View Full Version : milling machine selection advice

2 clicks low
September 20, 2001, 12:12
Anybody buy one of those table top milling machines or one of the smaller vertical mill ie bridge port,jet. Looking for cost, pros and cons. or just fill me in what to buy? :rolleyes: :p :confused:

September 20, 2001, 21:39
I have the largest Jet Mill-Drill they make. I am very happy with it paid about $1,500 for it. Also have the 13x36 Central Machinery lathe from Harbor Freight. I think the Jet is better made and seems to run smoother. Could have bought the equivalent mill from HF but I thought the Jet was a bit nicer plus the place I bought it from is a Jet repair facility so they have good customer support.

2 clicks low
September 21, 2001, 03:15
medicmike The JET mill you have is table top JMD-15,? I can't decide between JMD-15 and JVM-836-1 which is like a small bridgeport. The price diffance is $1500.But with the 836 you can up grade power feed and digital readout.It seemes like every time I buy the cheaper tool I regret it. But if you buy the better one it is more then what you need!The JET mill you have.has it done every thing you needed. :p :p

2 clicks low
September 22, 2001, 12:43
Anybody else :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused:

September 22, 2001, 13:11
If your serious about a mill, get the largest table you can find with the size mill you want, and the longest traverse. Power feed is pretty much a must if you are looking for decent surface finish when you are fly cutting a large piece.
Biggest problem you will probably find with a "bench" model is that you have to move the head up and down versus the table. This means every time you adjust for height you have to re-tram the head, which will not a rocket science deal is a PITA. You adjust the head for height, to keep the quill as much as possible in the head, to minimize deflection and keep vibration to a minimum. If you start doing some serious and tight tolerance milling, you will be surprised just how much deflection you can get.
Power down feed isn't really necessary unless you plan on using a tapping head and doing a LOT of tapping projects. An educated hand is very doable for this.
Veri-drive is a nice touch, but a change belt type does work ok, just less convienent.
Plan on buying the best milling vise you can find, and a decent set of parallels too. Also earn to rind your own high speed bits for use in a fly cutter, save you lots of cash there.

Best of luck on the project


September 22, 2001, 21:52
Gotta agree with Doubletap ....

Get the largest you can reasonably afford.

I started out with a table top mill to learn the ropes (I was fortunate enough to buy one from a friend - basically I just paid for the tooling).

Later I upgraded to my '81 bridgeport, added power feed and a DRO. I wouldn't invest in a "new" mill if it doesn't have power feed options. You should be able to adapt a DRO to just about anything.

Best of Luck


September 22, 2001, 21:54
What do you guys think of those Grizzly of HF mini-mills? It seems like they could do the job for a lot of the 80% receivers floating around (ARs, 1911, etc). They run about $500 and are about 150 lbs. The next step up seems to be the 420 lb mill/drill made by various manufacturers.

September 24, 2001, 00:25
I have the JMD18 by Jet. Pretty heavy table top mill. The next step up was twice as much for a knee mill. Part of the problem I ran into was the physical weight of a knee mill so I went with the dril/mill setup. The JMD18 was 650lbs (as I recall). It wasn't too bad to wrestle out of the back of the deuce and a half an onto a stand. Now the 1200 lb lathe was an absolute bear. The knee mill I was looking at was about 1600lbs and was just too much to deal with.

I am pretty happy with the mill I got. I have machined an 80% AR reciever, a 1919 semi side plate and a friend just came over and cut his sideplate today. Worked great to knock out a reciever wrench and vice blocks for the FAL build. It has handled any job I have asked of it and was even able to flycut the bolt and internals for the 1919 (man those parts are hard!). Have a few more projects in mind for it and think it will handle them well.

shot in the dark (http://communities.msn.com/Shotinthedark/medicmikes.msnw)
Above is a link to my photo page on shot in the dark that has a few shots of the mill in action as well as some of the projects I have been working on.