In just about any machine or metalworking shop — whether it’s an industrial operation or a tiny garage — you’re going to find a milling machine. These tools use a rotary cutter to remove material from a workpiece. The working area can move on an X or Y axis, and the cutter can move vertically toward or away from the workpiece. While large industrial milling machines may rely on computers to make precise adjustments, smaller machining tools are controlled manually, usually by controlling two wheels that adjust the X and Y axes. Milling machines are used for a wide variety of applications, and they are indispensable tools in any machine shop.
Milling machines have a similar function to lathes; however, with a lathe, the workpiece is moved against a stationary set of blades. Conversely, when using a milling machine, the workpiece is held stationary and the blades move against it. The milling machines we’ve selected are all operated manually, setting them apart from CNC (computer numerical control) machines, which are more precise and advanced but far more expensive. Even so, the best milling machines still allow experienced operators to make extremely precise adjustments.
If you’re looking for a compact milling machine for your garage or shop, we’ve rounded up some of the most reliable machines that you can buy right now. Plus, many of these machines are suitable for woodworking or plastic.
1. JET JMD-18 Milling/Drilling Machine
If you’re looking for a powerful milling machine, consider this pick from JET. JET is one of the top makers of consumer woodworking and metal machinery, and this milling machine from the brand has a two-horsepower motor and a 34-inch workbench. That makes it powerful and large enough to accommodate bigger projects and tougher metal. This listing allows you to choose from a variety of accessory packages, including the stand, collet sets, and other accessory kits. Please note that the price shown below is for the machine only.
Pros: Generous 15-7/8-inch swing to accommodate larger workpieces. The machine has a built-in work lamp. Powerful two HP motor.
Cons: Stand sold separately.
2. Grizzly Industrial G0758-6″ x 20″ 3/4 HP Mill/Drill
This mini milling machine is from Grizzly. It’s compact enough for smaller workspaces without compromising on power, and it has plenty of smart features for working with different kinds of workpieces. The variable-speed spindle can reach anywhere from 50 to 2,000 RPM, and the handwheels allow you to move it along the X, Y and Z axes. The R-8 spindle makes it widely compatible with other tools.
Pros: Variable speed controls. Powerful but quiet motor. Sturdy cast iron work table.
Cons: Not as much swing as some other options.
3. WEN Benchtop Milling Machine
This compact milling machine from WEN is small enough for a benchtop, making it a great option for smaller garages and workshops. It has variable speed controls, allowing the user to have more precision. There are two speed settings, and the low setting can go from 100 to 1,000 RPM. The high setting can go up to 2,500 RPM. The 13-inch swing allows the machine to accommodate larger pieces.
Pros: Compact enough for smaller workspaces with an attractive design. Variable speed controls. Wide swing for holding pieces of varying sizes.
Cons: Collets not included.