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Home Shop Machinist's Mill,
This review is from: Grizzly G0463 Mill/Drill (Tools & Home Improvement)
This small mill has a big following among the home shop machinist crowd (both US and international) due to its unique "small-medium" size, its reputation for decent quality and good durability, and its square column which makes it a much easier machine to mill with, compared to a mid-sized round-column mill-drill which must be re-trammed whenever the head is raised or lowered. It has a surprisingly good envelope size for its weight. Buy a machine with double its weight, and you might get another inch or two in the X, Y, and Z directions.
The X3 is considered a benchtop mill at 360 lbs, and has gained a loyal following, despite being snubbed by serious machinists who own 2000 lb Bridgeports and the like. It's manufactured by the Chinese firm Sieg, and its official name is the Sieg X3, but it's rebadged and sold by Grizzly (and used to be sold by HF but no more). The Grizzly rebranded models are often recommended, because Grizzly is thought to have more strict quality control procedures than some other importers. Sieg also makes the Super X3 model (Grizzly calls it the G0619) which adds some electronics and a tilting head. Sieg also makes two smaller mills, the X1 and the X2. Recently Sieg created the full-CNC version of the X3 called the KX3. There's a considerably larger X4 in the works, I think around 700 lbs, sort of a Rong-Fu 45 type machine. There are active Yahoo groups devoted to the X3 and the SX3 mills, including "Sieg-SX3-C6B," "X_Series_Mills," and "X3_small_mill." You can also find some Sieg owners at the Home Shop Machinist forum. But don't try to discuss this mill at the Practical Machinist forum; they won't discuss Chinese-made mills. Rather than write a lengthy review of my own, take a look at the many thoughtful reviews that can be found at the above groups, and what you can find with a simple web search on the name "Sieg X3."
If you are looking at this machine, you are probably comparing it to the SX3 and the RF-45 (or clone thereof) because you have "space issues." It took me a long time to make my choice; I finally went with the X3 for a variety of reasons, such as higher spindle speed, longer quill extension, and its lack of "extra" electronics. So doing, I gave up the SX3's tilting head, 1/4 more HP, and electronic displays. And the RF-45, nice as it is, is twice the weight.
If you will be moving this machine around yourself (and you probably will), spend some time preparing for the move. I bit the bullet, sistered the joists in my garage, and installed a reinforced lift point directly over the bench where the X3 sits; this has made life with the mill a whole lot more bearable, and the mill much easier to work on.
I consider the G0463 to be almost a kit. To get it in good condition, you really want to take it apart, clean it, adjust the split nuts, stone the ways and mating points, lubricate, etc. Search the internet for "X3 Preparation Guide" for help. I am sorry to say I had to send my first X3 back to Griz because its column was leaning so that the mill was out of registration by over .010 in just 5 inches of vertical travel. The second I received was *much* better and is less than .001 over 5" after adding a .002 shim under the right side bolts. So when you get yours, be sure to check "tram" on your machine by setting up an accurate angle plate on the table, and then raise the Z axis as you run the DTI along the face of the plate. If the column is leaning one way or the other you'll need to pull the registration pins at the base (insert a 4mm screw to pull them) and then cut various shims until you get it right. Even better, lift the head and column and get that mating joint flat and clean. Note that you need to do this angle-plate measurement before you sweep the table with an indicator. (That's because the indicator-sweep method doesn't detect the possibility of the head being rotated to compensate for a non-plumb column.)
A machine with lots of advantages for the space-conscious, but also expect to dedicate several days to set it up, if you are concerned about accuracy. Some folks are not, and just use it as it comes. To each his own. I am happily making chips on mine, and have completed several projects already.
EDIT June '10: All good so far, and have just ordered the Griz 6" rotary table. This mill is very handy and I wonder how I made do without it.
EDIT December '10: Still very happy with it. This is becoming my favorite machine in the shop. It can solve so many problems!
EDIT Aug '11: I'm still very happy with the machine. I think it's my favorite machine in the shop. Not the highest quality, but so useful I can overlook the rough edges.
EDIT Apr '13: Still going strong, no issues yet.
EDIT July '14: Still has given me no problems or issues, which is unexpected at this point. When I purchased I agonized over its small size, wondering if I should get a mill that was +300 lbs over this one. In retrospect, no, all my projects save one have fit on this mill, and even that one project could be completed by reclamping, which is a pain, but doable. And in the meantime, I *have* had to move. The movers just wheeled it on the truck like any other heavy item, no muss, no fuss. That's worth something.
EDIT March '15: Still happy, no breakdowns, no issues. I may have to revise my view on Chinese tools.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 13, 2011 3:12:08 PM PDT
Great review - thanks....
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 26, 2013 5:49:51 AM PDT
N. Hoffman says:
Awesome review and great info. I especially like that you reported back during 3 years of use to let us know how it is going. Thank you!
Posted on Oct 14, 2014 5:04:58 PM PDT
Thanks for a great review.
Posted on Feb 1, 2015 10:02:10 AM PST
Stephen Holland says:
Kudos for the long term follow up. The point about not needing special movers is a good point. What sorts of materials and projects?
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