Last Updated on July 3, 2023 by Charles Wilson
So you want a great and affordable milling machine but don’t have enough space at home? Don’t let that stop your workshop dreams!
You can get a benchtop milling machine instead, something powerful but compact that’s perfect for your workspace.
I’ve collected a few of my favorite mini mills for you here and what I think makes them great.
- There are several considerations to make when looking for the best mini-milling machine.
- It’s better to get a mini milling machine with a cast-iron column.
- Get a benchtop milling machine that fits your needs and has the right amount of horsepower.
Last update on 2023-09-01 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Top 7 Benchtop Milling Machines
Here are some of the best mini-milling machines you can get!
1) Best Overall – JET JMD-18 Mill/Drill Machine
- Dimensions: 42.5 x 39.75 x 43.5 inches
- Weight: 660 lbs.
- Horsepower: 2
I’m starting strong with a mini milling machine from JET, the JMD-18. This mid-range mini-mill is better for machining larger parts, especially thanks to its larger worktable.
Despite being a combination mill/drill, the JMD-18’s primarily a milling machine, but it offers flexibility in a pinch. This micro-milling machine also has variable speed control, from 15 to 3000 RPM.
It’s reassuringly heavy for a micro-milling machine, and that weight will help keep it in place while you’re working. If you don’t have a workbench sturdy enough for it, you can get a floor stand at an extra cost.
The JMD-18 also has an integrated work lamp so that you can maintain complete accuracy even in dimmer conditions.
Overall the JMD-18 is a reliable benchtop milling machine that’s sturdy and relatively easy to use regardless of your skill level.
- Solid cast-iron construction
- Larger compound table for larger workpieces
- Horsepower may be overkill
2) Best Value – Grizzly Industrial G0758-6″x20″ Mill/Drill
- Dimensions: 19.75 x 31 x 30.25 inches
- Weight: 204 lbs.
- Horsepower: 3/4
Next up, I’ve got a mini milling cutter from Grizzly, known for providing high-quality machinery. The G0758 is a “lighter” milling machine that delivers consistent quality in its cuts.
Your workpieces are safe with this benchtop milling machine, and it also comes with variable speed control that you can change depending on the material you’re working with.
It’s rated as having a drilling capacity of 1/2″ in low-carbon steel, which I could not test but wouldn’t surprise me.
However, I did find a slight issue with the G0758’s headroom. It only has about 9″ of headroom, which makes it difficult to use for some operations.
Accurate and solid but with a few design flaws, the G0758 is still a solid benchtop milling machine.
- Accurate and easily-controlled quill
- Easy to set-up
- Low amount of headroom
3) Best Budget – Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill
- Dimensions: 16.93 x 11.02 x 9.45 inches
- Weight: 18.35 lbs.
- Horsepower: 1/8
Now for the most affordable benchtop mill on this list, the Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill! This mini milling machine is an entry-level mill that’s light on your wallet and shoulders.
It’s still got a vertical column made from treated aluminum, so don’t worry about getting cheap construction materials just because the Proxxon 37110 micro mill is affordable.
The variable speed on the Proxxon micro mill goes from 5000-20,000 RPM so that it can machine a wide variety of materials.
Thanks to its size and wide range of variable speeds, the Proxxon 37110 is ideal for making jewelry and other smaller parts that need a more delicate touch.
Proxxon’s hit it out of the park with this micro mill, and I strongly recommend this if you’re a beginner on a budget.
- Very affordable
- Great for machining smaller parts
- Axes can be imprecise
4) Klutch Mini Milling Machine
- Dimensions: 20 1/2 x 20 1/16 x 29 15/16 inches
- Weight: 143 lbs.
- Horsepower: 1/2
Next is the Klutch mini mill. This benchtop mill is designed for much lighter work than some previous mills, as you can tell from its 1/2 HP.
Despite having a fairly low horsepower, Klutch has ensured that this milling machine still offers plenty of power, thanks to its variable-speed motor.
Unfortunately, it also has a fairly small amount of headstock travel, at 7 inches. It’s best to machine smaller parts on this mini-milling machine.
It’s affordable and made of high-quality cast iron, but it, unfortunately, lacks a stand, so you’ll need a sturdy workbench.
