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Danny Smith 113/06/2020 00:53:07
4 forum posts

Hello everyone I'm new here and just wondering what is a decent mill to start with I cant afford a decent bridgeport and I didn't do to well when I bought my chipmaster

Iain Downs13/06/2020 09:19:35
814 forum posts
734 photos

This is probably the second most commonly posted question (after 'what lathe should I buy?'. I suggest you do a search, there is a great deal of information and debate.

I can tell you that the first question you need to answer is 'what do you want to do with it?' You will also find yourself in the middle of a debate between new Chinese and old industrial.


Thor 🇳🇴13/06/2020 09:55:25
1473 forum posts
41 photos

Hi Danny,

A Iain says, what do you want to make. If you don't want to look around for a second hand British made milling machine, that leaves mainly Chinese machines or may be a Wabeco if you have the money. A Chinese milling machine like the WM18 will be considerably cheaper and leave you money to buy some tooling like a milling chuck, clamping set and a vise. A Sieg SX3 will be about the same price. If these are to small may be this will do.


Clive Foster13/06/2020 12:01:12
2978 forum posts
105 photos

Unless you already have some very specific jobs in mind I think it more illuminative to turn the "what to you want to do with this machine" question upside down and ask "what can't I do with this machine". "Can do" questions tend to rapidly concentrate on a few specifics. "Can't do" helps with the wider picture. One thing is certain. Once you have the machine you will be doing things with it you never expected to do or planned for.

If you aren't awfully careful, experienced in such choices and, frankly, a bit lucky the "can do" question may well prove to be a good way to screw up by the numbers! Despite impeccable logic. Did that with my first mill which proved to be a spectacularly wrong purchase. Second one was better but still less than ideal. Then I got a Bridgeport, which I can live with, 16 years and counting.... But I do home workshop jobs in 12 inch to the foot scale not model engineering so size matters much more to me.

Given that a Bridgeport can handle any sane job you can lift by yourself, and a few insane ones too, that's probably your best benchmark.

Being realistic the ram movement and head nod / tilt facilities are very much in the nice to have around just in case class. I've never nodded my head, have tilted it twice and moved the ram three times. But I have both tilting and titling / rotating vices along with a dual axis sine table. The Bridgeport has always had enough vertical daylight to accommodate one of those so I've little need to move the head.

Probably the major pitfall in assessing machine capability is underestimating the amount of space needed for work holding.

My Bridgeport has plenty of vertical room to take tilting devices for angled work. Smaller bench top machines don't, so if you expect to be doing angled work you need to consider what can be done with the head tilted. My second machine, a Chester supplied square column machine similar to the Warco Super Major linked to by Thor, had what appeared to be a useful tilt capability. But the table was significantly shorter than the Warco one with less travel so the job often couldn't be moved far enough to the side to accommodate the tool offset generated by the tilt. Especially with larger drills.

Rotary tables are another pitfall. My Bridgeport accommodates 10" and 12" tables easily enough giving plenty of room to clamp jobs on using the usual Tee slot devices. Smaller machines are generally limited to 8", 6" or less tables with a lot less surface area so clamping takes up disproportionately more space. An 8" table has only 2/3 rds the area of a 10" but twice the area of a 6" one. For 6" and less tables I consider a grid of tapped holes plate better than Tee slots as giving flexibility for more, albeit smaller clamps. (Mine has M6 holes in 5 spot dice pattern relative to 25 mm squares. Still comes out occasionally for teeny jobs.)

Its also important to ensure your chosen machine doesn't have features that, however illogically, just happen to drive you nuts in a "fingernails on the blackboard whilst jumping on your favourite corns" way. I seriously disliked the big rectangular head on my Chester supplied machine because it not only greatly obstructed visibility when working with short cutters but also seriously cramped setting up jobs. A longer table would have been a major help there giving space to move most jobs clear of the head.

Got to the point where I seriously considered cutting the corners off the head and turing the column sideways with a ram style mount just to get it out of the way. The back of my envelope said the useful X travel would be little reduced, albeit offset. Never underestimate the ability of frustration to drive you into over-reaction! Then I got sensible, and a redundancy payment, so a (much) bigger workshop got built.


Danny Smith 116/06/2020 23:05:35
4 forum posts

Thank you and sorry for the late reply I have been chasing milling machines everywhere but nothing yet I have also been looking at the walco and chester vmc namely doubleboost on you tube and it seems capable

I usualy work with mild steel and a little stainless from time to time I build my own motorcycle frames and bits so would need something capable I also plan on building a a small model engine but It needs to be able to handle the bigger stuff as well

The colchester wasnt one of my better choices but with a little work it turned out ok luck would have it that the variator was ok and the bed is not badly worn I had to replace the chuck all the drive belts and seals and gave the variator a service with the correct oil lucky as it could of been alot worse

Danny Smith 116/06/2020 23:07:39
4 forum posts

That was a very informative post thank you Clive

Roger Best06/07/2020 21:18:49
333 forum posts
43 photos

Sooo many variables! Clive's essay is very thoughtful, thanks.


