First up in our milling machine reviews is the JET JMD-18 which serves double duty as a mill and drill press. Milling is its core function, though, and the JMD-18 is a fantastic way for anyone without the space or budget for a full-blooded milling machine to get some of the functionality of a mill without the five-figure price tag or monstrous weight.
Although the JET is not cheap, it’s not expensive if you compare it to a heavy milling machine. JET have been in business for more than half a decade and the company has moved from being a hardware generalist to an outfit specializing in all branches of woodworking and metalworking. The JMD-18 is ideal for working with both wood and metal.
We’ll give you a look at the main features of this nifty and hard-hitting drill mill before we break it down further for you…
One of the key advantages of the JET JMD-18 is its extremely user-friendly nature. If you’re intimidated by the complexity of many milling machines, this would make a fantastic starting point on your milling journey.
The single-phase 2HP motor runs on 230 volts so make sure in advance this is not a problem and meshes with your power supply. The UL-listed motor is not just a capable performer but built to last the distance as well. You’ll be able to work with wood, aluminum or tile without stressing the machine.
You’ll enjoy a range of 12 spindle speeds from 15RPM at the lower end on through to 3000RPM. The hinged belt cover has a quick action latch. When you want to switch speeds, you’ll be able to do so without needing to wait around. This is particularly valuable if you’re working in a shop where downtime is lost money.
The worktable is nice and spacious. Measuring 9 ½ inches by 31 ¾ inches, you’ll be able to handle even larger pieces of material without feeling cramped. There’s a work lamp chucked in so you’ll enjoy a clear line of sight even if your workshop is dim and gloomy.
Build quality is first rate. The column is a single piece of cast iron so it’s incredibly supportive even under heavy load. The roller bearings are rugged and built to last while also supporting the spindle to promote fine tolerance and a highly accurate drilling depth.
A few figures now relating to the all-important capacity…
You’ll get a drilling capacity of 1 ¼ inch with a swing of 15 7/8 inches. The face mill capacity is 3 inches while end mill capacity is ¾ inch. The maximum spindle distance is a full 18 inches.
Getting a milling machine is senseless if you need a PhD to operate it. Nothing could be further from the truth with the JET JMD-18. The sleek looking dials are a breeze to read, crucial if you’re working on intricate cutting projects. The depth gauge is also crisp and clear. This helps ensure you get consistent cutting results every time. The quick stop knob is easy to use and the head swivels through a full 360 degrees meaning you get the ultimate flexibility married with absolute precision.
Although primarily a milling machine, you’ll also be able to use the JET as a drill press. This is a nice touch given the price point.
Just about the only minor niggle with this milling machine is that the stand is not included. This wouldn’t be such an issue if it was not clearly pictured with one so make sure you’re aware of this to avoid a kick in the teeth when you open the package and find the machine void of stand. You will get a carbide face mill and vise thrown in as some compensation.
The only other negative to point out is not a flaw as much as a statement of fact. This milling machine is heavy. Very heavy. While it’s considered lightweight by the standards of multi-ton shop mills, it does tip the scales at over 700 pounds so make sure you factor this in.