It’s true that equipping your workshop with Lathe-mill combo opens up many possibilities.
But, picking one isn't an easy job.
The choice is massive!
There are many sizes of lathe mills and many different levels of quality.
Choosing the right one for you is going to take some thought and I’m here to try to guide you through how these things work and what they’re capable of doing.
Here's five of the best lathe mill combo out there.
Top Lathe-Mill Combo
Erie Tools Metal Lathe
Best for the money
SHOP FOX M1018
Best for small space
Shopmaster Mill Turn Cnc Lathe
The CNC Option
All about the Lathe Mill Combo: Some things to consider.
The big question:
You’re probably asking yourself what size machine you’re going to need. There’s a whole lot of different sized machines out there - this is true.
And the answer to your question is going to be all about what you intend to do with your lathe mill combo.
Big parts or little parts.
And no, I’m not getting personal here - I’m referring to the tasks you’re expecting your mill to perform.
You just can’t expect to turn and work on bigger parts with a smaller mill/lathe.
That won’t work.
You’ll need to be realistic about that from the start - or you risk ending up with a machine that’s incapable of carrying out the work you need it to do.
Read more: How to choose a right size lathe
So pay attention:
Factors that will affect your experience with your new lathe mill combo will include:
- Size and weight of the mill. (Lighter and smaller mills will flex a bit because the more iron they’ve got in them - the stronger and more rigid they’ll be.)
If you’re going to be looking at parting and machining bigger parts and doing heavier duty work, then you’ll be needing a bigger lathe, with more iron in it.
It’s as simple as that.
There’s no working around that - and no quick fixes for strength.
- Travel on axis. This is important
The size of the parts you’ll be able to fabricate and work on will be limited by the size of the mill.
Again - there’s not many ways to get around this. (You can sometimes use an Open Centre to increase length of workpiece.It’s 100% wise to check if that option is available with the manufacturer first, though)
Depending on the size and bulk of tasks you want to perform on your lathe mill combo, you’ll need to be careful about build quality.
What I mean to say is that you shouldn’t be expecting to turn massive parts and make big operations on a smaller and cheaper lathe that’s running with plastic gears.
You’ll just break it - pretty quickly too.
Build quality varies - massively, and price and size is the first indicator of that when narrowing stuff down.
Keep it real:
Your new lathe mill is going to be a great addition to your work space - there’s no doubt about that.
But, be realistic.
Don’t be a dummy when it comes to spending for what you need.
There’s just no substitute for correct sizing and a realistic budget.
Space - the final frontier…
Make sure you have enough space.
Ok - that might sound obvious, but consider that you’ll first need enough space to site your new machine, and if it’s bench mounted - enough bench space.
Then take into account that you’ll need enough room around it to work.
Room for manoeuvre:
And don’t forget that you’ll need access to gears and often belts to perform changes in turning speed, etc.
And the main thing that people often overlook is maintenance.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to regularly oil and upkeep the lathe, and that you may periodically need to change out worn parts.
Weight a minute…
You absolutely need to think about logistics when you’re buying your first lathe mill combo.
These things are not lightweight!
Even some of the smaller machines are into the three figures when you’re considering the weight in pounds, so be very aware of that.
If you go for a bigger mill, you need to have a plan of how you’re going to get something that’s in excess of 500 pounds - possibly over 1000 pounds - into your workshop and into place.
Think about that!
Also Read :
REVIEWS: TOP FIVE lathe mill combo
1. Grizzly G9729 - Best Overall
The Grizzly G9729 is an of the best lathe mill combo out there. It's an excellent mid-sized lathe and it’s very well engineered.
- 175 - 1425 RPM variable speed
- Can cut 4 - 120 TPI Threads - great range
- Nearly 700 pounds in weight and metal. Good weight for accurate hobbyists
- 31-inches between centres - great for bigger jobs
So, what’s in the crate?
What you get with the Grizzly machine is some serious weight - which is great for keeping you accurate.
And a nice big chunk of metal - which also performs the same trick.
The specification is great, and this is by no means a ‘cheap import’ - you’ll be able to perform accurate and mid duty tasks on this machine.
Left or right:
This lathe mill combo comes with forward and reverse operation, so you’ll be able to cut left hand threads.
And the range of threading on this machine is sweet!
You can cut big 4 TPI threads, all the way up to a very fine 120 TPI.
This illustrates that the machine has been made to a very reasonable standard indeed.
Grizzly or Great?
I’m saying great!
It’s a really nice machine for the spend, and it’s in a very good weight and size range for the hobbyist or even a smaller professional shop.
It’s big enough to do a good range of tasks, without being too big or heavy to make getting it home and sited impractical.
Overall we think - it’s one of the best lathe mill combo.
2. Erie Tools Metal Lathe - Best for the money
So, we promised you a varied range of machines in this guide and review - that’s why we’re moving down the sizes available with the Erie Tools Metal Lathe.
We think that this deserves a space on this list, because it’s a brilliant smaller bench top option, and it’s great value.
Bench top mounting - for smaller workshops and garages
Smaller between centres - but great price
Up to 2500 Rpm operation
Cuts threads 12 TPI - 52 TPI
Forward and Reverse operation
Let’s take a closer look…
The Erie Tools Lathe is a great unit. The fact it’s smaller and mounts on the bench is going to suit a heck of a lot of hobbyist users.
It’s smaller between centres than a lot of lathes - 14-inches to be exact, but that’s still enough to get a whole bunch of jobs done, and a wide range of work.
You can’t expect to carry out massive tasks on this machine - so again - bear in mind what we’ve said.
It does have a great range of speeds and does have forward/reverse operation, though.
And it’s reasonably well built, although it does have the dreaded plastic gears…
The gear issue is a biggie.