Paul Lousick07/07/2020 00:22:26
1896 forum posts
669 photos


Edited By Paul Lousick on 07/07/2020 00:25:36

Chris Evans 607/07/2020 08:08:23
1999 forum posts

As a fellow Bridgeport user and motorcycle fettler I am in Clive's camp on this. I always had access to a Bridgeport at work and bought mine a couple of years before I retired, I could not face life without one.

Erik Werner Hansen07/07/2020 08:26:03
16 forum posts
1 photos

Hi Danny.

Congrats on your Chippie. Why not a good choice? I have yet to see an unhappy Chipmaster owner. I had to repair my variator and I am now very happy with it. Much wider useful RPM range than a VFD. Fortunately I had a new 3-jaw chuck for it and I found the correct 8 in. four-jaw in the UK. I did sell the Colchester Dixon T1 QC toolholder and bought a Multifix "A" size, raised a bit to fit well. The Chippie has a nice centre height and a size "E" Multifix is correct, but the A size can just about handle the 3 HP and is both a bit cheaper and more abundant. Being not very pro-chinese on principle, I bought a German "AXA" Multifix ( Always buy good stuff; the expense is soon forgotten, but bad quality would be an annoyance every day. But you could go for a chinese copy - they are very ok (maybe from Paulimot). About a mill, I started out with a Harrison with vertical head. Cute, but then I discovered Deckel. And I have not looked back since. I got a FP2 many years ago and this year I had to rescue a sorry FP1 also.

No room for it, but it had to be saved. Wild luxury I know, but very nice.



Edited By Erik Werner Hansen on 07/07/2020 08:27:59

Edited By Erik Werner Hansen on 07/07/2020 08:28:27

Edited By Erik Werner Hansen on 07/07/2020 08:29:23

Former Member07/07/2020 09:03:55

[This posting has been removed]

Gary Wooding07/07/2020 09:32:06
930 forum posts
235 photos

As a teenager in the 50's I remember a shop sign (outside a tailor's I seem to remember) that said 'Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten'.

old mart07/07/2020 17:53:33
3487 forum posts
213 photos

There are two basic variables, how much is the budget, and how much space do you have?

Dave Halford07/07/2020 18:01:59
1879 forum posts
22 photos
Posted by Danny Smith 1 on 16/06/2020 23:05:35:

The colchester wasnt one of my better choices but with a little work it turned out ok luck would have it that the variator was ok and the bed is not badly worn I had to replace the chuck all the drive belts and seals and gave the variator a service with the correct oil lucky as it could of been alot worse

All these are consumables Danny, read the current thread for 'alot worse'. All you did was a major service.

SillyOldDuffer07/07/2020 18:53:55
7883 forum posts
1724 photos
Posted by old mart on 07/07/2020 17:53:33:

There are two basic variables, how much is the budget, and how much space do you have?

Quite right, though I could argue there's only one basic variable, which is how much is the budget? Nothing else matters, because a big budget will buy a bigger workshop.

Danny started the thread by saying a decent Bridgeport is too expensive. I think he's limited to mills costing less than £3000 or £4000?

As I see it the major problem with quality kit is finding it in good condition at an affordable price within a reasonable timescale. A suitable machine could be months into a long hard search and it might be necessary to borrow money to buy it. No problem - starve the kids and put wifey on the game!

Opinions based on the lasting virtues of quality don't help much unless the recipient can pay the piper, and few of us are unconditionally rich. If Danny's in a hurry and short of cash he will have to compromise! I don't think there's an easy answer!


Andrew Johnston07/07/2020 19:12:02
6390 forum posts
682 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 07/07/2020 18:53:55:

I think he's limited to mills costing less than £3000 or £4000?

I paid £2k for my Bridgeport and in retrospect I paid too much. Sure it's worn, but everything works and who cares about the backlash?


Former Member07/07/2020 19:35:34

[This posting has been removed]

Bill Phinn07/07/2020 20:00:31
627 forum posts
89 photos

In comparison with me at least, you do sound lucky, Barrie.

I spent the best part of 18 months looking fairly committedly for a decent 2nd hand mill and lathe. In all that time no mill and only two lathes were promising enough and near enough for me to go and have a look at. One [a Boxford] turned out to be a bit of a dog and the other [a bigger Boxford] would have been a costly and logistical nightmare to extract from its location and get into my garage. Sellers of secondhand gear are not always willing to assist buyers much in moving their stuff, and in my case that is a big deterrent.

Erik Werner Hansen08/07/2020 08:10:46
16 forum posts
1 photos

Hi Danny.

This looks like a bargain:

Like the seller wrote: All you'll ever need. I would have loved to buy just the Vertex rotary table.



Edited By Erik Werner Hansen on 08/07/2020 08:14:16

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