Sometimes, as a woodworker, you want to work on smaller pieces of projects with accuracy, versatility, and efficiency, and that’s the time you’ll need the best benchtop milling machine.

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These tools are also called mini milling machines and need less space in your workshop but have high accuracies plus versatility for a range of milling projects.

Benchtop milling machines are better than 3D printers when it comes to speed as well as precision. Overall, they are cheaper and occupy less space compared to the heavy-duty industrial models.

Benchtop milling machines are better than 3D printers when it comes to speed as well as precision. Overall, they are cheaper and occupy less space compared to the heavy-duty industrial models.

The problem comes when it’s time to shop for a benchtop milling machine as most buyers do not know what to look for in these tools. We have reviewed some of the best mini milling machines that you should consider buying. Additionally, we’ve provided a buyer’s guide to help you with decision making even as you shop for your products.

What is a benchtop milling machine?

Milling/Cutting is a process by which the machine generally uses the rotary cutters for removing or cutting any material.Through  advancing a cutter to a work piece. The cutting or milling procedure  may be done in various directions. By the help of one or more than one axes, by cutter head speed and by the pressure. The Milling or cutting process covers a large  variation  of various uses and the machines. On the scales from small single parts to the big and heavy-duty gang milling or cutting operations. This is the most commonly used process to machine and custom the parts for precision tolerances.A workpiece is secured to the table which moves around a rotating blade to make the cuts for the desired outcome.

Like the full-size milling machines, a mini mill machine is a smaller engineering mill that can sit on a workbench or table, and create or modify wooden, metal, or modern-composite material components. Although full-size mill machines can be horizontal or vertical, mini mill machines usually have a vertical orientation with the axis of the rotating shaft also being vertical.

Top 10 best benchtop milling machine reviews

  1. Jet JMD-18 350018 230-Volt 1 Phase Milling/Drilling Machine
  2. WEN 33013 4.5A Variable Speed Single Phase Compact Benchtop Milling Machine with R8 Taper
  3. Klutch Mini Milling Machine – 350 Watts, 1/2 HP, 110V
  4. TEN-HIGH 3040 2200W CNC Router Engraving Drilling Milling Machine,usb port with 4th axis and sink device.
  5. Grizzly G0727 Mini Horizontal/Vertical Mill
  6. Jet 690006 JTM-2 115/230-Volt 1 Phase Vertical Milling Machine with X-Axis Powerfeed
  7. Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit GRBL Control 3 Axis Plastic Acrylic PCB PVC Wood Carving Milling Engraving Machine, XYZ Working Area 300x180x45mm
  8. JFT 6090 parallel port + 4 Axis + 2.2kw + Mach 3 + Industrial Level CNC Wood Router metal Engraving/milling Machine (2.2kw + 4 axis)
  9. YEEZUGO Multifunction Worktable Milling Working Table Milling Machine Compound Drilling Slide Table For Bench Drill(Heavy Size)
  10. PROXXON MICRO Mill MF 70, 37110

1. Jet JMD-18 350018 230-Volt 1 Phase Milling/Drilling Machine

Jet JMD-18 350018 is an ideal choice for anyone who requires power in their benchtop mill. You get a 2 horsepower machine which is a great tool for professional use and comes with lots of interesting features like extra large work tables, heavy-duty tapered roller bearings and a hinged belt cover that does faster speed changes.

No matter what benchtop mill you are buying , you will always wish for a machine that’s durable and supports production for a longer duration of time. The jet JMD-18 350018 comes with a 1-piece cast iron column which is great for support and provides better durability. Milling Machines also go through phases of innovation.

The Jet JMD-18 comes loaded with such features such as integrated work lamp, easy to read internal depth gauge and lots of easy to control access. When it comes to speed, you can set it in the range of 150 to 3000 RPM. It’s one of the best desktop milling machines and perfect for beginners. If you have a clearly defined goal of what you want your benchtop mill to do then it will perform great but even if you don’t have an output defined, you can attach lots of gears to make it a high performing machine without compromising the quality of the tool. 

Key Features

  • 9 1/2 by 31 3/4 inch worktable
  • 2 hp, 1 phase, 230 volt only motor
  • Hinged belt cover allows faster speed changing
  • Heavy duty tapered roller bearings’ support the spindle
  • Stand not included

Technical Specifications

  • Horsepower: 2
  • Volts: 115 V
  • Worktable: 9.5 x 31.75”
  • Minimum RPM: 150
  • Maximum RPM: 3000
  • Weight: 739 lbs
  • Dimensions: 42.5 x 39.8 x 43.5”

Advantages

  • It’s durable
  • 1-piece cast iron column for extended life
  • It has a hinged belt cover that allows for fast speed changes
  • This tool has an extra-large work table that allows you to handle bigger projects
  • It has a powerful 2 HP engine that makes it suitable for commercial jobs

Cons

  • Slight heavier than most machines and also a bit more expensive than other options available.

