Cygnet Miniature, High-precision
Vertical Milling Machine
With thanks to Craig Libuse of the Joe Martin Foundation and Sherline Products Inc. of California for permission to reproduce this data
CYGNET Milling Machine
Designed and built in 1989 by the 1998 winner of the Joe Martin Foundation "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year" Alan Ingersoll, this beautiful little milling machine was one of a small production run of seven such examples. Since Alan was going to the trouble of making patterns and producing a miller exactly the way he wanted it, he figured he could recover some of his time and costs by making a few to sell. The example illustrated below was Alan's personal machine, serial number 017, the "7" indicating the final one built. The miller was purchased by Dr. Bob Kradjian of the Bay Area Engine Modelers (www.BAEMclub.com) and then donated to the Foundation.
Constructed to deal with small and intricate work its design resembles that of the XXX, and features built-in dial indicators, T-slot covers for the table and a very sturdy, well thought out construction. Constructed from a combination of machined bar stock and castings from a local foundry - for which Alan made the wooden patterns himself - some items such as the pulley cover were cleverly made from separate parts silver soldered together - this neat workmanship illustrating yet another aspect of Alan craft skills. According to the donor, Alan always preferred DC motors with a variable speed control to an AC/DC motor, consequently, although small, the miller has lots of power, this being controlled by a variable-speed unit home constructed from using an inexpensive Bridge rectifier and variable transformer. In addition to the variable-speed drive, the miller uses a 3-step V-belt pulley arrangement, allowing a range of both very high speeds - for use with tiny cutters - and slower ones for use when flycutting or using larger end mills or slot drills.
Formed as a swan-necked casting - hence the appropriate name "Sygnet" - the main body is bolted to a cast-iron baseplate and machined on its front surface with ways to take the vertical head. Vertical movement of the head is by a rack, this being controlled, to give a fine feed rate, by worm-and-wheel gearing with the operating handle, a full-circle type, on the right-hand side of the column.
Enormously long for a small machine, the table carries three T-slots - these being covered when the centrally-positioned vice is in use to prevent a built up of swarf - and is driven by handwheels positioned at both ends. Carefully-position thumb levers are used to lock the table travels, that for the cross slide being brought forward on an extension rod for ease of use. While most small millers have a rather short support - and an equally limited travel - on the Cygnet the design of the cross slide is such that, at the back, its supporting wings can travel past the column to increase the travel while at the front the feed screw is held in an extension to the base plate, so giving some movement before the table abuts the inner face of the good-sized micrometer dial.
Also made was a handsome wooden block to hold collets, a flycutter and other tools - this being preserved with the machine.