Bridgeport Mill: O Joyous Metal-Eraser
I learned to use this machine last week. My only question is, WHY NOT FIFTEEN YEARS AGO?
This Bridgeport mill is a manually operated milling machine with a digital position display. Conceptually a milling machine is like a power drill pointing downwards, with the ability to move the thing you're drilling up, down, left, right, etc. You bring the workpiece to the drill, and the tip cuts away any metal in its path. Using the display, you can decide when to stop cutting with an accuracy of a thousandth of an inch.
I used it tirelessly for hours, giggling like a toddler.
I spent much of my stint in graduate school in search of appropriately shaped pieces of metal so I could perform my experiments. I learned to use drill presses, bandsaws, grinders, press brakes, shears, and all manner of hand tools, but nobody ever inducted me into the secret brotherhood of mill users. I'll never look at a piece of aluminum the same way again.