In the past, we’ve covered CNC tooling, CNC techniques and even how to use CNC tool trays to build a tooling cart. But we’ve never covered the general topic of CNC machining.  Time to fix that.

What Does CNC Mean?

CNC is an acronym for Computer Numeric Control. It refers to machines that cut or carve while being controlled by a computer using sophisticated software instead of a human. You could be using a router, mill or lathe. But this isn’t robotics. Attach saw blades, router bits, drill bits and face mills to a CNC machine and get the job done.

3D Machining

CNC machines run on an X axis and a Y axis. Think back to a piece of graph paper. The X axis runs across the paper on a horizontal line and the Y axis goes up. The bed of a CNC machine is like that piece of graph paper. The X axis is the horizontal and the Y axis is the vertical. But you’ve got more than two dimensions with CNC machining.You machine in three dimensions.  CNC machines are like 3D printers because they recognize the Z axis. The Z axis refers to the movement of the tool up and down.

Digital Technology Changed Machining

Digital technology changed machining forever. Before the marriage of computers and drills, if you wanted to create many holes in a work piece, a human had to manually operate a drill press up and down. And feed the material. First, they manually inserted the drill bit in the spindle. It was labor intensive.

Then someone figured that a computer could control the boring job of operating the drill press. Suddenly a program could contain the instructions to tell the machine how and when to move. The same program could be used to feed the stock.

But the biggest change to machining began with computer assisted drawing (CAD). This technology allowed you to design something using computer software, then take more software to convert the design into a set of instructions that a machine could use to produce the work. Now humans control machinery with software instead of hands.

CNC tool trays, arbors, fly cuttersCNC Tool Trays, Saw Arbors and More

The Tool Company understands machining. Whether you need CNC tools or CNC tool trays to keep them safe and organized, The Tool Company has you covered.  We support American manufacturing. We only sell American made products.

Order your CNC tools and CNC tool trays today from The Tool Company.

Manual machinists love their fly cutters.  But many machinists think that for CNC machining you should use a face mill for the best finish.  Horse pucky. Physics are physics and geometry is geometry. Science and math don’t change just because you machine by hand or with CNC.  Every CNC machinist knows that you just use a CNC fly cutter to get an the ultimate finish.

CNC fly cutter produces a mirror finish

The Finishing Pass and the CNC Fly Cutter

Step one is to get the piece to the specified dimensions.  You take pride in your work, so it’s important the your final product looks good too.  You always take one final step. That’s the finishing pass.  Here’s how to pull it off.

Control Chip Load.  You must control the chips.  When chips contact the work surface they can mess up the finish.  Keep chips out of the way with air, coolant, or a combination of both.  You know flooding the cutting area is important. If you don’t know this, read more  here.

Control Feeds and Speeds.  Keep your RPMs up.  The less time the material spends in contact with the tool the less likely the edge will buildup.  Less edge buildup equals a smoother finish.  Whether you use the CNC Cookbook or another g-wizard calculator make sure you’ve got it set up right.

Use the Correct Angle. Ensure the lead angle is correct.  Use higher lead angles for better results.  A correct tool nose radius is critical to the quality of the finish.  Cleanly remove chips with the right chipload in relation to the radius of the cutting edge.  If you have a large cutting edge radius in relation to the chipload, the cutter can’t get under the chip and cleanly slice it. When heat builds up you reduce the life of your tool.

Don’t Allow Wobble and Chatter.  Tighten your set screws properly. If you over torque you can create the same problem as not tightening enough.

cnc fly cutters set

set of fly cutters

Fly Cut with the Right CNC Fly Cutter

All the tips in all the blogs won’t give you a good finish if you don’t start with a  good CNC fly cutter.

Buy your CNC fly cutter from The Tool Company.  These CNC fly cutters are just better.  They come  in 3 sizes, ranging from 1 ½” to 2 ½” in diameter.  Sold individually or in a set.  The CNC fly cutters are the best because they are:

 

  • American made
  • Heat treated for long tool life
  • Come with large set screws for more stability
  • Balanced and ready to run at high RPMs.

CNC fly cutter made in the USA

When you want the best finish use the best CNC fly cutter. Buy your fly cutter at The Tool Company. You’ll get the best finish time and time again.

