Chapter 9
The milling-grinding-drilling and slotting attachment is commonly referred to as a VersaMil. It is a compact, portable unit capable of doing many machining operations that
normally require expensive single-purpose machines. With the different attachments that
are available with the unit, drilling, shaping, milling, and grinding can be performed
quickly and inexpensively. This self-powered, vertical-feed, variable-speed precision tool
may be mounted in any position on the carriage, table, ram, turret, or tool arm of other
machine tools. With a two-directional feed table, the Versa-Mil unit becomes a complete
machining tool for bench or inplace machining of parts too large to be moved or held in
conventional machine tools.
An important factor in the efficiency of the Versa-Mil is that machine tools already in the
shop area provide the power for feeds, a means of holding and moving the work, and the
rigidity needed for machining. Faced with unusual machining problems, the Versa-Mil
offers many solutions either as a separate tool or combined with other machine tools and
machinery already in the shop to create special machines. The Versa-Mil increases the
capabilities of standard machines by doing secondary operations without changing
setups. The Versa-Mil provides power to interchangeable attachments allowing the unit
to be used on site to perform different machining operations on equipment being repaired
or rebuilt. Where space is limited, as in a shop area, floor space is needed only for the
lathe. Different sizes of the Versa-Mil unit are available for light, medium, and heavy
machining. This chapter will be limited to the Series 31 (light machining unit).
Safety in the shop area or around power equipment cannot be overemphasized. Each
piece of equipment has safety procedures unique to that particular piece of equipment.
Listed below are safety procedures that pertain to the Versa-Mil.
Avoid dangerous environments. Do not use the Versa-Mil in damp or wet
locations. Do not expose the Versa-Mil to rain.
Keep visitors away from running equipment. Keep visitors a safe distance from
the Versa-Mil while it is in operation.
Store tools when not in use. Store or lock tools and equipment in the Versa-Mil
Do not force the equipment. The Versa-Mil will do the job better and safer at the
rate for which it was designed.
Wear proper apparel. Keep shirt sleeves above the elbow. Remove ID tags,
watches, rings, and any other jewelry when working around the Versa-Mil.
Use safety glasses. Wear safety glasses when operating any type of machine shop
Do not abuse the electrical cord. Never carry the Versa-Mil by the electrical cord
or pull on the cord to disconnect it from the receptacle. Keep the cord away from
excessive heat, oil, and sharp edges. Replace end connectors or cords when
excessive wear or damage is apparent.
Maintain tools with care. Keep tools and cutters sharp and clean for the best
performance. Follow instructions in the Versa-Mil Operation and Service Manual
for lubricating the basic unit and changing accessories.
Disconnect equipment not in use. Ensure the Versa-Mil is disconnected when not
in use, before servicing, and when changing attachments, speeds, cutters, or
Remove chuck keys and wrenches. Form a habit of checking to see that chuck
keys and wrenches are removed from the unit prior to operating the equipment.
Remove all tools from the area that may vibrate off the equipment and into
moving parts.
Avoid accidental starting. Place protective cover around the switch to help
prevent accidental starting of the Versa-Mil. Ensure switch is off before
connecting the unit to a power supply.
Outdoor use of extension cords. When using the Versa-Mil outdoors, use only
extension cords designed and marked for outdoor use.
Reversing switch. Ensure that the reversing switch is in the correct position for
proper cutter rotation. Failure to do this could result in damage or injury by
having a cutter or arbor dislodged from the basic unit.
Pulley guard. The pulley guard must be in place before operating the Versa-Mil.
This prevents fingers or clothing from getting caught between the belt and
Handle cutters with care. Handle all cutters with a cloth to prevent accidental
cutting of fingers or hands.
Grinding wheels. Use grinding wheels with the safe speed at least as high as the
no-load RPM rating of the Versa-Mil grinding attachment.
The Versa-Mil basic unit (Figure 9-1) has a powered machining head which moves
vertically on four hardened ground guide posts by means of a precision-ground lead
screw calibrated to 0.001 inch. Thirteen different speeds are available to the head through
the use of different size pulleys to accommodate all types of machining and cutter sizes
within the range of the unit. The circular T-slot on the face of the basic unit
accommodates a variety of attachments. The graduation marks on the basic unit indicate
the degree angle an attachment is to be positioned for various machining operations.
External Grinding Attachment
The external grinding head (Figure 9-2) bolts to the face of the Versa-Mil making the unit
a precision external grinder. The head adjusts to 30 degrees range of angle to either side.
A flat belt from the motor provides power to the head for smooth operation. Different
pulley diameters allow matching spindle speeds to the grinding wheel size and rating. A
wheel guard on the head offers protection to the operator from debris coming off the
wheel during grinding.
Internal Grinding Attachment
A wide variety of internal grinding jobs can be handled on a lathe with the Versa-Mil
basic unit and the internal grinding unit (Figure 9-3). The internal grinding attachment
bolts to the face of the basic unit and is driven by a flat belt from the motor. The internal
grinder handles grinding wheels from 5/8 inch to 2 1/2 inches in diameter and grinds to a
depth of 4 inches. Five different speeds are available to match the spindle speed to the
grinding wheel diameter and rating.
Heavy-Duty Deep-Hole Grinder
The heavy-duty deep-hole grinder (Figure 9-4) may be attached to the face of the VersaMil for deep internal grinding. The deep-hole grinder accommodates grinding wheels 3 to
5 inches in diameter and grinds to a depth of 10 inches. A flat belt from the motor drives
the deep-hole grinder for smooth operation. Six spindle speeds are available to match the
spindle speed to the grinding wheel diameter and rating.
Tooth Stop Rest
Cutters held in the lathe chuck, collet, or between lathe centers can be ground quickly and
accurately with the Versa-Mil unit equipped with an external or internal grinding head.
