The first step in choosing a hobby milling machine is deciding what kind of work you will be doing with the machine. This may dictate the size and power of the machine, as well as the overall purchase cost of the unit. Once you have a good idea of what kinds of projects you plan on doing with the machine, determine your purchase budget and decide whether you will be purchasing a new hobby milling machine or a used one. Used machines will require more inspection and the machine is not likely to feature any warranty, so repair costs will be out of pocket expenses.
Research the different types of hobby milling machine models before going shopping. It is important to know the difference between a vertical machine and a horizontal one, and what each type of machine is used for. Larger materials and heavy materials are usually milled using a horizontal hobby milling machine, while smaller and lighter raw materials can be milled using a vertical machine. Most hobbyists will end up buying a vertical machine for versatility, though depending on your specific project needs, you may require a horizontal machine.
It is also a good idea to learn the difference between a turret machine and a bed machine. These two types of hobby milling machine models will essentially accomplish the same tasks, but they will do so in different manners. A turret machine features a support surface that will move vertically and horizontally to allow for accurate machining, while a bed machine will feature a support that will only move up and down. The milling bit will move in other directions instead. Most hobbyists will end up choosing a turret machine for ease of use and accuracy in cutting, though for some applications, a bed machine might be more appropriate.
Many professional milling machines feature CNC capabilities; this means the machine can be connected to a computer that can dictate the cutting path of the mill by using CNC, or computer numeric control. Most hobbyists will not require such functions, but if you will be using the machine on a daily basis and require extremely accurate cuts, you may want to consider buying a machine with CNC capabilities. Be prepared to pay a fair amount more for such models, and also be ready to dedicate more of your workspace to the machine. The CNC machine will also require more power, so check available power outlets in your shop before purchasing.