Wouldn’t it be great if your large mill, lathe, or jig borer could be controlled like a hand tool? CNC amps up machining to an awesome level. But, all that power, speed and automatic tool changing no longer makes the tool feel like an extension of your body. Admit it, there are times when you would like a bit of  fingertip control. Like if you need to drill small holes. That’s when you really want fingertip control. Fortunately, for those times you can still get the feel of a hand tool with a drill press. A micro drill adapter gives you hand sensitive control of your drill press.

Controlling the Peck Cycle

As you already know, holes are drilled using a peck cycle. Your drill bit is like a chicken or pigeon pecking at grain. Except your drill bit is pecking at wood, metal, or plastic.  Peck drilling stops swarf build up. You must peck if the depth of the hole is more than three times the width. When pecking, the drill bit goes in less than 5 times the diameter of the hole and then comes partially back out. Then you do it again. And again. And again till you reach the depth you need. The bit never leaves the work completely. It retracts the drill only slightly. This style of peck drilling is faster but it only works on long holes. It’s easy to overheat  break the drill bit. And it’s easy to break the bit when drilling really small holes. The smaller the hole, the smaller the bit. The smaller the bit the more control you need.

micro drill adapter made by Sierra AmericanGet in Control with a Micro Drill Adapter

If you’ve got a very large and extremely powerful machine but you need a little hole, you’ve got a problem. If you used a hand tool, you would automatically have that tactile sense of the peck.  But your big drill press wasn’t made for that kind of operation.  However, if you modify your press with a micro drill adapter you can get that kind of control. Install quickly on your drill press and suddenly you have fingertip control. You peck confidently, even when you peck at a small hole. Peck  gently with finger pressure then release. It auto returns to the top of the cycle.

Get it at The Tool Company

Make sure you get the right micro drill adapter. Get it at The Tool Company. The hardened pin design avoids problems with the tool-holding collet. Doesn’t matter if your chuck is keyed or not. That’s because the  “O” tapper fits both. The bearings are double-shielded, so it lasts. But don’t worry about tool life, you get a 5 year warranty. You won’t find that elsewhere.

Like everything at The Tool Company, it’s made in the USA. It’s made for The Tool Company by Sierra American Multi-Systems and they understand control. For a small hole, you need control. If you need control, install a micro drill adapter. And buy a micro drill adapter from The Tool Company.

If you are like most home machinists, two things scare you. Learning to use a fly cutter and trying make precision cuts. Experienced machinists know that precision requires control. Many hobby machinists aren’t confident when it comes to control. But, control isn’t a problem if start with a quality, ultra precision arbor and saw blade.

See, using an ultra precision saw is nothing more just making small, precise cuts. Doesn’t matter what material you are cutting. It could be wood or metal. But small cuts require precision. Precision means you’ve got to get up close and person with the work area.

slitting saw blades require special slitting saw arborHacks for Precision Cuts

Now that you know what makes a precision cut, let’s get sawing. Use these hacks to ace precision cuts:

  • Watch your speeds. It’s better to use less speed when you need precision.  Just because that  blade looks like a  circular saw blade doesn’t mean it cuts like one. So, for precision slits and cuts, get in close and run slow. Keep the feed rate low as well.
  •  Use plenty of lubricant or air to keep the area clean. This isn’t the time to be stingy with lubricant. Flood the workarea if you must.
  •  Make sure to remove all swarf after every pass. It’s important to keep the cut clean.
  •  Make sure you always cut in the same direction.

ultra precision arbor

Use an Ultra Precision Arbor

All saw arbors are supposed to keep the saw blade in place. But ultra precision cutting requires extraordinary rigidity. It also requires you to get the blade as close to the work as possible. Most  saw arbors are held in place with a cap. This cap can be a problem if a vise is holding the workpiece. If the clamping screw runs afoul of the vise the result is disaster. Ruined work.  But the ultra precision arbor sold by The Tool Company solves that problem. It gets a low profile from its deep cap. As a result, you can get the blade closer to the work area than with a standard arbor.

ultra precision arbor

Buy the Best Ultra Precision Arbor

The best ultra precision arbor is found at The Tool Company. This arbor does more than just get you close to the workpiece. Proximity is just the start. Additional benefits are:

  • Superior vibration absorption
  • Durable Weldon shank
  • Extra Long Reach
  • 5 Year Warranty

It’s also homegrown. That’s right. The best ultra precision arbor is made in the USA. Order a set of three ultra precision arbors or just buy an individual arbor. Either way, you’ll cut with precision when you cut with an ultra precision arbor.

