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Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions Image
Frequently asked Questions

Below are some of the most common Frequently Asked Questions FAQs we get from our customers:

Can I use an endmill / router bit to drill a hole?
Well that depends. If, for instance, you have to drill a 2″ diameter hole through a 3/4″ panel, yes, you could use a 1/4″ router bit and route out the hole. You could still end up with some burning in the cut since feed rate will be slow. However, you cannot drill, for instance, a 1/2″ hole with a 1/2″ router bit. Router bits (endmills) are not designed for drilling applications and need to move horizontally to remove chips from the cut. Contrary to drill bits, router bits will burn and often break if used to drill.

What are the correct parameters (feeds and speeds) for drill bits?
The sweet spot for drill bits will fall in the ranges below based on your production needs.
3000 rpm 1-2 meters (40-80” min)
4500 rpm 1.5-2.5 meters (60-100” min)
6000 rpm 2-3.5 meters (80-140” min)
9000 rpm 2.5-5.5 meters (100-220” min)

What is chip load?    
Chip load is a measurement and represents the chip size of material being removed by each flute or cutting edge on a tool during the cutting process.  It is a calculation derived from the rpm, the feed speed and the number of flutes on the tool.  Chip oad = Feed Rate (inches per minute) / (RPM x number of flutes)

What is the importance of having the correct chip load?
Calculating the correct chip load depends on a few things: material, number of flutes, RPM, and Feed Rate. Not having the correct chip load can cause unwanted heat in the cut, tool breakage, poor finish and other problems. Correct chip load is necessary to optimize tool life and finish quality.

How can I find my optimum chip load?
Start using the recommended chip load range and slowly increase your feed rate until the finish quality becomes unacceptable. Then slowly decrease feed rate again until desired finish is restored.  Make note of your feed rate.   Next, decrease the machine RPM’s until the finish deteriorates.  Once that occurs, increase RPM’s until finish is once again restored.  At this point, you have found the “sweet spot”.

What is an easy way to remember the chip load concept?
Too big a chip load will decrease the finish. Too small a chip will decrease the life.

What are cutting tool safety standards?
The American National Standards Institute has not developed a comprehensive safety standard for industrial cutting tools. Europe has extensive safety and production standards to ensure that your cutting tools are designed to the highest precision and adhere to the strictest safety regulations. (DIN – German Institute for Norms)

Is tool holder quality all the same?
A tool holder is the interface between machine machine spindle and the tool. This means that if a tool holder isn’t properly balanced it can cause an oscillation in the spindle. This can cause costly spindle damage, runout and premature wear. Buying from a reputable source diminishes this risk.  Some tool holders are supplied with static collet nuts (as opposed to ball bearing) which are lower quality, lower cost and less accurate and an important item to note when comparing apples to apples. A tool holder with a ball bearing collet nut can be used to run both clockwise and counter clockwise tools. A static collet nut tool holder can only run right hand rotation unless it’s a dedicated left-hand tool holder.

Which type of tool holder should I use?
For general use, a standard collet chuck is more than adequate. If you’re experiencing vibration in the cut, despite a new collet and a bearing nut, a high precision chuck is ideal. If you want to eliminate the use of collets and experience high clamping force use a Hydro Chuck. If you want to equip diamond and spoil board cutters, and experience high precision without compound tolerances a Heat Shrink Chuck would be a good choice.

How long do collets last?
Replacing collets is an imperative part of CNC maintenance. If you don’t replace them frequently enough they can cause damage to the spindle, cause tool chatter and breakage, and cause vibration and run-out. Replacing collets every 500 machine hours is recommended.

What is the proper way to assemble a tool?
First snap the collet into the collet or cyclone nut. Then place the tool into the collet, tighten the collet manually onto the tool holder. Next, position and secure the tool holder in a tool setup fixture. Finally tighten collet nut with a torque wrench. View demo here.

What is the proper torque to tighten a collet nut to?
The amount of torque depends on collet style being used.
For ER 20 torque = 59ft/lbs.
For ER 32 torque = 100 ft/lbs.
For ER 40 torque = 130 ft/lbs.
For RDO 35 (SYOZ25) torque = 90 ft/lbs.

What is the proper way to tighten a collet nut using a torque wrench? When the tool holder is secured in a tool set-up fixture, then use a torque wrench to tighten to correct torque. For removing the tool from the collet nut do not use a torque wrench, this will cause the torque wrench to lose accuracy.

Dust seems to bog down my tool when its cutting, how can I avoid this?If your dust collection system seems to be performing inadequately, consider repositioning and assisting faster chip evacuation by replacing the standard collet nut on your tool holder with a Cyclone Dust Nut. The best results are obtained using tools with the shortest cutting length possible for the application needs.