The tooth stop rest (Figure 9-5) assures uniform grinding of cutter teeth because the
finger on the gage ratchets over the teeth stopping each tooth in the exact same position.
The tooth stop rest is completely adjustable for height and position.
Diamond Dresser
The diamond dresser (Figure 9-6) is used with all Versa-Mil grinding attachments and
clamps to the workpiece, tailstock, or lathe face plate to true the grinding wheel. A 0.35karat industrial diamond mounts in either of two positions to dress the face or side of the
grinding wheel. The cast-iron frame with V-notch clamps securely to round shapes up to
3 1/2 inches in diameter.
Universal Milling Head
The universal milling head (Figure 9-7) mounts to the face of the Versa-Mil and is driven
by the spindle of the basic unit. This feature eliminates the need for special belts and
permits the head to operate at any angle. The milling head and the basic unit have the
same spindle taper and use the same arbors. With the universal head, machining can be
performed along the side of the work, allowing the machining of much larger parts.
Angular operations such as thread milling can easily be performed on large diameter
material using the universal head.
Internal Keyseater and Slotter
This unit bolts to the face of the Versa-Mil and is driven by the basic unit spindle. The
An internal keyseater and slotter (Figure 9-8) commonly called a "Versa-Shaper," bolts to
the face of the Versa-Mil Versa-Shaper operates in any angular position and in either
direction of stroke for cutting internal keyways, slotting, or shaping. Thestroke length
adjusts from 0 to 4 inches with a speed of 44 to 450 strokes per minute. Tool holders for
l/8", 3/16", 1/4", 5/16", and 1/2" cutters are available for use in the Versa-Shaper.
For speeds higher than the basic unit can provide, a high-speed end milling and drilling
head (Figure 9-9) bolts to the face of the Versa-Mil. The head rotates 30° in either
direction from center. Graduation marks on the face of the basic unit indicate the angle
setting. Thirteen spindle speeds are available to the head directly from the motor through
the use of a V-belt and pulleys. Arbors may be mounted in either end of the high-speed
head. The spindle taper is the same as the basic unit. The high-speed head is used mostly
for small diameter work such as end milling, drilling, or other related operations.
Indexing Head
The indexing head (Figure 9-10) mounts in the lathe head stock spindle to index work
held in the lathe chuck, collet, or between lathe centers. The indexing head mandrel locks
into a 1 1/8-inch or larger spindle bore; however, adapters for other bores are available.
Forty turns of the dividing head crank rotates the lathe spindle one revolution. The
indexing plate has 18 circles of holes allowing for divisions to be made in degrees,
number of sides, or the number of teeth on gears or splines.
T-Slot Mounting Adapter
Versa-Mil units are furnished with an adapter (Figure 9-11) that fits the T-slot of the
compound rest on most conventional lathes to lock the Versa-Mil unit to the compound
rest with two hex-head bolts. Four holes in the base of the Versa-Mil unit allow mounting
the basic unit in any of four positions 90° apart. Mounting the basic unit by this method
permits the use of the compound rest for angular movement where low mounting of the
Versa-Mil is not required. Any operation normally done above the centerline of the
workpiece is usually accomplished by using the T-slot adapter and the compound rest.
Such operations include milling keyways, slots, and splines, angle milling, and gear
cutting. Other operations such as drilling or boring may also be accomplished if they are
performed above the center line of the work.
Adapter Base Mounting
When a lower mounting of the Versa-Mil unit is required, the compound rest can be
removed and replaced with a special adapter base (Figure 9-12) that mounts directly on
the cross-slide. The base plates are semifinished and may require drilling two mounting
bolt holes and a pivot pin hole. The location of these holes depends upon the lathe model
and size. The base plate adapter should be used for operations on or below the centerline
of the workpiece. Such operations include milling keyways along the side of a shaft,
surface milling with a shell end mill, and drilling or boring on the centerline of the
workpiece. The compound rest must be removed prior to mounting the base plate adapter.
Although not part of the basic unit accessories, the feed table may be found in some shop
sets. Rigid accurate feed tables (Figure 9-13) make the Versa-Mil unit a portable machine
tool by providing two additional directions of. travel. Precision finished ways, adjustable
gibs, and accurate lead screws calibrated to 0.001 inch assure accurate positioning and
feed for the most precise machining. Feed tables for Versa-Mil units are available in four
different models and all feed tables can be quickly converted to reduce table height when
only one direction of travel is required.
Machining done on the lathe with a Versa-Mil allows the cutter to move along three
different axes: vertical, lateral, and longitudinal (x, y, z). However, not all machining can
be done using the lathe. Because the lathe allows longitudinal and lateral movement,
mounting the Versa-Mil directly to a bench or piece of equipment would severely restrict
its machining capabilities. Feed tables eliminate that restriction by providing those two
additional directions of travel. Feed tables mounted directly to a bench or piece of
equipment allow the Versa-Mil to perform machining in all three directions.
When the basic unit is to be used independently or with an attachment other than the
grinding attachments, an arbor and cutter must be selected and mounted. The cutter
should be mounted onto the arbor first. The arbor should be secured in a vise to properly
mount the cutter.
This ensures a properly torqued cutter and prevents the arbor from bending or causing
damage to the Versa-Mil basic unit. When tightening the arbor nut, the pressure applied
to the wrench should always be in the direction of the operator in case of slippage. Listed
in the following paragraphs are various arbor styles and some of their uses. Note that they
are similar to, but smaller than those used on a milling machine. Refer to chapter 8 for
illustrations not listed.
Taper Arbors
Taper arbors (Figure 9-14) are designed primarily for use with Brown and Sharpe, or
Morse standard taper shank tools.