Product Link:https://amzn.to/3r5n4yw

2. WEN 33013 4.5A Variable Speed Single Phase Compact Benchtop Milling Machine with R8 Taper

It’s amazing to work with this tool, tasks such as making perfect channels and grooves into metal, wood, plastic, etc. looks like a knife through butter with this tool. It is a versatile 13-inch swing tool that helps woodworkers to come up with flat surfaces, straight holes, slots, angled edges, pockets, surface contours, and a lot more. 

The R8 Taper makes the tool compatible with a wide variety of cutters, and bits, hence providing users with a 1/2-inch drilling capacity, a 5/8 inch capacity of end mill, and a 1-1/8 inch as the capacity of face mill. You can bevel the cutter head and column 45 degrees to the right or the left. The variable-speed operation of this tool goes anywhere from 100 to 1,100 RPM when it is on the low setting and 100 to 2,500 RPM when it is on the high setting. This flexibility in speed setting allows you to work on a wide range of materials. 

The benchtop design of this tool gives the users a sturdy and reliable heavy-duty base that has pre-drilled bolt holes that increases the stability. Additionally, there’s a rubber cover that runs from the table to the column and helps the catch chips and minimizes clean-up. One other thing is the transparent shield combined with the emergency stop feature that provides maximum safety of the user while in operation.

Key Features

  • Variable speed goes anywhere from 100 to 1,100 RPM on the low setting and 100 to 2,500 RPM on the high setting
  • Bevel the head and column 45 degrees in either direction for angled cuts in metal, wood, plastic and more
  • 18-1/8 x 4-3/4 inch table travels 11-13/16 inches along the X-axis and 5-1/8 inches along the Y-axis
  • Compact cast iron design measures in at 23-1/4 by 22 by 29-1/2 inches in size with an 8-1/2 by 15 inch foot print
  • Includes an R8 spindle taper, a pre-installed drill chuck (1/32 to 1/2 inch), fine-tune adjustment hand wheels, a transparent chuck guard, an emergency stop button, onboard measurement indicators, a 13-inch swing, two M10-1.5 T-nuts, 12mm T-slots, and a two-year warranty

Technical Specifications

  • Swing: 13 inch
  • Weight: ‎130.1 pounds
  • Dimension: ‎23.25 x 22 x 29.5 inches
  • Lower Setting Speed: 100 to 1,100 RPM
  • Higher Setting Speed: 100 to 2,500 RPM

Advantages

  • It’s a durable tool
  • It is safe to work with this machine
  • This benchtop milling machine comes with a lot of versatility

Cons

  • It’s pricey

Product Link:https://amzn.to/3uoMUQe

3. Klutch Mini Milling Machine

Anyone would want to have a milling machine that’s value for money. For people on a budget, you can go for Klutch Mini Milling machine which is made from cast iron, which means it will have great durability. Klutch benchtop mill comes with a 3.4 Horsepower motor that doesn’t vibrate like others and has variable speed.

The head and column tilt angle play an important role for any milling machine, with Klutch Mini you get a 45 degree tilt to both the left and right which makes the machine versatile. If you are someone who will be travelling a lot or moving this machine from one place to another, you can opt for this mini milling machine as it has compact size and weighs less. If you want a bang for your buck in a benchtop mill, go for the Klutch mini mill. It has a good price tag, made from a sturdy material and is perfect for people on the go. 

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Key Features

  • 3 ⅝” x 15 ⅜” work table with 8 ⅝”. longitudinal travel and 4” cross travel
  • 7” headstock travel
  • Fine down feed control for accurate tool height setting
  • ½” drilling capacity, ⅝” end mill capacity and 1 3/16” face mill capacity
  • Has R8 spindle, collet and drawbar
  • Suitable for different size R8 collets (not included): ⅛”, 3/16”, ¼”, ⅜”, 5/16”, 9/16”, ½” and ⅝”
  • Delivers 100–2,500 RPM
  • Requires 5 Amps
  • Longitudinal axis (X): 220mm; Cross axis (Y): 100mm; Headstock travel (Z): 180mm; Throat: 167mm; Table effective size: 390x92mm; T-slot size: 12mm

