Small machining centers are cute, but most of them (the ones that I've seen anyway) are scarcly better than toys. Of course, that may be all you need, but I'd think real carefully before laying out cash.
I've been machining parts for about 35 years. One thing I know is an absolute. If you want accuracy and repeatability, you have to have ridgidity. Ridgidity usually requires mass, "dead mass". In this vein, the best small machines I've seen are made of polymer concrete or mehanite, but are somewhat larger than a desk. They are also pricey, being designed for high speed and extreme accuracy.
Have you given any thought to the toolroom CNC's by Fadal and Haas ???
buy a dremel grinder kit, and find an old plotter. Most postprocessors can be doctored up to run it. Instead of it turning a diameter, it will move a light table by use of a simple gear rack. Have the post processor divide y moves by pi. Great for cutting plastic and wood. You can even get tricky and have a z feed because some plotters can adjust the pressure of the pen with a code. (don't try this at home)
:-) A dremel grinder kit ... Sounds very inventive but I require accuracies to the level of atleast 0.01mm I also require at least 4 axis, and considering we make tooling out of aluminium that the dremel kit may not be quite what I am after.
Thank you to those that responded, this is the info I got
I got a small sherline thingy to prototype some ideas at home; it's quite a legthy task to machine even a small brass part, and 6000 series aluminum borders on too much for it. it is hardly what I expected or envisioned- but what can you make without tools ?
one thing I have learned from reading various forum postings, is to NOT buy your machine off ebay; and research well what and from whom.