By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Allendale Jan 24th

Which Milling machine and what is its footprint?

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Roger Best01/07/2020 19:21:26
333 forum posts
43 photos

Hi folks

In persuit of my dream I am building a robust bench, upon which I would like to put a milling machine. However the room is only 1200 across, so a bench 500mm deep would be big enough for the space.

Looking at the likely candidates, it seems they have a significant distance between the front feet and the rearmost plane of the machine (i.e. against the wall). Some won't fit.

I don't need a big machine, I love small engines like GE Mercers and 3 1/2" Tiches, so I don't need to make big items, but a decent bed to fit chassis rails and stuff on would help.

I would like a DRO or three. It is possible to put it elsewhere but I would prefer not to.

Which is a good buy, why, and how deep a bench is required?

Roger Best01/07/2020 22:18:01
333 forum posts
43 photos

smiley Just found Derek Cottiss's thread - great!

Next numpty question - how important is it to be able to tip the head, I am thinking about drilling awkward steam channels, is a tilting table just easier?

Obviously this is a differentiator between Sieg and Warco models. I am torn between the big and expensive Axminster 2.7 or the WM14 or WM16,

Roger Best01/07/2020 22:30:20
333 forum posts
43 photos

...and Dave Whipp's


Roger Best01/07/2020 22:40:03
333 forum posts
43 photos

Roger Benson - ta

Bazyle02/07/2020 00:18:50
6168 forum posts
222 photos

My Warco minor mill drill fits on a 2x2 bench. They don't stock them anymore just the bigger Major but the equivalents from several importers appear on ebay every week. Perfectly adequate for small work though people like to moan about round column mills. Tilting head is just another thing to go out of true. Tilting vice is dead cheap.

JasonB02/07/2020 07:07:36
21967 forum posts
2531 photos
1 articles

For steam passages I'd just tilt the work.

Brian H02/07/2020 07:48:43
2288 forum posts
112 photos

Agree with Bayzyle and Jason, better to leave the head dead square and use a tilting vice or even a vertical rotating table.


Journeyman02/07/2020 08:51:46
1107 forum posts
219 photos

This is my WM14 standing on a home built bench 520mm deep. There is about 110mm between the rear of the column and the wall but only 75mm from the chip tray to the wall.


Of course the main thing to allow for is the width. The table is only 400mm wide but needs at least 800mm to allow for full travel and the handle. For more info have a look at Journeyman's Workshop. There are a few pages on mills and benches there. Out of interest I trammed the tilting head true when I first got the mill and have never moved it since, as others have said it is much easier to tilt the work.


not done it yet02/07/2020 10:01:44
6504 forum posts
20 photos

It is easy to discount a machine that is ‘out of stock’. Possibly the next consignment may be more expensive? That may apply to the Axminster 2.7.

Maybe compare with Arceurotrade equivalent? Actual specifications may be different.

I note the new WM14 has a wider table, so likely needs almost 1000mm for easy full x axis travel (330mm). Width of machine is given as 600mm, then there is table travel and hand space.

Is your workshop a walk-through corridor or could you be better placing the mill at the end?

old mart02/07/2020 12:59:20
3487 forum posts
213 photos

ARC provide the footprints of all their machines, try their site.

Clive Foster02/07/2020 14:03:05
2978 forum posts
105 photos

When judging space needed don't forget you need room to turn the handles. I replaced the fixed handle hand wheels on my square column Chester Lux style machine with the folding handle variety. Made life that bit easier. Especially the Y and left hand X one where "think thin" was much more comfortable than getting jabbed every time I went past.

Tilting the work burns up vertical space, tilting the head burns up horizontal travel. Especially with smaller machines the length of tool and toolholder can seriously limit the useful tilt angle before the working end of the tool ends up so far to one side that there isn't room on the table to secure the job. Even the 49" long table on my Bridgeport isn't immune from such issues. OK my jobs are bigger but tools are largely the same size.

Hint for Neil.

How about a series covering, with plenty of illustrations, drawn rather than photos, the work & tooling space issues with typical smaller mills. Basically clearly showing how much room is needed to accommodate tools, vices, workholders et al and the methods used by experienced folk to fit things in. Some indication of the sizes of jobs that can easily be handled would probably be useful along with the matching types / size of models too.

My ab-initio experiences were with a Bridgeport, space was not generally an issue. The first home shop machine I got was "way, way too small" rather than "a bit on the small size" as expected because I'd not thought about tooling length and work holder space. Second one made it to the "too small but I can usually find a way to manage" status. Overjoyed to get back to a Bridgeport when the new, big, workshop got done. How you guys with normal ME machines rather than ex-industrial sizes manage amazes me.


Roger Best02/07/2020 17:01:10
333 forum posts
43 photos

Hi chaps, thanks for all your replies.

You have me persuaded on tilting, I won't worry either way.

Interesting to see that the small Warco base is so much smaller than its listed footprint Journeyman- the handle obviously sticks out a long way. That's why I asked, they all have a smaller base than the outside dimension across the handle.

The folding handle tip is very pertinent Clive, ta.