Technical Specifications

  • Volts: 110 V
  • Horsepower: 3/4 
  • Weight: 143 lbs
  • Minimum RPM: 100
  • Maximum RPM: 2500
  • Worktable: 3 ⅝” x 15 ⅜” 
  • Dimensions: 20.5 x 20.06 x 29.93

Advantages

  • Low vibrations
  • The speed gearbox is variable
  • Compact size which is great for a home workshop
  • Milling head and column tilt 45 degrees to left and right which makes the machine versatile

Cons

  • Nothing as such

Product Link:https://amzn.to/37NwQhj

4. TEN-HIGH 3040 2200W CNC Router Engraving Drilling Milling Machine,usb port with 4th axis and sink device

Compared with the three-axis machine, the four-axis is not only suitable for plane engraving, but also for three-dimensional engraving and round carving. The jade and wood can be engraved 360°, and the power and clamping force are very stable. The sink is made of 304 stainless steel. In order to protect the tool and prevent the tool from heating when processing hard materials, the jade and metal must be filled with a sink. This one is equipped with a USB port, supporting different kinds of systems (32bit and 64bit, both computer and laptop). Suitable for PVC, acrylic, two-color board, engineering plastics, Bakelite, solid wood, MDF board,bones,stone,graphite,and other soft metal materials (gold, silver, copper, aluminum, aluminum alloy) engraving and milling.

Key Features

  • Imported from the UK.
  • This CNC engraving machine can work with various materials, such as: wood, plastic, agate, jade, shells, amber, stone, tooth, bamboo, acrylic, plexiglass, MDF board, PVC, bones, etc.
  • Adopt high quality ball screws, make sure the workpiece process has high precision and efficiency;With streamlined gantry design, the machine is Stable and beautiful.
  • This one is equipped with a USB port, supporting different kinds of systems (32bit and 64bit, both computer and laptop).
  • The main shaft adopts a water-cooled motor, which has low noise and water circulation cooling. It can work for a long time without affecting performance, and the machining accuracy is higher
  • Compatible File Format: Mach3/TYPE5/MasterCAM/CDR/UG/ARTCAM/Coppercam/CAD/CAM/WENTAI/JINGDIAO ETC.

Technical Specifications

  • Spindle Power: 2200W 
  • Control Software: Mach3
  • Effective Working Travel: 300(X) x 400(Y) x 80(Z) mm.
  • Workpieces height: ≤ 100mm
  • Working table: T-slot aluminum alloy(535*405mm)
  • Structure Material: 6061-T11 Aluminum Alloy
  • Screw: Import 1605 ball screw
  • Engraving Precision: 0.03mm
  • Repeated positioning accuracy: 0.02mm
  • Communication port: usb port
  • Software running system: universal
  • Voltage: AC220V/AC110V Optional

Advantages

 

  • Higher accuracy
  • Low noise and water circulation cooling
  • The machine works perfectly and is very stable and precise .

Cons

  • Nothing as such

Product Link:https://amzn.to/37L69JY

5. Grizzly G0727 Mini Horizontal/Vertical Mill

If your work requires both horizontal and vertical milling in a small footprint, this is the machine for you! Simple conversion to horizontal and vertical milling operations means there’s very little set-up time. The DC motor also provides variable spindle speeds for matching material, tooling, and finish. Heavy cast iron construction, dovetail ways, and three-axis control all combine to give you precision and versatility for any milling job.

Key Features

  • Imported from the USA.
  • 3-Axis table movement
  • Variable-speed spindle
  • Emergency stop button
  • Dovetail ways for accuracy
  • Made in an ISO 9001 factory
  • Heavy-duty cast iron construction
  • Compact design mounts to workbench or stand

Technical Specifications

  • Spindle taper: R-8
  • T-slots: 3 @ 1.33″ centers, 7/16″ wide
  • Head tilt: 45° L/R
  • Table size: 4-3/4″ x 18-1/8″
  • Max. distance spindle to table: 6-1/2″
  • Table travel (longitudinal): 11-7/8″
  • Table travel (cross): 3-11/16″
  • Approximate shipping weight: 268 lbs.
  • Range of speeds: Variable, 200–2000 RPM
  • Motor: 1/2 HP, DC, 110V, single-phase

Advantages

  • Emergency stop button
  • Heavy-duty cast iron construction
  • Easily converts for either vertical or horizontal milling

