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Mill to replace drill?

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Gordon Tarling22/11/2015 12:45:28
183 forum posts
4 photos

As my Far Eastern bench drill is starting to make worn out bearing noises, I'm considering replacing it with a milling machine. I think the milling capability would be very handy at times, plus my drilling of a series of holes ought to become more accurate. Is using a milling machine to replace a bench drill a viable proposition, or is it limited in some way and I'm still going to need the bench drill for some jobs?

duncan webster22/11/2015 13:09:58
4127 forum posts
66 photos

If I had to choose between a milling machine and a drilling machine, I'd go for the milling machine, but it is a lot handier having both. Why not buy the mill and put new bearings in the drill?

JasonB22/11/2015 13:12:01
23076 forum posts
2771 photos
1 articles

Since I got my mill (X3) the drill has hardly been used for hole drilling and my accuracy has also increased.


Another JohnS22/11/2015 13:45:57
832 forum posts
56 photos

I sold my drill on the local exchange website.

I have the luxury of two mills; one still manual with a quill, the other a CNC converted manual, but I retained the quill.

Do I miss having a drill press? Nope!

As Jason said - improves accuracy - I think by removing the ability to poorly clamp/hold material that bench/pillar drills promote.

Jeff Dayman22/11/2015 14:30:31
2237 forum posts
47 photos

You will find a mill much more useful than a drill press as long as the spindle to table/vise distance is the same or larger than your drill press and the spindle power is same or greater. If you can find a Golden Goose or similar keyless chuck for the mill they are a boon for drilling. For the mill I would recommend an R-8 taper spindle rather than a Morse taper spindle.

A floor model drill press is handy in addition to a bench mill in case you ever have long workpieces to deal with. However it is a nice to have, usually a workaround can be figured out if there is no floor model drill press and a hole in the end of a long workpiece is needed. JD


Edited By Jeff Dayman on 22/11/2015 14:30:56

NJH22/11/2015 14:40:22
2314 forum posts
139 photos

I hesitate to disagree with these guys but I would hate to be without my drill press. I guess if you are in the workshop and concentrating on just one build that would be OK but I tend to do jobs in fits and starts. I might well be set up in the mill and then find an urgent need to drill a few holes in something else - maybe totally unrelated to my modelling interests. ( Perhaps an urgent request from higher management or a repair maybe - quickly accomplished on the drill).

What is more I often use the drill to make holes - dare I say it - in wood ! I don't want nasty chips all over my mill!


Gordon Tarling22/11/2015 14:44:39
183 forum posts
4 photos

Thanks for the advice chaps. Just about what I'd figured. Whilst I'd like to have both machines, I'm quite pushed for workshop space and it would be nice to have only the one machine.

Jeff - I think the spindle to table distance is what's bothering me most - at the moment, my bench drill has a chuck to table dimension of 370mm - whilst it's rarely used to its full extent, a mill is not going to come anywhere near this distance. In fact the mill that's currently top of my list has a spindle to table distance of only 285mm maximum, which will probably be reduced by a fair bit when a chuck is fitted. I've not heard of a 'Golden Goose' chuck before - I'll have to investigate!

Chris Evans 622/11/2015 16:19:22
2068 forum posts

I have never had a drill press or any desire to own one. All my drilling is done on my Bridgeport turret mill, it does have a 4" spacer in the turret to give more height quill to table.

David Clark 122/11/2015 16:41:06
3357 forum posts
112 photos
10 articles

If you have a good mill, you don't really need a drilling machine. I never found the need for one in my workshop although I do have one.

mechman4822/11/2015 17:37:05
2947 forum posts
468 photos

I have a bench drill along with my mill... as with NJH use it for any thing that needs a couple of holes where accuracy is not that critical... & for drilling in wood / plastic or any other material that needs a hole in it.

Ajohnw22/11/2015 18:07:50
3631 forum posts
160 photos

I would miss the headroom that's available on a bench drill compared with small milling machines. Not needed that often but when it is ............................

One thing you could do is look at replacing the bearings in your drill and tucking it away some where for if and when you need it. Some do have bearings. Some just run in plain ones which can be hard to fix.

I have an adapter to fit my face plate or chuck to the tailstock of my lathe. Used pretty infrequently but there is plenty head room.



Another JohnS22/11/2015 21:24:31
832 forum posts
56 photos
Posted by John W1 on 22/11/2015 18:07:50:

...I have an adapter to fit my face plate or chuck to the tailstock of my lathe. Used pretty infrequently but there is plenty head room.

My drill had about the same dimensions as my larger mill, but like you, I have used the lathe for drilling long bits.

I do have drill chucks on straight arbors, so I can put them in an ER collet in my mill(s) quickly and easily.

There's no right answer for everything, but I enjoyed the space left after getting rid of my bench drill.


Roger Provins 222/11/2015 21:39:58
344 forum posts

I found my bench pillar drill was quite often a bother and I was always shuffling it about. But I don't find a floor standing pillar drill actually takes up too much room and can often be fitted in between other stuff with a bit of thought. But, as always, it just depends on the particular workshop.

peak422/11/2015 22:13:20
1787 forum posts
193 photos

Might be worth keeping your eyes peeled for a Dore Westbury, specially if you can find one with a long column.

Michael Briggs22/11/2015 23:06:55
220 forum posts
12 photos

It depends on the type of milling machine, some do not have a lever feed. I would not want to loose the feedback of my pillar drill. If you have the room I would have both.

Gordon Tarling23/11/2015 13:07:59
183 forum posts
4 photos

Thanks chaps, some very valid points made, particularly regarding drilling wood, which is a large part of my drilling operations. I think I'll follow John W1's advice, buy the mill and then put the bench drill away and see how I fare with just that. If I still find a need for the bench drill, I'll look at fettling it for further use and find some bench space for it. Thanks for all the advice!


Douglas Johnston23/11/2015 14:28:53
773 forum posts
34 photos

I think a lot depends on what you do in the workshop. I find I use my bench drill a lot even though I have a mill, and would not part with it for anything. When the mill is set up with perhaps a rotary table or other fixture it would be a real pain to dismantle that to drill a few holes. Also if the mill has a slow vertical movement,as mine does, it is not that convenient to use for drilling. As a final point, the drill is relatively cheap compared to a mill and I don't feel so bad about treating the drill roughly.


Ajohnw23/11/2015 18:10:12
3631 forum posts
160 photos

surprise I think I just found what look to be the castings for the universal pillar tool. They must have come with my boxford, 12+ years ago and I didn't notice.

As I have to go to the top of a 3 story house to use the bench drill one that small that could drill a 1/4", maybe 5/16" hole would take care of most of the metal drilling I do.

sadAs if I haven't enough to do.



NJH23/11/2015 18:27:37
2314 forum posts
139 photos


I bought the castings for that years ago but never got round to the drill bit. The tapping tool though I use all the time - very useful especially with those very small ( fragile and expensive !) taps.


Andrew Snowdon09/01/2016 16:22:19
2 forum posts

If you are still looking, I would suggest a proper s/h drill/mill. I first met these may years ago, and managed a few years back to get an Arboga ( Swedish machine ), which has drill capability up to 3MT, and also has a proper milling chuck, which is a very quick change over. You also get the benefits of a tilt head, x / y table,geared speed change, and the head is rise and fall, rather than the table. being keyed, it is possible to drill a series of increasing sizes, without loosing the concentricity. When used with proper regard for it's limits, I have yet to find problems with it, and it's little bigger than a good pillar drill.

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