Advice for a newbie

My dad and I ordered a LongMill a couple of weeks ago. It hasn’t arrived yet, but we’re prepping. The long term goal is to build very advanced guitars (different species tops, binding, inlays, etc.). He’s the woodworker, I’m the guitar player and software guy (been doing AutoCad for about 20 years.

We’re still settling on software, table build, etc. I’m wondering what advice you seasoned pro’s would have for us? Things you’d wished you had known when you first started.

My apologies if this has been covered elsewhere. There’s a ton of great information out there, but it can be pretty overwhelming weeding through it.

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Welcome @ndyorkjr!

My 2 cents for getting started:

  • Dust collection is essential. If you have not already, ensure you buy the dust shoe. You will also want a cyclone - a shop vac fills up far too quickly. Given your dad is a woodworker, you might have decent dust collection already.
  • I find one of the number one skills to develop in this hobby is work holding. You will likely experiment with a few different types of clamps and other options. My favourite way of securing work (when possible) is bolting right through it (of course when there are features that support that).
  • What kind of spoil board are you going for? T-tracks, threaded inserts, etc.? I started with threaded holes, migrated to t-tracks. Both have their place.
  • Since you will likely want to do double sided machining, ensure you get the machine square when you set it up. This can be a bit of a pain, but really pays off.

There is tons to learn! You’re going to have a great time - keep us up to date with your projects!

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Hey there, Nathan,

Welcome to the dungeon.

The one thing I would have wanted in advance of firing up the Longmill were dedicated circuit breakers for the LM and router, plus a way to shut the complete set down away from the machine.

It took me just one mistake to burn out my makita, feeling lucky afterward that it only burned out the router. We have 240V around here, and the group I’m on is a 16Amp breaker. The makita on itself will not exceed 800 watts, and the mill runs on a 300 watt converter, so to prevent burnout of the router, I have installed 6 amp breakers interconnected. If one goes, the other goes as well to prevent the mill dragging a router around that is no longer running or to prevent a router turning 17k rpm on a machine that is no longer moving.

I have also rerouted the mains to the machine via a switch in my office to be able to cut the power without having to run to the machine when it’s jumping around, flinging pieces of bits around, or whatever it is doing that triggered me to want it to stop doing what it is doing.

All good stuff, thank you. We haven’t started the table build yet. Can you give me some pros/cons for the spoil board options?

@ndyorkjr A warm welcome from the cornfields of Iowa USA! You and your dad will totally love your LongMill Nathan! I can’t wait to see your designs!

I concur with @elbarsal, dust collection is vitally important for you. I stumbled my way for over a year without it, and made one heck of a mess before finally getting it hooked up to a cyclone into my single stage dust collector. It was a game changer for sure, and doesn’t need to be super fancy.

If you look, there is a thread here about table designs. I also documented my table build in my own thread. Plenty of design possibilities for you, plus it gives you something to do while you wait for your LongMill!

I would like to address design software. Clearly the gold standard is Vectric. I don’t get any kick backs or anything from them, but if we did a poll here, over half of the LongMill users utilize their software for design. They have a variety of levels to choose from, depending on what you’re going to do with it. Personally, I sucked it up and bought VCarve Pro, and have had no regrets. The one thing I would like to point out, they let you buy into their product, and at any time you can buy the next level higher for the difference in price. So your hard earned money isn’t wasted on something you “outgrew” as your talents improve.

Lastly, this forum is amazing. Excellent people, friendly and knowledgeable. Great advice, all helping for us to succeed. This forum is why I am a LongMill owner. I asked a couple of questions about the mill before purchasing it and the responses were amazing and more importantly friendly. If you have further questions, please ask. The folks here will chime in and give you their opinion!
Take care and again, welcome!
Jake

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I have chosen to go with a board with threaded inserts in a 5" square pattern instead of a t track system. I am 3D printing hold downs and cutting some from wood.

Best hold down tip I have read is to use nylon bolts to attach clamps. McMAster-Carr 94320A748 (McMaster-Carr)

Between using nylon bolts and wood/3d printed hold downs - I have to worry less about the bit hitting a piece of metal and causing a bigger mess.

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Welcome… Advice… Have fun on your new adventure.

Try to remember that advice can not be given, but advice can be taken. :smiley:

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There’s a multitude of ways to hold down the work pieces and everyone has their favorites. I suspect most use a variety of different styles depending on the job. For me it’s Easy to get stuck in analysis paralysis because their are so many choices. The clarity for me on my spoiler board was the realization that that i can replace it whenever i want and learn more. My current one has threaded inserted and dog holes and does not have T-track. Since adding dog holes I rarely use the threaded inserts, but I like having the option if i need to. My point… don’t get to hung up on any early choices, nearly everything can be changed later.
And good dust collection, that IS useful, exceptionally if you will be doing finishing in the same area.

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