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.

Do you machine with precision or do you machine with ultra precision? Know the difference?  Ultra precision machining removes material to an ultra-high standard at a tolerance of tolerance of 0.002″ or 0.005 MM. You can grind, turn, and mill at ultra high precision tolerances.  But, to maintain those tight tolerances you can’t tolerate staggering tools. Ultra precision machining demands ultra rigidity. You need an ultra precision arbor to get that required ultimate rigidity.

Ultra Precision Machining for Different Industries

Manual and CNC machinists serve many different industries. Parts for defense, dental/medical, aerospace, and high tech industries require machining with ultra precision and tight tolerances. It’s not easy to produce these very small parts. Think of them as tiny in size and huge in requirements. But, the pay-off is tremendous. This is definitely a money-making niche.

Are you up to the challenge? If so, customers are waiting. See, there’s no room for mistakes when you have tight specifications. But if you can handle tight tolerances and produce parts on schedule you’ve got a ready-made market. Just prove your shop is up to the job.  Assure them you have the machines, training, and tools to get it done. That means using ultra precision tools held with with an ultra precision arbor.

ultra precision saw arborUse an Ultra Precision Arbor for Tight Tolerances

Precision machining means removing material precisely. That takes a cutter held by an ultra precision arbor for maximum rigidity. Rigidity is required if you want to keep the cutter on the work instead of staggering around the stock. It doesn’t matter if you are protoGold Series ultra precision arbor settyping or producing the finished product, the finished piece must match the job specifications. You must control the cutter at all times. Keep the cutter on the job with an arbor. Keep cutting with ultra precision with an ultra precision arbor from The Tool Company.

The Tool Company sells tools made in the USA with ultra precision. You need rigidity, we’ve got it. If you want tight tolerances, don’t tolerate anything less than The Tool Company quality. Order today.

25 Oct 2018

Using a CNC FlyCutter for Skimming Heads

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Skimming heads is a common job for machine shops that service auto shops.  When it comes to flycutting, the CNC flycutter is the best tool for the job. Therefore, step away from the face mill and the head won’t get hurt.

use a fly cutter to machine a head

Mercedes head

Why Use a CNC Flycutter to Skim Heads

You refinish the deck surface of the head or block when it is isn’t smooth or flat. It’s cheaper than replacing it.  Welds or other repairs cause warping or unevenness. Or, you may mill a head to increase the compression ratio. Clean up the manifold surfaces on a head with a flycutter if they are corroded or eroded. Sometimes the angle isn’t perfect on an aftermarket intake manifold. Stuff happens. A CNC flycutter is the tool to get it right. And there’s no room for mistake with a head. Mistakes are costly. Because once metal is removed it is gone. You can’t put it back.

Doing it Right

Do the first things first.  Fix warps in aluminum heads  before you skim them.  It reduces the amount of metal you need to skim. Next, check  flatness.  Flatness specs depend on the application and the engine. For example, performance engines need as flat as possible for the best performance possible.

Make sure you’ve got the block squared up before the first pass. Because the surface of the head must be completely parallel to the cutter. Then, once it’s aligned perfectly, ensure it is rigid. You can’t tolerate movement here.


Before you start, verify engine and head gasket recommended specifications.  In order for the gasket to properly seal, the recommended specs must be met.  It’s specified in Ras. The Ra (roughness average) in microinches varies depending on the metal (aluminum or cast iron) and the type of gasket.  So, check the gasket manufacturer’s recommendation first and then check your results using a profilometer.

Like any other job, make sure the feeds and speed are correct and use plenty of fluid. Now, get ready to skim.

Use the Right CNC Flycutter

 CNC flycutters

CNC Flycutters

Don’t forget, use the right flycutter for the job. And you can get the right flycutter at The Tool Company. Each CNC flycutter is perfectly balanced for higher RPMs and long life. You pick. Buy one individually in 1 ½”, 2”, and 2 ½” diameter sizes or get a multi-size sets.

Skim with stability. The ¼-20 alloy set screws add rigidity.

The Tool Company only sells products made  right here in the USA. Get a  full 5-year warranty with every CNC flycutter purchase.

If you aren’t skimming with a Tool Company flycutter, you aren’t skimming with the best.  Buy now and experience the difference in the skim.


Did you Spring clean your shop this year? If not, then fall is a great time to get organized. If you’ll spend the winter working in the shop, then Fall is the time to get your R8 tools and collets together and get them organized in an R8 tool holder.

