Flexible millworks are becoming increasingly popular, but how do you start?
We spoke to Broden Millworks founder Rob Broden about how you can get started, the pros and cons of each option, and how you might choose to go about building a one-of-a-kind workbench.
First, a little background on the millwork concept.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it’s basically a custom built machine that uses flexable metal strips to hold the components of a machine together, like a drill press or a lathe.
It’s a really useful tool for hobbyists who are just starting out, but if you’re interested in making your own, you might be more interested in a traditional mill, which requires a lot more skill.
Instead, Broden has designed his machine to make things that you can make yourself.
“It’s really about using what you already have in your hands, or you could spend a little bit more money and get a much better millwork machine,” he said.
Broden said that the first thing he had to get right was the frame of the machine.
“We needed to have a frame that’s solid enough to hold a ton of steel, and have enough space for a table and shelves and other things,” he explained.
Then, he had a few other things in mind.
You need to make sure that you get the right materials for the mill.
“If you have a steel bar and a piece of plywood that’s really flexible, it will hold up,” Broden explained.
“You want to get the steel as close to the plywood as possible.”
Then he needed to decide on how much weight to put into the steel bar.
He used a standard bench and set up a barbell, but instead of using a standard table saw, he used a table saw with a circular saw blade.
He found that the circular saw was more accurate at cutting the ply wood, so he took that as a cue and tried to use the saw with the circular blade.
It didn’t work out so well.
That left him with the choice of using something else.
After a bit of research, he decided to use a traditional saw.
“A traditional saw is a lot slower than a circular one,” he told Mashable.
“It’s also a lot heavier than a saw with an oval cutout.
So we just tried to make the same design as we used on the circular mill, but with a circle saw blade, to get a better edge for cutting the wood.”
Broden also made sure that he didn’t put too much weight on the saw.
“You can’t put any more weight than you think you’re going to put,” he continued.
“So you don’t want to make a big deal out of it.
You just want to go as slow as you can.”
So, how do they stack up against each other?
The idea is that when you put more weight on a saw, it actually makes the saw less accurate, so you’re making the saw more accurate and you’re not making the machine more accurate, Brodens told Mashability.
But the circular and circular saw blades are designed differently, so the circular ones have a bigger arc and the circular blades have a larger arc.
To make the machine a bit more efficient, Brods wanted to add a small amount of weight on top of the circular bar.
But he didn�t have a big enough set of circular saws to do that, so instead, he just used a straight-edge saw.
The result is that the machine is about 20 percent more accurate than the circular one, Brodin said.
That’s a pretty impressive improvement, especially if you consider that the standard circular saw has a diameter of 4.75 millimeters.
So, you can see why Broden is excited about his machine.
And what’s the catch?
It’s not the biggest, or the fastest, or even the most efficient mill.
In fact, the Broden millwork has the most challenging job.
“To make this thing that you want to build, you need to have some pretty serious workbench work,” he shared.
“That�s the biggest challenge, but you also have to be careful.
The blade doesn�t do a good job of cutting plywood, and the ply is hard, so it needs to be pretty sturdy.
When it comes to how big of a mill you want, Brodn told Mashables, “You need a really good set of saws and a really big set of tools.
But you don�t want to use too much of either of them.
That�s why I say the big one is the big machine.