Fly-Cutting Arbor
The fly-cutting arbor may be used for boring, facing, gear repair, keyway milling, and
form milling. This type of arbor allows the tool bit to be positioned at either 45° or 90° to
the arbor axis.
Side-Milling Arbor
The side-milling arbor (Figure 9-15) is used with arbor-type cutters and slitting saws.
This arbor is supplied with 1/8" and 3/8" spacing collars.
Shell End Mill Arbor
The shell end milling arbor is used primarily for facing; however, milling a wide slot with
a shell end mill can be accomplished.
Geared Chuck Arbor
This type of arbor is used for mounting chucks with a #3 Jacobs taper. The chuck itself is
used primarily for drilling.
Straight Shank Arbor
The straight shank arbor with setscrews is used with straight shank drills of the correct
size, end mills, and Woodruff key seat cutters.
Straddle Mill Arbor
The straddle mill arbor is used for milling splines on a shaft, milling hexagon or square
shapes, and large keyways. Six spacers come with the Versa-Mil accessories, allowing
milling of areas from 1/8 to 3 inches wide in 1/16 inch increments.
Threaded Angle Mill Arbor
The threaded angle mill arbor is used for milling angular grooves and dovetails.
After selecting the arbor, select the desired cutter for the machining process, mount the
cutter on or in the arbor, and mount the arbor in the Versa-Mil unit or attachment. Ensure
the arbor and spindle are free of dirt and burrs.
Woodruff Key Slot Cutters
This cutter has a l/2-inch straight shank and is used for cutting Woodruff keyslots in a
shaft. This cutter may also be used for cutting straight keyways in a shaft or similar
Side Cutters
Side cutters are available in two basic styles. The stagger tooth side milling cutter should
be selected for milling keyways and deeply milled slots, while the straight side milling
cutters are usually used in matched sets for straddle milling or individually for side
Shell End Mill Cutter
This cutter is used for slabbing or surfacing cuts and end or face milling.
Form Cutters
Form cutters are manufactured in a variety of shapes. Selection of the cutter depends
upon the desired shape or form to be machined.
Fly Cutters
Fly cutters are usually square tool bits ground with the proper clearances for boring,
facing, or counterboring. Fly cutters can also be ground to particular shapes for special
jobs such as gear repair or spline milling.
End mills are manufactured in a variety of shapes and styles and should be selected in
accordance with the job to be performed. The two fluted end mills are recommended for
cutting keyways and for deep milling while the multiple flute end mills are designed for
end milling and routing work.
Slitting saws are manufactured in a variety of styles and sizes and should be selected in
accordance with the job to be performed. Use slitting saws to cut deep slots in the work
and for cutting slots.
When the external grinding head, internal grinding head, or deep-hole grinding head is
selected and mounted on the Versa-Mil, a wide range of grinding operations is made
available. The data books published by the leading abrasive manufactures should be
referred to for proper selection of grinding wheels as the variety of grinding done by
Versa-Mil is to great for complete coverage of wheels in this manual.
Use only abrasive wheels designed for the external or internal grinding heads that have
been tested and found to be safe when operating at the speeds attained by these heads.
Using incorrect untested wheels may result in breaking the abrasive wheel causing wheel
fragments to be projected into the work area endangering personnel and equipment.
Straight Abrasive Wheels
Straight abrasive wheels are furnished in 46 and 60 grit sizes. The 46 grit wheel is a
general-purpose wheel and should be selected for rough-grinding cylindrical parts, face
plate grinding, and so forth. Select the 60 grit wheel for finishing and for tool and cutter
grinding where finer finishes are required.
Straight Cup Wheels
Select a straight cup wheel should be selected for tool and cutter grinding, face plate
grinding, and internal grinding of large holes.
Flare Cup Wheels
Select a flare cup wheel for general tool and cutter grinding.
Dish Wheels
Select a dish wheel for tool and cutter grinding such as grinding flutes and individual
teeth of milling cutters.
The Versa-Mil adds important machining functions to a lathe. With built-in power and
vertical feed, it adds a third machining dimension, allowing the operator to mill, drill,
bore, slot, shape, grind, and perform other special operations. The success of any VersaMil operation depends largely upon the judgment of the operator in setting up the VersaMil, selecting the proper cutter, and holding the cutter by the best means possible under
the circumstances.
Preoperational Checks
Gibs should be as snug as possible and still allow the movement needed. Tighten all gibs
not required for the operation being done to prevent movement and chatter. The adjusting
bar on the back of the lathe carriage that holds the carriage onto the lathe bed should be
snug enough to still allow a slight drag when feeding the lathe carriage. If the work is
held between centers, they should be tight against the work and long pieces should be
supported at the point where machining is being done. Unless both the Versa-Mil and the
work are rigidly supported, it is difficult to obtain accurate results.
Mounting on a Lathe
The Versa-Mil may be mounted on the front or the rear of the lathe carriage. On the front,
it may be set on the compound rest or directly on the cross slide. A more permanent and
generally more useful mounting is at the rear of the lathe carriage, where it may be left
until it is needed.
Squaring the Versa-Mil to the Lathe
For accurate milling cuts, it is necessary to square the Versa-Mil to the lathe (Figure 917). The front compound face of the Versa-Mil is a reference surface machined in
relation to the spindle. A square can be set across this face and squared to the chuck or
face plate of the lathe. For work between centers, the Versa-Mil can be squared to the
workpiece. After the machine has been squared on the compound rest of the lathe, the
compound rest can be loosened for adjusting the spindle to various angles using the
graduated scale on the compound rest. For extremely precise adjustments and settings,
use the dial indicator or vernier protractor.