Cons

  • Nothing as such

Product Link:https://amzn.to/3uupHfr

6. Jet 690006 JTM-2 115/230-Volt 1 Phase Vertical Milling Machine with X-Axis Powerfeed

This model is the JTM-2 milling machine with the addition of an X-axis powerfeed. This machine has a precision bored and honed machine head. The large diameter quill is chrome finished. The spindle head is internally cooled, has high precision class 7 spindle bearings, and includes a heavy duty spindle brake. The motor drive is splined with a one-piece quill pinion and shaft. The three-stage power downfeed with an automatic stop makes this machine easy to work with. Included are precision hardened and ground ways and table. There are adjustable gibs throughout, and an internal coolant tank is built into the base for use with a coolant system (coolant pump not included). There are locks on all movable surfaces and all the dials are satin chrome finished. Our step pulley milling machine is the perfect solution for maintenance shops, repair shops, job shops, schools, and light production. Standard equipment includes; one-shot lubrication system, way covers, a draw bar, and a tool box with tools. Tolerance test sheer included.

Key Features

  • Way covers
  • Draw bar
  • Satin chrome finished dials
  • Heavy duty spindle motor drive
  • One piece quill pinion and shaft
  • Precision ground table
  • Adjustable gibs throughout
  • Heavy duty spindle brake
  • One shot lubrication system
  • Tolerance test sheet included
  • Precision hardened and ground ways
  • Precision bored and honed Milling head
  • High precision Class 7 spindle bearings
  • Three stage power downfeed with automatic stop
  • Internal coolant tank built into base for use with coolant system (coolant pump not included)

Technical Specifications

  • X-axis powerfeed installed
  • Motor:  2HP, 1Ph, 115/230V (Pre Wired 230V)
  • Ram travel: 12.25″
  • Collet capacity: 1/8-7/8 inches
  • 8 spindle speeds ranging from 80-2720 RPM

Advantages

  • Tool box with tools
  • Meehanite casting
  • Large diameter quill is chromed
  • Spindle head is internally cooled
  • Perfect for maintenance shops, repair shops, job shops, schools, and light production

Cons

  • Don’t have the room for a full-sized machine

Product Link:https://amzn.to/2O2YfEP

7. Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Router Kit GRBL Control 3 Axis Plastic Acrylic PCB PVC Wood Carving Milling Engraving Machine, XYZ Working Area 300x180x45mm

Designed for the absolute beginner, the Genmitsu is a great tool for starting CNC learning. If wood-working is your hobby, you can use it to add features like curved words and exquisite patterns. If you are a student just learning CNC, it can help you engrave models that you are coding and designing. You will find the SainSmart Genmitsu an excellent self-learning tool that allows you to DIY your great projects on a cost-effective platform without the risk of damaging expensive equipment. The re-optimized power adapter comes with CE, FCC & UL certifications, with over-voltage protection, over-current protection, over-temperature protection, and short-circuit protection. The built-in smart integrated circuit design keeps the power adapter going against overheating on the unit and charging stably.

The offline controller module allows you to control the CNC router remotely without connecting to the computer. Your CNC router can be placed wherever you want, such as garages and workshops. Equipped with an ABS case and fan, the performance and stability of the new mainboard have been greatly improved. It’s built on Arduino and Grbl (both open source). You could easily find support, tutorials, additional training, and inspiration elsewhere online. With a 1.8-inch effective engraving depth, the Genmitsu 3018-PRO is capable of cutting all types of plastics, soft aluminum, woods, acrylics, PVCs, and PCBs, and a wide range of other materials.

Key Features

  • New Version: Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO is an upgraded version of 3018. All components do not need to be positioned, which greatly reduces the difficulty of assembly and improves the working accuracy. The base height is raised to 4cm for better stability. Capable of cutting all types of plastics, soft aluminum, woods, acrylics, PVCs, and PCBs, the Genmitsu can be used on a wide range of projects and materials.
  • Controller Software: The Genmitsu 3018-PRO uses GRBL, a high-performance open-source software for controlling movement, and runs on Arduino. Its dependability and simplicity make GRBL an industry standard, so there’s no lack of support and resources available when you get stuck. Includes CARVECO Maker CAM Design Software and CANDLE for controlling your machine and running your GCODE design files.
  • Upgraded Power Adapter: UL Approved and out-of-the-box support for the drop in 20,000rpm Spindle, no need to modify G-code to ramp up to full speed.
  • Optional Upgraded Parts: Super Size your 3018 CNC to a 3040 by getting a Genmitsu 3040 Y-Axis Extension Kit (B08P2S3JWP). The 3040 Aluminum Spoilboard (B08VNLP24C) and 3040 MDF Spoilboard (B08WZ8RV3Y) for this extension kit are also available to buy.

