17 Sep 2019
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.
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.
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 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.
28 Aug 2019
Why is precision cutting so scary for the hobby machinist? It ranks right up there with fly cutting in the fear factor. Maybe it’s because precision means control and the home machinist isn’t confident in their skill. But, control shouldn’t scare you when you use the right ultra precision saw arbor.
Think of it like this: a precision blade is just a saw that makes small cuts. They cuts may be in wood or metal. What they have in common is size. They are small. Small cuts demand precision. You must get close to the work area and have rigidity.
How to Make Precision Cuts
Now we’ve defined a precision cut, let’s make some. Here is how:
- Proper feed and speed rate – When isn’t using the right feed and speed important? That precision saw blade may look like a conventional circular saw blade but it isn’t. It is fragile. Get close, run slow and low.
- Use fluid – Be generous with your fluid.
- Keep it clean – Remove all chips with each pass
- Go one Way – Never “saw” back and forth. Always cut in one direction
How to Pick an Ultra Precision Arbor with Precision
All saw arbors hold the blade in place. But ultra precision cuts require an ultra precision saw arbor. Use the same precision in selecting your arbor as you do in making your cut. Remember, ultra precision cuts require ultra rigidity. The blade must be close to the work piece. A cap holds your standard saw arbor in place. If the work is held by a vise, that cap is a problem. If the clamping screw and vise meet up you’ve got a real problem. Avoid that problem with an ultra precision saw arbor from The Tool Company. The deep cap that creates a low profile. The blade gets closer to work area than with a conventional arbor.
This purchase is easy. Just buy your ultra precision saw arbor at The Tool Company. Not only will your saw arbor get close to the work, you’ll get:
- Excellent vibration absorption
- Durable weldon shank
- Extra Long Reach
- 5 Year Warranty
Every saw arbor we sell is proudly made in the USA. Buy your saw arbor individually or in sets. Don’t let precision cuts scare you. Make ’em with an arbor from The Tool Company.
The Tool Company is excited! We’ve seen the data on the monthly Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories, and Orders report and the news is good. The Tool Company, the CNC fly cutter and all things CNC shop that supports American manufacturing, celebrates this good news. We know manufacturing creates jobs. Not only in one industry, but all up and down the supply chains. That’s good for everyone.
Final May Numbers on Orders and Shipments
According to the Census Bureau, orders were down to $493.6 billion. That’s a light 0.7 percent decrease. Shipment numbers were up. In fact, unfilled orders decreased to $1,171.1 billion (down 0.5 percent). Get those goods out the door!
Shipments of manufactured durable goods? Up after two consecutive monthly decreases!
Shipments increased $0.9 billion or 0.3 percent to $254.2 billion. Can it get better? Yes. Machinery led the increase, $0.3 billion or 1.0 percent to $33.4 billion. That’s three of the last four months for machinery.
Every CNC mill, CNC fly cutter, drill press and CNC accessory shipped means someone is going to use it. They’ll be used in US shops and factories making even more equipment and goods.
Even though experts think a possible trade war with China looms. These worries affect auto manufacturing. Who knows what can happen in the next few months. Still, celebrate the good news today!
Manufacturing is Vital to the GDP
Manufacturing is vital to the American GDP. It’s taken it on the chin, but it is steadily recovering. That’s important. Manufacturing punches above its weight when it comes to economic impact.
Those manufactured goods require a supply chain. That chain generates demand for goods and services from other sectors. The demand is felt in energy and natural resources, construction for new factories, accounting, engineering, and software. Everyone grows with strong manufacturing.
The GDP value of manufacturing exceeds the value of the finished good produced. Too bad it’s not calculated in. See, manufacturing’s GDP contribution doesn’t include the goods and services it consumes. Manufacturing is responsible for a large share of the demand for goods and services produced in the United States.
Grab Your CNC Fly Cutter and a Machinist and Celebrate
Why grab the CNC fly cutter? You know it creates an unbeatable finish. The icing on the cake. Like these May numbers. Share the good news. Grab a machinist and tell them. If it came from the Census Bureau and The Tool Company it must be true. Isn’t everything on the internet?
Seriously, The Tool Company respects American manufacturing and the hobby machinist. Both help the economy. We serve both sectors. So, get to work. What are you waiting for?
12 Jul 2019
You can start with the best equipment and the finest blade. But, if you don’t use a high quality saw arbor, the right fluid and the proper feeds and speeds you won’t end up with a quality cut. Quality cuts come from quality saw arbors.
