Instead of directly standing on the floor, a benchtop milling machine is able to be located at the benchtop. But, even though its dimension and weight are smaller, it’s able to perform some important heavy-duty machining.
We will find them typically in the home workshop that commonly for hobbyists or small projects, not for industrial purposes. It is able to machine (mill, drill, face mill, tap mill, etc.) hard to soft metal and not a typical woodworking mill machine. Therefore, its RPM spindle is about 0 to 3000 RPM and the motor power is about 1/2 or 2 HP.
Some of them are located at the benchtop and some of them are on the stand. You could choose what you want. The stand can be purchased together with the machine. It comes with cabinets to store and organize your end mills, drills, face mill, etc.
On this page, we are going to discuss some best benchtop milling machines that we collect from the market. We also cover the guidance and other important information. Prior to this, we actually planned to compile 10 products. But during the process of selection, we end up 8 machines. The eliminated ones are considered mini milling machines and best perform for aluminum and other soft metals.
Keep in mind that this post is not based on our experience. We gather information from forums, Youtube videos, articles, and official web pages. Accuracy is not guaranteed but lots of hours are dedicated to creating this content as accurately as possible. We don’t forget to provide the links as well where you could read directly the source.
Top 8 Best Benchtop Milling Machines
1. JET JMD-18 Benchtop Milling Machine
Jet JMD 18 is our first pick of the best benchtop milling machines that can be installed in your home shop bench. This heavy-duty machine is great to use for large projects and provides greater power. Accomplishing a large job can be so enjoyable, faster, and easier.
It’s the only one that provides a 2 HP motor spindle in comparison with all machines on this list. That being said, it’s best to provide huge power and allow you to perform hard milling jobs with the most possible low speed.
Moreover, a super long 31.75″ by 9.5″ worktable will accommodate a relatively huge project in your workshop, the only one more than 30″ compared to the others on this list.
As we collect from the official website, its overall size is 47 x 40 x 51 inch which is twice fatter than Klutch. The column is also made of cast iron for greater support of rigidity. Make sure that your flooring is able to handle its weight which is 662 lbs. As it’s one phase machine, it’s suitable to be used in your home shop which typically has a residential electricity line.
DRO and Power Feed; Drawbacks
In some cases, when you get better in milling, the desire to have a fully instrumented milling machine raises. There are some upgrades that you could make. You could buy the DRO and motor power feed. The DRO benefits for better accuracy of drilling, etc. And the power feed is for controllable tablework movement so you don’t need to work hard to hand-wheel it. Even further, this Jet JMD18 is highly possible to upgrade become CNC.
The only drawback that we find is the way to change the spindle speed (RPM). You have to do it manually which may take time for some people. There you have to pop off the case that covers the motor and drive belt pulley system, then make some adjustments. For further explanation, you could read the manual on page 10. You could also watch this video.
- Suits large projects
- Great power and up to 3000 RPM speed
- Strong construction
- Manual speed spindle (RPM) change
2. Klutch Mini Benchtop Milling Machine
Klutch milling machine is the best mini benchtop milling machine that you could afford for your small home shop. The last time we observed it, surprisingly it’s priced under $1000 which is great for a starter (for your small metalworking projects).
Called as mini benchtop mill is due to its 3-5/8″ x 15-3/8″ worktable. Compared to the other machines on this page, you could easily realize its x-axis worktable length is less than 20 inches. In addition, its total dimension (20-1/2″ x 20-1/16″ x 29-15/16″) is also convincing to be placed in tight space.
Its headstock can travel 7 inches vertically up and down. But, you need to take into account the spindle and cutting tool length as well because it reduces the travel range. At least, it gives you the idea of how tall of a workpiece that can be done with this machine.
Although it is considered small, you never overlook its power. The motor provides 1/2 horsepower with settable speed from 100 to 2500 RPM which is great to accomplish some hard cutting jobs. Moreover, it’s made from cast iron so it’s helpful to support a rigid structure to reduce energy loss and provide cutting power more efficiently.
The 45 Tilt Left & Right; Automatic Turn-off; Smooth Vibration
Another thing that you should love is the ability of the column and spindle to tilt right and left up to 45 degrees. By means of this, you could run some unique projects. In addition, as we read from one of the customers, the machine can shut down itself if it reaches its limit cutting ability. This is very nice to avoid damage to the motor.
The customer also adds that it has low vibration which can be seen from the little play on the worktable during the machining. Just to recall, this machine is made of cast iron as we reviewed before. The Klutch mini milling machine is about 143 lbs weight which is not really a big deal for your home shop floor.