Technical Specifications

  • Software: Grbl control (Candle)
  • Power supply: 24V / 5A
  • Frame material: PF + aluminum
  • Z-axis component material: nylon
  • Spindle: 775 motor, 24V, 10000 RPM
  • Rated power: 60W; Maximum power: 120W
  • Stepper motor: 1.3 A, 12V, 0.25 Nm torque (2.2 in lb)
  • Drill tip: 0.1 mm, 20 degrees, 3.175 mm in diameter
  • Effective engraving area: 300 x 180 x 45 mm (11.8 x 7.1 x 1.8 inches)
  • Frame size: 400 x 330 x 240 mm (15.7 x 13.0 x 9.4 inches)
  • Supported operating systems: Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, MAC OS

Advantages

  • Runs on Arduino
  • High-performance open-source software for controlling movement 
  • Capable of cutting all types of plastics, soft aluminum, woods, acrylics, PVCs, and PCBs

Cons

  • A little bit pricey

Product Link:https://amzn.to/2NZtl0k

8. JFT 6090 parallel port + 4 Axis + 2.2kw + Mach 3 + Industrial Level CNC Wood Router metal Engraving/milling Machine (2.2kw + 4 axis)

CNC milling machine 6090 CNC Router 2.2KW 4 axis CNC Engraving Cutting Machine with limit switch Introduction. The CNC router is suitable for Industry, Technology Research, Advertising Design, Arts Creation, Teaching, Student Project and Hobby Purposes.,high speed cnc wood carving router machine 8060Z-USB 4axis 2.2KW mini Milling Machine. $2,650.00 – $2,699.00 4 axis 6090 3d cnc wood carving machine CNC engraving machine wood stone glass metal with limit switch cnc router. $1,000.00 – $1,800.00 4 axis 6090 3d cnc wood carving machine CNC engraving machine wood stone glass metal ,Desktop UG-6090 4 axis CNC router machine, with 1. 600*900*150mm working area 2. 4th axis, rotary axis, diameter 80mm, reduction gear transmission 3. Stainless steel water slot cooling, necessary ,Alibaba.com offers 29,955 6090 cnc machine products. About 65% of these are wood routers, 9% are laser cutting machines, and 3% are metal engraving machinery. A wide variety of 6090 cnc machine options are available to you, such as free samples, paid samples.

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Key Features

  • Imported from the USA.
  • Z axis has 110mm effective working travel;With reset function. recover carving point after break or disconnecting power.
  • Limit switch for each X,Y,Z axis;Adopt Leadshine brand stepper driver (higher moving speed).
  • The Machine Is Industrial Level.Maximum speed 0-10000mm/min. carving speed 50-8000mm/min.high quality and efficient.
  • china famous brand “changsheng”spindle, more powerful;machine With auto checking instrument tool.
  • Shipping By DHL Or FedEx.In 5 Or 7 Days To You after shipping. (This machine is a parallel port machine.we have a USB port machine too,go to the JFT-Jessica and find it).
  • Mainly used for carving solid wood, hardwood and stone, copper, steel, iron, aluminum alloy,  jade and jadeite etc.

Technical Specifications

  • Machine weight: 134KG
  • Operating Voltage: AC220V or 110v 
  • Shape dimension: 1250 x 900 x 640mm
  • Work table dimension: 1150mm x 720mm
  • Frame materials: Hard aluminum alloy 6063 and 6061
  • Acceptable material thickness: 150mm
  • Software environment: Windows xp
  • Maximum speed: 0-10000mm/min
  • Effective working travel: 900(X)mm x 600(Y)mmx 110(Z)mm
  • Carving speed: 50-8000mm/min (different materials differ)
  • Max.workpiece dimension: 1150mm x 650mm<150mm

Advantages

  • More powerful
  • Higher moving speed
  • High quality and efficient
  • Auto checking instrument tool

Cons

  • Expensive

Product Link:https://amzn.to/3sq6qtP

9. YEEZUGO Multifunction Worktable Milling Working Table Milling Machine Compound Drilling Slide Table For Bench Drill

The table is suitable for Mini Drill and drill bracket series. It can also apply to other suitable machines. It can also apply to other suitable machines. The work table is composed of several adjustable dovetail slot aluminum alloy compositions, can guarantee the minimum space and ensure accuracy.

Key Features

  • Imported from the USA
  • The table is suitable for Mini Drill and drill bracket series. It can also apply to other suitable machines.
  • The work table is composed of several adjustable dovetail slot aluminum alloy compositions, which guarantee the minimum space and ensure the accuracy.
  • The working table comes with 3 # Hexagonal wrench * 1, exquisite equipment * 1, M8 * 30
  • Zero adjustment handwheel rotates a circle of 1.50 mm. A lattice is equal to 0.05mm.