R8 tool holder or collet

R8 Tools

Bridgeport, a milling machine manufacturer, invented the R8 taper for their equipment.  A drawbar through the spindle prevents loosening. Insert tools with an R8 taper directly into the machine’s spindle. Collets are the tool holders. So, you place your collets directly into the spindle and the tighten the collet with the drawbar.  The R8 system uses collets  18″ to  34″  diameter.

This isn’t new info. If you machine you know this stuff. What you need to know is a way to keep R8 tools and collets organized and protected.  That’s the job of the R8 collet trays.

R8 tool holders

courtesy Exact Tooling

Collets Need Protection

Those collets that see regular use probably stay rust-free and in pretty good shape.  The collets that don’t see much use can get rusty.  Humidity control is the best rust preventative. Use fans in the shop to circulate the air. Fans also reduce humidity and moisture.  Run shop fans constantly to keep air moving. Heating and air conditioning affect temperature and humidity.  Avoid wild temperature swings. Large temperature changes cause metal to sweat.  So, any time the shop closes for a week or a few days, keep the fans and climate control turned on.  If you don’t, changes in temperature when you reopen will cause metal to sweat.

Protect rarely used collets with a light coating of oil.  Heavy-duty oil is too hard to clean off. That’s just a waste of time. Use a product like Breakthrough CLP to protecting your metal.

Store your collets and tools in a R8 tool holder tray.  Our R8 tool holder is made of high-impact plastic. It will not rust. In addition, it won’t rust expensive tooling.

R8 Tool Holder Tray

R8 t0ol holder trays or collet racks protect collets and keep them organized at the same time.  The 52 holes in the R8 tool holder gives you enough room for a full set of collets and places for emergency extras too. Steel stamped collet trays damage tooling. High-impact plastic won’t.

Use a tool holder tray that is American built and strong.  Our R8-52 tray is the tray for you. Need a 5C tray? We got you covered.

Our R8 tool holder is simply the best. Because your collets deserve the best, order your R8 tray today.

20 Sep 2018

Did Nostradamus Predict the Collet Wrench?

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It was fun pretending that Edgar Cayce predicted the collet wrench. Even more famous than Cayce is Michael de Nostradame. He was a French medical doctor, astrologer and prognosticator that todaywe call Nostradamus. People read his 4-line poems to get hints to the future and see if he was right about history. People say Nostradamus predicted everything from the London fire to World War II. Let’s see if he predicted the collet wrench!

CNC Lathes and Mills

Collets are the tool holders used on CNC lathes and mills. The collet wrench  provides just the right amount of torque. But, CNC equipment didn’t exist in his time.  How could Nostradamus predict a tool for equipment that didn’t exist? He must have used some really “special” tea leaves.

“Something and nothing in combination
Become instructions
The great monster goes to work
Making by removing”

The quatran makes a clear reference to digital electronic processing. When “something and nothing in combination become instructions”, you’ve got the binary ones and zeros that are the base of programming languages.

This match concept was conceived by George Boole in 1847. Not only did Nostradamus predict digital processing, but he saw how it would impact manufacturing.

Now, the part about “making by removing” is clearly a reference to subtractive manufacturing. You use a lathe to remove the parts you don’t want to make the part you need. The collet holds the tool in the lathe and the collet wrench adjusts the collet that holds the tool.

5c collet wrenchHigh Impact Plastic

The  collet wrench sold by The Tool Company is manufactured with high-impact plastic. This stuff wasn’t even in around back in the 1500’s when Michael was crystal ball gazing and writing with quill and ink. But, did he see the flourscent orange plastic handle in his visions? Possibly.

“From the death of the old
A new material arises.
Wonderous in its strength.
A delight to the eye”

Maybe “from the death of old a new material arises” refers to dinosaurs that died, decomposed and transformed into the black oil that we turn into plastic! By Jove, that’s it!

The Tool Company collet wrench is strong because its made of polystyrene. This wonder resin can be machined and molded. Its way better than regular styrene. You can make it any color. The Tool Company thinks bright orange is a good idea. The bright color is a “delight to the eye” because it is easy to find in a cluttered machine shop.

