I finally did what many have told me I should do, and that is get a bigger mill for my reel work.
This is a Model 3990 from Little Machine Shop. It is several times heavier, stiffer, and more powerful than the Sherline mill that I have been using. It is too big for the utility room in my house, so I have bolted it to a workbench in the garage. Before next winter, I have to figure out how to heat the space.
For the near future, I intend to continue with the Sherline lathe. For many of the larger parts of a reel, I make an oversize rough part using the mill, then take final light cuts with the lathe. This makes the small size of the lathe less of a problem. And for the many reel parts that are under 3/8 inch diameter, the Sherline lathe is just right.
And here is the 3 inch milling vise compared with the Sherline 2 inch vise.
The picture does not tell the whole story; the new new vise is steel and the Sherline is aluminum, so the weight ratio is even larger.
I am going to continue with the Sherline rotary tables. At 4 inch diameter, they are good for reel work. I have already made many fixtures that fit these tables. The rotary tables offered by Little Machine Shop are calibrated in minutes rather than tenths of a degree and I think that this adds potential for error to every calculation of angle.
It looks as if there is enough X direction travel that I will be able to “permanently” bolt down the vise and two rotary tables, saving setup time.
I am still struggling with the issue of the X and Y leadscrews, they are 16 threads per inch. I cannot very well do modulus 62.5 arithmetic in my head, but modulus 50 (for the Sherline 20/inch screws) is quite manageable. Options are:
1. buy the Little Machine Shop kit to change the screws to 20/inch, or
2. buy digital readouts for the two axes and ignore the engraved scales on the crank skirts.
Update 25 May 2015: I bought the conversion kit for 20/inch leadscrews, and have now installed these. LMS provided very good step-by-step instructions for this conversion, and I recommend that anyone who buys this mill go through this tear down and reassembly, even if not making the conversion. It the only way to get at many hidden areas that should be cleaned of the preservation gel, and to lubricate internal parts.
LMS does not provide a rule for the Y axis motion, but it will be easy to add one. The X axis rule that they did provide has 1/16 inch markings, so I will cover it over with a 1/10 inch rule.