Ask any new machinist what scares them most. They will probably answer “flycutters”.  For some reason, flycutters strike fear in the hearts of apprentice and experienced machinists alike. That’s a shame. That’s because it’s just about the finest finishing tool you can ever use.

CNC flycutters give mirror like finishThe Finest Finish Ever

Flycutters beat end mills for the finest finish ever. Your fine finish is easy because you  cover a larger area in just one pass. When you finish with an end mill  you’ll create overlap marks with ever pass. With an end mill, you get a finish that’s not smooth enough for exposed surfaces. An end mill will cut it (pun intended) for machining heads, but not for decorative surfaces. The shallow flycutter cut makes the perfect finishing cut.

set of flycutters

Set of flycutters

How Flycutters Work

Flycutters have a body and a tool bit. As the body turns, the bit takes broad and very shallow slivers from the workpiece.

Most flycutters are a left turning tool that’s held at a 30° to 60° angle. A quality fly cutter gives you years of dependable service if treated with care.

Should You Make Your Own?

Just Google “make a flycutter” and you’ll get over 90,000 results. You can find videos and bulletin board threads with plans for making your own flycutters. Based on these results, you’ll quickly conclude that it’s really really easy to make a very poor performing tool. Projects in Metal offers a plan complete with the confession “To be honest, I have not had a lot of success with this cutter”. Why on Earth are you sharing plans for something that you know for a fact doesn’t work? Anyone taking on that DIY project is just asking to waste their time and material. Sound fun to you?

Why make your own flycutters when really good ones aren’t even that expensive.  It’s easy to find a good single fly cutter that’s less than $50. You can find sets with several sizes that are right around $125.00. It just doesn’t make much sense to waste time and material making a tool that you can buy for less that the cost of a ballgame.

CNC fly cutter made in the USAQuality American Made Flycutters

You depend on The Tool Company for your collet wrenches and general purpose arbors. When it comes to flycutting tools, The Tool Company has your back there as well. Discover our selection of the highest quality flycutters on the market.

  • Heat treated for long-life
  • Perfectly balanced for superior cutting
  • Runs safely at high RPMs
  • Large set screws for stability
  • 5 year warranty

Like everything we sell, our flycutters are American made. Buy American made tools and support American manufacturing. And don’t let flycutting scare you.

Okay, aside from getting organized, what are you doing after the holidays? It’s a great time to get out in the shop and putter. Not sure what to do? Take a look at these great projects you can make with your ultra precision saw arbor and blade. Get off the couch and stop being a slug! Make this the best year yet in the shop.

Make Puzzles

Puzzles with less than 500 pieces are still fun. Make a large puzzle with 20 to 25 pieces and sit it out on a coffee table. People will start talking for sure.  Here’s what you do. Just start with your sketch laid out on grid paper. Take a look at this one from Stuff Done Right

Convert it to a 1:1 scale 2D DXF file for simplicity. Use work stock about 1/8″ thick. Start cutting with an ultra precision arbor and blade. Use an arbor that gets the blade close to the work area. Take your time to make the intricate cuts. This is how it turns out.

Image Courtesy of Stuff Done Right

With enough practice, you’ll be making these as gifts by the end of the year.

Wine Glass Charms

Wine glass charms help guests keep their glasses straight. For design inspiration, head over to Etsy where people sell these things for a pretty penny. Make a simple star or a complex as a snowflake. Because your ultra precision arbor absorbs vibration, you don’t worry about chatter and can cut complex designs. Heck, you might even start making these to sell yourself!

use ultra precision arbor and saw to cut wine charms from metalAdd beads or gems to the charm for a real artistic touch.

Cut Some Chargers


Chargers are metal plates larger than a dinner plate. They are used to make a table look just a bit fancier. Most women swoon over chargers but they don’t want to buy them. So, start practicing now and come birthdays or Mother’s Day you will be ready to make a set of charger plates.  Basically, all you need is a large round piece of metal.  Check out this one from Home Depot of all places!

You could cheat by buying the charger and just cutting the design. For a fancy touch, spray  it with paint and bake the finish on in the oven. With a delicate  design like this, use ultra precision. So, be sure to use an ultra precision arbor.

Ultra Precision Arbor Made in the USA

As an American machine hobbyist, don’t you want to support the hard working people in the US who machine for a living? Sure you do. So resolve to buy American in 2020.  Buy your ultra precision arbor from The Tool Company.

Get your cutter up close with no chatter or vibration. Now that’s precision. So, get in the shop. Create great things in 2020. Who knows, you might even sell them for a few bucks and turn your hobby into a side hustle.