Don’t Wait to Get Your Collet Wrench

Nostradamus wasn’t big on dates as part of his prognostications. But he said the world would end in 3797. On the off chance he got the date wrong, you should probably get your collet wrench now. Nostradamus never said where to get a good collet wrench. If he had, he would have said buy your collet wrench from The Tool Company.

The concave face aligns perfectly. The handle is sturdy, durable and easy-to-find. Buy your collet wrench at The Tool Company now. The end may be near.


The Tool Company is just full of good news. Your favorite seller of the ultra precision arbor and fly cutter is stoked to share some good news for metalworkers. The Gardner Business Index for Metalworking has been decreasing in durable goods capacity utilization.

courtesy Stuart Miles

So What?

Why do you care? Because its incredible news for metalworkers. So, you better grab your tool tray, your collet wrench and your ultra precision arbor and get to work.

Because the backlog index is accelerating, durable goods capacity utilization should shift from contraction to expansion. After 22 months of contraction, that’s good news too.

Remember,  the backlog index is a growth leading indicator.  And, it’s a reliable leading indicator to boot. Finally, contraction is ready to shift to growth.

It’s time to work.

Potential for Growth in Jobs

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a faster than average job growth rate. They predict growth of 17% to 2024. This includes jobs for metal and plastic workers. For toolmakers, the news is even better. How does a job growth rate of about 6% sound to you? Toolmakers are getting close to retirement and few workers are entering the field. This is one job with tremendous potential for growth.

Millwrights have an even brighter future. Their predicted job growth rate  is 14%.

So, CNC workers have lots of good news to cheer about. When the manufacture of durable goods grows the number of jobs grows too.  It doesn’t matter if you make goods or make parts, you’re going to have plenty to do. So, get your tools ready!

Get Your Ultra Precision Arbor and Get Ready!

Gold Series ultra precision arbor set

Gold Series Ultra Precision Arbor Box Set

Get ready to go to work with American-made tools. The Tool Company believes in American manufacturing. We only sell products made in the USA.

We back what we sell with a 5 year warranty. Our ultra precision arbor incorporates Vibra-Core technology. This reduces chatter. Only our accufeed brings finger-tip control to your press.

Why settle for cheap imitations made in foreign countries? Just buy the best from The Tool Company. Then get to work! The future is bright for metalworkers, millwrights, and all machinists.

Ready to grow? You should be. Grab your slitting and slotting saw and your slitting saw arbor and get working. The American manufacturing outlook is bright this year so you better grab sunglasses with your safety glasses.

growth in GDP is good news for manufacturing

GDP is Growing

Growth in GDP

The overall gross domestic product was initially expected to increase 2.5% in 2018.  But with 6 months of growth under our collective belt, turns out GDP should grow 2.9% this year. That makes 3 years of consecutive growth. That’s even better than 2016.  It could be higher, if the stock market is any indication. We are just days away from a record for number of days a bull market.

What this means for Manufacturing

Here is better news. Manufacturing should rise almost as much as GDP. This is the time to get your tools (know where you put your slitting saw blade and slitting saw arbor) and get to work. U.S. manufacturing is forecast to  grow 2.8% this year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting job growth too. 20.5 million new jobs before 2020. Consumer spending and business investment are up too. That’s good news for manufacturing, too. There will be more health care spending. More spending in health care requires more medical supplies. In the US, mills and lathes are busy. Grab your accufeed to drill those small holes and your slitting saw blade and slitting saw arbor to make tiny cuts. Healthcare isn’t the only industry that needs you!

There will be an additional 2.1 million jobs in technology. If you can design and convert to G-code you are in high demand.

ultra precision arbor for machining for aerospace industry

Growth in Defense and Aerospace Industries

You don’t need alien technology or work experience at Area 51 to get in on aerospace. Globally, aerospace and defense are expected to grow 4.1%. After their recent decline, this growth is welcome. There’s a backlog of civilian plane orders to clear. That’s going to require parts. Who is going to machine the parts? Let’s machine them in the U.S. The United States makes up half of aerospace global production. That’s a lot of work for machinists and machine shops. Are you ready?

Grow through Quality

It’s no secret, some of the most successful machine shops grow because they have a reputation for quality. If you’re going to machine for aerospace, defense, medical or other high-tech industries, you need precision and a commitment to perfection.

slitting saw arbor set

Slitting saw arbor set

That type of quality requires the right equipment, the right machinist, and the right tools. Get quality tools at The Tool Company. Every slitting saw arbor, accufeed, kneestop, and general reach arbor we sell is made in the USA. We back them with a 5 year warranty. We’re ready to do our part to bring back the proud tradition of American manufacturing. Are you ready? Buy your slitting saw blade and slitting saw arbor and get to work!