- Adjustable milling head allows for differently angled cuts
- Variable speed range of 100-2500 RPM
- A small amount of headstock travel
5) Grizzly Industrial G8689-4″x16″ Mini Milling Machine
- Dimensions: 19 x 20.5 x 30 inches
- Weight: 149 lbs.
- Horsepower: 3/4
My next benchtop milling machine is another solid device from Grizzly, the G8689. This model has fine feed head control if you need greater precision while machining.
If you’re worried about going overboard with this mill, it has adjustable depth stop control to prevent the bit from going too deep into your workpiece.
And for long days when you might forget all the proper checks, the G8689 also has a safety shut-off switch so that it’s clear when it’s on or off.
This mini milling machine has a variable speed of 0-2500 RPM, so it can machine anything from low-carbon steel to wood as needed.
Its motor blades and the rest of its construction are solid, but I saw plastic gears inside, so beware while machining!
- Comes with chip guards
- Has severable adjustable lathe speeds
- Has plastic gears inside the motor
6) WEN 33013 Variable Speed Benchtop Milling Machine
- Dimensions: 23.25 x 22 x 29.5 inches
- Weight: 130.1 lbs.
- Horsepower: 1/2
Now it’s time to talk about this single-phase milling machine from WEN. Like most mills I’ve discussed, it has a variable speed from 0-2500 RPM, but I don’t recommend using this on higher speeds.
That’s because the gears within are prone to breaking, as I was unfortunate enough to discover.
Despite having weaker engine internals, you’ll be safe while using this mini milling machine, thanks to its transparent chuck guard. You don’t need to worry about chips flying around.
You can also move the WEN 33013’s bevel head to a maximum of 45 degrees to the left and right, helping you make even more precise cuts in your workpiece.
You’ll be making everything from small engine heads to replacement tools with this milling machine.
- Great for cutting metal
- Etched ruler markings for greater precision
- Gears within break fairly easily
7) Genmitsu CNC 3018-PRO Milling Machine
- Dimensions: 15.7 x 13 x 9.4 inches
- Weight: 15.33 lbs.
- Horsepower: N/A
The Genmitsu is the only CNC mill here and is designed and priced for anyone who wants to dip into CNC milling. I should note that it’s laser-powered but designed more for engraving.
With this lightweight milling machine, you won’t be machining any large workpieces, but it’s easy to store and set up as needed.
It’s more appropriate to call the 3018-PRO a “Desktop” milling machine instead of a “benchtop” since it has a much smaller footprint.
You can upgrade it with a more powerful laser if you want to engrave tougher materials, but that will cost extra.
The 3018-PRO comes with a 3-month subscription to CAD software, but I recommend looking into a free option for practice.
- Very affordable
- The chassis resists flexing during operation
- Not ideal for tougher materials
Basics of Benchtop Milling Machines
Now that I’ve covered some of the best mini-milling machines, I’d like to go deeper into these wonderful tools.
Like their larger cousins, table top mills are found in tool and die shops and have mostly the same features as a full-sized milling machine.
As the name suggests, benchtop mills are meant to be secured on a workbench or table and used for smaller projects. Keep your workpiece secure, and your milling machine’s rotating blade will do the rest.
You can pick up a vertical or horizontal machine with larger milling machines, but benchtop mills are typically only found in vertical orientations because of their size.
A mini-milling machine, often used as a hobby milling machine, won’t be as powerful as its larger cousins.
Despite being a mainstay in assembly lines, a benchtop milling machine is meant for smaller-scale DIY projects, so don’t expect to push out pieces by the thousands!
Benchtop Milling Machines: Ultimate Buying Guide
To find the best mini-milling machine, I recommend considering a few things before buying anything.
Note that this is similar to buying a full-sized machine. The only differences are mostly the size and power constraints.
I’ll start with the biggest consideration on your mind, price! Part of finding the best benchtop milling machine is finding a machine that’ll fit your budget.
It may be tempting to get a set of cheaper tools and make do, but the added price is worth the safety and guarantee of an established and reputable product.
Get a mini mill that’ll last you for years, and don’t be tempted to cheap out. That said if a mid-range mill can cover your needs, stop at that.
Part of what makes the best mini-mill machine is its durability and construction. Since you’ll be using heavy-duty cutting tools on your mini-milling machine, it needs to be built tough.
I recommend looking for a benchtop milling machine with a treated aluminum or cast-iron base. It’s also best to ensure it has a cast-iron column too.
