Which one would you choose?

DPittman

Ultra Member
Premium Member

historicalarms

Ultra Member
Personally, the direct drive King version wins hand down for me..no belt speed changes!!!
Having said that, you mention "rigidity" as a factor in your decision, if you plan on using your mill to "commercial standards" of cutting speeds & cutting depth then I concur that rigidity must be the overruling factor, however, as someone that has used a column mill-drill for 20 years, less aggressive usage, while time consuming, can result in some very accurate results.
With either machine , a power feed added to the long table traverse is essential tooling.
 

Tom Kitta

Ultra Member
Is option of neither available? Both are overpriced machines. For $6000 you can get a great used machine - an actual clone of a BP that will put both of these to shame few times over.

If you absolutely need to have a new machine, we have here competition between a smaller newer King bed mill and a quite larger mini knee BP with old design (both knee and belts are old). BB machine should be a bit more rigid due to size - not sure whatever difference is enough to matter much.

Your choice is determined by your available space, what work will you be doing, do you mind belt speed changes (does it even matter if you say will be using same cutter size / type for example?).

If I had to pick for my purposes, a manual only machine I would go with the biggest machine I can get - however, again I would never buy a new machine for that $$$ when I can get far better deal in excellent condition BP clone mills. I also forgot what changing belts is - I think I had a drill press with a belt change few years ago. My dad is getting a small Rusnok mill that has very fast belt change for speeds up to 6000 rpm (5000 on 50Hz).
 

DPittman

Ultra Member
Premium Member
Is option of neither available? Both are overpriced machines. For $6000 you can get a great used machine - an actual clone of a BP that will put both of these to shame few times over.

If you absolutely need to have a new machine, we have here competition between a smaller newer King bed mill and a quite larger mini knee BP with old design (both knee and belts are old). BB machine should be a bit more rigid due to size - not sure whatever difference is enough to matter much.

Your choice is determined by your available space, what work will you be doing, do you mind belt speed changes (does it even matter if you say will be using same cutter size / type for example?).

If I had to pick for my purposes, a manual only machine I would go with the biggest machine I can get - however, again I would never buy a new machine for that $$$ when I can get far better deal in excellent condition BP clone mills. I also forgot what changing belts is - I think I had a drill press with a belt change few years ago. My dad is getting a small Rusnok mill that has very fast belt change for speeds up to 6000 rpm (5000 on 50Hz).
Well its a slippery slope....first I figured I would only spend $3500 on a machine but then if I spent $5000 then I get more! Then you say for $6000 its so much better!!!
I'm a bit leary about buying an old large knee mill because I don't think I know enough about them to know a bad one from a good one unless it was really obvious. Room is a major consideration and that is one thing I like about the king machine i think i could have a storage cabinet underneath it. I can't run 3 phase high voltage machine in my shop.
I am just a hobbyist but even at that I appreciate rigidity and strength. And yes, "option of neither" is available and the option of nothing is likely.
 

Tom Kitta

Ultra Member
Well, depending on what is available 5000 for a BP clone is possible. Can you run 240V single phase? How many amps you have available?

If size is an issue then get what fits - certainly you cannot magically shrink a BP - would you want to anyways - you pay for size.

I would say buying decent sized BP used is easier then a lathe.
 

YotaBota

Mike
Premium Member
Another one is from Harbor Freight, a smaller knee mill but if you need to stay in the $3,500 bracket this may work. By the time you pay exchange, taxes, duty and travel it would be close to $3,500.
https://www.harborfreight.com/vertical-milling-machine-40939.html?_br_psugg_q=milling+machine
Kallispell has a HF outlet that could be done it as a day trip for you.
I waited for a smaller knee mill to come available and have no regrets, mine is a 1995 version of the KBC VM-22.
Does the gearhead mill have steel or plastic gears? If the gears are plastic I would walk or have spares on hand. The kneemill has better speed ranges and I don't mind the belt for speed changes as my time is my own.
About the best you can do is set your price and get the most for your money that will fit your needs. If you have time to wait for a mill to come to you all the better.
My $.02
Oh, and if you do spend $3500 on a new machine by the time you finish tooling it you could be at $6k where as an older machine will most likely come with a bunch of tooling.
Good luck in the hunt.
Mike
 

DPittman

Ultra Member
Premium Member
I sure appreciate all the great advice.
Its particularly good advice on this forum as one can get a good scope of experience and knowledge. Its not just professional guys that know nothing but the best.
Confident decisions would be so much easy to make if money wasn't an issue eh but really who has that luxury ? I mean even for the fellow who might be considering $35000 on a milling machine is probably trying to decide if he should be spending only $15000 instead, while he's being told by experienced people that for $40000 he will get x and x valuable features.
 

kevin.decelles

Jack of all trades -- Master of none
Premium Member
To answer your question as asked, with only those two options, I take the BB knee mill. Reason: Rigidity, higher RPM available, VFD ready, parts available via Grizzly, less points of failure (gear head) and I like me a knee mill.