Conventional milling is recommended when using the Versa-Mil on a lathe as the lathe's
feeds and bearings are not designed for upward pressure on the carriage. Cutting square
end keyways (Figure 9-18) can be accomplished with the Versa-Mil using a variety of
different cutters and speeds. The Versa-Mil is usually set on top of the compound rest
with the spindle of the Versa-Mil parallel with the travel of the compound rest. Select and
mount the cutter to the appropriate arbor. A stagger tooth side milling cutter the width of
the keyway is the most satisfactory cutter to use for square end keyway milling
operations; however, plain milling cutters may be used. Mount the arbor into the VersaMil spindle and tighten.
CAUTION Do not over tighten as the pin in the back of the Versa Mil may
Speed Selection
If a good flow of coolant is available to the cutter, choose or select speeds near the top of
the recommended cutting speeds for the operation being performed, type of cutter used,
and material being milled. If milling is to be done dry, then use a speed at the lower end
of the recommended cutting speeds.
Centering the Cutter
To center the cutter over the work, first ensure the backlash is removed from the cross
slide. Next, start the Versa-Mil and reference the cutter to the side of the work using a
paper shim. Zero the cross feed dial; then, raise the Versa--Mil above the top of the work.
To determine the distance the cutter must move, add one-half of the diameter of the cutter
plus one-half the diameter of the workpiece plus the thickness of the paper shim. Keep in
mind some latches only move half the distance shown on the crossfeed dial. After the
cutter has been moved over the center of the work lock the cross slide to prevent
movement during milling. See Figure 9-19.
Depth of Cut
Start the Versa-Mil and reference the cutter to the top of the workpiece using a paper
shim. The depth of cut equals one-half the key thickness plus the chordal height plus the
thickness of the paper shim. Tables for chordal height may be found in the new American
Machinist's Handbook or Machinery's Handbook. A simple approximate formula for
chordal height is key thickness squared, divided by four times the shaft diameter. After
the depth of cut is determined and set, tighten the post binding setscrew to prevent the
basic unit from moving during machining.
Feed Rate
The rate of feed will vary from 0.001-inch chip thickness per tooth to as much as 0.008
inch per tooth. Determine the feed rate by multiplying the number of teeth on the cutter
times the desired chip thickness times the RPM of the cutter. A chip thickness of 0.001 to
0.004 is considered a finishing cut while a chip thickness heavier than 0.004 is considered
a roughing cut. Most milling operations involving the Versa-Mil are fed by hand. The
operator should attempt to feed the cutter at a consistent rate with each tooth taking the
same chip thickness. Power feeding is recommended when long cuts along a shaft or
workpiece are necessary. To do this, mount the steady rest on the lathe close to the
headstock and clamp the steady rest tightly against the workpiece. Lubricate the
headstock center or use a ball bearing type center to allow the headstock spindle to rotate
freely while the workpiece remains stationary. If a ball bearing center is not used,
maintain low spindle speeds to prevent overheating the work. Feed rates during power
feeding are adjusted using of the quick change gearbox on the lead screw.
After the internal diameter of gears or sleeves have been machined to size, keyways or
splines may be cut into the work with the Versa-Shaper without removing the work from
the lathe chuck (Figure 9-20). This has a major advantage of saving time by not having to
change setups.
Sizes of Keyways
Each of the standard widths of keyways from 1/8 to 1/2 inch may be cut with one of the
standard keyway cutters available with the Versa-Mil. Wider keyways may be cut with
one of the standard cutters by cutting the slot to the proper depth and enlarging it by
feeding the cutter first to one side and then the other through the use of the cross slide
lead screw.
Depth of Cut
Determine the depth of cut by the amount of feed applied to the basic unit lead screw.
However, it is necessary to allow the Versa-Shaper to take additional cuts (free cuts) until
no further material is removed before taking a measurement. This will assure accurate
keyways or splines being machined in the gear or sleeve.
Direction of Feed
Whenever practical, mill keyways and splines by feeding upward with the Versa-Shaper.
This will cause the lathe carriage to be held more firmly in contact with the lathe ways
and the lathe bed, permitting heavier cuts to be taken.
After the Versa-Shaper is set up, run through the entire stroke cycle turning the worm
sheave by hand. This will ensure that the cutter clears the work at both ends and does not
strike the lathe chuck or encounter any other obstructions.
Plain milling or slabbing (Figure 9-21) is a term applied to many operations such as face
milling, milling a hex or square shape, or milling flat surfaces along the side of a
workpiece. The process of plain milling normally involves removing large amounts of
material with either a shell end mill or side milling cutters to form a flat surface. Work
may be held either in the lathe chuck or between centers for plain milling.
Depth of Cuts
In the case of shell end mills, the depth of cut should not exceed the depth of the teeth or
flutes. With side milling cutters, the depth of cut is controlled by the diameter of the
cutter. For deep cuts, a staggered tooth, side milling cutter is recommended. Extremely
light cuts should be avoided if possible as the cutter tends to slide over the work, heating
and dulling the cutter which may result in putting undo pressure on the arbor and carriage
causing excessive chatter.
Milling Feeds
The best milling performance is obtained when each tooth of the cutter takes a full chip.
When milling steel, for example, the ideal feed is 0.005 inch. Depending on the width of
the cutter and machinability of the material, it may be desirable to reduce the depth of cut
and increase the rate of feed to maintain chip thickness. Chatter is likely to result when
chips are too thin, causing cutter life between grindings to be reduced.
Many drilling and boring operations not ordinarily possible on the lathe are easily
performed with the Versa-Mil mounted on the lathe. The Versa-Mil is usually fed by
hand using either the either carriage, cross slide, or compound rest. Check the operators
manual supplied with the Versa-Mil for information concerning power feeding when
Off-Center Drilling
Off-center drilling and boring may be performed by positioning the Versa-Mil spindle
parallel with the lathe axis and maneuvering the drill by means of the cross slide and the
Versa-Mil lead screw. This allows the complete machining of irregularly-shaped items
without removing them from the lathe chuck. See Figure 9-22.
