Make a badass CNC mill

Ben Heck and I got into converting a mill to be a CNC machine during our podcast interview. Today I found a pair of great write ups at balbots on modding the Harbor Freight mini mill that I mentioned. Part 1 get into all the details of converting the mill to use stepper motors, and adding a cooling system. Part 2 covers upgrading to DC servo motors and replacing the gears with a belt drive system.


  1. gcc says:

    I’ve been trying to get ahold of one of these mills in my price range for months… if anybody knows where to get a used one cheap, I would be very very grateful.

    • Anthony says:

      If you look for coupons on line you can get between a 25% to 35% then wait for a sale online at Harbor freight and end up getting a brand New unit for $427 delivered. Thats how I got mine but now what to upgrade to a cnc and the kits are some what more expensive and now ask any one for help finding a complete kit under $1000.

  2. bender386 says:

    i would love to have a cnc but would only ever use it every now and then.

  3. jimmy d says:

    Harbor freight just opened a store in my area.. I’ve been eying one of these mills as a way to fabricate some custom RC parts but this just makes the decision all the more easy! nice links, have to calculate the cost compared to buying a used mill and see what kind of accuracy can be achieved

  4. Jim F says:

    The HF micromill works pretty good for a cnc on a budget. This is the log of our very own conversion.

    More info on these mills here:

    A good site for cnc info.


  5. Will O'Brien says:

    $260 is damn cheap – and harborfrieght has free shipping anyway.

  6. fake says:

    one of these guys needs to take their new mill, and make a kit for other people. i would love to buy a mill and a conversion kit, and start making parts — but unfortunately don’t have the mechanical ability (meaning tools) to create one from “scratch” like this.

  7. Jim F says:


    Once you have the mill, you can use it manually to mill out the parts to convert it to cnc. To make it even easier, there are several companies selling conversion kits. These kits aren’t cheap but will get you up and running much faster.


  8. Taraskin says:

    Thanks for the information!!

  9. Paul says:

    I had bought one of these machines almost two years ago after seeing a different DIY PCB etching project, but some assholes broke into my house and stole it (among other things) early this year. The thing was damn heavy too. Still, it’s nice to see it done with that particular model, and I plan on eventually trying again. I still have the parts for the milling table (I had removed them at the time after buffing the contact surfaces smooth).

  10. Paul says:

    Found the site that originally inspired me:

  11. Scott says:

    This looks awesome! Only problem is generating all the GCode…anyone know of a way to go from Solidworks to GCode for a reasonable price? (Cheap, Free, or *cough cough* “legitimately” acquired)

  12. guille says:

    thanks for the informations

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