A tube mill is a device used to create tubing into useful items like pipes. They’re one of the most important instruments in the woodworking trade, and most amateur woodworkers enjoy creating one or two of them for their own private use. But, you may be wondering if you need a tube mill to get the job done. And if so, how do you choose the right one to get started with?
The key to selecting a good tube mill lies in the material being used in its construction. Tubing that has been pressed and rolled into tight shapes will require special welding equipment and techniques to produce clean, strong welds that hold together well. Many people don’t realize it, but sheet metal and thin gauge tubing are just about the only things that don’t require welding. Wood and thin gauge are too susceptible to irregularities in their shape during heating that can easily lead to a bad weld and a faulty pipe. With so many potential sources of error, welding is almost always the best way to go with pipe mills.
In order to create large diameter tubes with clean lines, a tube mill that has a variety of cutting and shaping capabilities is necessary. A few options include burrs, which are simply a left over from the manufacturing process, and grinding that removes excessive burrs so the finished product has a smooth edge. These options will allow you to create custom made tubes as needed, rather than forcing you to buy tubes that may not fit your unique needs.
While the type of welding that creates the best welds for tube mill jobs is hand held units, gas-powered welders are available for even the more skilled artisans. You’ll also want to consider the diameter of the pipes involved. Large diameter tubing typically requires a different approach than smaller diameter tubes. While you may not think it now, the larger the diameter of the tubes the more likely you’re going to experience slag build up. This can lead to a clog in your system, or a more expensive repair at a later date.
The last concern with tube mills should be your own welding skills. If you’re not a natural welder, you may have better luck purchasing a tube mill that is pre welded. With the welded units, you can ensure the weld is even and that there are no areas that show the effects of uneven heat diffusion. Welding is difficult enough without also having to worry about a weld that will hold poorly and have uneven sections.
Purchasing a welded tube mill may be an investment for future projects, but one you should only make if you are skilled in welding. Smaller tube mills are available for less than half the price that the more expensive ones will cost. Still, if you plan to do most of your welding work, you’ll be much happier with the welded units. They’re durable, easy to use and generally inexpensive as well. You’ll also find that they make the pipes quicker and easier to produce, which will leave you more time to work on other things.