Angular Drilling
With the Versa-Mil mounted on the compound rest, holes may be drilled at any angle in
relation to the lathe axis by setting the compound rest at the desired angle and feeding the
drill into the work with the compound rest lead screw. To use power feeding with the
taper attachment, set the taper attachment and Versa-Mil spindle parallel with the hole to
be drilled. The work must be held in position to prevent turning when the lathe carriage
feed and head stock spindle are engaged. See Figure 9-23.
Index Drilling
Stock held in the lathe chuck or between centers can be drilled at regular intervals around
the center or perimeter of a workpiece by using the indexing head to position the work. A
considerable amount of setup time and effort is saved after positioning the drill for the
first hole to be drilled.
Additional Drilling Applications
Drilling with the Versa-Mil attached to a feed table, turret lathe, or vertical boring mill is
unique. Special drilling operations with these pieces of equipment are covered in the
operator's manual on the Versa-Mil. See Figure 9-24.
Milling Woodruff keyslots (Figure 9-25) in shafts is very similar to milling straight
keyways in the basic setup, centering the cutter, and feed rate. The only difference in
milling a Woodruff keyslot is that the carriage must be locked down in addition to the
cross slide, if cutting from the top of the workpiece, to prevent the basic unit from
moving during milling. Cutting a Woodruff keyslot is relatively simple since the proper
size cutter has the same diameter and width of the key to be inserted. The work may be
held in the lathe chuck or between centers and the cutter may be on an arbor or in a drill
chuck. After the cutter has been centered on the work, the cutter is fed directly into the
work until the proper depth of cut has been achieved.
An indexing head comes with the Versa-Mil and is installed on the headstock of the lathe
to permit indexing a workpiece. Even though the workpiece is mounted in a conventional
manner in the lathe, the headstock spindle should never be allowed to rotate under power
with the indexing head attached as this would cause severe damage to the equipment. It is
always a good practice to unplug or turn off the main power switch on the lathe in this
Mounting the Workpiece
A workpiece may be supported in the lathe between centers, against the faceplate, or in
the lathe chuck. If the work is mounted between centers, a lathe dog is mounted on the
work and used to transfer movement from the faceplate to the work.
Indexing the Work
Indexing is the process of controlling the rotational position of a workpiece during
machining. The indexing head attaches to the left end of the lathe headstock and locks
into the headstock spindle using an expansion adapter. With the indexing head mounted
to the lathe, the work will not rotate unless the crank arm of the indexing head is moved.
Forty complete turns of the crank arm move the lathe spindle one revolution. The
indexing plate contains a series of concentric rings with each ring containing a different
number of holes. The workpiece is indexed by moving the crank arm from one hole to
another through a calculated pattern of turns and holes. To determine the correct pattern
of turns and holes and which ring to use, refer to Chapter 8, Indexing a Workpiece.
Form milling is the process of machining special contours, composed of curves and
straight lines or entirely of curves, in a single cut. Gear cutting may be considered form
milling by definition; however, the definition is usually restricted to the use of convex,
concave, or corner rounding cutters. These form cutters are manufactured in a variety of
radii and sizes and may be grouped or ganged together on an arbor to mill intricate
shapes. Convex (curved or rounded outward) cutters mill concave (curved or rounded
inward) shapes while concave cutters are used to mill convex shapes.
Angle milling is milling flat surfaces which are neither parallel nor perpendicular to the
work. Angular milling can be divided into several different types of setups.
Single Angle Milling Cutters
Single angle milling cutters are mounted on an arbor and the arbor is then mounted to the
basic unit or universal head. The unit is then squared to the workpiece and the work is
milled in a conventional manner. This type of cutter is manufactured in a variety of
angles with the most common angles being 45°, 50°, 55°, or 60°.
Dovetail Milling
When cutting dovetails with the Versa-Mil, the workpiece is usually held in the lathe
chuck or mounted on a face plate. The tongue or groove of the dovetail is first roughed
out using a side milling cutter, after which the angular sides and base are finished with
the dovetail cutter. See Figure 9-26.
Compound Rest
Angular milling may also be accomplished on the Versa-Mil by squaring the Versa-Mil
on the compound rest and setting the compound rest to the desired angle. With this
method of angular milling, the cutter is usually a shell end mill and the work is either
held in the lathe chuck or mounted on the faceplate.
Universal Head
Angles may also be milled on a workpiece using the universal head. This head may be
tilted to 180° in either direction of center. Complex angles may be machined with the
universal head used in conjunction with the compound rest or the tailstock offset method.
See Figure 9-28.
Tailstock Offset
This type of angular milling is accomplished by squaring the unit to the tailstock spindle
or faceplate. Normally, a shell end mill is used in this type of milling. Work is mounted
between centers and the tailstock is offset to the desired angle for milling. The work may
be rotated with the indexing head to mill additional surfaces on the workpiece. See Figure
Straddle milling (Figure 9-30) is the machining of two parallel surfaces in a single cut by
using two cutters separated by spacers, washers, or shims. Use straddle milling in spline
milling or the cutting of squares or hexagons on the end of a cylindrical workpiece. The
workpiece is mounted between centers to mill splines on a shaft and mounted in the lathe
chuck to mill squares or hexagons. In both cases, the indexing head is used to rotate the
work after each cut.
Gang milling differs from straddle milling in that two or more cutters of different
diameters or shapes are mounted on the same arbor to mill horizontal surfaces. Cutter
combinations in gang milling are virtually unlimited and are determined by the desired
shape of the finished product.
