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Thread: Best affordable Bench Top Mill?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Best affordable Bench Top Mill?

    Looking for a decent bench top mill with digital read out. Any suggestions? Will want to mill aluminum and plastic.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Grizzley , Enco, Little machine shop might be a good place to look also check Craigslist. I had a bench top for years before I found the Clausing mill I currently have. Mine was a Lincoln brand made in Taiwan. It had a R8 spindle so tooling was easy to find.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
    bangerjim's Avatar
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    I use the hf larger bench mill. R8 tooling is important. I put a lil machine co drive kit on it to eliminate the plastic gears an noise. Pretty accurate! Used it in my model shop for years.

  4. #4
    Boolit Mold
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    A couple question would be.
    What do you consider affordable?
    What are you looking to do (hobby stuff, models, 80%'ers)?
    How large of items?

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    I have a PM 25. I don't like the spindle - quill set up as it isn't accurate in boring or drilling but lock the quill and then its pretty good as the table is relatively accurate. The variable speed is nice. PM customer service isn't timely as it all has to be handled by the owner and so I have had to wait sometimes. But he was very nice and helpful.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak_rob View Post
    A couple question would be.
    What do you consider affordable?
    What are you looking to do (hobby stuff, models, 80%'ers)?
    How large of items?
    I'm thinking less than $1500 for the small mill and when we make the move to AZ I will pop for a Bridgeport probably somewhere around $3500.00 for a used one.

    The small mill will be used for plastic items and small aluminum items. The larger mill would be used for the non- finished lowers for myself. It would also do some custom machining I have in mind for a retail product. Can't justify a CNC mill right now unless it was a smaller more affordable one. Can't quite swing $45K for a halfway decent CNC right now.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Like I said above this:
    https://www.harborfreight.com/two-sp...ine-44991.html

    Is a great accuracte little mill. Variable speed and if you mod with the LMS belt drive kit, you have a solid & quiet machine. I have used it on everything from wood to 316SST with no problems! R8 spindle means you can use standard tooling. I have 3 mills and the all use R8. The price is great.

    End mills, shell mills, face mills, drills, sanding drums, you name it! I have done it on this little mill.

    Mine has operated for extended periods of time producing MANY various parts and items for my hobbies and for my engineering work. It is great for anyone interested in a small yet versatile bench mill. And LMS sells spare parts and upgrades!!!!!!!

    If you have a problem with the HF brand/color, buy the SAME EXACT machine from several other suppliers for more money.......under a different name/color!!!!!

  8. #8
    Boolit Mold
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    My first though was save your money and get a knee mill, but it sounds like you are headed that way at sometime.
    For the small mills they are all (most) made by Sieg just different colors and some of the fit and finish.
    Like others have said things to look for are R8 spindle, belt drive and rigid column or plan on upgrading them.

    Just from what I have seen LMS has all the upgrades on it it the most expensive also HF or Sieg are the cheapest but will need so upgrading.

    What ever you choose mount it to something heavy and solid will help alot I have one on the bench bolted to a 2'x3'x.5" plate.

    The DRO can be put on any of them pretty easy.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I picked up a grizzly G8689.
    It was used, but used very little.
    It needs lots of work to make it user friendly.
    I'm guessing the off name brands are the same, and will need just as much work on them.
    Get a better model and save in the long run.

  10. #10
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    HATCH's Avatar
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    based on your budget figure ($1500)
    https://www.grizzly.com/products/Mil...th-DRO/G0758Z#


    Already has a DRO from the factory.
    has the R8 spindle

    I would not purchase a mill that didn't have 3 axis DRO or at least had a easy to install 3 axis DRO kit.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    https://www.grizzly.com/products/2-T...le-Vise/T10058

    I have several of these that I use on my mills for small precision jobs. Great little vise for the bench size mills. I use one on my big mill also for small precise jobs.

    You will learn very rapidly you will spend 15-20X more money on accessories than you spent on your mill itself!!!!! The basic milling machine is just the beginning of a journey down a big black money pit. That is why you want R8 spindle so many accessories are avaialble and interchangeable with bigger mills. There is a ton of R8 tooling out there......new and used. I stick with new only for precision.

    Good luck on your choice!!!!!!!