- Fits small space or small home shop
- Rigid construction (cast iron)
- Reliable power
- for small projects (the tablework is small)
Wanna see closer how this machine looks like? Glad to attach the video below that we took from Youtube.
3. PM-25MV Benchtop Milling Machine [Best Overall]
Looking for a big mill machine that you could purchase at a very friendly price? PM-25MV is the answer. Luckily, it only costs around $2000 at the time we saw this product which is far more friendly than Jet JMD18.
The most noticeable thing about this machine is the brushless motor which is very quiet. It is considered less noise because it generates no friction. In addition, it produces less heat as well. This is an advantage if you concern noise pollution. For long milling, it should not disturb your happy family neighborhood.
Basically, both PM-25MV and Jet JMD18 have the belt drive system to transfer the power from the motor to the spindle. If you open the cover, the motor and spindle of PM-25MV are directly belt-driven. There are only 2 pulleys. While Jet JMD-18 has 3 pulleys.
Another nice thing is its variable speed which is easily adjusted through the digital panel. Unlike the Jet JMD-18, this surely simplifies and speeds up your job without too much hassle. You could set anywhere the RPM between 50 to 2500.
Its worktable which is almost the same size as Jet JMD-18 benefits to accommodate big projects. It’s only shorter 4″ which should not a really big deal. The width of the worktable is more than 7″. There are also 3 nut slots for vice mounting. That should be enough.
CNC Conversion; Drawbacks
PM-25MV is one of our favorite best milling machines that seems very popular. We could easily find them reviewed on online forums and Youtube videos. Even further, it’s not hard to find them upgrade this machine to be CNC. So, if you plan to upgrade in the future, then this is a nice choice to go.
PM-25MV is 4″ shorter compared to Jet JMD18 in terms of Z travel. In this case, PM-25 only provides up to 13″ space between spindle and worktable. It’s not really spacious though but should be suitable. In addition, the motor only provides 1 HP which in some cases can limit your ability to cut hard metals.
- Runs quietly, less noise, less heat
- Large worktable
- Easy to change the speed spindle (RPM)
- The affordable and friendly price point
- Very suitable for CNC conversion upgrade
- Less motor power (only 1 HP)
4. PM-727M Benchtop Milling Machine
When it comes to greater features, PM-727M is the milling machine that you might be looking for. It comes with greater z-axis distance, power drawbar, quill DRO, and 90-degree tilt head mill head. Amazingly, the price is not too far away from its brother, PM-25MV, at the time we saw it.
The distance between spindle and worktable is separated by 18-1/4″ which is almost 1 inch longer than Jet JMD-18. This benefits you to machine tall parts definitely. However, its X-axis travel is only 15″ which is relatively short. Luckily, the cross table travel (Y-axis travel) is 8-1/2″ which is longer than Jet JMD-18 and PM-25MV. The overall worktable dimension is 27-1/2″ x 7-1/8″.
Quill DRO is a digital reading panel to measure depth or quill movement up and down. This is important for drilling. A 90-degree tilt mill head is awesome. Similar to Klutch but this machine tilts the mill head only. The Klutch tilts together with its column. In the case of drilling in the tilt position, it’s very possible to do, up to 90 degrees both to the right and left.
Similar PM-25MV, the column is clearly mounted with 4 bolts to the (wide) base. It creates more rigidity for better body construction that leads to more accurate metal milling. The difference is spotted on the motor. This one doesn’t run using a belt drive motor like PM-25MV, but it uses steel gears. It may sound noisier but the power is nice. Just install it in your home shop because it only requires 110 or 120 Volt outlets with 15 Amp circuit.
However, it only comes with 1 HP motor and 6 steps of speed change ranging from 115-1700 RPM. The RPM range seems short but because this mill is designed to machine metals, it should be okay. If you are trying to get a closer look, you may want to visit this forum page.
- More space between spindle and worktable; great for grilling
- Quil DRO
- More Y-axis travel
- Able to tilt the head mill
- Only 1 HP
5. Grizzly G0704 Benchtop Milling Machine with Stand
Grizzly G0704 is another popular milling machine that we frequently see the reviews on the web. If you are going to buy a type of hobbyist milling machine or use it for light-duty projects only, then this one will meet your needs.
On the panels, there are instrumented with two digital LCD screens to display the spindle RPM and spindle depth. There is a knob to change the spindle speed. And there is also a knob to select the spindle direction (left and right).