Technical Specifications

  • Adjustable for X direction:190mm
  • Adjustment for Y direction: 67mm
  • Hand Wheel Scale Per Ring: 3 mm
  • Power Source: ‎Hand-powered
  • Weight: ‎5.8 pounds

Advantages

  • Assures accurate cuts.
  • Reduces the chances of human errors.
  • Flexible computer control options for cutting purposes.
  • Perfect for producing individual pieces in small or large batches.

Cons

  • The threaded studs are too small

Product Link:https://amzn.to/2P63lRj

10. PROXXON MICRO Mill MF 70, 37110

If you are working on a budget and looking for a benchtop milling machine that will get your projects done with so much efficiency then try this tool. The Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill is a vertical milling machine that comes with variable speed settings of up to 20000 rpm. This speed is enough to handle most of the woodworking projects.

The manufacturers created this tool to last and will provide you with several years of service. Other great features of this tool are the adjustable slides that make milling both efficient and smooth.

Overall, this tool has a great structure that makes it suitable for labs, optical projects, making of jewelry among other delicate projects.

Key Features

  • The tool is quiet, precise and has no vibration which makes it fatigue-free and you can use it for an extended duration
  • It has low weight with a slim design
  • It has a great speed to handle most of your projects
  • The accurate mill for lab, optician, jewelry, electronic and model building projects
  • Supplied with a stable base of cast iron, vertical column and compound table are of treated, high quality aluminum
  • All axes are play-free and have adjustable slides, headstock, made of die-cast aluminum
  • Balanced special motor and provides stability even at high operating speeds
  • Scope of delivery: 1x PROXXON MICRO Mill MF 70 including MICROMOT steel collet set and stepped clamp blocks of steel. 

Technical Specifications

  • The Size and Capacity of the MachineSpeed: 5,000 – 20,000 RPM 
  • Height: 13 25/64″ (340mm) 
  • Max. Power: 1/8hp (100W) 
  • Volts: 110 – 120V AC, 60Hz. 
  • Weight: 15.5 lb (7kg)
  • Vertical Travel: 2 3/4″ (70mm)
  • Table Size: 7 7/8″ x 2 3/4″ (200 x 70mm) 
  • X-Y: Travel 5 17/64″ & 1 13/16″ (134 and 46mm)
  • Footprint Size: 5 7/64″ x 8 55/64″ (130 x 225mm) 

Advantages

  • It’s affordable 
  • This tool is perfect for delicate tasks

Cons

  • It’s small for larger projects

Product Link:https://amzn.to/3dX2YmL

How To Choose the benchtop milling machine?

Here are some of the main things you should consider so that you choose the right benchtop milling machine that will suit your projects:

Versatility

When shopping for a milling machine, you need to find something that does it all for the multitude of jobs you may need it for, not just for the product at hand. After all, the best benchtop milling machine is a machine that can do a little bit of everything. If it doesn’t offer that versatility, it’s simply not the product for you.

Power and Speed of the Milling Machine

Why do you need a milling machine? If you are planning to mill steel, for example, you should go for a very hefty machine such as my best overall product. Considering that steel is not an easy material to mill, you should go for a tool that has high horsepower and an adjustable speed.

If you are working with brass, wood, composites, and some aluminum, you will find most of the machines more than sufficient to handle such tasks. 

For a benchtop milling machine that’s going to handle most small tasks or malleable materials, any horsepower around 1/8 will do. For more intense projects, ensure that you have around 1 HP or 2 HP if you want a serious performer.

Speed is important as well, different materials require different rates. You will find that each milling machine comes with its minimum and maximum RPM. A standard milling machine should allow you to dial into several presets in that range. Good machines should provide you with up to eight different speed settings. 

Accuracy and Vibration

The accuracy of the machine that you are going to buy matters a lot if you want to end up with accurate and precise final products. Additionally, your tool should be stable such that your projects are not compromised by the vibrations. Overall, try and settle for a product with high accuracy with low or no vibration.

One major thing that you should consider when it comes to size is the physical size of the tool. While these tools can be mounted to a workbench, some of the tools are just too big and come with a lot of weight. Therefore, ensure that if you are going to mount your machine, the bench should handle it with comfort.

The worktable is also important. Here, you should first consider the travel distance. They move side to side and back and forth, so the distance they travel will tell you the amount of working area. So why does this matter? Well, the further the table moves, the less you’ll need to reposition your work as you continue with your projects.

The Control of the Tool

If you are going to be working on projects that require you to make complex angles, go for a milling machine with a head section that can tilt and rotate easily. All you need to do is to go up to 45 degrees left to right, other tools move a whole 360 degrees.

