Benchtop mills are an excellent option for CNC conversion, especially if you are a hobbyist machinist looking to hone your skills. The best benchtop mills in the market can provide you with industrial-level machining at an affordable price and smaller scale. And with the help of the right mill conversion kit, you can transform them into computerized machines that will save you time and resources.
And the best thing is once you have gotten your fair share of production from a benchtop mill, you can convert it into CNC and have an improved, helpful tool in your arsenal. Not to mention, you can also practice CNC machining with your converted benchtop mill and save a lot of time and effort that comes with manual machining.
But not all benchtop mills are made the same. There are some that work great with CNC conversion, and then there are some that are not conversion-friendly.
This blog will talk about the best benchtop mills in 2022 for CNC conversion. But before we get into it, let’s first understand what makes a mill suitable for CNC conversion.
Finding the Right Machine and the Right Mill Conversion Kit
The first thing is the weight and size of the machine. You would want a small benchtop mill, so you could quickly work around it. But don’t get something too small otherwise, the retrofitting could get complicated.
Go with an average-sized mill. Rigid and massive mills can take deeper cuts with less chattering. You would need an engine hoist to lift or move the mill.
Next up is the spindle or, more precisely, the RPM rate of the spindle. You would want to make sure the machine you are buying has a spindle speed of at least 4000-6000 RPM(ofc the spindle speed you need depends on the kind of materials you will be working on. Moreover, if you can find a machine with a belt-driven spindle, go with that as they tend to be quieter.
Lastly, you have to consider the price of the machine. Typically, a benchtop mill should cost you somewhere around $1000 to $3000.
Now that we have understood the basics of choosing the suitable machine, let’s take a look at the best benchtop mills for CNC conversion:
Klutch Mini Milling Machine
If you are looking for a machine that is pure value for your money, the Klutch Mini Milling machine should be your choice. Made of cast iron and available at attractive price points, this machine is designed for small-scale machinists and hobbyists.
The machine boasts 3.4 horsepower motors and doesn’t vibrate like its contemporaries at variable milling speed.
The best thing about the Klutch Mini Milling machine is that it allows the head and column to tilt to 45 degrees to the left and the right. This movement helps you make use of the machine in several productive ways.
The Klutch Mini Milling machine weighs 143 lbs, which is not much if you are looking for a benchtop mill for CNC conversion. Nevertheless, this machine can easily be retrofitted and transformed into a CNC as long as you avoid the deeper cuts.
Klutch Mini Milling machine is a bang for your bucks. It is sturdy, affordable, and easy to move around, making it a good alternative for CNC conversion.
Erie Tools Mini Milling Machine
The Erie Tools Mini Milling machine should be your choice if you require heavy-duty output from your mill. This machine comes with a range of unique features such as variable speed control, a forward and reverses switch, and a safety shut-off.
The machine comes with a spindle speed of 2500 RPM. The Erie Tools Mini Mill weighs 103 lbs, which is a bit lighter for a machine to be converted into CNC. Nevertheless, the sturdy structure and solid base of the machine allow it to be retrofitted according to your requirements.
One thing worth noticing here is that the machine runs on plastics gears, which might need replacement after a few years of use. You can integrate metal gears into the machine to make it last longer and perform better.
If you are looking for a machine to work on your metal DIY projects, the Erie Tools Mini Mill will not disappoint you. It comes with a multi-purpose tool that can be used for lathing, drilling, and milling.
Grizzly Industrial G8689 Mini Milling Machine
If we had to choose our favorite mini-mill producer for CNC conversion, it has to be Grizzly. Weighing around 150 lbs, the Grizzly G8689 offers stability and rigidity like no other machine in its range.
The Grizzly G8689 can chew through any task you throw at it. With up to ½” drilling, ½“ end mills, and 1” facing, this machine is made for milling even the most complicated parts. The machine also offers unique features such as variable speed control and gear drive, making it one of the most efficient machines out there.
Moreover, the Grizzly G8689 also comes with a safety shut-off switch, adjustable depth slot, fine feed head control, rubber chip guards, and two T-nuts.
Not to mention, this is also one of the most accurate milling machines in the market, beating all the other mills on the list. And since it is heavy and sturdy, converting it into CNC is relatively straightforward and easy.
Proxxon Micro Mill MF70-37110
The Proxxon Micro Mill MF70-37710 is a small mill with powerful features and capabilities. It’s an affordable mill that possesses an impressive spindle speed rate and a sturdy frame.