The internet is packed with forums for machinists. One of the most common denizens of these forums are those with slitting saw cuts. They complain about broken blades, broken arbors, and tons of destroyed work pieces. If it can go wrong in cutting, it will probably go wrong with a slitting saw cut. But some times you just need that slender cut from a slitting saw.
Pros. Slitting saws excel when you need a very slender cut. No, they aren’t designed for thick cuts or particularly deep cuts. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cut fairly deep. It’s harder to get a thin slot with an end mill than a slitting saw.
Cons. Don’t hurry. Slow speeds are the norm for most slitting saws. This is especially true when the blade is large. Feed speeds are also slow. But that doesn’t mean you can let the blade dwell. Slitting saws demand copious amounts of cutting oil or lubricant. Sometimes it is hard to get fluid to the cutting site if the slit is particularly thin or deep.
Be Generous with Fluid
No matter the material or blade, use generous amounts of lubricant. Slitting saw blades are very thin. They are also incredibly fragile. That’s why they break so easy and confound those forum denizens.
The saw blade has been heat treated to keep it hard and sharp. As the blade cuts, it generates friction. Friction creates heat; and heat destroys the blade treatment and dulls the blade quickly. Chips and/or work material fuse to the blade. Now you’ve ruined the work and murdered the blade.
Plenty of cutting oil or lubricant provides a constant cooling. It keeps the blade clear of chips. It is good to be generous with your fluid.
If you have an awesome machine, a spectacular blade, and a truckload of coolant, don’t ruin things with a crap saw arbor.
Many cheap, imported arbors flood the market. With tools, you always get what you pay for. Don’t pay much, don’t get much. Those imported arbors are warped. That’s a real problem for true horizontal cuts.
One internet forum denizen complains his saw was wandering like a drunk sheepherder. The group told him to get with it and get a good arbor. That would be like a saw arbor from The Tool Company!
Whether you need an arbor for precision cutting or a quality slitting saw arbor, trust The Tool Company for arbors that are true and designed for CNC applications.
The Tool Company can set you up with slitting saw arbors that fit blades from ¼” to 1 ¼”. Complete with deep, low profile caps to reduce slippage. Forget the drunk sheepherder. Think reliable sheep dog.
Every saw arbor is USA made. No cheap imports that aren’t true. Order your slitting saw arbor today and say good-by to broken blades and ruined work. Hello clean slots.
25 Jun 2019
The most common cutting tools in CNC machining are drill bits and end mill. They don’t do the same thing, but they each earned a place in the shop. Collets or end mill holders hold end mills in place. Chucks hold drill bits. Collets cost less then end mill holders. They grip better than an end mill holder as well. There are two types of collets: Morse taper and R8. Do they work the same? When it comes to performance, does the R8 tool holder work better, worse or equal to the Morse taper. How do the two compare? Let’s see.
Up First – The Morse Taper Tool Holder
The Morse Twist Drill Company engineered the Morse taper. It is an American invention. Stephen Morse invented the twist drill and needed a way to hold the tool. So the company he founded in Massachusetts created the Morse taper to hold the bits in their drills.
A continuous taper is the key feature of the Morse taper. A set screw secures the collet in place. Morse tapers and drawbars don’t go together. If you see a machine with a drawbar it’s been modified.
The Morse taper is best for tools that are changed infrequently. The Morse taper isn’t the best tool holder for automated tool changing. Auto tool changing is the bailiwick of the R8 tool holder.
The Morse Taper is best used for mini mills and hobby shops. It’s not the best solution for the industrial shop.
Up Next – The R8 Tool Holder
The Bridgeport Machine Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut developed the R8 tool holder for quick tool changes. As machining grew, so did the need for quick tool changes. R8 tapers are easy to spot. They are straight and then flare to a taper.
No set screw darkens the doorway of the R8 tool holder. This beauty uses a drawbar. Now you have much more efficient tool changing. The R8 tool holder is right at home in industrial settings. Try to maintain the same z height every time you remove and reinstall the tool a Morse taper. Yeah, keep trying. The R8 tool holder makes it much easier. That’s why professional machine shops love them.
You can even find R8 endmill holders pretty easy. And, because they are not rare, they don’t cost much.
So, if you’ve made the move to use R8 collets, they need a place to stay. The Tool Company sells trays that secure your R8 collets. Protect your tooling with a strong, high-impact plastic R8 tool tray. Look, if you only use the best, then only use R8 tool holders. Then keep them safe in a tray made in the USA and sold by The Tool Company. Buy now and protect your R8 tool holders with a tray that keeps them safe and organized.
11 Jun 2019
The fly cutter has a variety of uses. That’s why it has a place in most machinist’s shops. Whether you machine manually or are into CNC machining, fly cutters are your specialized cutting tool with many uses.