The home hobbyist can’t always afford the luxuries in a professional CNC shop. But with a little ingenuity and out of the box thinking, you can replicate those luxuries.  Tool carts are standard for a professional shop. But not every home machinist has the dough to spend on a tool card. No problem. It’s easy to make one yourself.  Just get a few items and put them together. Buy a CNC 40 tool tray or 2 or 3 and a 16 x 30 utility cart.  Here’s what to do.

Find an Inexpensive Utility Cart

Look at Harbor Freight or Home Depot for a sturdy utility cart. Check out teacher supply or office supply stores too.

The size is important. You want a 16 x 30 utility cart. You want one that is on wheels too.  Those wheels give you the most versatility because they make your cart mobile. It doesn’t matter if it is metal or  high-grade plastic.  They aren’t expensive. US General sells them for under $50.  Get a cart that with two or three shelves. The number of shelves you need depends on the number of tools you want to store.  Make sure it is a 16 x 30 cart.

cnc tool traysThe CNC 40 Tool Tray Set Up

Now that you’ve got your tray, you need to hold your tools. So, get the number of CNC 40 tool trays you need for your current tools with room for expansion.  The CNC tool tray sold by The Tool Company is 15 ¾” by 6 ¾”.  That’s the perfect size for your utility cart. See, 4 of these trays can sit side-by-side on each shelf of your cart. That means a simple 2 shelf cart will hold up to 80 of your 40 taper tools.

It’s just that easy to protect your tooling and keep everything in order. Just like the professional shops, but at a fraction of the cost.

Now, this example was for a shop using a 40 taper machine. But it will work with a 30 taper too as long as you get your trays from The Tool Company. That’s because their 30 taper tray is the same dimension. It holds the same number of tools too.  The taper size is the only difference.

What’s Holding You Back?

So why haven’t you done this yet? Do you think it’s no worth it? Bah!

You’ll machine more efficiently. That’s because the tool trays are numbered for easy tool calibration and selection.  You can set up the tools in the proper sequence, set them up in the tray, and save time.

The American Tool Company CNC 30 and 40 tool trays are made of high-impact plastic. They protect your expensive tooling. They even have side ears to make it easy to pick the tray up out of a cart.  It’s like they think of everything.

So what are you thinking? Buy your CNC 40 tool tray from The Tool Company and order your utility cart. You’ll have one of the luxuries of the big guys by the weekend.

Runout. It’s the bane of everything in the world that spins. Including our world (Earth) itself. Runout refers to the inaccuracy of any mechanical system as it spins. It happens when the tool or shaft doesn’t turn in complete alignment with the main axis. It might be a common problem, but it causes really big problems in machining. With 5C collets the solution is a simple collet wrench.

dial indicator kits measures runoutCheckout Runout with Gauge

When the drill chuck doesn’t hold the bit in the center, the bit turns on a secondary axis as it rotates. Like a wobble. This is runout. Total indicated runout (TIR) is how you measure the concentricity of a collet. It’s not hard to do. Just press a dial indicator  against the rotating bit after it starts turning. The dial indicator amplifies any minute variations, so they can easily be seen with the naked eye. The dial indicator just takes the slight deviation from true concentricity and makes it large to see and measure. Since you can’t make adjustments to what you can’t measure and you can’t measure what you can’t see, the dial indicator solves this problem. The deviations become visible and thus correctable.  Make sense?

drill press with micro drill adaptersCorrect Drill Press Runout

Start with a good cleaning. Many times this solves the problem. Fully open the jaws  and blow them clean with compressed air. Just one speck of dirt can cause runout. Next, check the drill rod to make sure it is true. While you are at it, check the runout on the spindle and check the bearings on the spindle.

Fix Brake Lathe Runout

This revolves around arbor care. Yes,the pun was intended. Just inspect the arbor and spindle every once in a while. Look for metal chip buildup or rust. Simply clean the arbor with fine steel wool and some WD40. Don’t use sandpaper or a wire brush. If you accidentally remove some metal when you clean, the runout only gets worse. When you check the arbor take a look at the spindle bearings. That could be the source of the runout if you verify lathe setup and arbor condition.

5c collet wrenchProtect Your Collets with a Collet Wrench

Instead of correcting runout, prevent it. When collets aren’t properly tightened you get runout. Runout can also damage the collet.