The holiday season is here.  If there is a machinist in the family, get a gift that shows you appreciate them, you understand the skill it takes to do their job, and that you love them as much as they loves their tools.  Here’s some gift ideas like CNC tool trays and fly cutters that you might not know about.

Supercharge Their Morning Coffee

If your machinist loves their cup of Joe as much as their HSS then get them a cup that reflects their  mechanical personality.  How about this take on the Genesis of Machining.

coffee cup for machinists

machinists mug zombie hunter



Or if they are preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse, then this mug over at Cafe Press is perfect.  Just remind them to leave this cup at home.  It will cause mug envy at work.




CNC Fly Cutter Set

Sure you could fall back on the reliable multi-stop, but isn’t that like giving socks?  Instead, show you appreciate their sharp eye for perfection.  Gift a CNC fly cutter set from The Tool Company.  You get 1 ½”, 2”, and 2 ½” diameter fly cutters.  They are completely balanced for stability at higher RPMs to give  the performance they demand. Every Tool Company fly cutter is heat treated for long life. They won’t crap out in the middle of a job.

CNC 50 tool trays are numbered for easy sequencingCNC Tool Trays

Get a tray for every spindle size. CNC tool trays for 30, 40, and 50 tapers sequence tools and speed set-up. It’s the gift of productivity.

CNC tool trays keep tools safe too. That’s a two-fer gift.

Easy grips handles give everyone a way to safely transport tools from storage to the work area. Not much in life is really “one size fits all” but these tool tray handles are.

Take the time to learn about their trade and learn the tools that make their lives easier. It’s a great way to say “you are important to me and what you do matters”.

Love, compassion, and respect. It’s all a great gift.

Give your machinist this gift this holiday season. Heck, remember this for their birthday too!


Poetry in motion! A CNC flycutter is a beautiful thing.  You may think of it as a single point cutter used on a mill, but that’s just the beginning. A CNC flycutter lovingly faces any metal for a blemish-free finish. Every face mill knows there are times that it’s not up to the job of a flycutter.

This milling machine has too many cutters for a super finish

Single Pass for a Super Finish

Getting a super finish with a face mill isn’t easy. You can manually adjust the cutting height of each insert individually to 0.0001″. What a pain! Or, just remove all cutters except one. Now your face mill is pretending to be a flycutter. Why not just use a flycutter? But the best finish is achieved in a single pass. Cut from right to left. This is what the CNC pros recommend to keep the chips going away from you.

A CNC flycutter allows you to cut one pass the width of the metal. That’s how you get the uniform finish. Do that with a facing head! You’ll make several passes and each pass leaves marks where the cuts overlapped. Now instead of a super finish you have a so-so finish. Flycutters cut shallow too. That’s another secret for a super finish.

FC 25 CNC flycutter

This CNC flycutter uses one cutter for a super finish

CNC Flycutters Make a Great Gift

CNC tooling isn’t cheap. But the CNC flycutter isn’t that expensive. It’s a great gift for any machinist. Every machinist wants a variety of  flycutter sizes. So, you can step in at the holidays and fill the gaps in their tool box. Get them a small cutter for small workpieces or a larger cutter if they work on bigger pieces. Either way, they will finish in one wide swath and thank you for it.

Buy an entire high quality flycutter set for $125.00 at The Tool Company. You’ll buy a quality flycutter and a great gift. Or, buy an individual cutter for around $40 to $50.

cnc flycutter set

      set of flycutters

Quality CNC Flycutters at The Tool Company

Finding good CNC flycutters is easy. Just shop The Tool Company. These tools are  heat treated and balanced. That makes a long-lasting gift because the tool is long-lasting. The large set screws provide stability and rigidity your machinist will love. They can run at high RPMs for the best finish.

Support American manufacturing with your gift purchase. Every tool at The Tool Company is made in the USA. Don’t give your American machinist a cheap, foreign tool. Give the best gift. A CNC flycutter from The Tool Company.

When you drill a tiny hole, you work with a tiny drill. Using a drill press or a milling machine is tricky business. You can’t get good feel of your peck with a giant machine and a tiny weensy drill bit. You’re just asking for broken bits with each peck. Pecking without a micro drill adapter is just wrong. Don’t do it.  Here’s why.

Feel the Peck

When you use your drill press on a regular basis, you get a feel for the machine. Almost instinctively you sense every part of the entire peck cycle. The signals at your fingers transmit to the brain without you thinking. You’re just conscious of keeping chips clear.