While it’s only ⅛ HP, the machine offers a spindle speed range between 5000 – 20000 RPM. It’s an excellent range for milling wood and aluminum.
Like the Grizzly mill on the list, the Proxxon has adjustable dovetails, making it an excellent option for DIY projects that require interlocking joints.
The MF70 only weighs around 15 lbs, which makes it one of the most portable machines on the list. But that also makes it difficult for CNC conversion. However, some manufacturers do provide mill conversion kit for the machine, and with careful assembly, you can transform it into CNC.
The frame is made out of stainless steel, which means the machine should last a few years with moderate wear and tear.
Proxxon Micro MF70 has several things going for it. It is affordable, offers the fastest spindle speed on the list, and is incredibly sturdy despite being lightweight.
If you are short on budget and want the maximum value for your money, go with the Proxxon Micro Mill MF70.
Grizzly G0704 Benchtop Mill
The Grizzly G0704 is one of the most reliable and durable mills on the list. It has long been serving small-scale machinists and hobbyists for a variety of milling tasks.
It is also lighter in weight (342 lbs) compared to other benchtop mills of this size, which makes it easier to move around. Not to mention, the lighter weight also comes in handy during the conversion process.
With its 1HP-12A motor, the Grizzly G0704 can cut through any milling task. It can tackle materials like steel, aluminum, bronze, and cast iron.
Moreover, the machine also comes with a cast-iron dovetail column, which simplifies the attachment and detachment of the head. It also smoothens the transition between low and high-positioned works.
If you are looking for a reliable milling machine that can be easily converted into CNC, you can’t go wrong with the Grizzly G0704. Not to mention, there are a lot of forums on the internet that offer detailed information about converting the G0704 into CNC. So, you can rest assured that you will have enough resources by your side when you finally decide to flip the switch.
WEN 33075 Benchtop Mill
The WEN 33075 Benchtop Mill is one of the most versatile machines on the list. With the 16-inch swing tool, you can create flat surfaces, straight holes, angled edges, slots, pockets, contours, and more. There is also an R8 taper which helps with incompatibility with a range of tools.
Powered by an 11-amp motor, the WEN 33075 provides up to ¾-inch drilling capacity, a ⅝-inch milling capacity, and a 2-inch face milling capacity.
The spindle can reach up to 200 RPM, and the best thing is that it will display the current speed on an OLED monitor for maximum control and accuracy.
The WEN 33075 is designed to give you as much flexibility and power you need in a more diminutive form. The mill is also compatible with a wide range of materials, including metal, wood, and plastic.
There is also a rubber cover to help protect the machine and minimize cleanup. The WEN 33075 offers industry-level milling capability in a robust design.
Some Important Things to Consider Before You Buy a Benchtop Mill
#1. You should look for product quality and features more than the brand
When looking to buy a milling machine, one is naturally inclined toward the big names on the market.
But is that the right approach for buying your ideal mill?
You see, it is entirely possible for the mills from leading brand names to be not optimum for your needs, and vice versa.
For instance, while most of the market-leading manufacturers live up to their name, others might be cutting corners to reduce manufacturing costs. As such, you might face issues like poor material quality, motors incapable of generating enough power, and more.
Similarly, some of the small-scale producers of milling machines aren’t capable of producing high-precision mills. So, from lower tolerances to low-end lead screws to slipshod machining, a lack of basic machining qualities is commonplace on such machines.
Then how to choose your milling machine, you might wonder?
Well, we suggest you look for features rather than the brand name. For instance, if a machine has high tolerance, powerful motors, good build quality, etc., then you should definitely consider it for your workshop.
Also, checking the milling machine for compatibility with CNC conversion kits is a prerequisite. After all, you want to convert your mill for CNC machining.
#2. Your machine should have the right balance of speed and torque
You will find information on the internet suggesting that mills with high machining speeds are apt for workshops. And even though high speed is required to machine some materials, it isn’t always the case.
In fact, what many machine enthusiasts miss out on is torque, which is as important as the speed of the spindle motor.
If there’s something you’d want to avoid the most while machining a piece, it’ll surely be the stalling of the motor. However, you risk exactly that when working on a low-torque mill machine.
And that is exactly why you should go for a mill that has not only high spindle speed but also a high torque motor.
Not to mention, machining heavy metals like steel does need high torque.
