View Full Version : selecting the right cutter style

03-28-2004, 12:28 AM
I'm not even a knewbie yet, still just a wannabee, but I am picking up my mill next week and have been going through the tutorials on the MIT website.

Question though is, is there any place on the web that has a tutorial on how to select the right cutter for the job? Like which cutter style? There are so many out there, it gets confusing. I'm going to be learning on a Powermatic Millrite, so it's vertical. Can I only use end mills, or can I use face cutters and/or reamers? Everything is so confusing at this point, but I want to pick up a few pieces on ebay, just to have something to try my machine out. I figure I'll just play around with wood for a few weeks, learn the feel, and continue to learn. Once I understand more, I'll put some more money into it, but I just want to make some basic cuts so I can at least try out the machine. After all, I can't sleep with that in the garage if I haven't tried it right? Thanks http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

03-28-2004, 01:20 AM
Well, Im still a newbie with my lathe, I just use the tool that cuts the best, you learn from expirience.
As for the mill, get some cheap 2 flute and 4 flute center cutting end mills, try side milling with them, facing, cutting slots, etc. I used my fly cutter set once, to give my carriage stop a nicer look to it. Interesting when I tried to take the first cut and didnt notice that the tool was not sharpened!
A reamer is to finish a hole to a diameter that you want. Fly cutters are kinda like a planer, cut a wide path on top of the piece, but you only take light cuts with them.
Try machining some plastic as well, or aluminum. You will learn quickly.

03-28-2004, 01:32 AM
Thanks BillH. Will do. This stuff does get overwhelming at times, but I really enjoy the learning I'm doing so far. Thanks.

Paul Alciatore
03-28-2004, 02:45 AM

I'm kinda a middle-bee. Not a pro like some board members but I have been making chips for about 40 years on an occasional basis.

I have vertical mill-drill and an assortment of two and four flute cutters in various sizes. Some of the suppliers can sell you a set of 4 or 6 cutters in a range from 1/8" or 1/4" up to 1/2" or 3/4" or so. A set of four flute, end cutting cutters in HSS is a good starting place. I specify "end cutting" because you can make "plunge cuts" with them - no starter hole is needed.

A vertical mill or mill-drill will also allow you to use drill bits to drill holes in precise locations. That's about half the work I do on mine for electronic panels. You should have fractional size drills, at least. A number set would also be good. If your mill has a limited range between the quill and the table or if it has a round column, you may want to consider screw machine length drills.

If you need a hole with a more precise size and better internal finish, then you can use reamers to finish the holes that you drill a bit undersize. I wouldn't buy reamers until you actually need a particular size (unless you can find an asortment on E-Bay at a good price as I did).

My mill-drill came with a 2" diameter facing cutter and I have used it a little for heavy cuts. I purchased an inexpensive set of three fly cutters and find it to be more useful for facing but you need to sharpen tool bits to use in them.

Another accessory you may want is an edge finder. I use one of the electric ones that lights up when it comes in contact with the work piece. I bought one of the ones with a 0.2" diameter, cylinder shaped probe but if I had it to do again I would try one of the ball shaped tips (also 0.2" diameter).

You don't have to buy everything at once. Get some tooling and make some chips. Then you will be better equipted to choose more.

As for working with wood, I guess you can but it may not be the best way to learn. I would start with aluminum and use a little WD-40 for cutting fluid.

Have fun,

Paul A.

03-28-2004, 11:18 PM
Enco has an economy set of end mills, 10ea. 2 flute & 4 flute, actually work pretty good. I've only knocked a chunk out of one, "oops, won't try that again" I'm pretty quick, reconize disaster as soon as it strikes.

03-29-2004, 03:27 AM
If you don't have an MSC or other catalog you might want to see if you can get one. They have lots of information in them and you can learn a lot from them.


03-29-2004, 10:47 AM
"I'm pretty quick, reconize disaster as soon as it strikes." http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

That's a good one! Thanks for the laugh Ken. ...laughter really does make us feel better.

03-31-2004, 02:18 AM
There is a lot out there, but its pretty simple. Don't worry about carbide. It's expensive and unnecessary. Go with HSS. The next thing to worry about is sizes. Choose those based on the work you're doing. If you will be taking swaths .375 or bigger, you may need a .500 endmill. If you need to make a .200 slot, then a .187 end mill would be a good choice. As for two and four flute...two flutes aid in chip removal because there is more space for chips to move to at higher speeds. These work well for softer materials like copper, silver, aluminum, plastics, wood, etc. Four flute mills are better for ferrous and harder materials. This is all just in general though. There are exceptions to all rules. Unless you need a hole for a shoulder bolt, pin, or some kind of shaft, a reamer is generally not needed and are pretty expensive. A set of fluted 90 or 82 degree tools would come in handy for deburring and chamfering too. Fly cutters can have their place, but the others are right, you can't take much stock with them, they dull quickly, and cuts easily distort due to unbalanced cutting pressures.

Mainly, just look at what you want to do and go from there. The simplest answer is probably the right one. Good luck.

03-31-2004, 03:34 AM
Is your mill equiped with the rapid handle(drill press style) or is it the fine feed hand wheel? Also what taper is the spindle, R-8 or 9 B&S? These things make a difference. Tooling for R-8 is more common and much cheaper than tooling for 9 B&S. You can use anything that fits in the range of this tooling. Shell mills, endmills, slotting saws, boring heads, drills and chucking reamers and fly cutters even horizontal cutters on stub arbors. Once you get your feet wet and get some experience, you will find that you will even make up custom tooling to do the work that either you can not find a tool commercially that does what you want or you have suddenly become very frugel.
Unless they changed when they went from U.S. Burke to Powermatic, your quill downfeed came standard as a fine feed handwheel. The rapid feed was an option. I have never seen a factory mill that came with both types of feed. Mine has the rapid feed which is great for 97% of the work that gets done on a verticle mill, but the other 3%, mostly boring work or using jig reamers to a set depth are a pain as you need to crank the knee. If it has the fine feed handwheel you will find that drilling and reaming will not be much fun. I found that mine is a great little mill and you should enjoy it while you learn.