6 Best Benchtop Milling Machines of 2021 – Reviews & Buying Guide
Benchtop milling machines are tiny versions of the large, industrial milling machines you often see in large factories. This makes them perfect for DIY projects, where you need strength and precision but don’t have the room for a full-sized machine.
However, because these machines are smaller, they tend to be less powerful as well. Some are incredibly underpowered, while others are suitable for most DIY purposes. Purchasing a high-quality benchtop milling machine is essential to your success. To help you sort through all the options out there, we reviewed some of the top options on the market and wrote a complete buyer’s guide to help you choose the perfect option.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||WEN 33013 Benchtop Milling Machine||
|Best Value||Proxxon 37110 MICRO Mill||
|Premium Choice||Grizzly Industrial G0704 Mill/Drill||
|JET 350017/JMD-15 Milling/Drilling Machine||
|LittleMachineShop HiTorque Mini Mill||
The 6 Best Benchtop Milling Machines – Reviews 2021
1. WEN 33013 Benchtop Milling Machine – Best Overall
With a variable speed that goes anywhere between 100 to 1,000 revolutions per minute (RPM), the WEN 33013 Benchtop Milling Machine is designed for precision and strength. On the high setting, it can even go all the way up to 2,500 RPM. The bevel head and column turn to 45° in either direction, which allows you to make angled cuts into a variety of different materials. The cast-iron design is created to be as compact as possible while still providing the power most DIY enthusiasts need. The table also travels quite a bit. It can move over 11 inches on the x-axis and over 5 inches on the y-axis.
Plus, this milling machine has a lot of useful, minor features as well. The pre-installed drilling chuck is high quality, and you can easily fine-tune adjustments using the handwheels. The emergency stop button and transparent chuck guard are essential safety features that help reduce accidents. We also liked the 2-year warranty included with this milling machine.
The only negative is that this machine is a bit more expensive than other options. It is only really suitable for those who plan to use this machine a lot, as it is quite expensive. There are other, cheaper options on the market, which may be more suitable for your average homeowner.
2. Proxxon 37110 MICRO Mill – Best Value
For most homeowners on a budget, the Proxxon 37110 MICRO Mill is the one to get. It is the best benchtop milling machine for the money currently available. It is a bit smaller than other options, making it more suitable for smaller workshops – like those your average homeowner had. It is decently quiet and produces little vibration. These features make this machine more suitable for homeowners, especially if you’re worried about waking up the neighbors.
The low-weight and slim design make it fit easier into tighter places. However, it does not compromise performance like some other compact options. It still works quite well and is highly precise. The base is made out of cast iron, and the vertical column and compound table are both treated aluminum. It is built to last by all accounts. The handwheels allow you to adjust this machine very minutely, which allows it to be used in situations where precision is paramount.
The one major problem with this machine is that the axes aren’t extremely precise. When you adjust them, they tend to move off zero by just a little bit. For the most part, this shouldn’t be a problem for everyone. However, some people might find this extremely frustrating, especially if you’re doing things that require precision.
3. Grizzly Industrial G0704 Mill/Drill – Premium Choice
For those with a bit of extra money to spend, the Grizzly Industrial G0704 Mill/Drill may be the best option. It is one of the best options on the market, but it is costly. You are going to spend way more on it than any other option on this list. However, you do get what you pay for. Because you spend so much extra on this drill, you will get some extra features as well.
It has the same features found on many industrial mills. For example, it has a dovetail column and a variable speed 1-HP motor. These features help it perform better and accomplish more challenging jobs. It also has a variety of safety features, like a safety shut-off. These safety features are essential for preventing accidents and injuries.
The only major problem with this machine is that it is enormous. If you’re looking for a machine that rivals its industrial counterparts, it will need to be a bit larger. However, if you’re a homeowner with a small workspace, it may be a bit too large for your needs.
4. JET 350017/JMD-15 Milling/Drilling Machine
The JET 350017/JMD-15 Milling/Drilling Machine is about in the middle of the pack as far as prices go. It isn’t the most expensive, but the average homeowner will probably think twice before buying it because of the price. It is decently high-quality. It has a one-piece cast iron column for added support and a quick-slide latch to allow for fast belt adjustments. The tapered base allows you to clean up when you’re done quickly. We particularly liked the 360° head swivel and the extra-large work table. It even comes with a work lamp, so your workpiece will stay illuminated.
This machine is quite large and weighs in at 450 pounds. That is quite large as far as machines go, but it isn’t large for a machine of this caliber. Still, you should think carefully about where you’ll put it as well as how you get it there in the first place. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a big machine you can’t move!
The only bad things about this tool are relatively minor. However, most of them are obvious design flaws that the company could quickly fix, so it is a real let-down that they didn’t try to fix these issues. When you crank the left side, it rubs against the arm of the light. This moves the light around, which can be annoying.
5. LittleMachineShop HiTorque Mini Mill
We wanted to love the LittleMachineShop HiTorque Mini Mill, but we didn’t like a couple of things about it. Firstly, the product description is filled with things like “most torque in class.” However, it isn’t easy to figure out how much torque the machine has. It isn’t listed anywhere that is easy to find. There were small inconsistencies in the product description like this, which made us question the machine’s overall quality.
