Parts Of Milling Machine And Their Functions

parts of milling machine

A milling machine is one of the essential tools to have in a metal workshop. Most of the tool jobs require a milling machine rather than using a lathe. Where a lathe machine works in a direction and has no versatile application from both axis, the milling machine can do much better. Unlike a lathe, the milling machine has a dynamic, horizontal, flat surface that will keep the piece firmly to work upon as the X-axis.

You can learn how to operate a milling machine if you follow the operating rules and guidelines according to However, working with a milling machine can be hard if you don’t know its different parts. Stick to the article to know about different parts of milling machine before you start to learn how to operate one.

Parts of milling machine

Learning about the parts of milling machine helps you understand how to operate it properly and where to inspect if something goes wrong. Here are the important things about a milling machine and its parts that you must know about:

1. Base with coolant reservoir

The base is where the column rests. It supports the column to stay firm on its pace and plays a big role in keeping the machine steady. Another big job of the base is cooling. It has a coolant reservoir that contains the coolant to keep the machine cool during working. When the machine works, it produces heat from the metal’s friction that needs to be cooled. The coolant does the job.

2. The column with lubricant

The main part of the milling machine starts with the base of it and the columns of it. It’s the casting part of the machine that supports the machine to stand on and work. The columns of the machine will contain an oil reservoir to supply the lubricant to the spindle and help it stay smooth. 

3. The knee of the milling machine

The milling machine’s knee is a solid casted structure that supports the table itself along with the saddle of the table. All the gear mechanisms of the machine come attached to the knee, and you’ll use a dovetail mechanism to fasten the column to it. You can adjust the knee using an elevating screw for the vertical positioning of the knee.

4. The saddle

The milling machine comes with multiple saddles. Usually, one goes under the table; another saddle supports the column. There will be adjustment gibs for the saddles on the dovetail axis for the wear while working. The saddle is parallel to the spindle axis when you’re doing horizontal milling.

5. Swivel Table

The swivel table is only available in universal milling machines where the saddle is adjustable in either direction. You can swivel the table (revolve it) horizontally with the saddle and land a better mill on the workpiece.

6. Power feed mechanism

The power feed mechanism of the milling machine comes attached to the knee of the machine. You will use the mechanism to control the feeds on the table up-down, in and out, and left-right. There will be a feed dial indicating the directions of the feeds, speed controlling dial, and the switch for the feed.

7. The spindle

Your main job with a milling machine is to make the best use of the spindle that holds on the drill chunk itself. It connects to the motor that rotates the spindle in a controlled torque and speed. You will use a draw bolt and a jam nut to secure the spindle’s about and the holder for the drill chuck.

8. The head and the motor

The motor that rotates the milling machine’s spindle is the main power source that drives the machine. The head part of the machine contains the motor secure and comes with adjustable handles that you can use for the motor. If you have to detach or adjust the motor, you can use the handles. The whole head structure lies on the ram of the milling machine on top of the column.

9. Ram

The milling machine’s ram is the vertical overhead part, right under the head and the motor portion. The farthest part of the ram will attach the column of the machine, and the closest one will hold on the head. You can move the ram transversally with a lever it comes with while working in and out.

10. Table with T-slots

The milling machine’s table is where all the works go on. And it’s a solid rectangular cast that goes above the saddle on the base. It will come with two or more T-slots that work to hold the fixture, jigs, or other devices while working. You can move the table vertically using the table feed handwheel and the leadscrew cover.

Know how it works

If you’ve ever used a lathe, one part of it spins the workpiece, and another part, which is the mill makes the hole into the piece. You will bring the Y-axis on the workpiece from above like a drill press but with another axis as a vertical spindle. The spindle comes attached with the head, followed by the main motor that runs the machine.

There is yet another axis which the professionals call the A-axis with a rotary table. If a milling machine comes with the rotary table, it becomes even more versatile and more powerful to do different jobs more efficiently. You’ll get to know the different parts when you start to learn about different parts of the machine in this article.

Final words

Using a milling machine is common if you’re planning to go all-in with a metal workshop. There is no way you can do almost any metal hole fabrication jobs without a milling machine. A lathe may help you get some jobs done, but milling is a must-have machine. Working with a milling machine can be overwhelming and a daunting job as there are too many things to get to know about first.

According to, the main thing to start learning about operating a milling machine is its parts that do the job. As you know the main parts of milling machine, you can figure out how to make the best use of them and where to start inspecting with if something goes wrong.

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