It’s not the same when that drill press is outfitted with a little bitty bit. You miss out on tactile sensation.  So, adapt the mill or press for fingertip control.  It’s easier not hard. Furthermore, it’s not expensive. You got no excuse. It doesn’t require expensive tooling.  Just add on a micro drill adapter.

Now you can feel the bit and drill effortlessly. Swap broken bits for an adapter and experience every sensation in every peck cycle.

micro drill adapter made by Sierra AmericanUsing a Micro Drill Adapter

Modify your press or mill with the micro drill adapter and take control of every peck. Simply insert the small device in the chuck (it works with keyed and keyless chucks) and then mount it on your drill or press. Take control of the bit as the spindle is rotating. It’s easy. Grab the adapter ring and begin the first peck cycle. While the spindle rotates, the adapter gives you control of the bit.  Get an even faster setup if you If you really want to be slick, put your bit in the micro drill adapter before you place the adapter in the chuck. How’s that for fast setup?

Also Known As an Accufeed

Most any CNC supply shop sells these adapters. They are also called accufeeds. Like soda and pop are the same drink,  accufeed is just just the same tool going around and using a different name.

Buy your micro drill adapter from The Tool Store if you want American-made quality. You’ll get double shielded bearings and a hardened pin design for extra durability. Don’t be wrong. Always make your small holes with a small bit and an adapter that restores fingertip control.

Every hobby machinist needs to work efficiently. They take pride in the work they do. They don’t want to rush and do a bad job. But they do want the job finished. A tool that keeps you organized and helps work efficiently earns bench space. The R8 tool holder and collet tray deserve a spot.

Keep Tools and Collets Protected

Perform tool setup using an R8 tool holder tray to keep them in the right order and keep them safe. the best tray stores a wide range of collet sizes for all  tools. Then, when it’s tool change time, everything you need is close to you. Instead of spending time searching for your collet and searching for your tool you spend time machining.  It’s  what you love and what brings you to the shop! An R8 tray or a 5C collet tray made of heavy-duty material protects and stores expensive tooling and tool holding. That’s double duty and a good thing in the hobbyist shop.

Keep Tools and Collets Clean

Ever hear the saying “cleanliness is next to Godliness”? Mom told you that to make you wash your hands and face. Well, it applies to the home shop too. We all know, machining can be a dirty business. Between chips and fluid you can easily make a mess. If you don’t have a vacuum system, small particles fly through the air with the greatest of ease. They are a mess. And they make your collets messy too. Once coated in chips and swarf, collets are useless. Dirty collets are difficult to clean. Skip the mess and store collets in an R8 tray with a cover. Look for a clear cover, so you can see what’s at hand. Once again, don’t waste time hunting for collets and tools. Keep them organized in storage that keeps them clean. Use a covered tray.

Sequence with Your R8 Tray

Start by putting the tools  for the job in their collets. Then, just put  the collets in the R8 tray in sequence you will use them and speed up the tool changing process.

This way, when it’s time to make a change, your tools are already sequenced. Taking a few minutes at the start of the job will save more time once you begin work. Those collets are lined up like soldiers, just waiting to go to war. Between a sequenced 5C or R8 tray and your collet wrench, you’ll change tools fast. That’s less time setting up and more time machining. That’s why you’re in the shop, right?

CNC tool trays, arbors, fly cutters R8 tool holder

R8 Tool Holders, Collet Trays, Collet Wrenches and More

No matter what you need to keep organized and keep machining, The Tool Company has you covered. From R8 tool holders and 5C collet trays to collet wrenches, fly cutters, saw arbors and more. the Tool Company sells products made in the USA. Every product we sell is produced by American machinists for American machinists.

Don’t settle for cheap imitations in your shop. Buy your CNC supplies at The Tool Company.

You can have the finest SaberJet XP equipment and the sharpest blade for the material and still end up with a less than quality cut. High quality cuts require the right saw arbors, the proper coolant or lubricant for the material, and just the right combinations of feed and speed.

How Slitting Cuts Differ

If you visit any of the internet forums frequented by pro and hobby CNC’ers  you will see hundreds and hundreds of threads about slitting saw cut problems. Grown men figuratively cry over broken blades, broken arbors, and ruined work. Seems like if it can go wrong when you are machining, it will probably go wrong when you make a cut with a slitting saw. But some times, you just gotta have a slitting saw cut.

Pros. Slitting saws are perfect for a very narrow cut. You don’t want to use them for thick or deep cuts. But even if you must go deep it’s still easier than using an end mill.

