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Small desktop mill for modelling

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Hi to everyone,


I know there are already several similar topics however I have not been able to find an answer on this specific issue.

I am currently looking for buying a desktop mill and noticed that most of you are using the Sherline mills. Unfortunately they’re not available in Europe so I would have to ship it from the US and import it in EU. This could be quite expensive so I am looking for alternatives.

I’ve been looking for the small mills like the Optimum BF16 Vario. Does anyone has experience with such desktop mills in ship modelling? Are they accurate enough?

They are quite heavier then the Sherline or some Proxxon mills so I presume I could use it also for some other milling requirements which is of course an advantage...


Any help/advice on this one would be much appreciated. Thanks!




Current builds: Confederacy (kit) & Triton Cross Section (first scratch built)

Completed: Armed pinnacle (kit)

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Rok I have no experience with this mill but I did have a Grizzly import about 8 years ago. It was a bench top model which I ended up selling because of its limited use to me at the time (had not returned to ship modeling yet). The one problem I had with it was that it had nylon gears and one of them failed. I bought the replacement gear set and it appeared to be a relatively straight forward repair. So my one word of caution besides accuracy concerns is I would steer away from any machines that have nylon gears if you plan on other besides modeling. I noticed the Micro Mark web site here in the US also sells heavy duty gears for its lathe so maybe that is a standard practice to use the cheaper gears. See https://www.micromark.com/product/7990


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For many years I have been using Optimum's BF20 vario, and have been very satisfied with it. It is a heavy and accurate machine, and speed control range is large enough. I have installed also digital readouts for x and y axles, which helps a lot working. As stock it has digital readout for z axle too. I have made a few steam engines, 1/6 scale car & tank, and a few ship models, for which several parts have been made with this mill. My friend has a BF16, and he is also very satisfied with the machine. He is building airplane models. With this experience I could warmly recommend this machine for modeling work.

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Sidenote: Sherline is available in EU, and last time I checked - the prices were very reasonable, not far off from the US prices: http://sherline.com/sherline-worldwide-dealers/

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... that was exactly my thought, when I started reading the thread. The nearest dealer for Slovenia would be CoolTool in Mödling near Vienna (www.thecooltool.com). I did have some dealings with them during my time in Vienna actually. I was surprised to learn, however, that Sherline doesn't mind shipping directly and I bought from them back at a time, when I was an international civil servant and didn't need to pay import duties. The latter is a serious consideration when ordering in the US. Plus, the US Postal Office changed their shipping plans a few years ago and abandoned the cheaper 'surface' mail - which was good value, if you had the patience to wait for your parcel for up to three months.


P.S. The CoolTool guys call the Sherline mill UniMill and the lathe UniTurn ...

Edited by wefalck



panta rhei - Everything is in flux



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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is another option for desktop mills.


It is from a UK company Warco http://www.warco.co.uk/milling-machines/32-wm-16-variable-speed-milling-machine.html

They offer a big range of sizes and functionality as well as a host of tooling and other options plus very competitive prices.


I offer up this because I have just bought the one shown, just waiting for delivery, very excited.



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