A fly cutter is any single point cutter attached to the mill.  They are a must have finishing and facing tool.  Fly cutters may be more common in the manual machine shop, but CNC machinists know that fly cutters win over face mills when it comes to the best finish. That’s because fly cutters clear a large swath with each pass.  Make fewer passes and get a better finish.  It’s a low-tech tool for a high-tech finish.

cnc fly cutter for precisionWhat Makes a Fly Cutter Great

A fly cutter is a cylindrical body that holds a cutter.  It’s not the best tool for carving out lots of material, but it is dynamite for removing small amounts.  That’s why it is a great finishing tool.

Finishing with a face mill isn’t the same. Face mills use multiple cutters.  And multiple cutters inserted into one tool is a recipe for a poor finish if the inserts are not exactly the same height. Exactly.

A single cutter is the best option when need the smoothest finish. You can get a face mill to do the job by removing all the cutters but one. But why would you? Just start with a fly cutter!

Watch a Fly Cutter Work

See for yourself. Check out the fly cutter at work in this video:

The initial finish might have looked pretty smooth. But, with one pass with the fly cutter there is a much better  finish.

cnc fly cutters set

Set of 3 fly cutters

Use the Best Fly Cutter for the Best Finish

It just makes sense. Use the best fly cutters and get the best finish. And, you get the best fly cutters at The Tool Company.

Pick from 3 sizes. Each size is balanced. Get better stability and cutting action. These fly cutters are American made, like everything at The Tool Company . Each has a 5 year warranty.  So, you know they are made to last.

Don’t get ripped off by cheap fly cutters.  You deserve the best. Order your fly cutters from The Tool Company today.




Thinking about expanding into a new niche? The need for medical industry machining is growing the population ages. But like all niches, machining for the medical industry has its  challenges. First, the materials are different. Second, the sizes are really small. You need all the help you can get. If you machine parts for surgical implants or medical instruments you must machine very small parts (think micro machining) and work with titanium and plastics. You need powerful software too. Plus you’ve got to find the work. The Tool Company can’t help you find medical-industry customers, but we make the tools like the ultra precision arbor and micro drill to get the job done once you get the job. We even point you to some really powerful software to get you up and running.

The Real Value of  Tools

Micromachining and microdrilling require extremely specialized equipment. Buying tools isn’t a time to be penny-wise and pound foolish. Don’t let sticker shock prevent you from buying the best precision saws, ultra precision arbors, and software.

Keep cycle times short and setups simple. Maximize all available turret positions. Invest in quality saws and ultra precision arbors for long-lasting performance. Then, put them to work. Experiment with feeds and speeds until you find the sweet spot.

The Right Software

Autodesk Partmaker  is a Knowledge-Based Machining program that will turbocharge software helps productivityyour productivity. The software takes specific information about your shop then adds in, feeds and speeds, tooling and repetitive processes to speed programming. You receive several options to manufacture your parts based on your available tooling and batch size. Use as a stand-alone program or with FeatureCAM Ultimate and reduce programming time.

SmartCAM also makes use of a Knowledge-Based Machining Library. It is super simple to use. Even first time users can cut metal the first day. Then, set up new jobs by grouping data and associating machines and materials. The newest version improves the user interface even more. Because it doesn’t matter if the software is powerful, if you can’t use it then it’s garbage.

ultra precision saw arborUltra Precision Arbor, Micro Drill Adapter Made in the USA

No matter the job, your work is only as good as your tools. Rely on an ultra precision arbor or a micro drill adapter from The Tool Company.

Will you machine with a cobalt or high speed steel saw? Buy an ultra precision arbor from The Tool Company. It utilizes a Vibra-Core design to reduce vibration and chatter. Go for extra long reach out and get closest cutter to work area available.

micro drill adapter made by Sierra AmericanThe micro drill adapter at The Tool Company is one of the most accurate mini-drill adapters sold. An accufeed is the secret weapon for less drill breakage used by machinists everywhere.

Everything we sell at The Tool Company is made in the USA and backed by a 5 year warranty. So, go ahead and explore new niches. We’ve got your back.

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