View Full Version : DRO - Mill or lathe ?

12-21-2013, 05:43 PM
Assuming your resources were limited, and could only afford one DRO kit, what machine would be better served by adding a digital readout, a mill or a lathe? I spend a lot more time at the lathe, but it seems in use that a mill would benefit more from the upgrade. What are your experiences and opinions?


12-21-2013, 05:46 PM
The mill is the one that really needs it. You can get by a lot better on a lathe without one than on a mill.

12-21-2013, 06:08 PM
I would say Mill hands down.
Ive been doing work on a new mill (9x40) in my basement for the last couple weeks with-out a DRO and im hating it.
I could run a lathe all day long with-out a DRO and it would not bother me all that much... but im a CNC lathe guy. Spinning handles and counting turns is not all that bad on a lathe (i do think a DRO on a lathe is more efficient), but on a mill, doing bolt hole patterns, it sucks keeping track of turns and back lash.

Frank Ford
12-21-2013, 06:08 PM
Yep, a DRO can be a convenience on the lathe, but it will transform your life if you set it up on you milling machine!

12-21-2013, 06:19 PM
The mill wins, hands down. And spend a few more bucks a make it a 3-axis. X, Y, and Z and quill if you can swing it. Then save up for a two axis for the lathe. Once you've got a DRO on the mill you will start lusting after one for the lathe.

Davo J
12-21-2013, 06:32 PM
I agree with everyone else that the mill would be the one.
If you buy a multi machine DRO like the Sino you could pick extra scales down the track to fit on the lathe and use the same readout.


12-21-2013, 07:47 PM
I bought a couple of the Grizzly (and others) iGaging "DRO" kits and they only lack precision and repeatability.

12-21-2013, 07:50 PM
I bought a couple of the Grizzly (and others) iGaging "DRO" kits and they only lack precision and repeatability.

Buy two more and average the results ;)

12-21-2013, 09:22 PM
I say the mill as well. Once you use a milling machine with a DRO you won't want to go back to one without. Going back and forth with lathes that have it and don't is not a big deal, it is just more of a convenience with the one that has it.

12-21-2013, 10:56 PM
Mill, without a doubt.
Drilling a bolt circle, milling a pocket, or even drilling a line of holes is a hassle without a DRO.

12-22-2013, 09:39 AM
I would also put my vote in for adding the DRO to the mill. I added one an older Bridgeport a few years ago. It makes a night and day difference in the speed and accuracy you can attain.

You might want to consider something like this as an interim solution on the lathe:


I use something similar to these on an older Seneca Falls Star Lathe. It was almost hit and miss before I installed them, but now I have no problems hitting the dimensions quickly and repeatedly.

12-22-2013, 11:34 AM
yes the mill. not only for cutting and drilling. but also for mapping a part so you can make a new one.

12-22-2013, 12:53 PM
Yep, Mill first then lathe. Both of my mills had DROs until I installed the SWI CNC rig on one. My Clausing/Colchester lathe has an old DRO that sometimes resets zero and the cross slide won't always repeat. I use the dial on it as it is more dependable. No DRO on the Cincinnati at all, but then that lathe rarely gets used anyway.

12-22-2013, 05:23 PM
Unanimous for mill. I was thinking the mill as the more to benefit from/utilize a DRO, but I didn't expect the consensus to be so strong. Thanks much !