Milling Tools and Equipment

 Classification of Milling Cutters

  Milling cutters are usually made of high-speed steel and are available in a great variety of shapes and sizes for various purposes. You should know the names of the most common classifications of cutters, their uses, and, in a general way, the sizes best suited to the work at hand.

Milling Cutter Nomenclature

 Figure 4-3 shows two views of a common milling cutter with its parts and angles identified. These parts and angles in some form are common to all cutter types.

  • The pitch refers to the angular distance between like or adjacent teeth.

Figure 4-3. Milling numenclature.

  • The pitch is determined by the number of teeth. The tooth face is the forward facing surface of the tooth that forms the cutting edge.

  • The cutting edge is the angle on each tooth that performs the cutting.

  • The land is the narrow surface behind the cutting edge on each tooth.

  • The rake angle is the angle formed between the face of the tooth and the centerline of the cutter. The rake angle defines the cutting edge and provides a path for chips that are cut from the workpiece.

  • The primary clearance angle is the angle of the land of each tooth measured from a line tangent to the centerline of the cutter at the cutting edge. This angle prevents each tooth from rubbing against the workpiece after it makes its cut.

  • This angle defines the land of each tooth and provides additional clearance for passage of cutting oil and chips.

  • The hole diameter determines the size of the arbor necessary to mount the milling cutter.

  • Plain milling cutters that are more than 3/4 inch in width are usually made with spiral or helical teeth. A plain spiral-tooth milling cutter produces a better and smoother finish and requires less power to operate. A plain helical-tooth milling cutter is especially desirable when milling an uneven surface or one with holes in it.

Figure 4-5. Left and right cutters

Types of Teeth

   The teeth of milling cutters may be made for right-hand or left-hand rotation, and with either right-hand or left-hand

helix. Determine the hand of the cutter by looking at the face of the cutter when mounted on the spindle. A right-hand cutter must rotate counterclockwise; a left-hand cutter must rotate clockwise. The right-hand helix is shown by the flutes leading to the right; a left-hand helix is shown by the flutes leading to the left. The direction of the helix does not affect the cutting ability of the cutter, but take care to see that the direction of rotation is correct for the hand of the cutter.


Figure 4-4. Plain and helical milling cutters.

Saw Teeth

  Saw teeth similar to those shown in Figure 4-3 are either straight or helical in the smaller sizes of plain milling cutters, metal slitting saw milling cutters, and end milling cutters. The cutting edge is usually given about 5 degrees primary clearance. Sometimes the teeth are provided with off-set nicks which break up chips and make coarser feeds possible.

Helical Milling Cutters

  The helical milling cutter is similar, to the plain milling cutter, but the teeth nave a helix angle of 45° to 60°. The steep helix produces a shearing action that results in smooth, vibration-free cuts. They are available for arbor mounting, or with an integral shank with or without a pilot. This type of helical cutter is particularly useful for milling elongated slots and for light cuts on soft metal. See Figure 4-5.

Metal Slitting Saw Milling Cutter

  The metal slitting saw milling cutter is essentially a very thin plain milling cutter. It is ground slightly thinner toward the center to provide side clearance. These cutters are used for cutoff operations and for milling deep, narrow slots, and are made in widths from 1/32 to 3/16 inch.


Figure 4-6. Various milling cutters.

Side Milling Cutters

   Side milling cutters are essentially plain milling cutters with the addition of teeth on one or both sides. A plain side milling cutter has teeth on both sides and on the periphery. When teeth are added to one side only, the cutter is called a half-side milling cutter and is identified as being either a right-hand or left-hand cutter. Side milling cutters are generally used for slotting and straddle milling.

   Interlocking tooth side milling cutters and staggered tooth side milling cutters are used for cutting relatively wide slots with accuracy (Figure 4-6). Interlocking tooth side milling cutters can be repeatedly sharpened without changing the width of the slot they will machine.

   After sharpening, a washer is placed between the two cutters to compensate for the ground off metal. The staggered tooth cutter is the most washer is placed between the two cutters to compensate for efficient type for milling slots where the depth exceeds the width.

End Milling Cutters

   The end milling cutter, also called an end mill, has teeth on the end as well as the periphery. The smaller end milling cutters have shanks for chuck mounting or direct spindle mounting. End milling cutters may have straight or spiral flutes. Spiral flute end milling cutters are classified as left-hand or right-hand cutters depending on the direction of rotation of the flutes. If they are small cutters, they may have either a straight or tapered shank.


Figure 4-7. End mill, T-slot, and woodruff key way cutters.

    The most common end milling cutter is the spiral flute cutter containing four flutes. Two-flute end milling cutters, sometimes referred to as two-lip end mill cutters, are used for milling slots and key ways where no drilled hole is provided for starting the cut. These cutters drill their own starting holes. Straight flute end milling cutters are generally used for milling both soft or tough materials, while spiral flute cutters are used mostly for cutting steel.

    Large end milling cutters (normally over 2 inches in diameter) (Figure 4-10) are called shell end mills and are recessed on the face to receive a screw or nut for mounting on a separate shank or mounting on an arbor, like plain milling cutters. The teeth are usually helical and the cutter is used particularly for face milling operations requiring the facing of two surfaces at right angles to each other.

