A Complete Milling Accessories Buying Guide

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A Complete Milling Accessories Buying Guide

Milling is a common machine practice used to change the size and shape of metal and various other raw materials. Although the exact origins of machine milling are unclear, the process has its roots tied to rotary filing, which is similar to milling and was developed to reduce the time and effort spent filing by hand. The first true milling machine is said to have been developed between 1814 and 1818 in two federal U.S. armouries. Scottish engineer and inventor James Nasmyth is credited with building the first advanced machine sometime between 1829 and 1831. This device was viewed as being far ahead of its time due to its ability to mill the six-sided hex nut.

Modern milling machines are used for gear cutting, drilling, slotting, and other operations that are typically handled by machine tools specifically made for those individual tasks. The milling machine is no doubt the centrepiece of any of the process, but it receives a big assist from the numerous accessories that give the device its impressive versatility. It is much easier for buyers to find the right parts when armed with some basic knowledge. A brief overview of milling machine parts and a quick mention of some important considerations make shopping for milling accessories more efficient and successful.

Milling Machine Parts

Some of the most important milling accessories are those that come connected directly to the machinery. Tables, columns, screws, locks, and spindles are all integral parts on any milling machine. A short summary of each of these parts makes it easier for buyers to shop for the right milling machine and accessories.

Mill Table                                                                    

A mill table is a flat surface that supports the pieces during the milling process. Pieces for the project may be fixed to table with the use of clamps, a chuck, or vise. A mill table is normally customised to accommodate a specific milling machine.

Mill Column

The mill column is the vertical support that acts as the backbone of the milling machine. The mill column is connected to the base of the machine by two bolts. Usually made of steel, it provides support for the headstock saddle and Z-axis on the mill.

Milling Screws

A milling machine uses a wide variety of screws, but the most common are locking screws for the X- and Y-axes. The Y-axis screw holds the saddle in place, while the X-axis screw helps lock the mill table in place during operations where movement can be detrimental to the outcome of the finished product.

Milling Locks

Milling machines use various types of locks to provide steadiness and safety for operations. The most basic of these mechanisms are simple nuts that keep certain components from moving out of place. Buyers should keep in mind that milling locks vary greatly in function depending on the machine in question.


A spindle is a component that holds and spins the cutting tool within the headstock. It has its own complementary components that aid in its function. The spindle reverse lever controls its direction, while the speed selection lever controls the RPM settings that enable it to change speeds.

Add-on Milling Components

There are numerous add-on components available to improve the performance of milling operations. The chart below outlines several accessories and their primary functions.

Milling Accessory

Primary Function


A cutting tool resembling a drill bit and used in industrial-grade milling applications; its unique design allows it to cut efficiently in all directions

Fly Cutter

A cutting tool characterised by its bulky, axe-like body; normally used to make larger cuts

Mill Vise

Designed to clamp and hold small parts to the table during milling jobs, each mill vise is specifically made to align with a certain machine; a common and necessary accessory

Boring Head

A common accessory used to shape and enlarge existing holes in raw materials, engine cylinders and other circular parts; it rotates within the headstock and holds the sharp tool while it makes the cut


Used to create accurate holes in metals and other raw materials; available in a variety of forms, including manual reamers, adjustable reamers, and combination reamers with multiple cutting surfaces


Hardened metal adaptors used to hold milling cutters and arbours in place

Clamping Kits

A selection of sized studs, tee nuts, clamps, and flange nuts used to hold work pieces, vices, and fixtures onto the bed of the milling machine

The accessories listed above a few of the most commonly used in milling. Consumers also need to consider purchasing other accessories such as spacers and slides, depending on the type of work they plan to do.

Buying Considerations

There are many factors that need to be taken into account when purchasing milling machines and accessories. The type of machine and its condition are two important considerations, as they both affect fit and performance. The need for special features is another factor to keep in mind when shopping for accessories for a milling machine.

Types of Milling Machines

The term milling machine is merely a general name for a broad range of machines. For example, while most are of the vertical or horizontal types, there are also column-and-knee machines, bed types, and rotary machines. Because different machines have different uses, they tend to require different accessories as well. Get familiar with the capabilities of a specific milling machine before shopping for accessories for it.

Special Features

There are quite a few accessories that can be used to simplify and improve efficiency in milling projects. One such accessory is the fourth axis. Also known as the A-axis or rotary axis, this feature is an addition to the X, Y, and Z axis components, and is used to finish cuts. This component is added to milling projects in the form of a secondary rotary table. Several fourth axis products come equipped with CNC or computer numeric control, which automates various milling functions.


Milling accessories can be purchased new, refurbished, or used. While new components are generally considered more reliable, the potential value of refurbished and used equipment should not be overlooked. The lower upfront cost of used accessories often translates to a good bargain for the buyer. When it comes buying used accessories, where the consumer purchases them is important. The better reputation the seller has, the better chance the buyer has of securing a quality product.                    

Buying Milling Accessories on eBay

Milling accessories are difficult to find in the brick and mortar environment. Hardware stores are often limited in their stock, while outlets that sell machine shop items in general are hard to find. The search is most challenging for individuals who do not have connections for purchasing industrial tools. Many consumers now look to the internet for access to a thriving marketplace with a wide selection of milling machine accessories. eBay is quickly becoming one of most recognisable and widely used channels in that marketplace.

Searching for Milling Accessories on eBay

eBay has garnered the reputation as one of the best places to shop online for tools and accessories. Next to its enormous selection, eBay's greatest strength may very well be its user-friendly interface. This interface makes navigating your way around the site and finding what you want a breeze. A conveniently arranged search box on every page allows consumers to begin a search from anywhere.

Many buyers begin their quest for goods by simply entering keywords for the items they want in the search box. Shoppers looking for a milling vice, for example, would enter the keywords "milling vice&" to return a page of listings that fits those parameters. Shoppers who plan to buy several items can simply enter "milling accessories" to conduct a broad search. eBay also gives consumers the ability to refine search efforts by filtering listings by condition, price, and location.


Milling has played an important role in society for generations. From cutting keyways for vehicle ignitions to creating flat surfaces designed for a wide variety of purposes, this time tested machining technique leaves its imprints on some of the world's most commonly used items. Milling is a thriving segment of the manufacturing industry, and one that acts as a key economic driver for many businesses.

Although the milling machine is the most important component in any milling application, every milling machine requires at least a few accessories to be fully functional. Crucial components, such as vices, cutters, reamers, and locks, give the machine its core functionality and, in many cases, extend its capabilities. Milling accessories come in a broad range of types, shapes, and sizes. While some of these accessories are universal, many are designed to fit only specific models and brands. Therefore, it is important to get acquainted with all the different components and the roles they play in the milling process prior to purchasing any accessories. This background knowledge helps consumers save money and ensures they secure the right accessories for their milling projects. To find a complete selection of milling accessories for sale at reasonable prices, buyers can search online at a marketplace like eBay.

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