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Small milling machine

What is the best to buy

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Steviegtr23/02/2020 14:26:43
840 forum posts
191 photos

Some time in the near future I will be putting a wall up in my garage. This is to segregate into a small workshop at one end.

Once done I will have a new area to work with. A small milling machine , I think would be a good addition. My friends all have huge Bridgeport, Beaver etc. These are totally out of the question for me & the room I will have.

So are any of the Asian ones any good. I would not be expecting any miracles & probably only doing light work with it. I am sure there are many members on here that have them. So 1st what sort of money would I need to spend to get something decent. 2nd Which model would be best to look for. Any help greatly app as I know nothing about them.

I have a vertical slide for the Myford , but watching people using them on youtube, looks very aggressive on the lathe spindle.


old mart23/02/2020 14:42:05
1252 forum posts
116 photos

I would look on the ARC site (link on this page), their range is good and they also publish the footprint of each one, which is most important. I always recommend one with an R8 fitting spindle if there is a choice, it was designed for milling, wheras the MT3 was designed for drilling, there is a difference.

Bill Chugg23/02/2020 15:08:40
1300 forum posts
8 photos

Bought my boy the Sieg 2.7L recently R8 from Arc - more than happy with it.


Steviegtr23/02/2020 15:12:39
840 forum posts
191 photos

Thanks for replies. Will have a look at ARC.


Ron Laden23/02/2020 15:23:53
1723 forum posts
315 photos

I have the Sieg SX2P available from ARC for £710 (current price) its a small mill but capable for its size and its done all I have asked of it and its also been very reliable with no issues.


peak423/02/2020 15:32:18
1046 forum posts
98 photos

Very much dependent on your proposed use and budget.
Personally I have a Centec 2B with the later Mk3 vertical head; the one with the quill feed MT2 up the spout.
I'm most happy with it, and it's certainly capable of much more than its operator.

Don't know if you've ever read much about Cherry Hill as a model engineer; she uses one, and if it's good enough for her.....................

The only thing I've really found limiting, is the maximum throat between the vertical axis and the main body of the mill, but I also have a long column Dore Westbury, which helps cover that.


not done it yet23/02/2020 17:21:25
4170 forum posts
15 photos

Much like peak4. I have a Centec 2B - a good hobby option as it can be used horizontally as well as vertically. Mine has a 120mm riser block to increase headspace for vertical milling. My other, much smaller, mill is a Raglan - a delight to use, in super order and as pricey as some of the new asian machines.

They are both fitted with three phase motors with VFDs, so less likelihood of motor or control board burn-out?🙂

I expect the throat-depth limitation with the Centec could be solved by fitting a separate motor, or changing the vertical head input shaft length - but it will never happen, for me.

Nick Clarke 323/02/2020 17:31:52
573 forum posts
14 photos

Remember tooling - while you can buy a couple of lathe tools and a drill chuck for a lathe that comes with a 3 jaw for not much money - with a milling machine you need to spend money on cutters of various types, arbors, collets and work holding (vice clamps etc) to even get started. Only buy as you need, of course, but if you are using the machine on a variety of jobs you can soon need quite a lot!

I bought my small mill from Arc about a year ago, but with it, and since buying it, I am close to spending the same again on the extras.

Dave Shield 123/02/2020 18:46:49
13 forum posts
1 photos

Mr. Tom Senior is a great machine

Neil Wyatt23/02/2020 19:25:58
17394 forum posts
690 photos
77 articles

If you really want small footprint, the Sieg X1LP is worth looking at.


Steviegtr23/02/2020 20:56:00
840 forum posts
191 photos

Stupid thing is I have a friend who is quite ill & not recoverable. Some of you guys will know him. Randy. from steam fairs. I know he has a beaver for sale & it will not be expensive. But I have back ache just thinking about moving such a beast. Way too big for what I want. At least I have plenty of time to go through all the options. Am I right in assuming the small ones can suffer from flexing when pushed hard. Causing inaccuracies. Steve.


old mart23/02/2020 21:24:35
1252 forum posts
116 photos

Its easy to avoid flexing, just take your time with smaller cuts, or at least fine finishing cuts that will correct the problem. There are people who regard a Bridgeport as being too flexible, it is all a matter of scale.

Hopper24/02/2020 03:57:38
4166 forum posts
89 photos

A mate of mine has a SEIG SX3 (same as available from ARC Eurotrade I believe) and it is very good. He built a 9 cylinder radial engine on it without problems. And it is big enough to do motorcycle and car parts work, not just small model stuff. Planning on getting one myself at some point.

thaiguzzi24/02/2020 04:06:17
654 forum posts
131 photos
Posted by Dave Shield 1 on 23/02/2020 18:46:49:

Mr. Tom Senior is a great machine


IMHO the best British mill made for the home workshop.

