Econo-plate machining surface or, yet another wasteboard variant

I’ve always admired the pretty aluminum bases some of us are using. But since my XL is mounted to a 6” MDF torsion box I don’t need the stiffness such plates provide. So I’ve been living with variations of MDF wasteboard for the last three years.

MDF is still my go to for most projects. But I thought it’d be nice to have nice, flat, shiny surface for the more dimension critical projects I’m now contemplating.

So I picked up a chunk of 12x24x0.5” 6061 Econo plate from McMaster Carr for $86.

Surfaced both sides using a 3/4” mini indexible mini mill from Busch Machinetool. Then broke out the trusty Fesstool 400 sander and went crazy.

Came out pretty flat. Surprisingly flat actually. Not bad for a woodworker anyway.


Raw plate.

The the larger holes are 0.3” in diameter, cut on 2” centers to match the pattern in the MDF board below. On the rare occasion I use bolts for hold downs I’ll bolt thru the shiny piece to the board below.

The bolts to hold the plate down are also on the same pattern, enabling the location to be flexible.


Looks real nice!

I would add that having MDF below is a bit of a risky strategy for this lovely bed. The amount it shrinks/grows is crazy when it’s unsealed.

I like having the metal bed under everything then a tooling plate on-top, but it’s not a cheap strategy.


Very nice, what kind of F&S are you using with that mini mill? It is fairly big for our small machines… of course I don’t have the HDZ.

I’ll keep an open for that. I don’t think that will be a problem, given that humidity swings here in SoCal are pretty mild.

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First, very tiny doc-0.02mm. 2nd, after a lot of gradual ramping to observe performance most particularly, balance, I ended up balls-out 30,000 rpm, 5000mm/min.

Other large diameter, much more expensive, facing tools I’ve used were poorly balanced thus limited to 10-12 k or less.


I forgot to ask how warped was it when you first installed it? Maybe you didn’t measure.

Second plate here, in process

Back side already surfaced.

Didn’t bother measuring other then to place on my table saw and note it rocking.


7000mm/min, .04 mm doc now.


Nice! I just got my own face mill from them and was running it slow to be careful. I’ll speed it up now knowing you did successfully.

Make sure you ramp the speed and listen for vibration. I may have just got lucky with mine. As I’m sure you know, vibration from an unbalanced cutter will kill router/spindle bearings in a hurry.

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Finally got around to checking out Midwest Steel and Aluminum.

Ordered some ATP5 for another project and discovered I could have ordered the same size I used for this project, 12x24x0.5, but ATP5 rather then 6061 for $54 + $15 shipping. No facing required.

Nice to learn something new everyday, even better when it saves $ and work!

Hmmmm, a 24x40 piece is only $154…maybe it’s time to learn how to threadmill…


If you even mention it, you know it is.

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I have had good luck with this threadmill, and the price is pretty decent.


Matter of fact, got this one in my toolbox awaiting an opportunity.