Like MP-727M, the head mill of this machine is actually tiltable up to 90 degrees. Moreover, the construction is made of cast iron, according to the manual. For rigidity, many people seem afraid because the way the column is mounted to the base is not as convincing as the way PM-25MV does. However, a user confirmed that the base of Grizzly G0704 is thick. That said, Grizzly G0704 is slightly better to machine harder metals.
Despite its lower price, there are frequent users complaining about how bad the plastic gears. The gears that connect motor and spindle could strip off. However, as we discover further, it may be caused by overuse or overload. If it works reasonably, it should be okay. Another better way is to buy metal gears. In case it goes down, you have the back-up.
- Digital RPM panel and Quill DRO
- Plastic gears
6. Shop Fox M1111 Benchtop Milling Machine
Having small to moderate machining projects to be done? Shop Fox M1111 is able to do that. Shop Fox has all you need to do for milling or drilling and even tapping. However, you need to be well-skilled, in this case, to use the mill for tapping mode.
Shop Fox M1111 and PM-25MV share several things in common. Firstly, they are using brushless DC motor which is a nice upgrade for your machine and expected to work quietly. Secondly, they are equipped with a digital RPM display screen and a digital spindle depth readout.
You could choose the best speed anywhere between 100–1750 RPM through the speed buttons. The range of 200 to 1750 RPM is designed for milling and drilling mode. While the range of 100 to 500 RPM is designed for tapping mode. Make sure to always consider the diameter of your cutting tools and the speed you are using. Read the manual to get a proper insight into the best speed to use for Titanium, Stainless steel, Steel, Hard Alloy Steel, etc.
In addition, what makes this stuff unique is the Z-axis travel wheel which is located in the front. You could turn up and down the headstock via this wheel, surely after loosening the headstock slide lock lever. It weighs 364 lbs and has a 27 x 30 x 33‐3/4 inch dimension that should be suitable to be located in your home shop.
Drawbacks: Relatively Small Worktable
Although the Z-axis travel distance of Shop Fox M1111 is better than PM-25MV and Grizzly G0704, in the case of the worktable, a 21-5/8 x 6-1/4 dimension is considered as a small one. In other words, this machine seems not designed for long parts but the typical taller parts.
- Brushless motor
- Easy to change the speed spindle through the panel
- Digital spindle depth
- Less power; only 1 HP
7. Jet JMD-15 Benchtop Milling Machine
Basically, Jet JMD15 and Jet JMD18 are the same. However, this one comes with lower specs and surely lower price range. If you like the quality of Jet milling machine products, but won’t deal with heavy-duty jobs, then this should match.
If we look at the table dimension 23″ x 7-1/2″, Jet JMD-15 suits jobs that require a wider area instead of having more length. Another thing is the 4 T-slots on there. So, you are allowed to use the wider vice. Moreover, the maximum distance between spindle and table can reach 15″. This surely gives an extra space for taller objects to get machined. It’s also able to serve 1″ drill bit, 1/2″ end mill, and 2-1/2″ face mill.
Since the machine doesn’t provide variable speed, there are only 12 speeds (in RPM) that can be used: 100, 190, 210, 260, 300, 380, 650, 720, 950, 1350, 1650, and 2160. Curious about the speed variations? You could take a look at this Youtube video at the minute of 1:02.
You have to adjust the speed spindle (RPM) in a manual way to change the speed. And there are only 9 speeds, unlike other machines with variable speed. Another drawback is the depth readout which seems odd-school and manual. Compared to Jet JMD18, this one’s depth gauge is located on the side.
- Wide worktable
- Provides longer distance between spindle and worktable
- Manual speed switch
8. Grizzly G0463 Benchtop Milling Machine
The last choice of benchtop milling machine that you may want to consider is Grizzly G0463. It comes with a 3/4 HP motor and a variable speed of 0-2000 RPM.
If we compare the worktable size and X Y Z-axis travel distance of Grizzly G0463 and Shop Fox M1111, they are at the same size. This one should suit in tight space because its size which is not big but not too small. Most importantly, it’s able to machine hard metals.
If the Shop Fox M111 is too expensive for you; more than $2000 at the time we inspected it, then you could consider this one. However, there are some absent features you could find such as lack of RPM readout panel, no depth gauge, low power motor, etc.
- Variable speed
- Able to machine metals
- Low motor power
Buying Guide Benchtop Milling Machine
In our opinion, a typical benchtop milling machine worktable should provide more than 20 inches in the length and 6 inches in the width to support at least a medium-scale project. You could still use the smaller one as you know more about your own needs.
