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Why are milling machines so b****y expensive

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Wolfie02/12/2011 21:00:05
502 forum posts
OK I'm in the market for a milling machine. I'm a bit strapped for room and cash so it doesn't want to be too big. I guess I'm sniffing around the lower end of the Warco/Sieg/Chester/Clarke sort of range.
Now the lathes in that area were around £300 when I bought an Axminster some time since, that same lathe is now about £350. However equivalent (lower end of the range) mills are in the £600-£900 range. Why is this?
And how good are they? I don't want to shell out 6-700 quid to find I have a machine which will barely handle the job as I did with my mini lathe. Although admittedly it did turn up to around an inch in diameter it didn't have enough travel etc for what I wanted to do.
I was almost decided on a Warco WM14, but note that the price has gone up recently. Grrrrrr.
Anyone got a small but good mill for sale?
Tony Pratt 102/12/2011 22:15:24
1345 forum posts
5 photos
Machine tools have never been so cheap, made in China/India etc mostly by workers on low wages,crap conditions and no health and safety regs etc, I suppose like our cotton mills in victorian times. All the quality manufacturers in the west are gone so take your pick of the rest on offer!
PS. We have bought all their manufactured goods and they have all our money so whats next?
NJH02/12/2011 22:41:38
2314 forum posts
139 photos
Well Wolfie
One answer is that with a milling machine size IS everything! - In that I mean it needs to be very solidly built in order to have maximum rigidity. So the first cost factor is simply the amount of metal required.