    Banger

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    They could give you a mill or lathe and the cost of the tooling you would purchase would pay for it easily. Would not consider anything without R8

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by HATCH View Post
    based on your budget figure ($1500)
    https://www.grizzly.com/products/Mil...th-DRO/G0758Z#


    Already has a DRO from the factory.
    has the R8 spindle

    I would not purchase a mill that didn't have 3 axis DRO or at least had a easy to install 3 axis DRO kit.
    One can always go old school with several dial indicators with magnetic bases. But, I'm lazy in my old age and would like a digital read out.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I have used my HF mill I referenced above for that past 10 years WITHOUT the need for a DRO. I have them on my other mills, but this little one really does not really need it....depending on your work, of course. I have milled a TON of very accurate repeatable items over the years using just the wheel dials and good machine tool practices. Accurate layout with tool maker's dye, sharp scribing tools, and lay-out tools are more useful than a DRO to me. The key is to know the back-lash of the mill table X-Y.

    But I am old school and think DRO's are a bit over-rated for general home milling jobs. Spend the money if you think you need one and can afford one. I would personally spend that SEVERAL (!) hundreds of $$ on good tooling, which will be far more valuable and useful, than a DRO.

    Let us know your final decision.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master McFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 6bg6ga View Post
    Looking for a decent bench top mill with digital read out. Any suggestions?
    I found a virtually new Bolton ZA45PD 9.5" x 32" benchtop mill with power-feed and DRO locally for $2000 on Craigslist. It came with a pile of tools, 4" vice, granite surface plate, two 6" angle plates, a few 1-2-3 blocks, 3 German-made keyless chucks, 2 Armstrong boring heads, a clamping kit, 2 sets of ground parallels, full set of 1/8" graduation R8 collets, cast iron/brass/steel material, and a flimsy steel stand. It seems to work well enough for the small projects I work on. Shop around for someone upgrading or selling it all off. A deal can be had.

    Other's are right, you'll spend a lot more on tooling.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    For a hobby purpose that HF model would be slick as a drill press\ mill in one machine. If I ever move I am going to sell my floor model and pursue that HF bench model.
    Look twice, shoot once.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    The Grizzly 0704 will do everything you need to do on a gun. A little tweaking and you are up and running. bUt the cost will be in proper tooling and fixtures.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    GONRA sez - tim338's Clausing Vertical Mill is the way to go - IF YOU CAN FIND ONE!
    Have been using mine (#2 MT Spindle, matches my South Bend 10K Lathe) for decades - ITS GREAT!
    (EZ to break down to THREE "300 lb. loads" if yer moving...)

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I too have been looking for quite a while for a small mill, space is at a premium thus the need for a bench top. I have been warned on mill/drills and have seen what they meant, depends on how anal you are. You either end up with a so so mill and a decent drill press or wanna be mill and a good drill press. All depends on what you want and expect from end results.

    So I have been on the look out for a small mill for some time. Machines of this use are few and far between in this part of the country.

    I may be either frugal or lucky on tooling. Since buying my lathe a year ago I have picked up quite a bit of needed equipment at auctions. One of my hauls I spent les than $30 and came home with brown and sharpe, Starett, flower and a lot bits HSS and carbide for less than $30.

    Another auction I spent more but came home with more as well. Whole back of the truck full. Sold off the excess for great price to others and my stuff was free.

    I have another auction coming up, not much in it I need but if it's a deal I will be on it.
    A bit of time spent searching the net in local auctions may net you some good to great equipment for reasonable to free prices.

  20. #20
    Boolit Man
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    Lots of good points to be made here. Tooling costs are 10 times the cost of the mill over time. Make sure if you swap the mills out down the road the tooling works in the newer mill. R8 spindle would be perfect for the hobby / light production guy. I started out looking at bench top mills and never found one that turned my crank. I ended up buying a small knee mill 9 x 42 Webb mill. Added a DRO a couple years later. Finally got tired of turning the handles and I converted the Webb mill into a CNC machine with the Centroid 400 controller. Now it’s both a manual and CNC machine. Lots of people say it’s a waste of cash converting a knee mill to CNC. Maybe.....but I love it. Worth every penny for my needs. More accurate as well. To this day I still have more invested in tooling than the mill. Glad I went with R8...

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