Other than the stability of the base, there are other sections of the milling machine that play an important role in its accuracy. The controls are really important. If your controls are easy to manipulate, you will end up with more precise work. Levers are typically responsible for large, coarse movement. The gauges stop, and scales are great when it comes to fine-tuning. There are machines that I’ve reviewed and have scales with increments as small as 0.0001 inches.

Safety Features of The Machine

If you are looking to add stability to your benchtop milling machine, you should bolt it down. Technically, avoid using these machines without bolting it down because there’s every possibility that the machine will move a bit and possibly impact on the accuracy of your work. Observe the maximum load rating of your milling machine. Working with weights that are too much for the machine to handle can be a disaster.

Every time you are working, ensure that you wear goggles and a face mask so that the particles that might be flying all over do not hurt your eyes.

Size

This feature, I can really get behind. The truth is, size will have a direct impact on the capabilities and performance of the milling machine. Bigger milling machines have the ability to create more force and can be used to drill through the toughest of materials with ease. Also, most of the larger milling machines are made of steel which tends to be more durable and more rigid.

Make sure to get something that can fit in your workspace. There’s no use in hauling an entire milling machine into your garage if you don’t have a proper place for it, so be sure to keep those measurements in mind.

Price

When looking for the right milling machine for you, make sure it encompasses all needs that you may have. It’s extremely important for this machine to be ubiquitous to your needs, or you will have wasted all of that money for something that can only partially get the job done. 

You want a power packed machine that delivers superior milling and drilling operations, but you don’t want to break the bank. That’s completely understandable. Find the machine that does it all for you without having to spend an unneeded penny more. However, this is definitely something that you want to invest in, so don’t be afraid to look at slightly pricier options if it means higher quality output for a lifetime of high-grade projects.

How to use a benchtop milling machine?

Milling is the process of machining flat, curved, or irregular surfaces by feeding the workpiece against a rotating cutter containing a number of cutting edges. The usual Mill consists basically of a motor driven spindle, which mounts and revolves the milling cutter, and a reciprocating adjustable work table, which mounts and feeds the workpiece.

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To begin the process of using a Manual Milling Machine, Always think safety first. Always wear safety glasses to protect our eyes. Also, Pay attention to what you are doing at all times when using the machine because if you don’t you can easily hurt yourself.

Step 1: X Axis

Close look of the handle and the rapid switch on the X axis. This is where you can move the table back and forth when machining a part.

Step 2: Z Axis

A picture of the Z axis and this is where you can move the table up and down by using the handle or the rapid switch to get close to the spindle and start machining.

Step 3: High Gear and Low Gear

On the picture you can see a letter that’s H and an L. That would be your High Gear and Low Gear. As you can see, it’s on High Gear because that means you can turn on the spindle speed as fast as you want. The only time people use Low Gear is when people are drilling a hole on the part and using a bigger drill.

Step 4: Turning on the Spindle

In the picture you can see a red switch and it says Forward and Reverse. Most of the time when turning on the spindle most people would normally use the Forward switch because when people are machining a part it’s always on High Gear and that means faster RPM and more options to change the speed to have a better finish.

Step 5: Quill Handle

As you can see on the picture there’s a long handle and that would be your Quill. The purpose of that is you can move it up and down to drill a hole on your parts if needed. It’s similar to using a drill press.

Hopefully these pictures will give you an idea on how to use a Manual Milling Machine properly. Also remember, Always safety first when using the machine or any other machines.

How to move a Milling Machine? 

The process of moving a milling machine are given below :

  • First of all lift the forks and then spread all of them for just fitting around the column.
  • Then move in till the forks have increased  past of the Ram.
  • Now,  Place the rubber pads or the wood between the forks and ram.
  • So, keep an oak or a  solid wood timbers between the mill and the back of the forks.
  • Lastly the Running of a cargo strap is all around the mill and then attaches to the mast.

How to build a Milling Machine?

This Instructable will show you how to build my CNC milling machine. Though a lot of CNC dreamers do not have the knowledge or tools to build a full metal machine. Hope this Instructable inspires you to make your own machine. Here are all of the necessary steps building this milling machine.

Step 1: The Design and CAD Model

It all started with a proper design, sketches to get a good feeling for the dimensions and shape. Quickly after the sketching phase came the CAD model. Created the model in SolidWorks. If you plan to design your own machine use a parametric CAD-modeling tool. Your machine will most likely have a lot of parts which have to fit together neatly, sometimes with some strange dimensions (for example pre-ordered parts). After all the parts were modeled, technical drawings were made. Use these drawings to machine all of the custom parts on the manual lathe and milling machine.

