View Full Version : buying end mills

02-05-2010, 07:01 PM
I was looking to buy some end mills, maybe a set for under $100. I have a hardinge horizontal. I have about 12 collets with it and I was looking at a set of cleavland in enco. I am just learning about all this so any help would be appreciated. I don't have any projects that I am doing right now, just want to try facing a plate or cutting a slot to learn how. kevin


02-05-2010, 07:19 PM
that looks like a good set, but be aware you can often get a 10 set of endmills (generic chinese) for about the same price ($60~)
if your new and not up on all the SFM/feed/etc math, you might consider getting the cheapest set you can as you'll be likey to burn out a couple and maybe not ever use some sizes.. the cheap set will let you buy really good indivual ones to replace the ones you use and burn out, and ignore the other sizes untill a day you really need them.

02-05-2010, 07:45 PM
that looks like a good set, but be aware you can often get a 10 set of endmills (generic chinese) for about the same price ($60~)

As much as I've been frustrated by cheap end mills, this a good thought if you are still learning. I've been much more frustrated by wrecking a $20 end mill. Oddly, I was given a set of the ubiquitous coated import sets when bought an old mill drill some years ago and I still have about half of them. It took me half of them to "learn".

These days, I wreck end mills mostly when hitting rapid traverse before checking to see if the end mill will clear the work. It's usally a really nice 1/4 ball or something..

02-05-2010, 08:28 PM
I suggest you don't buy the cheapo chinese end mills, coz otherwise you'll be back here in about two weeks asking why this end mill doesn't cut well, or how come it leaves a big burr, etc. IMHO you should learn how a good end mill works, not a bad one.

You can get endmills for cheap off ebay (as long as they're reputable brands), and a guy near me can probably put together that set for $50 or so (all old skool american brands like Morse), and they'll even be double ended.

If you really are a noob, then get a chunk of Delrin to practice on, and maybe aluminum, but not steel. Maybe you really should get a cheapo set if you really expect to jack them up.

You will need to learn speeds and feeds, lubrication, toolpaths, and chip clearance.

02-05-2010, 11:30 PM
I have a hardinge horizontal. I have about 12 collets with it

Are you using the 4C vertical head on this mill or 5C in the horzontal spindle? Or maybe you have an aftermarket VH on the mill?

02-06-2010, 12:12 AM
buy cheap at first then once you know what your doing then spend the bucks after..

02-06-2010, 12:28 AM
End mills are something where you can afford to start cheap because they are consumable. Getting some chips under your belt will also help you better understand the cutting dynamics so you can make better choices when purchasing more expensive endmills later on.

I've used plenty of import quality endmills and never had any performance problems. I buy fancier endmills if I want roughers, 3 flute, higher dimensional tolerance or more exotic materials than HSS. I tend to reach for the import box most of the time and pull out the expensive specialty stuff when it's needed. If you blow one up or drop one on the floor it doesn't matter.

Some people will probably take issue with this but I'd just get a set of 4 flutes and use them for everything if you are just starting out.

Down the road, if you are doing any amount of pocketing I'd really look into some roughing endmills...but after you play around a bit. I have 3 flute and 4 flute roughers (for alu. and steel) in 3/8" and 1/2" and go with those any time I really need to move material. I'm surprised more people don't recommend them but I discovered them and haven't looked back.

02-06-2010, 02:27 AM
I would stay away from the cheap sets, they really are pretty bad. Enco has a line called Atrax that are USA made and actually pretty good. The only downside that I have found with them is the size can run up to .003" under on the flutes, so it is always a good idea to measure them. Check their sales flyers because they are actually a very good buy especially when they do a 20% off sale.

Another thing to look for are good used HSS endmills from ebay. They tolerate a lot more shock and newbie brain farts, only dowside is you cannot run them as fast. Ebay is cheap, look for a local shop that sharpens if you are not up to it yet (costs $1.25 here), and have fun making chips.

02-06-2010, 07:15 AM
used good name REGRINDS are also a good way to go. You get the metalurgy of a good brand, at a lower cost since many people do not want them. I buy 3/8" double end 4 flute regrinds for $3 at a used tool store near me. The are also on EBAY.

02-06-2010, 08:05 AM
Cheap end mills will work ok on aluminum but may lose their edge in just a few cuts in steel. The difference between cheap and quality is very large and the price reflects that. Cutting tools are the heart of all machining operations and without decent cutting tools you can't produce decent work.

The old saying that a poor workman blames his tools does not imply that a good workman can turn out good work with poor tools. The good workman recognizes the value that good tools represent.

02-06-2010, 11:51 AM
thanks for the replies, does the same go for a fly cutter as far as cheap and good quality.
I have the horizontal tm model .

02-06-2010, 12:23 PM
I'm with Evan. Avoid those cheap sets or you won't know what it's like when things work they way they are supposed to. Buy a couple of 1/2" 4 flutes or 2 flutes depending on what you want to work. I'd encourage you to start with aluminum and the 2 flutes. Buy a couple 1/4" too.

Don't go any smaller until you've gotten to where you're doing find with those cutters right there.

You shouldn't have to break a whole bunch of endmills unless you're really way off on your feeds and speeds, and it just isn't that hard these days not to be. Take it easy on the depths of cut too. Less is more until you're used to what you're doing. With the 1/2", set youself an absolute max of 40 thousandths depth of cut until you're up to speed. Even take 2 20 thousandths passes.

You can get name brand tooling relatively cheap buy waiting for the sales or buying them off eBay.



