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Hobby milling machine

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elewayne

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#1
I'm looking for a milling machine for my hobby use. I have a South Bend 9" lathe. and I 'm looking to purchase a milling machine for no more than $2000. who makes a decent machine for that sort of use and price? New.
 

12bolts

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#2
"Hobby use" is a bit broad Can you define your hobby work a bit.
Gunsmithing, Toy trains?
Plastic, steel, brass, aluminium
What tolerances do you aim for when machining
Members will chime in with good advice, but if you can clarify it a bit more the advice you get should be relevant

Cheers Phil
 

higgite

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#4
For hobby machining, I’ve been really happy with my LMS 5500 bench mill from littlemachineshop.com. It’s basically a SIEG SX2.7 that is modified to LMS’ specs. I see they're currently priced about $1700 + shipping. I’m in no way affiliated with them, just a satisfied customer.

Tom
 

JBuckley13f

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#6
I also would say check out precision Mathews. I purchased their PM 25MV and have been very happy with it. I use to for both hobby work and customer work. It has exceeded my expectations with a machine of this size.
 

wrmiller

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#8
I agree with 12bolts in that a bit more info about what you want to do with the mill would allow the members here to give better suggestions.

At the very least I would suggest a mill that has a similar working envelope to your 9" SB. Not sure that fits in the 'under 2k' realm though.
 

Richard King 2

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#9
A friend of mine who is also a machine rebuilders told me he can't rebuild a machine for less money then these machines.
https://aceronline.net/acergroup/mills.htm They have had a great reputation for years. Plus the majority of their machines are made in Taiwan and not China.
 

itsme_Bernie

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#10
Are you sure you need new?

Is your budget including necessary (or very useful) accessories? It just for the basic machine, and you will still have budget for accessories?

Any space or weight restrictions?



.
Bernie
 

RJSakowski

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#11
Buying a used machine will often give you the additional hobby of machine restoration. If you're up for it, you cou;ld get a lot more machine for your money.
As to buying a benchtop mill, I would try to go with a square column rather than a round column mill. Round column mills are limited in vertical movement to the quill travel before having to raise or lower the head to extend the travel, thereby losing registration. A square column mill operates more like a knee mill except the head moves rather than the table, giving you the combined travel of the head plus the quill without losing registration.
 

elewayne

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#12
"Hobby use" is a bit broad Can you define your hobby work a bit.
Gunsmithing, Toy trains?
Plastic, steel, brass, aluminium
What tolerances do you aim for when machining
Members will chime in with good advice, but if you can clarify it a bit more the advice you get should be relevant

Cheers Phil
To answer that, I really don't know. Just stuff I might want to do, bicycle parts for instance. tool repairs. I do have some LGB trains and might like to fool with that some. I'm retired now and the woodwork I have always done is getting a bit heavy lately. I'm having trouble, with bad shoulders, lifting plywood sheets. so I'm not sure where it will go. I lean more toward practical things, rather than models. I want something relatively small for both space an weight, the used ones someone showed just seem awfully big. No mattter what, I'll probably make the wrong choise for what I neen to do. Isn't that the way it works?
 
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elewayne

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#14
I agree with 12bolts in that a bit more info about what you want to do with the mill would allow the members here to give better suggestions.

At the very least I would suggest a mill that has a similar working envelope to your 9" SB. Not sure that fits in the 'under 2k' realm though.
that does make sense. I'm not sure what that is though.
 

Janderso

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#15
Are you sure you need new?

Is your budget including necessary (or very useful) accessories? It just for the basic machine, and you will still have budget for accessories?

Any space or weight restrictions?



.
Bernie
I can vouch for tooling expense. Just buying a machine, new or used, the tooling to do a variety of milling/facing/boring/holding etc does become a significant expense.
IMHO, equal to or greater than the original purchase price.
I love every minute of it though :)
 

Charles Spencer

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#16
Well, everybody might cry "Heresy!", but I have something in mind if I can free up the space and the money. It's a small knee mill from Harbor Freight. It's listed at $1,900 but I figure if I wait and use a coupon I could get it delivered for around $1,600. I bought one of their mill/drills and it's been OK for me for what it is.

https://www.harborfreight.com/vertical-milling-machine-40939.html
 

tomw

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#17
If your work envelope is sufficiently small, the Sherline machines are nice, particularly for learning on. I have the 5400 mill, and was quite happy with it for a number of years. I am still happy with it, but my work has expanded to sizes Sherline's stuff just can't easily handle.
 

elewayne

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#18
I can vouch for tooling expense. Just buying a machine, new or used, the tooling to do a variety of milling/facing/boring/holding etc does become a significant expense.
IMHO, equal to or greater than the original purchase price.
I love every minute of it though :)
I've spent a small fortune on stuff for my lathe and still only have half the stuff I want.
 

wrmiller

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#19
To answer that, I really don't know. Just stuff I might want to do, bicycle parts for instance. tool repairs. I do have some LGB trains and might like to fool with that some. I'm retired now and the woodwork I have always done is getting a bit heavy lately. I'm having trouble, with bad shoulders, lifting plywood sheets. so I'm not sure where it will go. I lean more toward practical things, rather than models. I want something relatively small for both space an weight, the used ones someone showed just seem awfully big. No mattter what, I'll probably make the wrong choise for what I neen to do. Isn't that the way it works?
Of course it is. :)

I started with a Sherline lathe and mill, and moved up from there as my wants/needs changed. Some here will cry foul, but the machines I have now are actually bigger than I need for what I do. They are just too darn big, and these are not even 'big' machines'.

