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bench top milling machine

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jeremy hawker06/02/2022 20:10:31
1 forum posts


I am looking to purchase a bench top milling machine for a project that i am working on.

I have just had an eye watering quote for milling some slots in 15mm sq alum bar

I am new to this site so not really sure quite how this works

best wishes

jeremy hawker

Martin Connelly07/02/2022 08:14:38
2137 forum posts
222 photos

When I was still working I often had people ask the "can you just" question. Can you just make this, can you just do this? Often what seems like a small job to someone with no experience is actually a long job. If it was something that interested me then I would do it, if it didn't interest me I asked if they will pay minimum wage for my time. When they asked how long it would take I usually said 15 hours over the week-end. It tended to put people off but it was often the truth. Making one off jobs can take up a lot more time than inexperienced people realise. If you ask a business then their cost rate may be £50 per hour to pay for wages, building maintenance, consumables, insurance etc. So a simple 1 hour job would cost £50. Most of the people on this forum are working for themselves so don't consider it like a business would and a lot are retired and so have a lot of free time.

So what all this means is, was the quote eye watering to put you off? Maybe it was based on an hourly rate that is higher than you expected. Do you have experience of using a milling machine or plenty of time to learn how to use one both correctly and safely? Do you have a budget that will cover all that you will need because the actual machine is usually only part of the total cost you will incur. Are you going to be doing enough work on it to pay back the cost?

We can only give general answers to general questions, there may be very good reasons why the quoted cost was very high. Specific questions will get tailored answers.

Martin C

Tony Pratt 107/02/2022 08:35:48
1964 forum posts
12 photos

What does a garage charge per hour these days £50 - £100? Can we have more details on your slot project.


Nicholas Farr07/02/2022 08:36:25
3360 forum posts
1542 photos

Hi Jeremy, welcome to the forum. As Martin has said, a little more info is needed for anyone to advise you which machine would suite your needs, but you may find it costing more than what you have been quoted. This is one of the smallest and lowest priced machine you can get new Cobra Mill but of course you will need tooling to go with it, such as cutters and a chuck plus collets and work holding tools which will soon push your outlay up further. So unless you intend to continue to use a machine, which we hope you will, your quoted price might not be so eye watering as you think.

Regards Nick.

Paul Lousick07/02/2022 08:53:40
2043 forum posts
722 photos

Jeremy, It is worth getting a few quotes for the machining job. Costs vary and someone that already has plenty of work may increase his normal machining rate. Machining is not normally a quick operation that is done in minutes. It takes time to set up the job and tooling and they have to charge for the time taken plus overheads.

Purchasing your own mill is expensive and you have to ask yourself if it will be utilized after you finish this project. A decent mill is expensive and you can spend just as much on tooling for it.

Many machining projects also require parts that are turned on a lathe. .Many most hobbyists start with a lathe first, then get a mill. Simple milling operations can be done on a lathe but turning operations on a mill are difficult.

A photo and details of what you want done would help members here to better advise you. The size and type of projects that you want to make in the future will determine the type of mill required.

Someone on this site may be able to machine the slots for you if they lived nearby to you. (in exchange for a beer, etc)


Edited By Paul Lousick on 07/02/2022 09:01:53

Pete.08/02/2022 01:47:04
801 forum posts
241 photos

Just out of curiosity I'm interested to know what someone considers "eye watering"

A few weeks ago while selling a small machine tool, someone asked me if I could arrange delivery, I got a quote with a pallet delivery company, it was about £60, they would have had to drive a round trip of something like 250 miles to collect it, in my eyes as I was offering to arrange this profit free I thought considering fuel costs this was pretty reasonable, they told me it was too expensive.

A few weeks earlier I bought a large arbor press weighing 600kg in the south London area, I asked the seller if it would be possible to attach to a pallet so I could have it collected, they very kindly agreed, I paid for it and arranged the courier, and offered them £50 just for attaching it to the pallet, in my eyes their effort doing this saved me a long drive, decent bit of fuel money and a lot of hassle and it was the polite thing to do knowing how much hassle stuff like this is.

When I offer to do this free of charge as a favour for something I'd rather was collected and still be told it's too expensive? It gives me a lot of sympathy for people who have to deal with customers day in day out, not fully appreciating what certain things involve.

Hopper08/02/2022 05:32:18
6404 forum posts
334 photos
Posted by Pete. on 08/02/2022 01:47:04:

Just out of curiosity I'm interested to know what someone considers "eye watering"

A few weeks ago while selling a small machine tool, someone asked me if I could arrange delivery, I got a quote with a pallet delivery company, it was about £60, they would have had to drive a round trip of something like 250 miles to collect it, in my eyes as I was offering to arrange this profit free I thought considering fuel costs this was pretty reasonable, they told me it was too expensive.

You were absolutely in the right there. I just paid 30 Quid to get a Myford spindle pulley sent to me from Mytholrod UK to Australia. Getting a pallet sized machine delivered anywhere for 60 Quid is a bargain. Your customer would be lucky to cover petrol costs and lunch at a roadside cafe for that much. Let alone tire wear etc etc. There is no pleasing some people.

SillyOldDuffer08/02/2022 10:41:39
8694 forum posts
1967 photos

Welcome to the forum Jeremy. Not quite sure what you're asking but probably some combination of these:

  • How big? Unless specialising in small work, big machines are better than small ones. Slotting 15mm Aluminium isn't hard work, so a tiny machine might do for cutting a few short slots slowly, but cutting a lot of long slots quickly means a big machine. The biggest machine I'd consider 'Benchtop' weighs about 120kg: obviously needs a proper bench!
  • What's available and at what cost?
    • New: as examples of size and cost have a look at what's being offered by ArcEuro and Warco. (Other suppliers available.) ArcEuro do smaller machines, of which the biggest might be considered too much for a benchtop: the SX1LP at 50kg might suit you, about £750+delivery. Warco have a wider range but no tiny machines and most of them are bigger than 'benchtop'.
    • Second-hand. Various about, but they come up at random and in various conditions. I'll mention Tom Senior and EMCO. Don't expect them to be cheap! Home and Workshop Machinery advertise in Model Engineer Magazine and they have a Rishton VM, yours for only £3450! Much more than I would want to spend! Keep an eye on ebay,, and For Sale on this site and in the paper magazines Model Engineer and Model Engineering Workshop. "Wanted" Ads are free on the forum.
  • What accessories are needed? Probably a machine vice plus milling cutters and some way of holding them. The drill-chuck supplied with most mills is unsuitable for milling, so either an MT or R8 adaptor, or a collet chuck with collet(s) is needed. Aluminium requires a cutting fluid, but WD40 or paraffin and a small paintbrush are fine. For typical costs see the ArcEuro website, they carry a wider range of accessories than Warco and explain better if you're a newbie.
  • Books and Web Information. You might start with 'Milling for Beginners' by our very own Jason Ballamy. Lots of stuff on YouTube but be careful: a fair proportion of it is flawed. Many people are better at making videos than machining and they often unknowingly include examples of bad practice.

Don't be put off by requests for more information. It's common for beginners to start in a fog and milling is a big subject - multiple techniques and applications. First step is to clear the fog by identifying what matters and what doesn't.


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