Difference Between Vertical and Horizontal Milling Machines

Category: milling machine

Aside from the obvious differences in the names of these machines, and also, the fact that one is vertical and the other is used horizontally, there are other significant differences between these two. If you are a shop operator considering milling machines, one of the most important questions you have to answer is one that has to do with configuration, would it be vertical or horizontal?

This answer depends on the nature of your business, and in particular, the type and the volume of work that is being done in your shop. All of these factors add to helping you make the right decision.

Now, let us talk about these milling machines and point at their differences.


For vertical mills, its spindle axis is vertically oriented. The milling cutters are held in the spindle and are made to rotate on its axis. Basically, the spindle can be extended, or the table can either be raised or lowered to produce the same effect, giving way for plunge cuts and drilling. We have two types of vertical mills, and they are bed mills and turret mills.

The vertical bed mills, when in use, the table moves perpendicular to the spindle’s axis, while the spindle moves parallel to its own axis.

For the vertical turret mills, they have a stationary spindle and the table they are placed on is moved both parallel and perpendicular to the spindle axis, to execute cutting. They usually have a quill that enables the milling cutter to be raised and also to be lowered in a manner like a drill press. Turret mills give two methods of cutting the vertical (Z) direction: by lowering or by raising the quill, and by moving the knee.


In the horizontal mills, cutters are mounted on a horizontal spindle across the table. Many of these horizontal mills feature a built-in rotary table that allows milling at various angles; and this is called a universal table. Although end mills and the various other types of tools used in vertical mills may be used on horizontal ones, they also have arbor-mounted cutters, they are called side and face mills, they have a cross section just like a circular saw but they are generally wider and smaller in diameter. Heavy cuts can be taken, that will enable rapid material removal rates, and this happens because the cutter has a good support from the arbor and a larger cross-section area.

About the Author Aaron

Hi, I'm Aaron Cardwell. I did not think of myself as an auto enthusiast until I bought my first car and discover how much fun driving is. Also, using vehicles or any means of transportation is a way of life. I know how greatly it impacts our daily lives.

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