Alistair Hosie
02-06-2010, 12:32 PM
Yes I agree with these comments too .I suggest buying cheapest end mills is like buying an very expensive stereo hi fi and connecting it to cheap little set of speakers seems a waste of time. good luck.I hope things work out for you.Alistair

02-06-2010, 02:01 PM
Ok thanks, what is some name brands I could be looking for?

Dan Dubeau
02-06-2010, 02:47 PM
I've got a cheap set that I consider very handy. They've all been ground undersize, and I use them for "boring" holes on location. Spot drill, Drill hole, chase with undersize cutter, Ream. A large part of my work involves putting in accurate holes (location/size, +/- 0.002"). Very handy to have the set all together in one spot.

i can't comment on how these cutters work for their intended purpose as I've never used them for that. Bought them specifically for what I use them for, and had them ground before they ever touched material.

If I were you, I'd buy a set to get familiar with, then somewhere down the road after you've accumulated better brands of you most used sizes, then send them out to get sharpened (or use them to practice with you're new t&c grinder that you acquire later on :) ).

Paul Alciatore
02-06-2010, 09:14 PM
My advice is to get a set of imports from a dealer with a better than the usual crowd reputation. Grizzly, for one, sells import tools, but has a better than the average QC program. I have not been disappointed by anything I have purchased from them, from my mill down to a set of import cutters that I got 5-6 years ago and they are still going strong. Here's one of the sets they are offering now:


Then, like others have said, purchase others as needed or if you break or when you dull any of these. After making some chips, you wil be better able to judge what you want or need in better quality cutters.

02-07-2010, 09:10 AM
thanks, as far as high end these are titan made in use new,

http://cgi.ebay.com/SET-OF-SOLID-CARBIDE-END-MILLS-PREMIUM-GRADE-2-FLUTE_W0QQitemZ400084936386QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_D efaultDomain_0?hash=item5d26eba6c2

02-07-2010, 09:13 AM
I get the feeling that the breaking is done because of feeding too deep and not following speed and feed chart. I want to make it my habit to take my time and do it right (changing my old habit of just get it done). Machining is a completely different ball game for me. I don't think the math for feed and speed is all that difficult, although I am sure I will make mistakes I am at least going for not hurting myself. thanks again for all the advice. kevin

02-07-2010, 09:29 AM
Don't bother with carbide quite yet, they are actualy easyer to ruin in some respects! They are much less 'sharp' and tend to produce worse finishs unless run at very high speeds and often feeds.. the shower of scalding hot chips can be painful... Assuming your machine can run them that fast and is rigid enough.

Carbide is harder, but considerabley more brittle and easyer for a less rigid machine or work holding setup to damage, or an accidental feed with the motor off.

Don't get too worked up over this, they are consumables and will eventualy wear out. I still recommend spending less rather then more on your very first set since you really don't know what you want, and may ruin these in a hurry if you make any simple mistakes (Like droping one, feeding it into the work without the mill on (doing setup work)), droping it while loosening the drawbar, cutting through something excessively hard, collet loose letting it be pulled out, cutting at too high a SFM or feed rate or depth/width of cut.
And cheap ones you won't feel so bad about damaging, and will be more likey to try things and see just what the limits are. You might be suprised.

Just buy some and get on with it :) just don't break the bank on your first set, they will NOT be you'r last!

PS: USA made but no brand name eh? Heh.

02-07-2010, 09:48 AM
thanks I see you point there Moons, thanks kevin.

02-07-2010, 09:59 AM
I buy whatever is cheap from Enco. All endmills will dull, and unless you are pushing production volumes you can back off a bit wrt feeds/speeds.

I doubt that I would see 2-3x the life from 2-3x the price.

For example... Interstate v Putnam $6 vs $15 for a HSS half inch x 3 in 2 flute single end endmill.

That $9 is getting me????

02-07-2010, 10:45 AM
well, once you get a little more into it you'll likey start collecting some 'high end' endmills, like a solid carbide rougher endmill for chewing through large chunks of anything (but leaving a finish that looks like trash), maybe a high helix super sharp 3 flute for aluminum, etc. But these generaly are only for one type of task and are very poor for other tasks (designed for aluminum endmills will dull near instantly if used on steel, roughers leave a very poor finish, etc) So a basic set is what you wanna start off with till you know what sizes you like to use and what sizes work well in your mill/jobs, and what materials you like to cut.

02-07-2010, 11:19 AM
For example... Interstate v Putnam $6 vs $15 for a HSS half inch x 3 in 2 flute single end endmill.

That $9 is getting me????

It'll get you a smile from the nice people at Enco, but you're actually paying them a lot more over than you'd think.

I've never paid more than $10 for a brand new end mill made by a name brand in my life. There're tons of them on eBay. Search "(endmill, end mill)".

Buy the lots with multiple endmills so the shipping doesn't kill you.

Item #160341674862

7 double ended 9/16" Putnam endmills, 4 flute, HSS. The double enders make it even cheaper because you basically have 2 endmills there.

Cost (Buy it Now) $49.50 + $7.50 shipping.

Cost per Putnam EM: $8.14.

Cost from Enco for same: $30.62 :eek:

You can always find quality names, brand new, and cheap. I would avoid anything that doesn't specifically say it's new and doesn't come with a seller with a nearly perfect rep and lots of sales.



02-07-2010, 01:41 PM
I see what you are saying there.
I am using a collet ( not sure if every type of mill fits one) with the double end does that work ok?