Low Cost Mill Tooling

Hi everyone!
this may have been discussed before, but I don’t think I’m great at navigating delphi to find info that’s already been discussed. I tried searching but didn’t find anything exactly like what I’m looking for.

Our team has recently had a mill donated to us. We are looking for tooling for this mill. I know what kind of tooling we need, but I don’t want to spend big money like the stuff we use at work, considering it will be used at most every day for about 2 months. However, I’m also worried about spending too little. You can buy kits of every endmill you’ll need for $100, but you can also spend upwards of $100 on one tool. Basically, I’m looking for brand recommendations. We want to buy tooling that isn’t super high cost, but we wont spend more on constantly replacing.

I’m bad at searching so links would also be appreciated lol

1 Like

What kind of machine is it? The answers will vary wildly between benchtop manual, full size knee mill, CNC knee mill or a full size VMC.

Also what other machines do you have? If you have a CNC router that will reduce some of what you might want to do on the mill.


I like Niagara for good HSS endmills. I find used or reground endmills for cheap sometimes and use those as well.
I’d recommend buying a new 1/2" and 1-1/8" Niagara (the latter for bearing holes) and finding reground endmills somewhere for the rest. But as Adam said, it comes down to what machine you have. A very small mill probably won’t like such a large endmill and won’t benefit from good brands.

1 Like

It is a full size knee mill. an old bridgeport. not CNC
we are looking at a router as well but for now we just want to get the tooling for the mill. we know what tooling we need, we just dont know what brands to avoid as far as low cost tools.

I’ve purchased a few thousand dollars in tooling from Shars and other than a bad coaxial indicator and a mis-labeled collet, it has all been fine. Some generic HSS 2-flute endmills will serve you just fine, though I did find myself wanting extended ones on a few occasions. You’ll want an R8 drill chuck for drills. You may want something to hold the shank of a 1 1/8" reamer. As for drill bits, I recommend getting multiple of just the sizes you need from McMaster in HSS Bright Finish. Screw Machine length for most tasks. It’s not too often we need something beyond your basic endmills or drills. A magnetic chip shield can be handy if you’re fly cutting.

If you want to throw some money at your mill, a pneumatic drawbar and a DRO are wonderful things.


If you’re doing lots of aluminum, which I suspect most teams are, the Lakeshore Carbide TAS Rougher is hard to beat. It’s about $60, but you’ll never need another rougher (so long as you don’t drop or abuse it).

Glacern Machine Tool is a good source for reasonably priced chucks and vises. If you end up wanting a shell mill, they are quite affordable.

1 Like

Luckily ours came with a DRO.

For a CNC, sure, but not for a manual mill.

1 Like

To which part of my suggestion are you objecting? I’ve used both the Lakeshore rougher and a GMT as well as Kurt vise on a Bridgeport. What about these options is unsuitable for manual milling?

I challenge this. There aren’t as many distinctions between CNC and manual machining as many might believe.

A Bridgeport isn’t really going to have the spindle RPM to warrant the use of a carbide in an aluminum workpiece. Plus, carbide is easier to damage and more expensive when you do. I’d stick with HSS endmills on the manual mill, for aluminum anyhow. No issue with Kurt vises. They’re good stuff for any machine.


Yeah i would have to run about 6000rpm with a 10mm carbide bit, which is insane. Our mill might run that fast but i doubt it. I can only imagine a smaller size.
However im sure if the company makes good carbide bits their hss ones would also be good quality

We got a couple of these

Also a boring head is a nice thing to have.

1 Like

Fair point about spindle sfm. You won’t get the full advantage of the tool MRR at an optimal setup becauseof the lower spindle rpm.

I wouldn’t rule out carbide altogether, though. The chip breaking features and heat tolerance make them more resilient to an overloaded cut, particularly one that would experience chip weld. Maybe not the first tool you buy, but one to consider if/when you factor in total cost of ownership.

1 Like

I will second the pneumatic drawbar. Having used one at work almost everyday now for a couple of years going back to a regular drawbar is so darn painful.

If I end up buying myself a Bridgeport a pneumatic drawbar would be among the very first purchases for it.

They save so much time and struggle. Being 6ft tall changing a tool with a regular draw bar is already annoying so I could only imagine how much of a pain it is for someone who’s never used a mill before and is likely not that tall. Plus they aren’t too expensive. Not cheap but not exorbitant either. I think the ones we have at my work are about $450 a unit.

1 Like

I think we’ll just buy a step stool lol

1 Like

Second the endorsement of starting with HSS and share across the board. I’ve been pretty happy with them for team use.

Just a note, you generally want to avoid TiN coating for use in aluminum, as aluminum sticks to it. Uncoated is better for aluminum.

Backing up a tad…

Good to have a DRO, but do you also have a couple indicators? You’ll need those for tramming the head and aligning the vise. They run north of $100 for suitable quality, but you might get them used for less. Without them, you risk excessive tool wear and higher chance of tool breakage.

If you factored this in already, good forethought. But if you haven’t considered the indicators, I’d strongly suggest you add them to your shopping list.

Oh yes, tramming indicators were the first thing on our shopping list
Im pretty well experienced with what tools and all we need. Its just what brands specifically are or arent worth the money when you discuss low cost brands is the big thing i dont know much about. If it were high dollar stuff for industrial use i would be set lol

1 Like

The cheapest dial test indicators on ebay/amazon are fine for things like tramming vises. I wouldn’t trust the numbers on the dial to be accurate for measuring distances, but they work fine for making sure a vise is trammed to within .001" or finding a hole center. I also like having a .0001" indicator on hand for fun, but it’s not really necessary.