But not for that money, you can get that for 25-40% of that price, and more machine for 50-70%, but it depends on where you are. The time to buy a machine is when you see it (speaking of the used/auction market) -- noodling on the decision will lose you the machine (likely to one of these bandits on this forum! :)). I'd make a simple list of features and rank/prioritize them. You'll never likely find the 'perfect' machine. Make sure you have on this list: Power-supply, how/who to move this, where to source parts to fix it.

I own the Busy Bee version of the Harbor Freight one that @YotaBota linked to. It is the classic 6x26 knee mill, they are probably all made in the same 3 factories. The parts are nearly identical across the board. I picked mine up for 2K (which is still high given what you CAN wait for in the used market) but it still had the packing grease on all the parts -- maybe 3-5 hours on the machine. I love this machine, and use it a lot.

I have a another mill now (9x39) and even that won't handle some larger projects (engine blocks etc). No matter what you have, either you will want bigger (5% of the time) or smaller (5% of the time).

What do you see yourself using this for on 75% of the time? (the other 25% will require someone else's machine (bigger/smaller)?

What if you could have 75% of your ideal machine...........and a used shaper or tool cutter-grinder. For 6K i'd try and get 2 or 3 machines!
 

Dabbler

(John)
Everything kevin said is said way better than I could have said it and I agree 100%. I had a Busy Bee knee mill as my first mill (they were a lot cheaper in those days).

yes, I have moved 'up' to bigger machines because 75% of my work is larger stuff. What I learned is there is joy in using a well built, sturdy, smooth machine - a really well built machine feels kinda right: gibbs feels smooth end to end, the machine doesn't rattle, etc.

An expert can make any mill do good work. For a beginner, it is easier to learn on and more satisfying to use a heavier machine that is a lot more forgiving. A few years ago I found a brand new Taiwanese made 10X50 mill with DRO on it for 5K$, sitting in a warehouse, unused, with a small amount of rust on it from sitting so long. I happened to buy my 9X49 mill that month, so I wasn't in that market, but finds like this can be had if you work at it.

The search for a good machine becomes a hobby in itself, in order to get a great machine at a good price. But when you do, you need the cash at hand or you'll miss it.
 

Tom Kitta

Ultra Member
It will be hard to find a good machine for a very low price - its more of a lucky moment. It does happen - but once every few years.

One has to have a feeling of whatever something is a great deal or not & get that even if it is not their ideal machine - which may never be on sale. For example if you can get a 3500 lbs horizontal with tooling for say just $1000 - its a great deal - get that. Then if another great deal comes along, say a small shaper for another 1000 - get that. Then say an old lathe for say 500 - get that. Then maybe a smaller good lathe for a 1000 - get that.

This way out of a budget of $5000 you can get many machines. You may start to like them or trade them for something else.

Many people, including me, started with new machines - found out that is a quick way to go bankrupt unless you are an MD or recent lottery winner.

On the other hand if you were a business - getting new is frequently the way to go. You need a machine to start working now not waiting for a great deal. You cannot afford to "fix" small issues with it. A new machine may pay for itself in just few months or even weeks. This is why old CNC machines frequently go for touch more then scrap value.

Also there is something like ideal size - for example my main mill is 52x10 and I do think it is perfect size - going smaller would not really decrease footprint much - not worth it. Going bigger would mean quite massive. A 16" swing lathe is usually the biggest a hobbyist or even repair shop would want - anything bigger and you do need a crane for even the chuck - id addition to parts. However, the point is, that in my opinion you should, if you don't have unlimited budget, get close to that ideal for cheap.
 

kevin.decelles

Jack of all trades -- Master of none
Premium Member
I’ll buy new if I think an upgrade is unlikely. (Bought lathe new, welder etc). — but will buy used if utilization will be low or if likelihood of upgrade is high (mill)

Given current climate, I’m repurposing lots of things to avoid cash outlay. 5 years of steel, oil and electronics salvage paying off!

P.s. everything I own is for sale at the right price [emoji16]


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

Tom Kitta

Ultra Member
Also I would buy new if price of used is very high - for example some used welders are say 70% of new - frequently not worth the hassle.
 
Top