To just throw something out there for you, you might consider something in the PM25/30 or PM727 range. They are decent machines that can do quite a bit if you know what you are doing. Great for aluminum and light work in steel. If you stay within their work envelope and don't try 'hogging' steel with a 5/8" end mill (as some have done) you will find them pleasant to work with. And they can be mounted on a tool box (mine was on a 40" Craftsman) so they can be moved around if need be. Or you could get someone to make you a stand with heavier wheels on it which would be preferable IMO.

Just things to think about.
 

hman

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#20
Well, everybody might cry "Heresy!", but I have something in mind if I can free up the space and the money. It's a small knee mill from Harbor Freight. It's listed at $1,900 but I figure if I wait and use a coupon I could get it delivered for around $1,600. I bought one of their mill/drills and it's been OK for me for what it is.
https://www.harborfreight.com/vertical-milling-machine-40939.html
Just be sure to plan ahead. I noticed that the listing said, "Item made to order. Average time to ship is 5 weeks with a maximum of 17 weeks. Customer will be contacted regarding delivery."

As for heresy - I guess it's all a crap shoot. I have a HF mini-mill (44991), and it's been just fine. Bought it instead of the equivalent Grizzly, because at the time, the Griz was only available with an MT3 spindle. I wanted the R8. Lots of "opportunities*" for the tweaks/improvements I've done over the years. I might well have as much (or more?) $$ in it by now as the cost of a larger/better mill. But the initial cost was low and the $/month expenditure rate has been reasonable.

* "Yes, Sir! Sir, we're faced with an insurmountable opportunity."
 

kd4gij

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#21
Always my the biggest that fits your budget and space. Just remember, No matter how big your machines are, There will be times you wished it was a little bit bigger.
 

tweinke

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#22
I like my PM-727.
 

westerner

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#23
I really like my Millrite MVN. I have not had it too long, but it is more machine than I am machinist, and will be for a time, I suspect. It doesn't take up TOO much more space than many benchtop machines, and is very rigid for the things I ask of it.
 

Splat

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#24
I've been down the whole new vs used machines road when I was considering a mill and then lathe. Unless you have complete trust in the seller, know someone experienced with mills that can look at a used machine and give you his honest opinion, or you have enough knowledge to be able to NOT be taken, I strongly suggest you buy new. If you have to wait to save up then it'll be worth it. There's few downers in life like buying a (expensive?) machine you think is in good condition only to find out once you start using it it's pretty much a boat anchor or not tight enough to meet your standards.
 

jdedmon91

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#25
Always my the biggest that fits your budget and space. Just remember, No matter how big your machines are, There will be times you wished it was a little bit bigger.
Yep when I upgraded from my PM 25 I shoehorned the biggest mill I could fit in my shop



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

CDarby67

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#26
Jumping on this Bandwagon.

I too am find myself considering a hobby mill. Additionally, I would like to look at purchasing a lathe as well.

I get the feeling that Precision Matthews makes the best available entry level Mill. They are in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - a short 5 hour trip from where I live. I read their FAQ's and would plan a visit before purchase.

I ask which machine would be a good fit for my needs.

I am:

1. Completely new to Machinist work; I have taken basic Mill operation only.
2. I am interested in doing only hobby work and maybe OAK pieces of art in T6061. Any harder materials would rarely used - occasional projects to
make cutters or tools for the workshop or lathe.
3. My project will more than likely always be smaller than a breadbox - 12" x 6" x 6".
3. I have a fairly healthy budget for a hobby interest - $3000.
4. Space - my limiting factor. I would prefer to keep the mill in a 24"x 36"x 96" space.
5. Considering a Dividing plate with a tail stock or rotary table for circular pieces.

Which PM machine would you get? I have little interest in mass production. CNC seem of little use to me. Digital read outs seem a reasonable desire.

Thoughts?

Thanks,
Clint
 

mksj

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#27
Probably the PM-30MV, mid size, belt drive (quiet), good power and torque from the 2Hp DC motor with variable speed to 3000 RPM. Running 230V will give better power, but requires that this is available, if only 120VAC then the PM-727V is a great choice. This also leaves a budget for a 2 axis DRO, vise and tooling. The 932/940 are much heavier but lower speed, probably more optimal for larger work scope, deeper cuts and ferrous metals. If this is a long term machine (investment) and you want a high quality bench top mill, I would check out the PM-833T. Buy once, cry once.

Anyone of these mills will chew through aluminum at a good rate, if you use a rougher end mill the chips will fly at an amazing rate. I would also consider an X power feed, this will give much better consistent finish and you get tired of hand cranking quickly.
Good luck
Mark
 

homebrewed

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#28
I got an SX2 from Micro-Mark when it was on sale. It has an R8 spindle so the tooling I have can be used on a larger machine if I ever go that route. Many would say this class of machine is a kit of sorts, but you can use the mill itself to make many improvements to it. One of the first ones I did was to add DROs to all 3 axes. I have learned a lot with mine, misteaks and all <grin>. If you do decide it's too small for you, you can always sell it (but don't expect to get more than about 50% of what you paid for it).

I have found the old adage of spending as much, if not more, on tooling to be pretty accurate. So getting something that allows you to migrate most of your tooling to a larger machine makes a lot of sense.

Mark
 

Tim9

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#29
If I lived in Houston... I'd be checking Craigslist. Heck...I drove to Houston to buy my 9A South Bend 3-1/2' bed. You have a lot of good machine tools always popping up in your area. Of course, to each their own. Some prefer new, but my wallet prefers used.
 
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