Almost every mill machinist wants to work on steel workpieces. And despite the fact that high-speed spindles can cut, drill, or shape aluminum pieces quite effectively when it comes to steel, you’ll need high torque.
#3. The size of the machine is an important factor
For a benchtop mill to be robust enough to optimally machine metals and other materials, it should have a certain size.
In recent times, small-sized desktop mills occupying the least space in a workshop have gained popularity.
Though these machines are handy when creating miniature prototypes or working on soft materials, you simply can’t use them for larger milling projects. That’s because drilling or cutting materials like steel call for great power and force, something you can’t expect from the smaller mills.
And while some of these small machines can mill softer metals like aluminum, poor machining quality is a constant on all of them.
So you should always go for a large mill with a solid build quality that can also fit into your workshop.
Such a machine, apart from providing you with the necessary machining force, will even help you mill the parts with precision.
#4. Figure out your exact requirement before deciding between horizontal and vertical mills
The poplar milling machine types are divided into two categories based on their functionality, namely horizontal and vertical mills. And the debate as to which one is more apt for modern-day mills is never-ending.
Before you decide on which mill type to buy, it’s important to understand the basics of both mills.
A horizontal mill has cutting tools positioned linearly to the work table. And that makes them ideal for long cuts like squaring or slotting a material.
Also, these mill machines have a rigid frame that allows them to undertake milling operations.
A vertical mill, at the same time, has a spindle vertical to the worktable.
A tiling spindle on vertical mills makes them suitable for machining of all kinds. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that they can perform lighter machining tasks compared to horizontal mills.
Meaning, before you choose between horizontal and vertical mills, you should definitely weigh in your exact machining requirements.
- You should consider the travel dimensions of the spindle, as more flexibility in terms of travel will allow for greater diversity in parts production.
- Go for a manufacturer that can provide machine parts and accessories in the future since you’ll need them for maintenance as your machine ages.
- When buying a used mill, it’s essential to check whether or not it can perform the required operations optimally.
Benchtop milling machines: FAQs
#1. What is a benchtop mill?
As the name suggests, a benchtop mill is one which is placed on a table and performs functions like milling and drilling.
You see, a milling machine has become synonymous with manufacturing. So it isn’t surprising why most industries and manufacturing units, notwithstanding their size, have at least one dedicated milling machine.
However, these industrial-grade mills can be too big and equally expensive for smaller workshops. And that’s where a benchtop milling machine enters the scene.
The compact-sized benchtop mills are powerful and budget-friendly, too, thus providing small machine shops with milling capability.
#2. What parts does a milling machine consist of?
While mill machines can be of various types and have different components, they all have some common parts critical to perform the basic functions. And that includes the following:
- Machine head
#3. Is it worthwhile to buy a CNC conversion kit for your benchtop mill?
A CNC milling machine offers you unmatched capacities compared to its manual counterparts. In fact, if you’re looking to produce highly precise parts, increase scalability, reduce manufacturing time, and obtain efficiency, there’s nothing close to CNC mills.
With a CNC conversion kit, you can easily and quickly convert your manual machine into a CNC milling machine.
Not to mention, CNC kits are a cost-efficient alternative to buying a fully-fledged CNC mill.
#4. How much does CNC conversion cost?
When compared to buying a brand new CNC machine, a CNC conversion project is very affordable.
The most basic component you’ll need for a CNC conversion project is a conversion kit. And that’s something you can get for as little as $700.
Further, even if you seek the services of a CNC conversion expert, you can still get your mill converted to CNC for well under $1000.
These are our choice for the best benchtop mills that can be converted into CNC. These are also some of the best mills in the market, which means you can use them for years before finally deciding to convert.
CNC conversion using mill conversion kit is one of the most affordable ways to have access to computerized machining. And with a CNC machine by your side, you can save time and effort and still improve production.
You can transform your old mills, lathes, routers, and drills using a mill conversion kit. If you are looking for CNC conversion kits, you can reach out to us.
We can help you transform your old machines into faster, more efficient, and more powerful machines. You can get your production rate and value through the roof with a CNC machine by your side.
We can also build turn-key machines for you and deliver them to your doorstep. Turn-key machines are when we buy a machine of your choice, convert it into CNC, and deliver it to your doorstep. All you have to do is turn the power on and get machining.
So, whether you need a mill conversion kit or a full-fledged converted machine, we have you sorted.