Splines are often used instead of keys and keyways to transmit power from the shaft to a
hub or gear. Splines are a series of parallel keys and keyways evenly spaced around a
shaft or interior of a hub. Splines allow the hub to slide on the shaft either under load or
freely. This feature is found in transmissions, automotive mechanisms, and machine tool
drives. Manufactured splines are generally cut by bobbing and broaching; however, this
discussion will be limited to field expedient methods. Standard splines on shafts and
spline fittings are cut with 4, 6, 10, or 16 splines.
The dimensions depend upon the class of fit and the shaft diameter. The class of fit may
be permanent, sliding fit not under load, and sliding fit under load. Table 8-8 in Appendix
A lists the standard dimensions for the different classes of fits. Shafts may be milled
several different ways.
The most common way is to use two side milling cutters separated by spacers, with the
width of the spacers equal to the width of the spline. The splines are cut by straddle
milling each spline to the proper depth and indexing around the shaft for each spline. A
narrow plain milling cutter is used to mill the spaces between the splines to the proper
depth. It may be necessary to make several passes to mill the groove uniformly around
the shaft. A formed cutting tool or cutter may also be used for this operation.
After a hub or gear has been drilled and bored to the finished internal minor diameter,
internal splines may be cut into the hub or gear by using the Versa-Shaper (Figure 9-31).
The indexing head provides the means to locate each spline to be cut. For this operation,
the milling is continued until the desired class of fit is obtained. For field expedience, it is
best to machine the mating parts to match if possible.
Slotting with the Versa-Mil (Figure 9-32) covers a wide variety of operations from
milling long wide slots in material to cutting curved or thin slots. Workpieces may be
mounted in the lathe chuck or between centers for slotting operation.
Longitudinal Slots
Longitudinal slots along a shaft or other large piece may be cut in the material in the
same manner as milling keyways with end mills. It is often desirable to use a cutter
smaller than the width of the slot. The reason for this is, when the cutter is as wide as the
slot, one side of the cutter is climb milling while the opposite side of the milling cutter is
performing conventional milling. This causes a difference in the finish between the two
sides of the slot. A roughing out of the slot should be made first, followed by a finishing
cut down one side of the slot and returning on the other side.
Narrow Slots
For narrow slots, use slitting saws rather than end milling cutters. When using slitting
saws, reduce speeds and feeds to extend the life of the cutter.
Fly cutting (Figure 9-33), also called single-point milling, is one of the most versatile
milling operations available to the machinist. Fly cutting is done with a single-point
cutting tool, like the lathe or shaper cutting tool, held in a fly cutting arbor. Formed
cutters are not always available and there are times when special form cutters are needed
only for a very limited number of parts or operations; therefore, it is moreeconomical to
grind the desired form on a lathe cutter bit rather than order a special form cutter. The fly
cutter is used to great extent in the reshaping of repaired gears because the tool bit can be
ground to the shape of gear teeth available. Fly cutting can also be used in cutting
standard and special forms of splines.
Plain or Face Milling of Soft Nonferrous Metals
Plain or face milling of soft nonferrous metals such as aluminum, with a fly cutter
produces a high quality finish. Boring holes with a fly cutter is generally not desirable
because of the difficulty in positioning the cutter and controlling the diameter. The short
arbor allows boring of only very shallow holes.
Gear Cutting
A variety of gears, pinions, and sprockets can be fabricated on the lathe using the VersaMil. By referring to various texts and references for detailed data and instructions on
gears and gear cutting, the operator can develop different methods of mounting the
Versa-Mil to the lathe to perform gear cutting. The basic unit and the indexing head are
the two basic elements needed to cut gears. When large diameter gears need to be cut, the
universal head is used to mill the side of the gear.
Spur gears are the most common type of gear used in the field and the correct cutter to
use for this type of gear is determined by the pitch of the teeth and the number of teeth
required. Standard cutter catalogs supply the data necessary to select the correct cutter.
Gear Cutting with the Basic Unit and an Involute Gear Cutter
In this setup, Figure 9-34, the gear blank is first turned to the correct diameter using a
mandrel mounted between centers. The blank should remain on the mandrel after turning.
The lathe dog should be wedged against the faceplate to eliminate backlash and the
indexing head mounted to the lathe spindle to position the individual teeth. The basic unit
is mounted on the compound rest with the faceplate parallel to the lathe center and an
arbor with an involute gear cutter, stamped with the correct pitch and number of teeth, is
installed in the basic unit. After the cutter is positioned, lock down the cross feed by
tightening the gibs. When the correct depth is reached, tighten the post locking screw on
the basic unit. The cutter is then fed into the blank by hand using the lathe carriage wheel.
Gear Cutting with the Basic Unit and a Fly Cutter
When an involute gear cutter is not available or delay in obtaining one is too great, a
flycutter is used. The only difference is that a fly cutter with a 5/16-inch square tool bit,
ground to the correct shape, is used instead of an involute gear cutter. See Figure 9-35.
Gear Cutting with a Universal Head
Used this setup with either a fly cutter or an involute gear cutter on gear blanks larger
than 8 inches in diameter. See Figure 9-36.
Wheel dressing (Figure 9-37) with the diamond dresser is a must for accurate precision
grinding. Dress wheels before starting any grinding job and again prior to the finishing
cut. The diamond dresser is the most efficient type of wheel dresser for truing wheels
used in precision grinding. The diamond point is the only usable part of the diamond and
must be inspected frequently for wear. Rotate the diamond slightly in the holder between
dressings to keep the point sharp. A dull diamond will press the wheel cuttings into the
bonded ores of the wheel, increasing the wheel's hardness. When truing the wheel, the
diamond should be centered on the wheel and slanted between 5° and 15° in the direction
of wheel rotation to prevent chatter and gouging.