But it’s also true that you can source and purchase a metal set of gears for this machine.
My advice would be to either use it pretty lightly, or if you plan to do anything taxing - get the metal gears and install them!
The truth is:
That if you’re doing smaller work, you’re going to get a lot of bang for your buck with the Erie Tools Lathe.
It will still perform a wide range of tasks, and you’ll need less room to use it.
It’s a great starter option.
Yeah - it won’t be as accurate as the top pick here - but it’s here for a reason. If it suits your style and work, then it’s a winner!
3. SHOP FOX M1018 - Best lathe for small space
Sticking with our promise to show you the best lathe mill combo machines - with a good variant of sizes and weights - let me introduce to you, the SHOP FOX M1018 lathe.
This is a great little machine for tighter spaces.
Metal gears - yay!
Smaller for smaller shops
Still nice and heavy at 400 odd pounds - lots of metal here
Fox in the box?
The answer for me to that question is yes - if, and I mean you must consider if, you can handle smaller jobs and don’t want to do anything massive.
The other thing to consider here is that this really isn’t a wood lathe - but it would be great for making metal fittings for woodwork projects, and making specialised tools for that purpose too.
The manufacturer recently upgraded this machine and really got their act together.
The machine used to have plastic running gear and a few other problems. But they listened to feedback and sorted all of that out.
So, if you see older reviews that were less than good - disregard. Our reviews are bang up to date - we always base our information on recent upgrades.
This lathe is very well manufactured and that’s one of the reasons it weighs in at close to 500 pounds - which for a smaller machine, is pretty heavy.
Although you’ll be limited between centres, the work you do will be super accurate and professional.
What do I get?
You get a lovely little lathe mill combo with the SHOP FOX option.
It’s great for smaller jobs and perfect for the amateur.
This machine is built like a big lathe, but will fit in much smaller workshops and that’s a great feature. Definitely don’t rule this one out!
4. Shopmaster Mill Turn Cnc Lathe - The CNC Option
We’re upping the size again with the Shopmaster Mill Turn Cnc Lathe, and entering CNC territory.
SO expect to pay a bit! This is a really professional machine and it comes on a full cabinet.
- Whopping 1250 pounds of metal
- 3-phase machine
- Full 2 Horsepower motor
- Nice computer and monitor setup, with free software
The Shopmaster machine we see here is getting up to a professional standard level of machining.
But still arguably small enough to suit a home or garage workshop - just think extremely carefully about how you’re going to get it to where it needs to be, and put it in place…
For your money - and we’re talking quite a lot of that hard earned cash here - you get a lot of options and abilities with the Shopmaster.
The quick change tool post is one of the best of them, and that’s something you’d be looking to upgrade on a lot of cheaper machines anyway - so you’re already clawing back a few dollars.
If you’re looking at this machine, then it’s maybe for the CNC capability.
So, let’s take a look at that aspect of the machine.
The first thing to say is that this will run on Windows, which I think is a great feature.
This opens up your options - a lot. It’s 4 axis and all spindle drive too, so great for accurate work. They haven’t skimped here.
Master or Disaster?
The Shopmaster Lathe Mill combo is a beautiful machine, that most hobbyists would probably ideally love to own.
The fact of the matter is that most of us probably either can’t afford it, wouldn’t easily be able to move it, and may not have the room for it once we got it there!
Great machine if
a) Your budget/wife allows and, b) Your workshop is large enough.
5. Grizzly G0516 - Premium pick
This is a similar pick to our top overall pick here. And not just because it’s also a Grizzly. The Grizzly G0516 is also a bench top lathe mill combo.
It’s a bit of an upgrade in terms of build, weight and abilities too - so we thought we’d include it as a premium option, because it’s a great little lathe.
¾ Horsepower - for larger jobs
Mill motor is ½ horsepower - good grunt
580-pounds of metal - accurate
Great 4 way turret post
A step up :
As always, that’ll depend on how serious you are about machining. T
he first thing to say here is that if you’re starting out and you aren’t planning on doing anything super accurate or complicated - the top pick Grizzly on this list is probably the one for you.
This lathe gives you extra capability and more accuracy and precision - at a cost. You only need to upgrade if that’s going to be valuable to you.
Why is this a better lathe/mill anyway?
It’s going to be more rigid for a start, so will handle bigger jobs.
You get a decent distance between centres here to, at 23-inches - respectable.
And the whole thing is really nicely packaged and won’t get smegged up easily - it’ll be pretty handy to keep clean.
You also get good power, with ¾ horsepower on the main motor and ½ horsepower on the mill. Not too much and not too shabby either.
Winner or loser?
Winner. If you need the extra capacity, power and capability.
This is a really nice lathe mill combo.
It’s true that it’s the closest you’re going to get to professional standard for nearer to hobbyist money - so it’s going to be a great option for those wanting just that extra bit of precision.
Let’s break it down!
The Grizzly G9729 came out as our best overall pick here, and it’s surely won the war of the lathe mill combos.
Deservedly so too. It had some excellent features, and it’s a great intermediate sized mill.
It will perform both small and medium sized tasks - with no problems at all.
And that’s kind of what most people will be looking to do with their first Lathe Mill.
Different strokes for different folks!
That being said, and as good as the Grizzly G9729 is, it won’t suit everyone.
We’ve already talked in this article about different people needing different things.
If you’re one of them, then that’s why we’ve included both bigger and smaller lathes on this list.
Remember what we said in the guide, and choose based on what you need. You won’t go wrong!
You won’t look back once you’ve carefully chosen the right lathe for you.
You’ll have hours of enjoyment and you’ll be able to make stuff you only dreamed of before.
I hope my guide has helped you choose the right machine for you - so just get going and get turning parts!
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