Large Milling machines vs. Mini milling machine

Apr 23, 2001
I have read with interest some of the recent post's regarding the use of these mostly non american made mini mills and have to ask the veteran knife makers why not fork out an extra fifteen hundred bucks and get a used Brideport Milling machine.?

There is simply no way you could wear one out cutting guards and slots for knives and they are ten times more accurate than anything harbor freight has to offer, not to mention why give the Red Chinese or Billionaire traders { as in traders against America } any
more of our hard earned money.

Don't want to get off on a political tiff, but i'm just curious what the veterans think.?

Steve L.
I went through this exercise several years ago and wound up buying a Sherline mill. I settled on the Sherline versus a "real" mill primarily due to the fact that it doesn't take up any floor space in the shop. When I need it I take it off the shelf and plug it in. I also considered the Taig, but decided on the Sherline since it can take standard 3/8's cutters. I've been very pleased with the little mill. I've used it for slotting guards, counterboring, flycutting, and slitting both brass and steel.

John Ownby
Biggest reason is most of us don't have an extra $1500 layin around or the room or need for a full size mill. As far as buying products made overseas, check your Delta drill press or table saw out. Guess where they're made!

Take care!! Michael

Always think of your fellow knife makers as partners in the search for the perfect blade, not as people trying to compete with you and your work!

My Web Site
Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms!!!
You simply cannot beat a full sized machine. It will do everything a small machine will do, and a whole bunch more, and it will do it ACCURATELY.
If you have the room and the $$, don't give it a second thought.

RJ Martin
The full size machine and the mini have about the same footprint but the larger machines are much heavier and rigid. The rigidity is definitely an asset.

I have a mini from Tiawan and price was not the determining factor, being able to get it down the stairs into the basement was. There was no way to hand carry a full size machine down the stairs into the basement, even in pieces.

If you can handle the weight go for the large machine, if not you will have to learn how to use the smaller machine.


I gotta pipe in and agree with the two posts above.....small mills are......well, small!! their center posts and ways and everything else are.........small......big mills are RIGID!!!!!! strong......wont flex. I think you are getting the can buy a GOOD used mill for the same price as one of those TOY mills.....but you gotta shop around and DO YOUR HOMEWORK>>>> not every big mill that comes along is the one you want~

John 1:14
Love is Stronger than Death!
Wow! This topic is exactly why I stopped by in the first place.

This thread answers a lot of my questions concerning mills. I do have another question that is related to the topic. Please excuse my ignorance concerning this tool but is a mill the tool one would use to cut a slot or channel into different components of a knife? I am unsure of whether this is a mill job, a lathe job or a router job?

[This message has been edited by Arkham_Drifter (edited 06-06-2001).]
Anyone wanting to learn more about the basic functions of lathes, milling machines, drill presses, etc. might want to check out:

"MACHINE TOOL OPERATIONS" by Krar, Oswald, and St. Amand (McGraw-Hill publications ISBN 0-07-035430-8)

It is one of the easiest to read and understand books on general metalworking machine functions. It even covers topics like layout, measuring, and safety.

Tom Anderson
Hand Crafted Knives

[This message has been edited by Tom Anderson (edited 06-06-2001).]
I'm spoiled by using NEW, NICE Bridgeports with DRO's at my full time work. After measuring the room needed for a Bridgeport (more that just the footprint) I opted for a Grizzly Mini Mill for my shop. I will probably upgrade to their small knee mill in a year or so.
After unpacking the the little mill and doing some small projects, I tore it down COMPLETELY and rebuilt it with AMERICAN grease and lubricants!!Whatever that red CRAP is all over the machine, it's NOT a lubricant. I think it's RED CHINESE COSMOLINE
I also deburred a BUNCH of parts and made some minor adjustments. Now the dials work, the play is ajusted out and I also have dial indicators on all 3 axis. The swivel base vise was a POS so I replaced that with a REALY nice german vise that I've had for years.
The little mill IS a little mill and not even CLOSE to a Bridgeport. I've made all my tooling and clamping fixtures out of aluminum and brass because it's' just easier to machine that steel. So far I've used a 3" slitting saw on a homemade arbor to slit my framelock folders. I've also made my frame drilling fixtures with it and machined some Ti. taking light cuts. Using carbide endmills with the head at 45 degrees, I mill my grip serrations in the Cobalt alloys using carbide endmills. If I MADE guards.... I'm sure it would mill 416, nickel silver and brass slots with NO problem. The variable speed motor and gearbox seem very strong and runs smooth. After I move up to a larger mill, I would probably keep the Mini Mill for doing interframes and inlays. I make the "male/female" tooling required for that at my job but have never applied it to knives yet

To wind up this long winded reply..... For me the Mini Mill has been very usefull. It has it's limitations and I find myself often thinking, if this was a Bridgeport, I would have been done by now!! Pound for pound, square foot for square foot the Mini Mill is pretty damn good.


Hand Made Knives..High Tech Materials