2. Z-axis Travel Distance
The maximum distance between the spindle and the work table is important to consider. During working, you will use a vice, cutting tool, and cutting tool holder which will reduce the space. If your workpiece is too tall, surely it’s not able to get machined. For X and Y-axis travel distance, it’s also important to figure out in case of dealing with a long or wide workpiece. But it’s not as crucial as the Z travel distance.
3. Spindle Speed (RPM)
If you are going to machine hard metals, you have to slow the spindle speed. If the RPM is too high or fast, it could burn up the cutting tool and cause damage. And if you are going to deal with aluminum, add the speed. To determine what is exactly the RPM you require, you have to know the common cutting speed for the metal you are going to machining.
Cutting speed for common metals (SFPM = Surface Feet per Minute):
- mild steel: 100 SFPM
- tool steel: 70 SFPM
- cast iron: 60 SFPM
- aluminum: 250 SFPM
- brass: 300 SFPM
Afterward, you can measure the RPM you require by using this formula.
(3.82 x Cutting Speed) / diameter of cutting tool = RPM
For example, we are going to machine a cast iron using a 2-inch diameter face mill. The RPM will be…
( 3.82 x 60 ) : 2 = 114.6
However, you have to remember that the RPM you’ve just gotten is not the exact RPM you have to apply. You could also consider the depth of machining you are going to work. Since deep drilling can generate more heat, slowing down the RPM less then the calculated one is preferable.
4. Motor Power (HP)
The most recommended horsepower needed for a typical home shop milling machine is 5 HP. However, if the machine is excellently rigid, then 1-3 HP would be sufficient. The rigidity is important to prevent energy loss during the machining.
Hezz, one of CNCzone forum members, said that typical 1-3 HP Bridgeport milling machine is able to machine most metals and composites [Read what he said here].
Horsepower is a critical aspect to figure out. It is about to operate the tools you are using. You may use drills, taps, end mills, thread mills, facing mills, etc as the tools. Each tool will require certain horsepower to work properly. For example, if you are going to use a large facing mill, you require a bigger horsepower to run the tool well. On the other hand, if you’re going to use a small drill, then a small horsepower suffice to do that.
When you are dealing with heavy-duty material, you have to consider the Torque. Most benchtop milling machines are equipped with about 0.5 – 2 HP. This limited HP will require you to be aware when dealing with material that requires slower RPM (hard metals).
HP = (T x RPM) : 5252
Basically, the Horsepower is equal to the multiply of Torque and RPM.
When you have to use the slower RPM but the Torque must be sufficient to spin the cutting tool, your motor power becomes matter. If it’s only 1 HP, then the Torque can not be greater. The easiest way to have your machine works well for a wide range of metals is by choosing the larger HP (horsepower) one possible.
6. Power Requirement
A benchtop milling machine commonly comes with one phase motor that is meant to use in residence. It runs on 110 or 220 volts. While the three-phase machine requires more serious power because it’s commonly for industrial type of machines.
The one-phase mill has some advantages over the three-phase. Similarly, the three-phase mill has some benefits over the one-phase. However, simply, in terms of home shop use, then having a one-phase mill machine is decent. If you insist to use the 3-phase motor, you could end up investing a lot more money.
7. The rigidity of the Construction
The column, base, and headstock are important parts of a milling machine. If they are rigid, machining can become accurate. The rigidity can be assessed through the material that builds it. Most milling machines use cast iron and this is good. But in terms of how the base, column, and headstock get connected (mounted) is critical. The more surface area is mounted, the more rigidity it should generate. Moreover, the more bolts used to mounting, the more rigidity it should be.
8. Space Shop
When you are dealing with any milling machine, you have to consider the space where it’s located. The clearance between the machine to the floor and wall has to take into account. Moreover, the thickness of your floor shop has to be able to hold the machine weight. Even further, you need to consider noise pollution it can cause.
You have to invest a lot of time researching about benchtop milling machine before deciding to buy. Since this machine is expensive, you need to be careful in order to not waste your time and money.
It is an endless pleasure writing this post with love and passion. We have spent a lot of hours doing research, watching Youtube videos, visiting the official web pages, and reading the manual just to collect the information as accurately as possible. We also compare the product with others, check what the users experience with, how it performs, etc.
Finally, we end up with these 8 best benchtop milling machines. If you are still nowhere to decide, we highly recommend PM-25MV to pick. If it doesn’t meet you, we recommend the PM-727M because the price is not too different from PM-25MV but highly attempting. But if you need more power and a large worktable, Jet-MD18 is the best benchtop milling machine for that case.