The grinding wheel should rotate at or slightly less than operating speed when truing or
dressing, never at a higher speed After truing, slightly round the edges of the wheel with
an oilstone to prevent the wheel from chipping, unless the work requires sharp corners.
Start the dressing process at the highest spot on the wheel, normally the center, and feed
at a uniform rate with a 0.002 inch depth of cut per pass. Too slow a feed will glaze the
wheel while too fast a feed rate will leave dresser marks on the wheel.
A wide range of grinding is made available to the machinist by using the Versa-Mil and
the different grinding heads supplied with the unit. Refer to references published by the
leading abrasive manufacturers when selecting the proper wheel for the job being
performed. For maximum metal removal and minimum wheel wear, surface speeds of the
grinding wheel should be near the highest allowable speed for the wheel size. Light cuts
at full speed will remove metal faster than deep cuts at slow speeds. In general, rough
cuts average 0.002 inch per pass, while finishing cuts average 0.0005 inch. The spindle
rotation should be selected to throw wheel and metal debris away from the operator.
When movement of the work is required during grinding, the work and the wheel should
rotate in the same direction. This allows the wheel and work to move in opposite
directions at the point of contact. The precision grinding may be done either wet or dry.
Before grinding work between centers takes place the centers should be ground true
(Figure 9-38). With the center mounted in the lathe headstock, mount the Versa-Mil on
the compound rest and set the compound rest at one-half the included angle of the center.
Grind the center by feeding the compound lead screw by hand at a uniform rate of feed.
The lengths and diameters of shafts ground on a lathe are determined by the lathe swing
and the distance between the lathe centers. Mount the Versa-Mil on the compound rest
with the face of the basic unit parallel to the work surface. In cylindrical grinding (Figure
9-39), the work rotates slowly while the wheel rotates close to the highest allowable
speed. The wheel should never leave the work at either end of the cut in order to produce
a smooth surface free of wheel marks. Direct the spark pattern downward onto a
dampened cloth to prevent very small particles of material from getting into and
destroying machined surfaces. A spark pattern directed downward and away from the
operator indicates the wheel is too low on the work, while a spark pattern that is directed
downward and toward the operator indicates the wheel is too high on the work. Conical
grinding can be accomplished with either the taper attachment or by the tailstock offset
Holes and bores as deep as 18 inches may be internally ground using the Versa-Mil. The
diameter of the hole may be any size larger than 3/4 inch. Either the internal grinder with
the taper spindle or the deep-hole grinder may be used, depending on the hole
dimensions. Internal grinding differs from external grinding basically in one area. The
surface contact between the work and the wheel is much greater in internal grinding,
causing the wheel to load and glaze much more quickly. This loading or glazing will
cause unnecessary vibration and produce a poor surface finish. A coarser wheel grain
structure, which provides better chip clearance, or a softer wheel that will break down
more easily, should be used for internal grinding. While grinding, the wheel should clear
the end of the work at least one half the wheel thickness but not more than two thirds. If
the wheel is allowed to clear the end of the work entirely, a bell-shaped effect will be
Tapered Spindle Grinder
For shallow and small diameter holes up to 6 inches in depth, use the tapered spindle
internal grinder. Tapers may also be ground on the work by using either the taper
attachment or the compound rest. See Figure 9-40.
Deep Hole Grinder
The deep-hole grinder with the extended housing offers a rigid precision grinder for holes
as deep as 18 inches. Tapers may also be ground with the deep-hole grinder. See Figure
Versa Grinder Head
The Versa-Mil external grinder with the wheel guard removed may be used for internal
grinding of large bored pieces if a considerable amount of stock must be removed and the
hole depth does not exceed the unit clearance. This setup permits the operator to grind
internally, externally, and face in one setup, assuring a true relation between the three
different surfaces. See Figure 9-42.
The Versa-Mil mounted on the compound rest of a lathe will duplicate the full range of
tool and cutter grinding offered by conventional tool grinders. For successful results, the
lathe should be in excellent operating condition and preferably small in size to permit the
close setting of feeds and angles. Versa-Mil spindles use precision, spring-loaded duplex
bearings to eliminate play in the grinding wheel for successful tool grinding. The VersaMil tool rest is solidly constructed to provide rigid support with a tip that is designed for
smooth, solid contact under the teeth or flutes of the tool being ground. The operator
familiar with tool grinding and the use of the Versa-Mil soon develops methods for
grinding the various types and forms of cutters. Tool grinding cannot be completely
covered in this manual, and it is suggested that reference material covering tool grinding
be consulted for complete detailed instructions.
Selection of Grinding Wheels
Grinding wheels should be in the medium grit range for tool and cutter grinding. The
shape of the cutting tool will determine which wheel design to use. Abrasive
manufacturers' catalogs should be referred to for proper wheel selection.
Depth of Cut
Light traversed cuts should be used to avoid overheating and burning the cutting edge of
the tool. Dry grinding is recommended for sharpening high speed steel because coolant
removes heat from the cutting edge too quickly causing cracking.
Direction of Wheel Rotation
It is generally safer to have the wheel rotate off and away from the tool cutting edge. This
allows the tooth rest to position the tooth and prevent the cutter from turning. This
method, however, has some drawbacks, in that the heat from grinding is directed toward
the tool cutting edge and leaves a burr which must be removed with an oilstone.
The efficiency of a cutter is determined by the sharpness of its cutting edge. Therefore, it
is important to sharpen a cutter at the first sign of dullness. A dull cutter not only
produces a poorly finished surface, but if used continuously, the cutter will need
excessive sharpening to restore it to its original efficiency.
Grinding Cutters Cylindrically
Certain types of cutting tools, such as reamers and plain milling cutters, are ground
cylindrically to remove warpage from heat treating, to remove nicks, to obtain a specific
diameter, or to produce a cutting edge with a slight clearance. When grinding tools or
cutters, the work rotates in the opposite direction from that used in conventional grinding.
