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CNC machines in the Uk

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Kevin Hunter 124/12/2018 12:19:02
2 forum posts

Hi, looking to purchase CNC mill and lathe but little or no machines available in the UK, does anyone know any available or market place to try please.

Nick Hulme26/12/2018 11:32:42
690 forum posts
37 photos

What size, capability and price range are you looking at?
There are some UK suppliers but price/size ratios aren't particularly good.
Have you considered second hand small industrial stuff with a converter from Transwave?

Emgee26/12/2018 12:14:03
1113 forum posts
201 photos

Hi Kevin

I advertised an Emco 5 cnc lathe on here a few months ago, had some enquiries but nobody purchased so still up for grabs.
Because you don't have many posts I am not sure if you can access my Photo Album, if you can there are several pictures there of the lathe.
It is in good mechanical condition and just needs some modern steppers and a controller to be up and working.

If you are interested just PM me and will send more info.


Andrew Johnston26/12/2018 12:46:02
4699 forum posts
532 photos

For a CNC mill, assuming you don’t want to convert your own, there are three choices:

1. Buy a hobby level machine, usually with stepper motors

2. New industrial - mega money

3. Secondhand industrial - a lot for the money but you’ll need to be knowledgeable about electronics when it goes wrong

I bought a Tormach CNC mill from the US; high end hobby with a readily available 4th axis, which I’ve used a lot. The original Mach3 software was messy and the 4th axis functions didn’t work properly. The new PathPilot software from Tormach is much better.

There don’t seem to many secondhand hobby CNC machines for sale; I suspect they’re still quite rare in the home workshop. And most people who have them keep them.


Kevin Hunter 126/12/2018 14:37:26
2 forum posts

thanks for the replies guys, never had any CNC machinery so no glue what to look for, It would have to be a machine already to go, I can do main motors/inverters but not looking to mess with stepper motors at this point, I have been looking on Youtube and the Tormach seem ok for the home workshop but you are correct not cheap I may start out with Boxford or Denford to test the water. I already have the workshop full of manual machines and may have to sell some if I went for a Tormach size machine.

Emgee26/12/2018 15:14:49
1113 forum posts
201 photos

Hi Kevin

For a good milling machine if you can find a Denford Triac that has not had industrial use you may find it has a work envelope to suit your needs.
The other Denford cnc mills are a bit short on distance spindle to table, but depends on the type of work envisaged if these would be suitable.

Another cnc mill is the Emco F1, all cast iron with tapered and adjustable gibs, very capable machine in original form for 2-1/2D work but for 3D you would need to change the control system.
Max working envelope is X 200 and Y 100 with 200 Z, quite a bit less than the Triac.


Involute Curve26/12/2018 15:16:39
327 forum posts
84 photos

Hiya Kevin, It may help if you visit a workshop with CNC capability like mine I'm in Co Durham.

Where in the country are you located.

Barrie Lever26/12/2018 17:57:42
252 forum posts
38 photos

Hello Kevin

Well you will struggle to find a new UK CNC mill in the hobby price bracket. There are many import options though.

What do you intend making on these machines and with what materials?

The Denford and EMCO mills that Emgee mentions are nice machines and can fit into tight spaces, sounds like you might have challenges on space as well. Of course the EMCO's are very second hand now, but they are very good from a mechanical point of view.

I looked at both Tormach and Wabeco machines when considering buying a CNC mill.

I went with Wabeco for a few reasons.

1) The Wabeco can still be used as manual mill, where as the Tormach has no handwheels, trying to do a simple manual job by pressing the axis control buttons is not very good in my experience. I would say that 1 in 20 of my jobs are manual so this is worth considering for me.

2) The lowest power Wabeco has a 1.4Kw spindle whilst the highest power Tormach 1100 has 1.2Kw and the 440 about 600w. Trying to judge how much spindle horse power that you require is difficult with no referance point or experience, I would say that the 1.4Kw of the Wabeco only just meets my requirements, so I now do have reservations about the Tormach spindles horse power.

3) I was able to view Wabeco machines at the UK agents premises, I had delt with Bryan Tate before on EMCO related business and he is a straight forward person to deal with.

Having used the Wabeco for about 6 month's now, I can say that it is reassuringly accurate and repeatable.

I would say that the Tormach control looks better to use than the Wabeco, having said this I programme 2D and 3D jobs most days, I use BobCAD to generate G code and then post to the Wabeco control.

The Wabeco control has a simple engraving function built in, this makes a quick and simple engraving fairly easy.

I am happy enough with the Wabeco mill that next time I have a few quid in my pocket that I will give their 6000 CNC lathe a go.

I have no experience of the far eastern machines and because of this I cannot comment on these machines apart from the prices seem attractive.

I am in southern Hampshire, you are very welcome to come and see my machine doing production stainless steel work.

Best Regards


Alan Wood 426/12/2018 18:40:34
118 forum posts
4 photos

Hello Kevin

Also available for a visit. Live near Newbury and running Tormach 440 with their Pathpilot controller and using Fusion 360 for CAD/CAM.


Andrew Johnston26/12/2018 18:45:45
4699 forum posts
532 photos

To pick up on a couple of points made by Barrie:

Correct, the Tormach is CNC only, no handwheels. That didn’t worry me as I only use it for CNC milling. As yet I haven’t used the MDI or inbuilt wizards in anger. For manual milling I’ve got vertical and horizontal mills available.