Still pick a decent one up for not daft money.

Its the sought after quill feed head (same as with Centecs) that bumps the price up.

Henry Brown24/02/2020 08:03:02
154 forum posts
36 photos
Posted by Steviegtr on 23/02/2020 14:26:43:

Some time in the near future I will be putting a wall up in my garage. This is to segregate into a small workshop at one end...

I've recently done the same, I used 100mm Celotex boards for the wall and ceiling and made a wooden frame that can be removed, it was very handy to be able to make the opening larger when I moved my latest lathe in. The reflection from the silver foil also helped with light!

You need to think long and hard about what you will want to do with your mill in the future as your interest develops and what your budget can be. It took me some time to come up with what I needed (a SEIG SX4 from Axminster) which is a much heavier built machine than some mentioned above, So far it has proved to be very capable for what I want especially after adding a DRO and X axis table feed.

Regards, Henry.

Dave Wootton24/02/2020 08:18:57
40 forum posts
2 photos

Just my tuppenceworth, don't shout at me if you don't agree, but I've worked with mills and lathes most of my working life, and have owned a few in my home workshop, used for everything from classic bike restoration and 5" gauge to gauge 1.

I have a Tom Senior which is a well made machine, and I use it mostly as a horizontal which it's great at, with the standard vertical head I find it most frustrating due to the limited headroom. In fact the only time I use the vertical head is at 90 deg to the table used like a boring machine, I also find the cross travel on the y axis a bit restrictive, I wouldn't like to have it as my only mill.

I also have a Myford VME ( also known as the A-1S) which is like a beefed up VMC, this is very versatile and robust, for it's size, and I have no plans to replace it, does have frustrating gaps in the speed range, which as I'm retiring soon I hope to have time to cure with a poly V conversion and inverter drive. It's also R8 taper which I find very convenient, I don't like the Morse tapers in the Senior. It does take up a fair amount of space.

The one I regret selling was a Centec 2B which for it's size was a great little mill, robust and accurate.

Never used one or seen one but the Sieg SX3 looks to be a sturdy machine I like the dovetailed column and R8 Spindle, A friend has a similar looking thing from Amadeal and he is very pleased with it and turns out all sorts on it.

The above is just a few opinions on owning and using them which I thought might be helpful, I don't want to start a war over British versus Chinese, At the end of the day the choice of mill depends on the type of work carried out, no use buying a mini mill if you are working on a full size locomotive!


Douglas Johnston24/02/2020 10:01:08
680 forum posts
32 photos

Another option that does not get mentioned much is the Myford VMB. I have had one for many years and it is quite a robust machine . My one has variable speed drive and poly-v belts and the build quality is very good. I believe the machines were built in Taiwan then had some finishing work done at the Myford factory. Second hand ones crop up now and again and prices are usually reasonable despite the Myford connection.


Steviegtr24/02/2020 16:43:41
840 forum posts
191 photos

Thanks for all the replies. One thing has stuck, which is to hopefully get one with the R8 Spindle. The wall I will be putting up will be 4metres long (the width of my garage). With a door at one side wide enough to get my motorcycle in for servicing etc. So I should have an effective free space of just shy of 3 metres. So I guess size is not a factor.

The war against old British to Chinese does not really come into the equation, as I can see some of the ARC ones look pretty good. I guess most of the old British & German etc will be very heavy, which is why I discounted them. But it does look like they made smaller ones.

Again thanks for the input.


old mart24/02/2020 19:16:00
1252 forum posts
116 photos

That Beaver you mentioned, is it really too big? These things come to bits and are much more manageable. We took the Tom senior right to bits, and there was no part that two people could not manage. Moving it from a friends place could be done a bit at a time.

Steviegtr24/02/2020 20:02:21
840 forum posts
191 photos
Posted by old mart on 24/02/2020 19:16:00:

That Beaver you mentioned, is it really too big? These things come to bits and are much more manageable. We took the Tom senior right to bits, and there was no part that two people could not manage. Moving it from a friends place could be done a bit at a time.

Ah I see what your doing there. I built it one piece at a time. No but honestly to me it looks huge. Way past what I was thinking. When I was contracting the workshop where I did a lot of jobs had one. The fitters were always making some part or other on it. But that was a massive workshop. Just looking someone quoted 970kg. Another said 1500kg. I think my back has just gone out in sympathy.


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