TLDR; The Grizzly G0758Z – 6″ x 20″ 3/4 HP Mill/Drill is the best choice if you have the space for it since it will allow you to work on larger projects. The Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill MF 70 is a good alternative if you want to learn or if your projects are smaller.
If you’re building things, you’ll need to drill good, straight holes sooner rather than later. For jobs that require precision, a hand drill is not stable enough, unless you have a really steady hand. The most common way to solve this problem is by adding a drill press to your workshop.
A mill is similar to a drill press, but has a lot more capabilities. The drill press can only make holes vertically in a surface (which is the most common thing you’ll need), but the mill can cut with the side of tools to create grooves, and can make holes at angles since it moves on 3 axis instead of only the vertical axis. Mills are more expensive than drill presses of a similar size since they are more complex, but it’s worth buying one if you only want to add one machine to your workshop and want to maximize the what you are able to do machining-wise.
Mills hold various tools to cut through the parts you’re working on. Most mills comes with a few cutting tools, but you’ll most likely need to purchase additional ones depending on the work you’re looking to do. You’ll also need a variety of clamps to help secure your work.
Also, all mills also comes with a work table that can move the work on the x and y axis (the tool of the machine itself being the z axis). The size of the table will influence the size of the part you’ll be able to work on.
In this article, we’ll review the best mini mills available to a hobbyist:
- Erie Tools Variable Speed Mini Milling Machine
- Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill MF 70
- JET JMD-18 350018 230-Volt 1 Phase Milling/Drilling Machine
- Grizzly G0758Z – 6″ x 20″ 3/4 HP Mill/Drill
Mills are no more dangerous than a drill if you handle them properly, but you should still use common sense while using one :
- Secure the piece you’re working on to make sure it doesn’t more around and hit you (this will also help with the quality of your work).
- Make sure the machine is on a strong, stable surface so it doesn’t shake or fall off, or purchase a stand when available for your machine of choice. Even the smallest mill reviewed here weight 16 pounds with nothing on it (the biggest one being at around 740 pounds!).
- No hanging sleeves, jewelry or untied hair that can get stuck in the spindle, and not sticking your fingers too close to rotating knives either.
- Security glasses cannot hurt either since bits of oily hot metal will fly around.
- Shut off the machine when you’re doing adjustments and be careful while handling sharp tools (they’ll also be hot if you’ve just used them).
Best mini mills reviews
Best micro mill for learning and tiny projects: Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill MF 70
The Proxxon MF 70 is called a micro mill since it’s so small; mini mills having a motor that’s around or over 0.5 HP while this mill has a motor of only 0.125 HP (100W).
It looks cute, but it’s not a toy: it has the same features as the biggest mills, and it’s accurate enough for electronics, jewelry, modeling and other small odds and ends. You should avoid harder metals, but soft metals like aluminum and brass will work just fine.
The table is 7.875 X 2.75 inches, and the base is also heavy enough so it doesn’t move around or shake while operating.
All in all, this compact mill is great if you only need to work on small projects and are looking to replace your Dremel with something more precise.
Best budget mini mill: Erie Tools Variable Speed Mini Milling Machine
This Erie Tools machine is more of a micro than a mini mill since its motor is only .2 HP (150 W). It’s 50% more power than the Proxxon micro mill, and the table is a lot bigger too at 9.45 X 5.70 inches.
Since it’s higher than the Proxxon, it’s not as stable and will need to be bolted down to a table to be stable.
It’s still a good hobby mill and will help you on a variety of projects, but it’s still pretty small as far as mill goes. It’s a good compromise if your space is limited. It’s still not a powerhouse and is mostly for soft metals.
Best all-around mini mill : Grizzly G0758Z – 6″ x 20″ 3/4 HP Mill/Drill
The Grizzly G0758Z is a more serious milling machine with a 0.75HP (600W) motor and advanced features, such as a digital display (DRO) for spindle speed and depth. It uses standard 110V wall power at 10A, which is pretty much the maximum power you can go with this kind of machine without having access to 220V power.
It has a large table compared to the previous models at 5.75 X 19.75 inches, allowing you to work on pretty large parts. It also includes a shifter knob to gear down the machine for more toque at low speed for harder metals. What will limit you the most is that the z dimension (distance from the spindle to the table) is a bit short at 8 5/8 inches once you add in some vises or other tools.
It’s overall a good choice for your workshop if you’re working for a mill with many advanced features, and that will handle a large variety of jobs and metals.
Best heavy-duty mill for large projects: JET JMD-18 350018 230-Volt 1 Phase Milling/Drilling Machine
The JET JMD-18 is meant for the serious machinist who needs a powerful and flexible machine that can mill anything from wood to steel and even ceramic. It has a very large table at 9.5 x 31.75 inches and the machine is heavy so it won’t shake or flex while in operation.
It also has nice “quality of life” features with an integrated work lamp and easy to read dials. Unfortunately the digital display (DRO) doesn’t come with the machine, but it can be purchased separately.
All that power comes at a price: the powerful 2 HP (1500W) motor requires a 240V power outlet or a 120V outlet at 30A, which not everybody will have access to. It also weights an impressive 740 pounds (compared with about 200 pounds for the Grizzly above); you’re probably better off purchasing the optional stand and choose in advance where it will live in your garage: you won’t move it very often…
Wrapping up and recommendations
The Grizzly G0758Z – 6″ x 20″ 3/4 HP Mill/Drill is the best mini mill if you have the place for it and think you’ll need to work on fairly big parts. It doesn’t do everything and the distance from the spindle to the table will limit you a bit, but it will still allow you to work with a variety of metals and a lot of cool features are available such as the digital display.
The Proxxon 37110 Micro Mill MF 70 is a good alternative for limited space and small projects, or as a first mill if you want to get started without having to find a place for a huge machine right away.