Use a collet wrench and tighten all three jaws evenly. Just align the three prongs into the top of the collet. Next, turn the wrench to thread the collet into your machine.

So buy a collet wrench and stop runout.

Every ultra precision saw arbor sold at The Tool Company holds your blade for precision cutting use after use. It doesn’t matter if your CNC application calls for a high speed steel blade or a carbide saw, you need saw arbors as precise as your saw.

saw arbors hold saw bladesThe Cobalt Enhanced High Speed Steel Option

Cobalt enhanced high speed steel is the alloy of choice for CNC saws and has been for ages. Alloys are mixtures of metal and the most common HSS mixture includes a generous helping of tungsten and with cobalt added for strength and resistance to wear. Cobalt-enhanced HSS makes working with titanium alloys, stainless steel, and other metals easier.

Because HSS is strong, it is perfect for  face mills, slitting saws, and gear cutting.

HSS costs less than carbide and is easier to sharpen to boot.

HSS does have a downside. That is the limitation on speed. HSS can’t run as fast as carbide steel. But, if tool life trumps speed (like in ultra precision cutting) HSS comes out on top.

The Carbide Option for Precision Cutting

In high speed CNC applications, carbide has replaced high speed steel. Carbide may not be as strong as HSS, but it cuts with a greater speed range.

A carbide saw can cut 4 to 12 times faster than HSS. That’s why carbide is well-suited for high speed CNC applications.

If carbide is out of the budget or you need the durability of HSS, then check out how to get more performance from your HSS tools.

Why Use Our Ultra Precision Saw Arbors

precision saw arborsNo matter the saw blade material, if you are using an ultra precision saw, you need an ultra precision saw arbor. This is true no matter the application. From  cutting, grinding, or sharpening tools, if you need  precision, you can’t settle for an arbor that chatters or slips. Precision requires control. Control requires an ultra precision saw arbor from The Tool Company.

With a variety of sizes, The Tool Company has the diameter you need in the ultra precision saw arbor you will love. The unique “Vibra-Core Design”, results in a saw arbor that actually absorbs cutter vibration. So you can run at normal depths, feeds, and speeds and maintain productivity without chatter, slipping, or vibration.

You also get the closest cutter to work area on the market when you buy your precision arbor at The Tool Company.  Our saw arbors are all made in the USA, feature Weldon shanks, and are covered by a full 5 year warranty.

made-usa

Do you remember when you started machining? Bet you started with an end mill and fly cutters scared you to death. By now, you’ve got that all behind you. But, as you gained experience, did you learn how to get the most out of what you have in the shop? For 2019, why not grab that slitting saw arbor and blade and start to look at them differently.

CNC flycutters give mirror like finish

Hand Finish

Here’s a novel idea. Cut a part off and hand finish it. While a hand finish isn’t the equal to the finish from a fly cutter, it is an alternative. So, on your  3 axis mill, take your slitting saw and cut the piece off. Now, it’s much easier to get to the underside. So, finish it by hand. This is a great alternative if you find yourself machining a very thin part or working on a piece that seems impossible to hold. Just cut it off and hand finish it. You’ll discover that you save time by hand finishing the piece. That’s because if you keep destroying the part by machine finishing it you just waste time. Every time to start from the beginning is a waste of time, money and material. Cut waste in 2019.

Add Relief

Resolve to give your parts a bit of relief in 2019. That doesn’t mean they need time off. But it does mean that if you don’t want them to break, you must give them a break in the form of a relief slot.

A relief slot provides just enough give to clamp around tightly and not destroy the integrity of the part.

Just use your slitting saw. It is the perfect tool for creating that relief slot.  The slitting saw arbor holds the blade firmly in place and in just a couple of passes you’ll have that slot.  Be sure to pick a slitting saw arbor with a deep cap and low profile to get you as close as possible.

slitting saw arbor set

2019’s  Slitting Saw Arbor and Blade

Slitting saw blade are thin and they run fast. As a result, they heat up quickly. Use a carbide blade if you’ve got the money. Consider that the steel blade costs less upfront but it will be replaced frequently. Steel just doesn’t last like carbide.

Whether you use high speed steel or carbide, be sure to use lots of fluid. Because those slitting saw blades run so hot, coolant keeps you cutting long and cutting fast.

For 2019, the slitting saw arbor to use is the one sold by The Tool Company . Buy this arbor and get the deep, low profile cap you need to get your slitting saw blade close. You’ll experience less runout because the “Vibra Core” design absorbs vibration.