Step 2: The Frame

The frame provides the machine a rigid basis, not only to place it in your workshop but also for working on. To the frame the gantry will be mounted on sliding rails and later on a work surface. It also houses the stepper motor and spindle for the x-axis. I constructed my frame from 2 Maytec 40x80mm profiles, 2 endplates (both 10 mm thick aluminium), 4 corner pieces and a square structural piece.

All of the profiles are sawed right-angled and afterward milled exactly square. With the corner pieces a heavy (well relatively lightweight; it’s all aluminium) frame was bolted together. The square frame made from the smaller profiles were mounted with 4 milled blocks (aluminium) on the inside of the Maytec profiles.

Step 3: The Gantry

The gantry is the bridge between the x-axis guide rails and supports your milling motor above the workpiece. The higher you make it, the thicker the workpiece can be. There is however a disadvantage of high gantries. They work as levers on the guide rails and on the other hand the side plates tend to bend more easily by making them longer.

Step 4: Last Movement

It is constructed out of a front plate mounted on the y-axis linear guide rails, 2 reinforcement plates, a motor mount and a backplate. On the front plate 2 linear guide rails were mounted for the z-axis onto which the Mounting Plate for the milling motor was placed with the runner blocks.

The motor mount has the bearing for the z-axis spindle fitted into it. So I didn’t use a bearing block for this spindle and it is only supported on the top. The lower end is floating behind the mounting plate for the milling motor. The spindle nut for the Z-axis was directly bolted on the mounting plate for the milling motor.

The backplate provides a spot for the y-axis spindle nut to be mounted; it is mounted on the inside.

Step 5: Guide Rails

Since your endmills need to move in 3 directions, the machine guides them with its guide rails. The guide rails provide the machine its rigidity in all directions except the one it moves in. You want them to let the machine only move in the preferred direction. Any backlash in other directions results in inaccuracies in your workpieces.

Step 6: Spindles and Pulleys

Both the ends of the x- and y-axis have to be turned to size to fit the bearings, pulleys and clamping nuts. Since the z-axis spindle is only supported on one and with a bearing, it is turned on only one side.

The pulleys are drilled to the turned shaft size (in my case 8 mm) and provided with a M4 set screw perpendicular to the shafthole.

Step 7: Worksurface

The work surface is the place you will clamp your pieces of material on. On a lot of professional machines a T-slotted bed is used, giving you the option to use T-nuts and bolts to clamp your materials or vices.Use a square piece of 18 mm birch-plywood on which to screw the materials and replace it when needed. An affordable work surface! You could also use Mdf with anchor nuts and bolts. Try to avoid screws and nails in Mdf, it doesn’t grip them as well as a plywood board.

The work surface could be milled flat by the machine itself after you’ve completed it. 

Final  Recommendation

We would encourage you to first think about whether you need this tool or not as it is quite a big investment that requires several hundred dollars. After you have identified your needs, you will need to do deep market research to gain better insights into what kind of benchtop milling machine would be a perfect fit for you. Before buying the tool, always compare different models and take into account the aforementioned tips and considerations.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a benchtop milling machine?

Benchtop milling machines are tiny versions of the large, industrial milling machines you often see in large factories. This makes them perfect for DIY projects, where you need strength and precision but don’t have the room for a full-sized machine.

2. What can you do with a mini milling machine?

This is the Little Machine Shop HiTorque Mini Mill 3900. This machine is good for making precise cuts at right angles, drilling holes, and creating flat surfaces. It can operate on materials like aluminum and mild/unhardened steel, or anything softer. (Note, if you’re machining steel, you must provide your own tooling.

3. Are Hardinge lathes still made?

Hardinge will now manufacture the Bridgeport and TALENT Series’ in the Company’s Elmira, New York facility which has been a crucial production site since 1931. The Elmira, NY plant is also home to the production of Hardinge workholding products, Super-Precision CNC Lathes and the Bridgeport Knee Mills.

4. What is the difference between a mill and a drill press?

Milling machines are usually used to cut flat surfaces, they are also capable to create irregular surfaces and slots, as well as perform drilling, reaming, and other operations. The drill press is primarily applied to cut round holes in solid materials. A mill can work as a drill press and provide more capabilities.

5. Can you use a milling machine on wood?

In carpentry, when it is intended to cut different wood profiles to hollow out holes or make decorative grooves on the edge, it is common to use wood milling machines. These tools, by allowing the coupling of various types of milling cutters, can carry out multiple finishes in both hard and soft woods.

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