This allows movement in the same direction at the point of contact. Mount the cutter so
that the heel of the tooth makes contact with the grinding wheel first, allowing the heel of
the tooth to be ground slightly lower than the cutting edge. This clearance will vary
slightly depending on the rigidity of the tool being ground and the job setup. The tool to
be ground can be held in one of three ways: between centers, on a mandrel, or on a short
arbor mounted in the lathe headstock spindle. There are actually two methods of
sharpening the cutting edges of individual teeth or flutes found on cutters.
Down Method
In this method, the rotation of the wheel is from the body of the tooth off and away from
the cutting edge. The direction of wheel rotation holds the cutter on the tooth but will
raise a burr on the cutting edge, which must be removed by stoning. This method has a
tendency to draw temper from the metal. See Figure 9-43.
Up Method
In this method, the wheel rotation is from the cutting edge towards the body of the tooth.
With this method, there is less danger of burning the tooth. However, the operator must
ensure that the cutter is held firmly against the tool rest. If the cutter turns during
grinding, the cutter will be ruined.
Cutting Tool Clearance
Correct clearance on the cutting edge of any tool is essential for heat distribution,
resistance to wear, and cutting efficiency. Not enough clearance will cause the teeth on
the cutter to drag, producing heat caused by friction, and slow cutting. Too much
clearance produces chatter and dulls the teeth rapidly. Primary clearance angles are
determined by the type of material the cutter will be used on. Secondary clearance angles
are usually 3° to 5° more than primary clearance angles. This produces a strong tooth that
provides easy control over the width of the cutting land. The width of the land depends
on the diameter of the cutter and varies between 1/64 inch to 1/16 inch. When the width
of the land becomes too wide after several sharpenings, the secondary clearance angle
must be ground to restore the land to its original width.
Clearance angles are produced by positioning the wheel, cutter, and tooth rest in different
locations. When using the Versa-Mil, it is easier to reposition the wheel by raising or
lowering the basic unit. To determine the distance in thousands of an inch, multiply the
desired clearance angle by the diameter of the cutter times the constant 0.0088. The
constant 0.0088 is the decimal equivalent of the distance moved 1° on the circumference
of a l-inch-diameter circle.
EXAMPLE: Using the following formula clearance angle x cutter diameter x 0.0088, a
clearance angle of 7° on a 1 1/2-inch-diameter cutter would be 7 x 1.5 x 0.0088, or a
movement of 0.0924 of an inch.
Grinding Form Cutters
Formed or eccentricity relieved cutters (such as gear cutters) and concave and convex
cutters cannot be sharpened in the same manner as profile cutters. Form cutters have a
definite shape that must be retained, even after several sharpenings. To retain this shape,
only the face of the cutter is ground. Increasing or decreasing the rake on these cutters
alters the final shape of the cutter, so care must be taken to ensure that the rake remains at
the original angle. The indexing head may be used to assure even spacing of the teeth
The Versa-Mil with the universal head will enable a lathe to mill threads to full depth and
complete profile in a single pass (Figure 9-46). Milling threads saves time and reduces
the chance for error over single pointing. USS threads may be cut with standard 60°
included angle cutters.
Acme and special form threads are cut with cutters designed for the pitch diameter
required. The Versa-Mil will cut internal, external, right-handed, or left-handed threads.
Square threads can be cut with an end mill mounted in either the basic or the milling and
drilling head.
Lathe Preparation
Thread milling speeds and feeds are approximately the same as those used for keyway
milling and slotting. The lathe spindle speeds needed for thread milling are generally
lower than those available on standard lathes. It is usually necessary to use a reduction
unit mounted to the lathe to obtain the required lathe spindle speed. Large diameter
workpieces may require speeds as low as 1/2 or 1/3 RPM. Other than lathe spindle
reduction, no other modification of the lathe is needed for thread milling. The quick
change gearbox and lead screw are set the same as for single point threading. The
indexing head may be mounted to the lathe and used to rotate the lathe spindle when a
reduction unit is not available.
Mounting the Versa-Mil
Even though the cutter is at or below the centerline of the work when the basic unit is
mounted on the compound rest, it is advisable to mount the unit directly to the cross slide
for rigidity.
Supporting the Work
Work of sufficient diameter and rigidity may be supported easily between centers. For
long or small diameter work, a steady rest or follower should be used to prevent the work
from bending away from the cutter thereby reducing the depth of cut.
Depth of Cut
For external threads, the cutter is fed into the work with the cross feed lead screw. For
internal threads, the cutter is fed into the work with the basic unit lead screw. Because
thread milling with the Versa-Mil is a one-pass operation, total depth of cut is calculated
and set before cutting the thread.
Cutter Rotation
Consideration should be taken when mounting the cutter and selecting the spindle
rotation. Conventional milling should be used to put pressure downward onto the
carriage. A key may have to be inserted in the arbor to prevent the cutter from loosening
the spindle nut.
Accessibility to Work
Because the universal head spindle may be operated in either direction and mounted on
either side of the basic unit, threads may be milled at either end of the work and very
close to shoulders and flanges.
Helix Angles
The graduations on the basic unit faceplate and the mounting plate of the universal head
are used to set the approximate helix angle. Refer to the Versa-Mil operator's manual for
helix angles of different threads.
Thread Milling Cutters
Cutters as small as 2 3/4-inches in diameter may be used with the universal head for
external thread milling. The cutter diameter for internal threads is governed by the
internal diameter of the work. Standard 60° included angle cutters may be modified for
use for American Standard Threads by grinding a flat on the point. The width of the flat
equals 1/8 the thread pitch and must have relief clearance the same as other cutting tools.
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