Tools Needed to Tram A Mill

July 29, 2021 12:05 pm

Accuracy is crucial in the world of machining. Tramming the head on a milling machine is just one of the many measures taken to ensure accuracy and precision in the machine shop. It is a unique procedure. To put it simply, tramming the head of your milling machine means making sure the head is square to the table, or the vice. 

There are different ways to tram the head of your mill. If you aren’t sure yet which option is best for your application, check out our article, 3 Effective Methods for Tramming a Milling Machine. These are three different reliable and common ways to get the job done along with some little tips and best practice to ensure accuracy. 

You can also check our video with Matt Schmelzer from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College In this video Matt will bring forward his expert opinion and walk you through using the tools, that are listed below, to get the job done.

Tools needed to tram the head of a milling machine

Plunger type indicator 

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It is possible to get the job done with an indicator and mag base, however Matt Schmelzer recommends using a plunger type indicator when tramming the head of a mill. Plunger indicators, also known as dial indicators, have a spring loaded probe that extends and retracts from the body of the indicator. If you want to check out other plunger type indicators, grab our article Dial Indicators: Most Recommended Models

Tramming Ring 

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The tramming ring is placed on the table of the mill and is used as the foundation for the your indicating setup. This tool will really allow your positioning of the milling head to be precise. It is a ring that is ground on both sides. Tramming rings can be difficult to find online and you may just end up making on yourself!


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You’ll want to make sure you’re using a wrench that is designed for heavy-duty applications, like the one featured here. This is a 12 inch adjustable wrench that works well with securing back nut or bolt while tightening or loosening front nut or bolt.

Collet Holder 

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The collet holder is simply used to fix the indicator into the spindle, so you will want to make sure that you’re purchasing or using one that works with your indicator setup. 

Right angle combination square 


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Chances are you have a combination square lying around, but if not, it’s time you get one as they are versatile and frequently needed in the machine shop. The combination square is used to align the table to the quill, when tramming the mill head. To learn more about the tools and see the different options on the market, check out our blog post The Anatomy of a Combination Square


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  • gatz says:

    Don’t use an adjustable wrench “like the one featured here”!
    Always use a box-end wrench like in the video to prevent rounding the hex bolt heads.

  • Peter says:

    If you cannot find a Tramming Ring I believe you can use a new good quality brake disc rotor as these are machined true, even a good quality one will be reasonably inexpensive.

  • Alan says:

    those are worm and worm wheels not rack and pinion,,

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