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CNC conversation or pro made?

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Alan Kinsey15/09/2021 11:26:58
5 forum posts


Have many people successfully converted a manual mill such as my Warco WM 18 to CNC? Or would I be better of buying ready made like Denford etc? I am no electronics wizard, I want to do light motorcycle and model engineering projects in a small home workshop. CNC4YOU do kits that are quite expensive and not sure they work well. Budget 2-3k.

Zan16/09/2021 13:50:37
308 forum posts
20 photos

I covered the conversion of my sieg sx2p in ME 17 parts from 18 aug 18 To 22 nov 19. It covered problems I had with the basic machine , which we’re not difficult to fix , (the machine is very capable], mechanical conversion, adding ball screws, electronics using cnc for you components (Mostly simple point to point wiring), commissioning and examples of use

where are you based? Send me a pm if you like.


I think the problem with the Denford is the small envelope esp in the z axis. There are not many choices availiable for finished machines, I would not touch the emco machine because it has a m3 taper tarter than the R8 in the sieg. The other alternative is the tormach, 770 for a bigger machine or the 440 for something smaller. the problem with this is the cost of importing, although I understand there is a U.K. dealer being set up. I didn’t have the room for the 770, but do now alert the workshop was almost doubled in size. It takes a lot of z height when say drilling when you have sub tables and vices to consider.

Edited By Zan on 16/09/2021 14:05:00

Zan16/09/2021 13:58:25
308 forum posts
20 photos

The Warco machine was too big for me, there just wasn’t the space for it, when I converted mine but it lis also a very capable machine and significantly heavier build but many of my details could be simply modified to fit this machine but the spindle max speed is a bit on the low side, I sped mine up to 3400 and that’s only just fast enough, you tend to use smaller cutters and leave the machine on its own ( or at least that’s the theory, as they are so fascinating to watch),!

  Added.   with a 3 k budget the Warco machine is too expensive

Edited By Zan on 16/09/2021 14:06:09

JasonB16/09/2021 16:10:28
22602 forum posts
2643 photos
1 articles

If you already have the WM18 then you should be able to convert for your budget and may even have enough to dump the head for a ISO 20 quick change spindle motor which would also do away with any tram issues should the tilting head move and also make it more rigid by doing away with the quill.

The biggest issue doing it yourself will be if the mill needs to be modified to fit ball screws and nuts as you won't have a mill to do that or will have to come up with a cunning plan to do it. 

Edited By JasonB on 16/09/2021 16:19:13

John Haine16/09/2021 17:49:40
4638 forum posts
273 photos

A word in support of Denford machines. I have a Novamill and I'm very pleased with it. The eBay seller cleared it from a school without its electronics which was a blessing in disguise as I then had to build the drive system using slightly more modern electronics. The mill was just over £600 and the electronics cost me about £200 (but I'm in the business so had no qualms about building my own albeit from modules). The quality of the Denford mechanics is a great deal better than the common far east machines (but then they were a lot more expensive new!).

Yes the daylight is limited but if you aren't precious about using a vice and clamp work to the table you can get back quite a lot. Also you can get BT30 finger collets that fit direct in the taper and they liberate nearly 50mm more space. One day I'm going to get round to making a short ER16 collet chuck.

I didn't replace the steppers but that would be another worthwhile upgrade - though I haven't experienced any problems with the originals.

As Jason says one problem with converting a mill is that if you have to for example mill spaces for ball nuts and things in the slides you need the mill to do it!

The CNC4U kits look pretty good to me, I can't see why they shouldn't work perfectly fine.

terry callaghan16/09/2021 19:04:01
237 forum posts
10 photos

I converted a warco mill. It’s easy enough to do, but as stated you need a mill to remove metal from the bed. I have a Denford 2600 which I also converted to run Mach3. There is a lot of information on the internet. Maybe too much. But it can be done. I found with the Denford router that dealers asked mad prices for a Mach3 conversion. In truth even using good quality electronics it only costs £500 or under. Cheaper if using a Chinese Bob.

JasonB16/09/2021 19:36:28
22602 forum posts
2643 photos
1 articles

A few split point stub drills will save you having to worry too much when drilling if your Z height is a bit limited and holding them in an ER16 holder will again be shorter than using a drill chuck.

When it comes to holes over say 6mm dia unless they are deep you can use the CHC to bore them using a milling cutter and suitable boring toolpath which not only saves you having to have a range of larger stub drill bits but can also reduce tool changes as say a 6mm 3-flute cutter that may get used for the main adaptive clearing can also bore the holes and also do counter bores

Alan Kinsey17/09/2021 10:04:55
5 forum posts


Thanks for all your comments! At the moment I am thinking maybe purchasing a Denford Triac which seems very rear, or trying the conversion. I feel fairly confident on the mechanical side but not on the electronic’s part. Cheers Alan

Russell Eberhardt17/09/2021 19:33:26
2728 forum posts
86 photos

I too converted an SX2P mill. Build thread is on MYCNCUK forum Here:


For motor cycle work I would consider a slightly heavier machine. I've found the SX2P more than adequate for model engineering and clock making. Total cost for the machine, conversion, and software was about €1,000 but prices have gone up since.


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