A cast-iron construction will ensure it can handle chatter, but don’t neglect the internals too! Before settling on a mini mill, look for video reviews covering the mill’s internals.
Even the best benchtop milling machine can’t compare to the power of an industrial mill, but you’ll still need a fairly powerful machine, even for smaller projects.
If you are using your benchtop mill a lot, I suggest getting one with a 1HP motor. However, if you’ll only use it occasionally, get a milling machine with a 3/4HP motor.
Stay within your needs, and don’t get a mini mill that’s too powerful. All that power will go to waste without use for it.
Range of Motion
A mini-milling machine is the most versatile part of any workshop. However, a large part of this versatility comes from the milling machine’s range of movement.
The best mini-milling machine should have a lot of leeway on its x-axis and y-axis. This way, you know your mini mill can produce angled edges properly.
A greater range of motion will also help you put the final touches on finicky workpieces.
The humble milling machine has come a long way, and it’s grown alongside the manufacturing industry. You no longer have to use a manual mill; you can get a CNC mill instead!
CNC milling (or Computer Numerical Programming) relies on computer-aided manufacturing to make extremely precise cuts instead of a human operator who controls the cutter themselves.
While CNC mills are ideal for large-scale operations, you can make do with a manual mill if you’re a hobbyist.
A beginner’s mini mill won’t need too many bells and whistles, but you should ensure that your milling machine has available spare parts in your area.
Remember that extra features like powered assisted tables or other cutting tools will mean a bigger price tag, so ensure that your projects will need these features before springing for them.
If you are machining metals on your benchtop mill, ensure that your cutting tools are either made from hardened steel or high-speed steel for longevity.
What Are Benchtop Milling Machines Used For?
Unlike larger milling machines, a mini mill is primarily meant for DIY projects instead of large-scale operations.
If required, it can produce slots, create flat surfaces, or straight holes in a workpiece. A mini mill is a hobbyist’s best friend since they’re versatile and can machine various materials.
Weekend warriors and aspiring handymen will be served well with a mini mill for their projects, like making replacement metal chess pieces.
The mini-milling machine is more affordable than their industrial-size cousins, but they trade size for power and durability. You won’t be machining large orders with mini-mills.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Learn more about the best mini-milling machine here!
Should I Get a Mill or a Lathe?
Unless you have the budget, I recommend sticking to one instead of getting two moderately priced machines. So it’s time to pick: Mill or lathe?
In practical terms, a lathe would be better if you’re just starting out. That’s because you can mill on a lathe but can’t turn on a mill.
Remember to consider the projects you’ll be making and your current needs. You can upgrade later as needed.
Can You Mill With a Drill Press?
Sometimes the axes on a drill press aren’t enough, and you want to use it as a milling machine. Unfortunately, you shouldn’t try this.
Milling with a drill press isn’t recommended because this machine isn’t designed to handle the same kind of pressure and loads as other machines like lathes and mills.
In the best-case scenario, your workpiece will have some serious chatter marks. At worse, you’ll prematurely damage your machine’s bearings.
Can You Use a Milling Machine on Wood?
A mini mill machine is also useful if you have any woodworking tasks or need to machine soft materials.
You can use a benchtop mill to work different materials, and most people think of “different materials” as metals like steel or aluminum. However, it’s fine to machine wood too.
However, please remember to be careful when milling materials like wood. Adjust your machine as necessary.
Recap of Winner Picks
Here’s a refresher on my picks for the best mini mills!
Budget Pick – Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill
The Proxxon 37110 is lightweight, precise, and won’t put a hole in your pocket. It’s perfect for beginners and pros alike!
Best Value – Grizzly Industrial G0758 Mill/Drill
Beware of its low headroom, but know that your workpieces are safe and won’t topple over with this benchtop milling machine!
Best Overall – JET JMD-18 Mill/Drill Machine
The JET JMD-18 Mill/Drill machine is the best benchtop milling machine. It’s wide, sturdy, and great for machining larger workpieces.
And that’s a wrap on the best benchtop milling machines! Hopefully, you’ve found a new addition to your machine collection and are ready to start working on more projects.
Before buying a new benchtop mill, remember to consider what kind of materials you’ll be machining and whether you need any extra features it comes with.
I recommend the JET JMD-18, but you may not need the horsepower of this milling machine, so consider your options carefully!