Cons. Slitting saws need slow cutting speeds. Especially for large blades. Feed speeds need to be slow, too. But don’t let the blade dwaddle in one place or run super slow. Slitting cuts need lots of cutting oil or lubricant. If the slit is really thin, it’s hard to get the fluid into the scene of the cutting action. Same for deep slits.

Don’t Skimp on the Fluid

It doesn’t matter the material or the blade type, slitting cuts demand plenty of lubricant. Slitting saw blade are thin and fragile.

The blade metal is heat treated. That keeps it hard and sharp. As the blade cuts, friction is created. Friction equals heat. Heat ruins blade treatments.  So, the blade dulls quickly. In addition, swarf can fuse to the blade. Swarf fusion ruins work and kills blade. All bad things.

Stop swarf fusion with plenty of cutting oil, lubricant, or even air. Provide a constant flow of liquid or air to the slitting blade. The blade stays cool and the chips stay clear. All good things.

precision saw arbors

Don’t Skimp on the Saw Arbors

So you have a most excellent piece of equipment, a fabulous saw blade, and a flood of fluid, coolant or air. It’s the perfect set up. Don’t mess it up with a crap saw arbor.

There are plenty of cheap, imported saw arbors on the market but you need to steer clear of them. You get what you pay for when it comes to CNC’ing. If you don’t pay much, you won’t get much. Chinese-made  arbors are rarely every true. That’s a problem when making horizontal slits and slots.

In one of those famous internet forums, a fellow CNC’er complained that his saw was wandering like a drunk sheepherder. The group told him to get a grip and get a saw arbor made by  Sierra American! Except they forgot to tell him where to find Sierra American products. And that’s at The Tool Company.

slitting saw arbors setSlitting Saw Arbors and Precision Arbors

Whether you need an arbor for ultra precision  or a quality slitting saw arbor, trust The Tool Company for saw arbors engineered for CNC applications.

Buy slitting saw arbors to fit blades from ¼” to 1 ¼”. Enjoy deep, low profile caps and enjoy reduced slippage. The extra long reach out takes you where other slitting saw arbors won’t go. Forget the drunk sheepherder here, just a faithful servant.

All Tool Company products are made in the USA. Don’t settle for cheap imports.

Buy your slitting saw arbors on-line from The Tool Company and make quality cuts.

Anything in the world that spins has a little problem. This problem has many names, but in machining we call it runout. No mechanical system spins perfectly. Runout is the amount of inaccuracy in spinning mechanical systems. Runout is caused when the turning tool or shaft isn’t in complete alignment with the main axis. While it may be a common problem that doesn’t mean it is a small problem. Frankly, it is a huge problem. Thank goodness it is easily solved with a collet wrench.

TIR Measures Runout

When the drill chuck can’t hold the bit dead center, it turns on a secondary axis as it rotates. This is secondary axis is runout. Total indicator runout (TIR) measures concentricity to determine runout. Runout refers to the spin in a specific location. To measure runout, press a dial indicator  against the rotating part as it turns. A dial indicator amplifies all variations. Through amplification, these variations become large enough to see with the unaided eye. The dial indicator takes any deviation from concentricity and makes it large enough to detect and measure. That’s crucial for accuracy because you can’t adjust what you can’t measure. Measure what you can’t see is hard. But, if you can see and measure deviations, you can adjust for them.

How to Correct Runout on a Drill Press

Before you make yourself crazy, start with the basics. Sometimes all  you need to do to correct runout on a drill press is simply clean it. Just fully open the jaws and use compressed air to blow them out. Just a single speck of debris in the jaws can cause runout.  After cleaning, verify that the drill rod is true. Check the runout on the spindle and check the bearings on the spindle. Either causes runout.

Ranger RL 8500 Brake Lathe

How to Correct Runout on a Brake Lathe

Correcting runout on a brake lathe means taking care of the arbor. You must periodically inspect the arbor and spindle for rust or metal chip buildup. Use fine steel wool and a little WD40 to clean the arbor. Stay away from sandpaper and wire brushes. Removing metal only makse the runout worse. Check the spindle bearings. When the lathe is properly set up and the arbor is good, this is most likely the runout source.

use a collet wrench to tighten collets

Use a Collet Wrench to Protect Your Collets

Preventing runout is easier than correcting it.  Collets that are too lose or too tight produce runout. Runout will also damage the collet over time.

Use a collet wrench to tighten all three jaws evenly. Just slip the  prongs into the collet top. Turn the wrench to thread the collet using the right amount of torque.