My workshop is a corridor Not done it yet, or more precisely a side alley, with bedroom four extended above. I could put a machine at the end but would have to get my bicycle past it, an even worse problem than having it on the bench. There is a door at either end and the bike end is a good size and swings out, but the other swings into the work space and has to miss the bench. So all in all plan A is the best one. The bench will be over 2m long, so plenty of traverse space, I just have to get a machine that does the job, fits and will last to repay the investment.

JasonB02/07/2020 18:23:56
21967 forum posts
2531 photos
1 articles

Is that a very over width wooden door or is you space more like 1000mm wide?

Roger Best03/07/2020 17:43:54
333 forum posts
43 photos
Posted by JasonB on 02/07/2020 18:23:56:

Is that a very over width wooden door or is you space more like 1000mm wide?

Its a massive door, its over-height too. The door was over £2k and there is another grand of stainless in the wall to avoid having a return in the wall, but it will last me out and I can get anything in or out, so that's fine.

When I sell the place I will advertise this as a motorbike garage, I am not sure if "small traction engine garage" has a significant Market. laugh

Stuart Smith 504/07/2020 00:07:02
259 forum posts
29 photos

I have my Warco WM16 on a wooden bench 550mm deep. The chip tray is 50mm from the wall and is 480mm deep. This is about as close as you can put it to the wall so that you can turn the column handle without your knuckles hitting the wall. The y axis handle protrudes about 100mm in front of the chip tray. The mill x axis table is 700mm wide and 930mm wide across the x axis handles plus you need extra space each side for the x axis travel. (About 200mm each side).

Hope this info is useful.

I bought it secondhand and am pleased with it.


Roger Best04/07/2020 12:57:51
333 forum posts
43 photos

Thanks Stuart - it looks like a '16 would be appropriate and a bigger machine would need plan B. indecision


Edited By Roger Best on 04/07/2020 12:58:58

Roger Best04/07/2020 21:07:06
333 forum posts
43 photos

I just spend ages measuring and thinking and checking dimensions and thinking. Its amazing how poor I am at making a decision considering I have been on this since 2004.

I then spend ages typing this post, hit the wrong button and it all disappeared. angry

I have managed to up-load some pictures. The mahogany came out of a skip about 20 years ago when a previous employer ripped out some office partitions that probably dated from the 1950s. When we moved from Gateshead to Hampshire it came too. The time and trouble of bridging across the metal drawers is fine by me as the draws are lovely and the vendors didn't know what load they could take. I have a 18" x 24" surface plate to fit on as well as a heavy vice and prospective machine tool.


The gap in the foreground will have a fume cupboard, so what you see is the bench, about 2m long.

Roger Best04/07/2020 21:12:58
333 forum posts
43 photos


The other end is dominated by my WW2 South Bend Heavy 10 with taper turning attachment. It sticks out 27", 690mm, so well in the way for getting past.


Roger Best04/07/2020 21:26:58
333 forum posts
43 photos


The little lathe is a Drummond M-type, presumably coming up for its 100th birthday. Its a cracking hobby lathe, nominally 3 1/2" it has a good gap bed, a whopping 9" face plate and loads of bits I have yet to sort out.

Obviously I don't need two lathes, but this one has waited 20 years for some TLC and I do like it.

It was sold to me by a gent who became a mentor and close friend to my brother, he lived just off, Maidstone Road, Rainham Kent, so someone might know him. He died many years ago, a great loss to my brother.


Roger Best04/07/2020 22:38:03
333 forum posts
43 photos


So back to the problem in hand -

I have been graciously told that the WM 14 machines are fine on a 500 bench. The metal drawers are actually 18" 460mm deep, but I think I can steal a little room.

The VM16 is a bit bigger and needs at least 500, plus sticks out a good bit, so perhaps it is the practical limit of this bench design.

The Axminster SX2.7 is illustrated mounted flush on a 515mm table top, so I suspect that it, and its SIEG brothers need a bit more space than I have. They are 30mm deeper than the VM16 and probably would need plan B - to take the space used by the Drummond - unless I do something special.

SX3 variants seem to have the same base as the SX2.7, and the VM 18 is getting big too.

The Drummond is no micro- lathe, it is about 42" 1070mm long, so takes up a lot of bench. However it is not going to be working soon, so perhaps its best place is on the back of the bench stripped down for restoration. angel

That would leave me with a space of 1.4m, 55" between the South Bend and the door for a second bench on which I could put a milling machine. So I haven't made a decision at all.


Actually I have - I will build this bench around 490-500 deep, checking the crush gap between the bench and door. Whichever milling machine I get will go where it fits.

So on the basis that I don't want to have to upgrade in the future, I want good quality, I want to buy new, rather than fix up an old machine, I will be keeping to the smaller end of the model engineering, 3 1/2" gauge rail and probably 2" or smaller 3" scale traction engines, what machine should I get?? laugh

Thanks for all of your advice.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Support Our Partners
Eccentric July 5 2018
walker midge
JD Metals
rapid Direct
Eccentric Engineering
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest