New (to me) smaller milling machine

Hey y’all……I have been thinking about buying me a milling machine. I have a small shop and focus mostly on automotive/exhaust fabrication and doing some “bespoke” metal wood furniture. Having said that I’ve been looking to add a small milling machine and wanted to get opinions on new vs. used and full size vs. bench top. TIA

Hello Pat, really a broad question so I’ll try to help narrow the answers.
Benchtop vs full size

Do you have room for full size?
Will your budget handle full size?
Can you safety move and position a full size mill in your workshop?

If so I say go for the full size as having more machine then you may need right now will allow you to do more in the future, same is true for any tool / machine / welder.


I would go with a full size if you can.


Yeah….I knew it was a broad question. I can swing the full size both financially and space….however, I don’t have 3p power so I’d have to use a converter. Don’t know if that’s a deal breaker or not. Also, I’d like to buy a used machine…but again…I know nothing about what I’m buying so it makes me a little nervous.

Look for used machinery outlets, craigslist, etc.

Precision Matthews has a good rep for machine shop mills and lathes, and you could probably find online reviews. Others may be Grizzly and JET Tools

I have heard good things about this company, though I have no experience myself. They are made in USA power converters LINK

Post back if you decide on a solution or with other questions.

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Definitely. I bought a column mill. It’s been OK but now I am looking for a full size knee mill, so that I can cut faster and get better finishes. Wish I’d just bought a knee mill in the first place.

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Solid State Inverters (variable frequency drives) are a good idea in phase conversion. Besides doing 1 phase to 3 phase, they allow for speed and ramp up/down control of the driven motor. They have come down in price a lot in the past years. I like this company for reasonably priced VFD’s. Best to get a VFD that is well over the driven motor horse power.

[VFD Link]( asc )

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Yes, I think the rule is 2:1 for the VFDs.

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Thanks for the tip…!! I’m shopping……

I would always consider resale value, how many accessories are available, voltage. With this in mind ,the vertical turret mill wins. Every one wants an old Bridgeport. I’ve bought hundreds of them when I owned AR Tools and Machinery. Hardly any of them were really accurate . The table had a frown in them and the cross ways were like a swayback horse. But in 90% of the uses they are great and versatile. Variable speeds wear out and need parts but imports created the nylon bushing to help vibrations. Never adjust the speed when it’s not running and a good habit is to run the speeds top to bottom. Belt changers are pretty bullet proof and 3 phase is no problem with inverters to feed 110 to and get some adjustability in spindle speed which helps with chatter and surface finish. Power feeds are nice for finish and setting limit stops. Digital readouts are extremely nice. You won’t live without them once you have them. With machinery you get what you pay for. I’m a darn good sounding board across the map fab to machine tools . Machine tools was my deal for 35 plus years. It also got me into hot rods boats and many other toys . I can officially say that I have more toys than Santa. Lol

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Thanks for the concise, in-depth, multi point opinion. I think I have decided on a knee mill Bridgeport design as well. Currently looking for something that isn’t my grandpa’s sway backed mare. My wife says Santa swings by my garage to see what he needs next as well. Guess it’s better than porn and drugs. Take care.

Haha . It’s a close call.

This is why I like old stuff. 3200 bucks. And tooling. I like to make them perfect again. It’s a weirdo. Parts are tuff though

I’d love to be able to do a “refurb” but I don’t know shit about them. All I know is that the straighter/flatter the better. I’ve been told to spend time on setup when I get something and check it periodically as I use it. Again……I’m worse than a “nob” because I’ve read so much crap. lol.