I want to drill holes with my CNC machine but I am experience ellipsoid (oval, out-of-round) type holes instead of perfect circles. How can I fix this?
Standard metric drill bits have a flat edge on the shank for set screw positioning that don’t allow the bits to be mounted with the desired accuracy if not positioned “just right” between pressure “fingers” on the collet. The solution is to get a small and inexpensive drill bit adapter that has a 10mm cylindrical shank (without flat) to go into the 10mm collet. The female end of the adapter accepts the 10mm drill shank with flat, and is tightened with a set screw.

What drill bit do I use for blind or through holes?
A “Through Hole Bit”, also referred to as “V-Point” is for holes that are meant to go all the way through material and exit the other side. A “Dowel/Brad Point” is used for holes that are intended for blind holes, i.e. they stop at some point in the material. A “Hinge Boring Bit” as the name suggests is the best option for hinge pockets and hardware recess holes.

Is there an adapter for many different drill diameters and can’t find collet size needed?
A Universal Drill Adapter is the best and only option for efficient and consistent drilling operations where collet sizes for the drill shank are not readily available.

When I am purchasing router bits how do I choose a bit for the best finish?
A common misconception is that more flutes provide a better yield or better finish. The number of flutes indeed plays a factor. However, to get the best finish other variables such as feed rate, rpm and chip load have to be considered. Remember: More flutes do not equal better finish! More flutes means you have faster feed rate capability and if you feed too slowly, you will end up wearing the bit out prematurely due to generating excessive heat in the cut.

What is a good router bit for cutting flexible plastics?
A solid carbide O-Flute bit, which has a concave radius flute shape, is equipped with geometry that is ideal for cutting flexible plastics.

When I am machining laminated material face down what bit should I use?
The ideal bit for machining laminate facedown is an UPCUT spiral bit. Unfortunately, you should be aware that the tool geometry yields the potential to chip or fray the bottom side of the material which is on top when machining face down. The other alternative is a compression bit.

Is there a tool the can effectively cut complex, irregular surface shapes?
A Ball Nose UPCUT bit would be an excellent choice. Its rounded shape will provide seamless passes as the tool moves across the material in multiple passes.

What tool can provide high quality top edge finish?
A downcut bit provides superb top edge finish. This bit has the potential to push chips down into the cut.  However, if matched with proper dust extraction this shouldn’t be an issue.

What are some good tips to remember to get the most out of my tools?

  • Always adapt the cutting length of the router tool to the panel thickness, i.e. cutting length should be minimally longer than the panel thickness.
  • Always choose the stronger tool, i.e. cut length not too long and diameter not too small.
  • Material hold-down must fit the tool. That means, select small diameter tools for thin panels or parts that are prone to moving
  • Chip clearance is better on larger diameter tools, therefore when running high feed rates and thicker panels, use a diameter of 5/8” or greater diameter.
  • Select highest accuracy clamping tools. (precision collet chuck, Heat shrink, Hydro Chuck or Preziso)
  • If using collet chucks, replace collets regularly. (every 500 machine hours!)

Should I use carbide or diamond on MDF and Particle board?
For heavy use, due to the introduction of 2 flute PCD in diameter 3/8 or ½, we recommend using PCD tooling to decrease your tooling cost providing you stick to cutting homogeneous material and not use a PCD bit for all purpose machining. For best results, order in an HSK heat shrink toolholder.

And more frequently asked questions FAQs

Are there instances in which I should not use PCD tooling?

You should NOT use PCD tooling under these circumstances:

  • When materials and material thickness varies and having a diamond tool for each operation isn’t feasible.
  • If initial cost outlay is critical and a higher upfront tool price isn’t tolerated for cash flow reasons even though it will save much over time.
  • If material is prone to inclusion of staples, nails etc. (diamond tools are susceptible to impact damage).
  • If the machine is older and has excessive spindle runout, or parts tend to move on the table….stick with carbide.
  • If machine operators are poorly disciplined and wouldn’t handle a diamond tool with the gentle respect it deserves.
  • If customer is not prepared to invest in a complete setup to insure the diamond tool is capable of performing to expectations, i.e. doesn’t want to replace the collet or invest in a heat shrink tool holder.
  • Customer is cutting parts that require plunging straight down into the material (this creates a lot of heat that will cause the PCD tool to wear prematurely.

How do I calculate chip load?

Chip load = Feed Rate(in/min) / (RPM x # flutes)

What is the best tool for recessed cuts and surface planing (for instance, shaker doors) ?
Our FOURCUT surface planer is ideal for this application. It can produce high quality surface finish and is an excellent choice for making MDF shaker doors, for instance.

