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How Do I Choose the Best Home Milling Machine?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Before going shopping for a home milling machine, it is a wise decision to determine what kind of projects you are likely to use the machine for. This will often dictate the size of the home milling machine you will need, as well as the added features. Consider, too, where you will put the machine in your workshop; benchtop milling machines are convenient for smaller spaces, but they may not be able to handle larger jobs or jobs that require milling of harder materials. Consider, too, whether you want to save money by buying a used machine, or if you are in the market for a new machine.

One of the biggest considerations when purchasing a home milling machine is whether you will need a machine that is CNC compatible. CNC stands for computer numeric control, and such machines are operated by a computer that can create milled products designed to very tight specifications. Such a setup is likely to cost much more than other types of machines, and a home milling machine with CNC capabilities will take up more space in your shop as well. If you are in the market for a CNC-capable machine, be sure to choose one that is easy to set up and control, and one that will handle the size and type of jobs you are likely to do on a regular basis.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

Hobbyists often do not need a large machine or a CNC machine; instead, a compact machine that is lightweight and easy to move or store is a viable option. Smaller machines are likely to be turret models, in which the bed that supports the materials being machined will move up and down as well as side to side to allow for accurate cuts. This is a versatile machine, but only materials of a certain size will be able to be cut with such a design. Larger projects will require a bed model, on which the support only moves up and down; the milling bit will instead move in several directions to accomplish the cutting.

You will need to choose between a vertical home milling machine and a horizontal one. For most die cutting work, a vertical machine will work well, though much larger pieces will often require a horizontal mill. If you plan on routinely working with large or heavy raw materials, consider a horizontal machine; otherwise, choose a vertical milling machine.

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