So stop runout and get a collet wrench from The Tool Company

5c collet wrench

Get a Collet Wrench

The Tool Company collet wrench has a concave face. Enjoy perfect alignment the first time every time.  The heft of the tapered handle is comfortable. The bright orange handle stands out. It’s easy to find this wrench.

Buy your collect wrench at The Tool Company and stop runout before it starts.


Gone are the days when you first started machining. Was your first machine an end mill? Did fly cutters terrify you?  As a seasoned machinist, do you get the most out of your tools? Stretch your mind and skills. Think out of the box. Here’s new slitting saw and slitting saw arbor uses. Maybe one will spark your imagination.

saw arbors hold saw bladesSlice it Off

No, don’t use your slitting saw arbor and blade to remove a finger or other body part. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cut a part off and finish it by hand. The result won’t be the same as with a fly cutter, but it is an alternative. On a 3 axis mill, just cut the piece off with a slitting saw. Once removed, finish the underside by hand. This is the perfect solution for machining a very thin part or working on a piece that is particularly hard to hold. Just cut it off and finish it by hand. Hand finishing the piece saves time. If you ruin the work with a machine finish, you’ve got to start over. It wastes time, money, and material.

Cut a Relief Slot

Does your part need a little relief? Don’t let it break. Cut a relief slot and prevent a break.

Relief slots provide just enough give without destroying the integrity of the part.

A relief slot would help here


Cut your relief slot with a slitting saw. Hold the blade firmly in place with a slitting saw arbor and make the slot in just one or two passes. A slitting saw arbor with a deep cap and low profile will get you as close as you need to be.

slitting saw arbor set

Selecting a Slitting Saw and Slitting Saw Arbor

Because slitting saws are thin and run fast, they get hot fast too. Select a carbide blade  if the budget allows. While steel is less expensive, carbide lasts longer.

No matter the blade material, use copious amounts of fluid. Did you know that slitting saws run hot? Of course you do, we just told you! A flood of coolant lets you cut long and cut fast.

Picking the slitting saw arbor is easy. Just buy one at The Tool Company. Their deep, low profile caps  get your blade close. The “Vibra Core” design absorbs vibration. Anytime you reduce vibration you reduce runout.

The slitting saw arbor made in America for American machinists. Just like everything at The Tool Company. Buy yours today and start looking at the slitting saw differently. It’s one of the most versatile and underused tools in your box.



Most articles in this blog are about CNC tool trays, CNC tooling and CNC techniques. But we’ve never covered the topic of CNC machining in general.  Until now.

What Does CNC Mean?

CNC is an acronym. It stands for Computer Numeric Control. CNC refers to a machine that cuts, carves, routes, or mills under the control of a computer running sophisticated software. It is not robotics. Saw blades, router bits, drill bits and face mills are tools that are attached to a CNC controlled machine.

Machining in Three Dimensions

Regular mills and other machines operate on an X axis and a Y axis.  Remember math class? The X axis is horizontal line and the Y axis is vertical, perpendicular to the X. On the bed of a machine, the X axis is horizontal and the Y axis is the vertical. But CNC machining operates in 3 dimensions. A CNC machine uses the Z axis. The Z axis defines the movement of the cutter up and down.

Computer Technology Changed Machining

Digital technology changed machining in a big way. Before computers controlled machines, if you needed to drill multiple holes in a work piece, you had to manually operate the drill press up and down and feed the material at the same time. And you didn’t start that process until you inserted the tool in the spindle.

Digital technology created computers and software capable of moving the drill press and feeding the material. Now, CNC instructions tell the machine how and when to move.

Computer assisted drawing (CAD) represented a quantum leap forward in machining.  With CAD, you  design an object using computer software, then use software to convert the design into digital instructions the machine uses to produce work. With CNC, humans use software to control the machinery, not their hands.

cnc tool traysCNC Tool Trays, Saw Arbors and Multi Stops

The Tool Company knows CNC and manual machining. Whether you need a multi-stop for your manual knee mill or CNC tools and CNC tool trays to keep them safe The Tool Company has what you need.

CNC tool trays hold tools for manual machinists, fly cutters work on CNC and manual machines, and saw arbors get you up close and personal, no matter your machine.

Turn to The Tool Company for all your CNC needs.

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plastic collet trays | cnc tool trays | cnc tool holders | fly cutters | collet wrenches | general purpose arbors | micro drill adapters | slitting saw arbors | slotting reach arbors