T-Slot Milling Cutter

     The T-slot milling cutter is used to machine T-slot grooves in worktables, fixtures, and other holding devices. The cutter has a plain or side milling cutter mounted to the end of a narrow shank. The throat of the T-slot is first milled with a side or end milling cutter and the head space is then milled with the T-slot milling cutter.

Woodruff Key slot Milling Cutters

     The Woodruff key slot milling cutter is made in straight, tapered-shank, and arbor-mounted types. See Figure 4-7. The most common cutters of this type, under 1 1/2 inches in diameter, are provided with a shank. They have teeth on the

periphery and slightly concave sides to provide clearance. These cutters are used for milling semi cylindrical key ways in shafts.

Angle Milling Cutters

   The angle milling cutter has peripheral teeth which are neither parallel nor perpendicular to the cutter axis. See Figure 4-8. Common operations performed with angle cutters are cutting V-notches and serration's. Angle cutters may be single-angle milling cutters or double-angle milling cutters. The single-angle cutter contains side-cutting teeth on the flat side of the cutter. The angle of the cutter edge is usually 30°, 45°, or 60°, both right and left. Double-angle cutters have included angles of 45, 60, and 90 degrees.

Gear Hob

     The gear hob is a formed tooth milling cutter with helical teeth arranged like the thread on a screw. These teeth- are fluted to produce the required cutting edges. Hobs are generally used for such work as finishing spur gears, spiral gears, and worm gears. They may also be used to cut ratchets and spline shafts.

Concave and Convex Milling Cutters

    Concave and convex milling cutters are formed tooth cutters shaped to produce concave and convex contours of 1/2 circle or less. The size of the cutter is specified by the diameter of the circular form the cutter produces.


 Figure 4-8. Angle,concave, convex, and gear cutters.

Corner Rounding Milling Cutter

    The corner-rounding milling cutter is a formed tooth cutter used for milling rounded corners on workplaces up to and including one-quarter of a circle. The size of the cutter is specified by the radius of the circular form the cutter produces, such as concave and convex cutters generally used for such work as finishing spur gears, spiral gears, and worm wheels. They may also De used to cut ratchets and spline shafts.

Special Shaped-Formed Milling Cutter

     Formed milling cutters have the advantage of being adaptable to any specific shape for special operations. The cutter is made specially for each specific job. In the field, a fly cutter is formed by grinding a single point lathe cutter bit for mounting in a bar, holder, or fly cutter arbor. The cutter can be sharpened many times without destroying its shape.

Selection of Milling Cutters

Consider the following when choosing milling cutters:

  • High-speed steel, satellite, and cemented carbide cutters have a distinct advantage of being capable of rapid production when used on a machine that can reach the proper speed.

  • 45°angular cuts may either be made with a 45° single-angle milling cutter while the workpiece is held in a swivel vise, or with an end milling cutter while the workpiece is set at the required angle in a universal vise.

  • The harder the material, the greater will be the heat that is generated in cutting. Cutters should be selected for their heat-resisting properties.

  • Use a coarse-tooth milling cutter for roughing cuts and a finer-toothed milling cutter for light cuts and finishing operations.

  • When milling stock to length, the choice of using a pair of side milling cutters to straddle the workpiece, a single-side milling cutter, or an end milling cutter will depend upon the number of pieces to be cut.

  • Some operations can be done with more than one type of cutter such as in milling the square end on a shaft or reamer shank. In this case, one or two side milling cutters, a fly cutter, or an end milling cutter may be used. However, for the majority of operations, cutters are specially designed and named for the operation they are to accomplish.

  • The milling cutter should be small enough in diameter so that the pressure of the cut will not cause the workpiece to be sprung or displaced while being milled.


Figure 4-9. Effect of milling cutter diameter on workpiece travel.

 Size of Milling Cutter
  • In selecting a milling cutter for a particular job, choose one large enough to span the entire work surface so the job can be done with a single pass. If this cannot be done, remember that a small diameter cutter will pass over a surface in a shorter time than a large diameter cutter which is fed at the same speed. This fact is illustrated in Figure 4-9.

Care and Maintenance of Milling Cutters

  • The life of a milling cutter can be greatly prolonged by intelligent use and proper storage. General rules for the care and maintenance of milling cutters are given below.

  • New cutters received from stock are usually wrapped in oil paper which should not be removed until the cutter is used.

  • Take care to operate the machine at the proper speed for the cutter being used, as excessive speed will cause the cutter to wear rapidly from overheating.

  • Take care to prevent the cutter from striking the hard jaws of the vise, chuck, clamping bolts, or nuts.

  • Never operate a cutter backwards. Due to the clearance angle, the cutter will rub, producing a great deal of friction. Operating the cutter backward may result in cutter breakage.

  • Whenever practical, use the proper cutting oil on the cutter and workpiece during operations, since lubrication helps prevent overheating and cutter wear.

  • Keep cutters sharp. Dull cutters require more power to drive and this power, being transformed into heat, softens the cutting edges. Dull cutters should be marked as such and set aside for grinding. For further information on cutter grinding, refer to Chapter 5, Grinding Machines.

  • Thoroughly clean and lightly coat milling cutters with oil before storing.

  • Place cutters in drawers or bins so that their cutting edges will not strike each other. Hang small cutters on hooks or pegs, and set large cutters on end. Place taper and straight shank cutters in separate drawers, bins, or racks provided with suitable sized holes to receive the shanks.

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