Do not start off with a job so complex that the odds of success are limited. Making complex machined parts requires a great deal of intelligence, planning and skill.
In summary, you should become aware of the fact that milling is difficult, but not impossible. There are many more considerations than just moving the handwheels, and you should not start your first step until your last step has been determined.
THREE TYPES OF WORK
There are three basic types of work which can be performed with a vertical milling machine: milling, drilling and boring. It would be extremely difficult to determine whether a vertical mill or a lathe would be the most valuable machine in a shop. Theoretically, most vertical mills are capable of reproducing themselves with standard milling accessories such as a rotary table and centers. This would be impossible on a lathe without exotic modifications and attachments. These instructions briefly describe standard vertical mill work. Many comprehensive books are available on this subject, and, although the machines they describe are much larger, the principles remain the same. A good starting point is Tabletop Machining. It is available through Sherline as P/N 5301and uses Sherline tools throughout in all the setups and examples.
CAUTION! Because the tool spins on a mill, hot chips can be thrown much farther than when using a lathe. Safety glasses and proper clothing are a must for all milling operations.
Milling on a vertical mill is usually accomplished with end mills. These cutters are designed to cut with both their side and end. (See Figure 12.) Drilling is accomplished by raising and lowering the entire milling head with the "Z" axis feed screw. Center drills must be used before drilling to achieve any degree of accuracy. (See Figure 18.) Note that subsequent holes may be accurately "dialed in" from the first hole by using the calibrated handwheels. Each revolution of the wheel will yield .050" of travel on inch machines or 1 mm for metric machines. There is no need to start with the handwheel at "zero", although this can be easily accomplished with the optional "zero" resettable handwheels to make calculations easier.
Boring is a method of making accurate holes by rotating a tool with a single cutting edge, usually in an adjustable holder called a boring head. It is used to open up drilled holes or tubing to a desired diameter. (See Figure 4.)
Another type of milling is performed with an adjustable flycutter, which may be used for surfacing. For maximum safety and rigidity, the cutting bit should project from the holder no further than necessary. A 1-1/2" diameter circle of cut is quite efficient, and multiple passes over a surface should overlap about 1/3 of the circle size. For machining aluminum, use a speed of 2000 RPM and remove about .010" (0.25mm) per pass. (See also the flycutter information in the Sherline Tools & Accessories Catalog.)