Edited By NJH on 02/12/2011 22:42:07

Springbok03/12/2011 07:44:57
879 forum posts
34 photos
Hi Woolfie
Been to both China and India and seen the conditions in the factories and surrounding areas and the cotton mill workers were in absolute luxury. seen workers comeing in from the country on busses, no seats they had to lie, cook sleep, et all; in a small space. Warco like all others depend on the currency rate, and I am sure that david warren tries to plan his purchasing accordingly, but with the way the markets are at the moment it must be a nightmare.
Economics over I agree with NJH get the largest mill you can into the space you have.
I use my Chester626 far more than the lathe. (Warco) but again it depends on what you want to make.
Good luck whatever way you go and keep us posted.
Steve Withnell03/12/2011 10:02:12
825 forum posts
217 photos
Buy the biggest + heaviest one that will fit in the space - stretch the budget as much as you can, you will have the machine a long long time...
David Haynes03/12/2011 11:10:27
168 forum posts
26 photos
I too am in the market for a mill . After an iterative tour I seem to have settled on the Sieg X3/imperial/R8, and have tabulated the search on and discussion ensues. Also have a look at I have updated the table and will send a copy if you want. Sadly, the X3 Xmas offer at ArcEuro has sold out in the type I want and I will be paying more when new stock arrives in January.
ChrisH03/12/2011 13:41:08
923 forum posts
30 photos
Hi Wolfie,
I also nearly went with the Warco WM14, but then I found Warco were doing the 'Economy' milling machine at a special offer price of £600. I guess they were trying to get rid of old stock, the machine is not listed now! Although it has a round column it was also 3 times the weight and much bigger so I decided to take a punt, with that price it was a bit of a no-brainer really, and am very glad I did, it seems very good for the money.
Axminster (the ZX25) and Chester (Eagle 25) do very similar mill/drills, would be worth your look.
mick03/12/2011 15:50:26
398 forum posts
44 photos
I've had an Axminster mill/drill for five years, which cost under £500, I think the price is still pretty much the same today. The machine is solid, the slides are good and the fine quill feed is exceptable, but you will need some kind of digtial readout on all three axis to machine any thing accurate. The machine has done everything I've ever asked of it. Be warned conventinual milling was a five year apprenticeship, so just buying a mill without any practicial experience there might be tears before bedtime!!
John Haine03/12/2011 16:32:16
3531 forum posts
194 photos
Buy used, British. I was looking at getting a Chinese mill adapted for CMCC but managed to get an ex college Denford for a third the price. The quality is in a totally different league.
david newman 903/12/2011 17:00:28
47 forum posts
About 35 years ago I bought a S/H Mikron mill (Swiss) for £250 from the Exchange and Mart it was owned by an horologist and looked to be in good order.
Well after all this time and a fair ammount of use it still performs perfectly it is a small machine table size 15 x 5 inches, and so heavily built even the stand is cast iron and machined . It has power feeds to the table, vertical and horizontal heads. Also came with set of collets. Every surface is hand scraped and all the scraper marks still show , I just checked feed screws Max 5 thou backlash.
Wonder how many of these import machines coming in now are anywhere near this quality and still be perfect after probably 40 years. David
John Thorne03/12/2011 17:29:00
19 forum posts
9 photos
I have a Amadeal AMA 25LV which is the same as Warcos WM16 except it has a larger
motor and a No 3MT instead of a No 2 MT. I required No 3MT as all my holders were
this size as the tail stock on my lathe (Warco WMT300) is a No 3 MT. The price is lower
than the WM16. So far it has preformed very well and I have no complaints about it.
I will admit that I did purchase it with DRO's already fitted and a power feed to the table but they do offer the basic machine.
Chris Trice03/12/2011 18:33:41
1362 forum posts
9 photos
Once again it's worth emphasising you generally get what you pay for. Not paying the price upfront frequently involves paying the price afterwards. If you buy a machine with a good reputation, second hand if need be, you can feel confident that any learning curve failings are down to the operator. There is also the sheer satisfaction that comes from working with beautifully designed and manufactured machinery. It's important, in my opinion, to find the whole experience pleasurable rather than frustrating or annoying.
Mark P.04/12/2011 11:26:19
617 forum posts
8 photos
Wolfie, my advice is decide what the biggest thing is that you may want to machine,then buy one twice as big.I bought a Warco WM16 and whilst it does all I ask of ti, I wish I had bought a bigger one.remember you can do small things on a big machine you can't do big things on a small machine!
Regards Pailo.
Wolfie04/12/2011 11:52:18
502 forum posts
Very true gents but the other criteria is that I don't have a lot of room. I've already had to turn a 2nd hand one down (for £200!!) cos it was too big
David Haynes04/12/2011 12:11:26
168 forum posts
26 photos
Sorry, I posted a mill comment on another thread, but perhaps it could have gone on this one instead.
2nd hand mill for £200, what was it? A shame it was too big.
John Stevenson04/12/2011 12:18:42
5068 forum posts
3 photos
Posted by John Haine on 03/12/2011 16:32:16:
Buy used, British. I was looking at getting a Chinese mill adapted for CMCC but managed to get an ex college Denford for a third the price. The quality is in a totally different league.
Apples and oranges.
Did you compare the price of a brand new Denford over the Chinese mill ?
John S.
Terryd04/12/2011 13:07:25
1935 forum posts
179 photos
Hi Wolfie,
Here's a neat one, These come up on eBay regularly
John Stevenson04/12/2011 13:59:15
5068 forum posts
3 photos
Short table model for £500 secondhand, when a long table model brand new is only £275 ?
Sounds like a bargain <g>
John S.
Terryd04/12/2011 14:17:51
1935 forum posts
179 photos
Posted by John Stevenson on 04/12/2011 13:59:15:
Short table model for £500 secondhand, when a long table model brand new is only £275 ?
Sounds like a bargain <g>
John S.
Dunno John,
Not sure of the model, by the red paintwork I presume it's a Seig of which I know nothing, don't particularly want to either. Just pointing out that eBay is probably a better bet than asking here "if there is a miller for sale". Of course I would expect any buyer to do his research first. I assumed that was just common sense and took it for granted, thanks for clarifying though for those who don't check prices.
Clive Hartland04/12/2011 17:14:22
2630 forum posts
40 photos
Having worked on Schaublin milling machines in my working life I just checked to see if they were available, No, they have ceased trading and do not make them anymore.
They were expensive but excellent machines.
I checked some of the secondhand sites and a few came up in Switzerland but they never give the prices. One place has dozens for sale!
A Schaublin 13 mill recently sold for £1375 here in the UK.
It seems they are like hens teeth in the UK. hard to come by.
I will have to lower my sights I think.

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