   Aesthetically the pillars should all be identical and through shaping can be a source of artistry to the look imparted to the clock assembly.

Accuracy and repeatability immediately suggest pillars are ideal to be made in a CNC process.  I have a CNC milling machine but not a CNC lathe.  I am rapidly running out of space in my workshop for yet another piece of equipment and the exchequer sits heavily on my shoulder on further investment.

I then discovered a process called  Mill Turning  and attached is a link to my full write up.