The Tormach 1100 spindle is 1.5hp, same as my Bridgeport. The Tormach is happier running smaller cutters at higher rpm and feedrates than the Bridgeport although the metal removal rate is similar. As the Tormach motor runs from a VFD it doesn’t have full power available at low rpm; hence smaller cutters at higher speeds.

As said a lot will depend upon the usage. A lot of my parts are 2.5D or 3D, but the 4th axis, along with a high speed (24000rpm) spindle, allows me to make intricate parts with small cutters, like these bevel gears:

governor bevel gears me.jpg


Barrie Lever26/12/2018 21:07:46
252 forum posts
38 photos


Nice bevel gears, do you have a 'step up speeder' or some kind of 24,000 spindle?

I might swap out the Wabeco motor and use a 24,000 rpm 2.2Kw spindle to run through the 3:1 reduction belt drive to give me an 8000 rpm capabilty on the main spindle head. I also have a spare 50,000 rpm Jager spindle which runs really nicely from the Wabeco control box and I will mount this to the mill with this alternative piece.

wabeco high speed bracket.jpg

The good thing about the current drive motor in the spindle is that it has some kind of feedback to maintain torque at low RPM, you can hear it increasing the power, the bad thing is that it is only 3000 rpm and I run some fairly nice cutting tools that are really happy to be spun up at much higher RPM, hence the ideas above.

Having said that if infeeds are calculated correctly I can produce the desired results.


Edited By Barrie Lever 1 on 26/12/2018 21:10:27

Andrew Johnston27/12/2018 18:20:44
4699 forum posts
532 photos
Posted by Barrie Lever 1 on 26/12/2018 21:07:46:

Nice bevel gears, do you have a 'step up speeder' or some kind of 24,000 spindle?

I did look at the Tormach speeder, but it's quite expensive and is reputedly rather noisy. That's important to me as I live in a very quiet rural location. I ended up with a 24000rpm induction motor and VFD. I bought the demo package from Arc when they stopped selling the items. I had to make a bracket to hold the motor onto the mill spindle:


Of course it's difficult to swap between main and high speed spindles within a job, and the high speed spindle is not quick change, so prefilled tool tables can't be used. But so far that hasn't been a problem making small parts only needing a single cutter.


Nick Hulme27/12/2018 19:06:22
690 forum posts
37 photos
Posted by Andrew Johnston on 26/12/2018 18:45:45:As the Tormach motor runs from a VFD it doesn’t have full power available at low rpm; hence smaller cutters at higher speeds.

Now Tormach are releasing Servo machines perhaps they'll also fit higher powered spindles in order to deliver useful low speed torque, in the same way that most industrial CNC mill manufacturers do?

Andrew Johnston27/12/2018 19:19:26
4699 forum posts
532 photos
Posted by Nick Hulme on 27/12/2018 19:06:22: the same way that most industrial CNC mill manufacturers do?

Let's hope they don't use Haas 'horsepower'.


Barrie Lever27/12/2018 20:46:54
252 forum posts
38 photos

"Of course it's difficult to swap between main and high speed spindles within a job, and the high speed spindle is not quick change, so prefilled tool tables can't be used. But so far that hasn't been a problem making small parts only needing a single cutter."

Yes that is not really a problem, I either send out seperate code to the machine for each tool or incorporate a tool change point in the code and do a G54 offset in the Z axis for the next tool.


Andrew Johnston28/12/2018 21:42:22
4699 forum posts
532 photos

As mentioned I don't use tool tables when using the high speed spindle. But for the main spindle I make extensive use tool tables as the tool change system is repeatable. Initially I used to manually change the Z value each time I changed a tool. But that became tedious rather quickly, and led to some "interesting" tool crashes when I forgot to change the value. So I invested in an electronic tool height gauge that enters the value direct into a tool table. The original Mach3 used with the Tormach was poor on tool tables, and only saved them if you remembered to do it explicitly on exit. The new PathPilot system is much better, it saves automatically.


John Alexander Stewart28/12/2018 22:16:26
748 forum posts
51 photos


I read your comment about the Wabeco and handles for manual movement.

1) Look for "MPG"s - these things allow you to move the axes with a knob on the MPG, much like you'd do with a manual mill, and you have a built-in DRO as well. And, one can set the speed of the movement, so you have fine movement and the ability to get the table to move quite a lot without lots of cranking of the handle.

2) Your software should also allow you to manually move the machine table. With a mouse.

3) I have 2 CNC mills, one has a spindle quill on it. I don't have a pillar drill, and, while I do have another largish mill with a quill, I tend to just use this CNC one in manual mode. I flip on the power - the computer boots up, and it's ready to use. The MPG gives me axis movement, spindle speed setting, and a DRO.

4) LinuxCNC (and, likely PathPilot, which is LinuxCNC with a different GUI) has built-in the ability to engrave from image files, like JPGs.

5) My CNC mills do not have any keyboards in the common "computer" sense. I do have track balls and do have numeric keypads connected, but these last ones are rarely used, as the computer screen allows you to select numbers. If I had touch screens, I'd not even bother with the trackballs.

All in all, my CNC mills get used more than any other thing in my workshop, I'd expect.

This is all fun stuff.

Edited By John Alexander Stewart on 28/12/2018 22:19:57

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