If I need to cut deep into material what is the best option to avoid tool breakage?
Considering the rule of thumb is that cut length shouldn’t exceed three times the cut diameter, that means that cutting a deep mortise pocket can represent a challenge.  Special deep pocket mortise bits solve that problem as they are made from a very special high-density alloy that prevents deflection and tool breakage despite the depth of cut.  A multi-pass progression is required.

If I need to cut mitre folds, what tool should I use?
A V-Groove bit is available for this application. They can be found in 45, 60, 90 and 91 degree folds with special angles on request. Fortunately, the inserts are double sided giving longer cutting life.   Special angles can be made as needed.

What is the process to order a custom tool?
The process is very simple. A profile drawing or material sample is supplied in order to obtain a firm price quote. Then, once an order is placed, a dimensioned drawing is submitted for review and approval or revision. After final approval takes place then manufacturing begins and is wrapped up usually within 4 weeks or sooner!

What is a cost effective solution for short runs or small projects?
A corrugated knife adapter fitted with a heat shrink tool holder provides flexibility needed for proto-type production and ”one-off” projects that won’t break the bank.  This tool body is made of steel and is available to accept either 8mm , 5/16”, or ¼” x 60 degree corrugated knives. 
This tool is designed to accept knives of length 40, 60 and 80mm corrugated knives. Similar cutters are seen in the market with an aluminum body but we strongly suggest you stay clear of such cutters as the aluminum corrugations in the head will eventually wear out and the tool can become a real danger to operate!

If I want to run a saw blade on my CNC what sizes of blades should I use?
For saw blades up to 200mm we recommend a shank-style adapter. For saw blades up to 400 mm the clamping flange style adapter is necessary. For blades up to 350 mm we have a standard flange assembly.

What is the benefit of a tool setup fixture?
Accurate tool set up will save much time, and improve tool accuracy. This is imperative to save setup time and reduce waste.

What are the benefits of utilizing an aggregate head?
Aggregate heads can yield many benefits depending on the head equipped. Boring, sawing, in both horizontal and vertical directions are possible. Along with having from one to four outputs, maximizing your efficiency.

How can I protect my spindle motor from dust intrusion?
When the machine is not in use or being moved, HSK spindle plugs prevent dust and debris from getting into the spindle.  In addition, some machinery companies theorize that dust can actually enter the spindle but getting sucked into it through the collet/collet nut pathway.  While this is unlikely, there are small plugs available that allow closing off the small center hole in the HSK which is standard on all HSK tool holders.

What does it mean if my tools have collet marks on the tool shank?
This is a sign that there is unwanted vibration in the cutting process. This is typically caused by a worn-out collet, incorrect torque, low quality tool holder, insufficient tool shank buried in the collet.

Is there a way to verify that your spindle is running accurately?
Using a test calibration bar can make the identification of spindle problems fairly easy. This is an important maintenance step in order to prevent costly spindle repairs.

Why do my tools break?
Tool breakage is usually the result of one or a combination of:
Bad/worn collet, Poor quality tool holder or collet nut, Incorrect torque, vibration during the cut, clamping the tool too high on the shank, Too shallow a cut in relation to cut length of the tool, excessive heat due to incorrect chip load or running the tool when it’s dull!

What does it mean if the bit appears to be burned?
This is typically due to improper chip load  (chip load too small), which can greatly reduce tool life. This means that RPM, feed speed or number of flutes needs to be changed on the cutting process.

If I need to remove a lot of material in a cut quickly what is the best tooling option?
A Rougher is the tool for that job, but if good surface quality is needed, a second pass with another tool is necessary.

What tool should I use for cutting plywood and OSB panels with a good surface finish? A Compression Chip Breaker is the best bit for that job. The chip breaker facilitates getting bulky chips reduced and out of the cut to provide a cooler running tool and longer tool life.

What is an ideal tool for cutting material that has a laminate or coating on both sides?
A compression bit would be the solution for cutting this material. The geometry of this tool, two opposite shear angles, causes the tool to cut towards the center of the material. This leaves excellent quality on top and bottom of material.

What is a good router bit for cutting rigid plastic materials?
A solid carbide O-Flute UPCUT bit is ideal for rigid plastics such as: Acrylics, Nylons, Plexiglass and others.

When does purchasing PCD tooling become an economical choice?
PCD tooling is the extremely economical when it is dedicated to cutting homogenous material of the same thickness and not exchanged between material types, for example switching from composite to wood.

Why should I purchase a Tool Setup Fixture if a can assemble my tools without one?
If you want to avoid tool breakage and achieve optimum tool life than acquiring a Setup Fixture is mandatory. It allows the tool holder to have the correct torque and alignment during assembly. This ensures accuracy during the cut.

Why should I choose a Bearing Nut over a Static Nut?
The Ball Bearing Nut allows the ability to run CCW and CW tools as well as offering a higher clamping force improving both accuracy and finish.