Must-Have CNC Milling Tools for Your First Machining Project

Congratulations! You have landed your first machining project. After a lot of time spent honing your skills, learning about the various tools, and becoming well-versed with operating the Computer Numeric Control or CNC machine, it is now time to put all that knowledge into use. But what are the must-have CNC milling tools for your first machining project? Read on to find out.

Essential CNC Milling Tools for Your First Machining Project

CNC machining is used to manufacture precision parts for various types of machinery and types of equipment. The process starts with a raw block of metal or plastic. The CNC machine then uses various milling tools and a CAD design to remove parts from the block to create multiple shapes, grooves, holes, etc.

As you can see, the milling tools play a huge role in determining the result. And since each project is different, the milling tools will also vary from project to project. However, here are some that are most commonly used for manufacturing parts using the CNC machine.   

End Mills

roughing end mill

End mills are typically used for cutting away large portions of materials. They have sharp cutting flutes that can easily remove materials. There are various types of end mills depending on the shape of the mill and their functionality, such as flat end mills, bullnose mills, ball nose ends, V-bit, roughing bit, and flat bit.

You can also classify the end mills as centered and non-centered depending on whether or not they need a pre-drilled hole to start cutting.

Drill Bits

As the name suggests, drill bits are used for drilling into the material. They have a long shaft and a conical end that decides the shape of the hole being drilled. Drill bits can be classified as twist drill bits, center drill bits, and ejector drill bits. You may need more of these drill bits, depending on your project.


Many times, you may have to expand a pre-drilled hole to a specific diameter. Reamers are your best option in such scenarios as they can develop existing holes with a high level of precision. There are precision and non-precision reamers. Precision reamers create smooth holes of the accurate diameter, whereas non-precision reamers can enlarge a gap and create burrs. 

Gear Cutters

module gear cutter

If your machining project requires you to create gears, then you need to use gear cutters. There are various gear cutters depending on the type of gear you want to make, such as spur gears, bevel gear, worm gear, single or double helical gear, and screw gear.

You may also have to use hobbing machines instead of milling machines to create gears. 

Hollow Mills

Hollow mills are truly versatile. These pipe-shaped milling tools can perform facing, centering, and chamfering on a single pass. These tools are pipe-shaped, and their cutting surfaces are on the inside of the pipe. They are typically used for producing cylindrical parts. 

Face Mills

The raw black of metal or plastic that you will be working with may not always have a flat surface. You will need to create a flat surface before you can start milling or drilling. Face mills are your best friends in this scenario. These milling tools completely flat surfaces and help you prepare the block for the rest of the project. As the number of cutters increases, the precision of the face mill also increases. 

Fly Cutters

flycutting a compound curve

Creating a flat surface is often not enough for the end product. You need the surface to look smooth and shiny. Fly cutters can help you achieve just that. These are a single-point cutting tool that rotates in a clockwise direction. They are not as fast as face mills. So you have to account for the time it takes to create a smooth surface when deciding the project’s timeline.  

Key Takeaways

Universal milling machines typically feature a spindle where you would attach the tools. The motor attached to the spindle gives enough power for the tool to rotate and create the required shapes and holes. There is also a table where you would clamp down the piece of metal or plastic that you are working with. This ensures that the block does not move, and you can create precise shapes.

These milling machines can be vertical or horizontal. You will have to consider the type of machine while creating your design and selecting your milling tools.

A reliable machine and high-quality tools are a must for every maker. The tools will play a huge role in determining how well you can replicate the design, regardless of how good your design is.

About the Author:

Vincent Hua

Vincent Hua

Vincent Hua is the Marketing Manager at TSINFA. He is passionate about helping people understand high-end and complex manufacturing processes. Besides writing and contributing his insights, Vincent is very keen on technological innovation that helps build highly precise and stable CNC Machinery.

Genmitsu 3018-pro to 3020-max

First Venture into CNC

  • Effective Engraving Area: 300 x 180 x 45 mm(11.8 x 7.1 x 1.8”)
  • Frame Size: 400 x 330 x 240 mm(15.7 x 13.0 x 9.4″)
  • Frame Material: PF+ Aluminum – extruded aluminium and reinforced plastic panels
  • Z-Axis Component Material: Nylon
  • Spindle: 775 motor, 24V, 10000 RPM
  • Rated power: 60W; Maximum power: 120W
  • Step Motor: 1.3 A, 12V, 0.25 Nm torque (2.2 in lb)

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