With that said, this machine is much lighter than other options. It weighs only 124 pounds according to the product description and has a smaller base than many other options on this list. This means that it may fit better in smaller workshops. If you’re a homeowner with a small workspace, this may be a reliable option.
The spindle lock design on this machine is also awful. It is much tighter than it needs to be, which leads to the parts becoming deformed and practically unusable. The customer service seems to be very poor as well.
6. SHOP FOX M1110 Mill and Drill
The SHOP FOX M1110 Mill and Drill is another mid-range mill. It will cost you a bit more than our top option, but you aren’t going to be paying nearly as much as some of the other options currently on the market. It has 12 different lathe speeds in all, which allows you to be more precise when milling. The motor isn’t as powerful as some other options at only ¾ HP. However, it should still be suitable for most DIY projects.
Overall, this machine seems to be significantly lower quality than other options currently available. It does not seem to last very long at the least, which means that you’ll likely be purchasing another one pretty soon. This will probably cost you quite a bit of money in the long run because of the high price. As you might imagine, purchasing two moderately-priced machines is going to cost quite a bit of money.
You will also need to repaint this mill soon after purchase, as the paint that comes with it is not high-quality in the least. Furthermore, you will need to clean and lubricate everything quickly and regularly.
As you may have gleaned from our reviews, many aspects go into choosing a good benchtop milling machine. While all these machines may look similar, they can have radically different features that can gravely affect the tool’s performance.
Because these tools are not cheap, you need to purchase only the best one for your home workshop. Below, we’ll help you sort through all the different features out there and figure out which machine is best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are benchtop milling machines good?
Yes. However, it is essential to remember that these machines are not the same as their industrial cousins. They are significantly weaker than the larger machines used in factories. So, if you need as much power as an industrial milling machine, you should probably purchase an industrial milling machine.
With that said, the average person does not need an industrial milling machine and can probably get away with one of the cheaper, smaller ones we’ve reviewed in this article. They are still suitable for a wide variety of projects. However, they are not as great for massive industrial projects as their industrial cousins.
Should I get a mill or a lathe?
A lathe machine is significantly more limited in uses than a milling machine. However, they are very good at producing cylindrical parts. On the other hand, a mill is more versatile and can be used for a wide variety of projects than a lathe. They can produce the same pieces as a lathe but may take a bit longer to do so.
In the end, which one you choose depends on which projects you plan on doing. If you’re making mostly round parts, a lathe is probably your best option. However, you may want to consider getting a mill instead if you perform a wide variety of projects.
Can you mill with a drill press?
Yes, with quite a bit of work. You can repurpose a drill press into a mill. However, it will never be quite as good as a mill and will take quite a bit of work to do the conversion. In many cases, you’re better off getting a real mill instead.
Do I need a milling machine?
Milling machines are quite expensive, so you should ensure you need one before going out and buying one. There is an excellent reason that milling machines are essential to manufacturing – they’re necessary when shaping metal parts. If you need to shape metal parts, you need this machine.
Luckily, milling machines are quite versatile so that you can use them in a wide variety of situations. While they are expensive, you do get your money’s worth for them.
Can you use a milling machine on wood?
With a little bit of extra set-up, yes. You will need something to collect the dust since wood dust is combustible. Using a milling machine on the wood is very similar to using other machines on wood. Just ensure that you have a proper dust collection system set up, and you should be golden.
There are a few features you should keep your eye out for when purchasing a milling machine. We’ll discuss some of these features below so you can choose the best option for your needs.
The more power a machine has, the better it will work and the wider variety of materials it is going to work on. You want as much power as possible. However, more power usually comes at a higher cost. Because of this, you need to consider how much power you need when choosing a machine. You don’t want to spend more on a more powerful machine when you don’t need to.
If you’re doing light projects, a ¾ HP motor will probably fit you well. However, for regular usage, you may want to invest in a 1 HP motor. It just depends on the projects you’re planning on doing as well as your budget. Lower-powered machines are not necessarily low-quality.
Range of Motion
You want the machine to move on the x- and y-axis quite a bit. This helps you place holes exactly where you need them and at a specific diameter. If the machine you choose does not have an extensive range of motion, you may get stuck with the inability to do specific projects. After all, if the machine can’t put the hole where you need the hole to go, you’re going to have a hard time finishing your project.
This is a significant feature you want to look at when choosing the right machine for you.
The durability of your machine matters. You don’t want it to break after only a few uses. These machines should last for years given how expensive they are. Look for high-quality materials list cast iron and treated aluminum. The more cast iron a machine is made out of, the strong it will likely be.
You also have to consider the internal components of the machine. This can be harder because you can’t readily see what the machine’s internal parts are made out of. For this, you will have to rely more on reviews like ours to make your decision.
When it comes to choosing a benchtop milling machine, you need to keep in mind a lot of things. Hopefully, our reviews and buyer’s guide gave you a good idea of which machine is best for your purposes.
For most people, we recommend the WEN 33013 Benchtop Milling Machine. As far as the price goes, it is about mid-range. However, it has a variable speed and is quite durable, making it a practical choice for most homeowners and professionals.
For those who are looking to spend a bit less, we recommend the Proxxon 37110 MICRO Mill. It is very inexpensive and compact. This is the best option for home DIYers who have a smaller work area.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 6 Best Benchtop Milling Machines – Reviews 2021
- Buyer’s Guide