In 2019, buy the slitting saw arbor that is made in America for use by American machinists. Buy your slitting saw arbor now and in 2019 look at the slitting saw a bit differently. Make it your most valuable and underused tools in your box.

Got a home shop and machine as a hobby? Have you ever considered machining as a career? You should. Because it doesn’t matter if you finish with face mills or fly cutters.  If you simply know the difference between the two, there are CNC shops that demand your skills.

Looking for a Few Good Men and Women

Just like the military, manufacturing companies are looking for a few good men and women. They are starving for skilled machinists. The economy is booming and while manufacturing levels in different business fluctuate,  CNC operators, set-up technicians, programmers, and coordinators stay in demand.

CNC machining produces tools, dies, molds, medical equipment, and other items in high demand.

In just 10 years, the U.S. Department of Labor projects that the number of CNC machine jobs will increase by over 39,000.  You don’t even have to move because there are jobs are available in almost every state.  States as varied as Wyoming and Mississippi are some of the hottest spots for good paying CNC-related jobs. Wyoming has the highest wage at $52K and California has the lowest at $33K.

cnc fly cutters set

set of fly cutters

CNC Training

Specialized CNC machine training can be completed in less than 12 months.  There is no degree for CNC operator.  But, many technical training programs offer a Certificate in CNC Machine Operation.

You can get a two or four year degree in Industrial Systems Technology, Manufacturing Technology, Machine Technology, and Manufacturing Engineering.

No matter what route you take, you need to start with a high school diploma or G.E.D. equivalent. Machining requires certain abilities to be effective and successful.

Working with your hands and being comfortable with tools and machinery is a must.  Good communication skills will also help you advance in the CNC machining world.  Having the ability to clearly make your ideas known and understood is crucial to working well with others in the shop environment.  The more you know about computers and electronics the better. CNC depends on computers.

The Tool Company is Here to Help

The Tool Company is proud to support manufacturing and machining in the United States.  We believe that American products and American machinists are the best in the world. That’s why we sell American made products to American machinists.

We only sell the highest quality tools such as fly cutters, saw arbors, multi-stops, and tool holders.

Everything sell is made with American pride and craftsmanship.  You’ll find our products in commercial and home shops where the CNC operator cares about quality.  If you want the best, start machining and use tools from The Tool Company.

We write an incredible amount about CNC. In the past, we’ve covered tooling, CNC techniques and even how to build a tool cart using CNC tool trays. But, we’ve never just taken a look at CNC’ing in general. So, now is the time!

What Does CNC Mean?

We use the acronym all the time. But, what does it mean? CNC equals Computer Numeric Control. That means that the cutting, carving, routing, or milling machine is controlled by a computer. Software is in charge. It isn’t the same thing as robotics. CNC machines run saw blades, router bits, drill bits and face mills.

Geometry of Machining

CNC machines operate using an X axis and a Y axis. Remember that the X axis runs across on a horizontal line.  The Y axis is vertical. Looking at the bed of a CNC machine is like looking at the  graph paper from high school Algebra. The X axis is horizontal and the Y axis is vertical. But CNC machining lets you machine in 3 dimensions. A CNC machine understands the Z axis. The Z axis defines the movement of the cutter up and down.

Software makes the difference

Computers Changed Machining Forever

Computer control changed machining forever. For the better! Before computer control, if you wanted to drill numerous holes, the machinist manually operated the drill press up and down and fed the work stock. Of course, first they had to handle the tooling and set-up.

Computers took on the tedious job of moving the drill press up and down. Great! Computers don’t get bored. Now programs direct the machine movements. The same program feeds the stock too.

But, the biggest change was computer assisted drawing (CAD). Now, you use software to design an object, then the software converts the design into a set of instructions the machine uses to create the piece. Man uses software to control the machinery instead of his hands.

cnc tool trays5c collet wrench

CNC Tool Trays, Arbors and Collet Wrenches

The Tool Company understands all types of machining. It doesn’t matter if you need a multi-stop for your manual mill,  a collet wrench, CNC tools or CNC tool trays to keep them safe. The Tool Company has what you need when you need it. Like you, we believe in American manufacturing. Everything we sell is made in the USA.

You deserve American made quality from the company that knows CNC. You deserve tools and tool trays from The Tool Company. Like our name says, tools are all we do.


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