Use fly cutters for:
- Shallow cuts
- Broad cuts
- Quickly removing small amounts of metal
Use your end mill to remove large areas and then grab that fly cutter for the smoothest finish. Fly cutters outperform a face mill every time. Make fewer passes and score a smoother finish. Nothing beats fly cutters for fine finishing.
Look at these ways to use fly cutters.
CNC’ing requires a tabletop that is absolutely smooth and absolutely level. Even when you level the legs, the bed or top of the table may still have dips and bumps that will ruin performance. That means you must resurface the bed at least several times a year. The best way to do this is with a fly cutter.
Since this is a large area, you want to use a large fly cutter. The Sierra American FC-25 is a 2 ½” diameter fly cutter. It will allow you to clear a large area smoothly and quickly. When you setup, allow for a 40% overlap and just skim the surface to remove 1/16” at the first pass. That’s probably all you need to get the smooth, level surface your machine demands.
The Fly Cutter in the Machine Shop
If a head gasket is blown or you must change the compression ratio, a fly cutter is your go-to tool. That’s because it can completely resurface a head. That’s called “skimming” in an automotive machine shop.
Cylinder head skimming is a head saver and savior. As long as the head isn’t cracked and can hold pressure, refinish the face with a fly cutter by removing 0.0002” of the surface to return it to a smooth and flat state. If you use a face mill, you may get crossover lines. While the lines will be almost impossible to see, they will surely affect performance.
Does an exhaust or intake manifold need cleaning up due to corrosion or erosion. Or, maybe the angle needs to be changed slightly to better align with an aftermarket intake manifold. The deck surface on the block may need to be resurfaced. When resurfacing these parts, you must do it quickly, efficiently and correctly. Use a fly cutter and not a face mill.
If you want the best results you need the best fly cutters. You need to use a fly cutter from The Tool Company. Every fly cutter, CNC tool tray, and saw arbor we sell is made right here in the USA. Our fly cutters are:
- Balanced to run at high RPMs
- Use large set screw for blade stability
You get a fly cutter and a 5 year warranty. Why settle for inferior fly cutters and inferior results? Order your fly cutter today.
28 May 2019
There’s a common problem with everything on earth that spins. In machining, we call this problem runout. It’s the inaccuracy of anything that spins. That’s because the tool or shaft doesn’t turn with perfect alignment to its main axis. It’s a common problem. But, it’s also a huge problem. For 5C collets, a simple collet wrench solves the problem.
TIR Measures Your Accuracy
Are you accurate? When your drill chuck can’t hold the drill bit in the center, as it turns, it turns on a secondary axis. Meet runout. Total indicator runout (TIR) measures the concentricity of the collet. It’s how you measure accuracy and runout. Just place a dial indicator against the rotating bit. The tool amplifies all minute variations, enough for you to see them with the naked eye. Basically, it is a magnifier. It just makes the very slight deviation from true concentricity big enough for you to see and measure. You must measure to make adjustments. That’s because you’ll never adjust what you never measure. Naturally, you can’t measure what can’t be seen. Once you can see and measure, you can adjust.
Try something as simple as cleaning. Open the jaws and blow out with compressed air. Just a small bit of debris could be the cause of the problem. Then check the drill rod and verify it is still true. Take time to verify the runout on the spindle as well as checking the bearings on the spindle.
Correcting Brake Lathe Runout
Taking care of the arbor is taking care of runout. Every once and awhile, check the spindle and arbor. Look for metal chip buildup or rust. Clean your arbor with fine steel wool and some WD40. Don’t use sandpaper or a wire brush. Removing metal makes the runout worse. While you’re at it, inspect the spindle bearings. When the lathe is properly set up and the arbor looks good, this is probably the runout source.
Use a Collet Wrench and Protect Your Collets
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, the simplest way to correct runout is to prevent it. Runout happens with collets that aren’t properly tightened. Runout can ruin the collet.
Use a collet wrench to tighten all three jaws evenly. Just align the prongs into the collet. Now simply turn the wrench. That threads the collet in the machine.
See, its easy. You didn’t do it because you didn’t know. Now you know. So, what are you waiting for, a collet wrench? That’s easy too.
Get a Collet Wrench Today
See the concave face? You get perfect alignment every time the first time. That large tapered handle is easy to hold and the bright fluorescent orange is easy to find. It really stands out in the shop.
Buy this magnificant collect wrench from The Tool Company today. Solve a simple problem easily.
Did you start machining with an end mill? Did fly cutters terrify you? It’s okay, that’s where most machinists start. But if you’ve been working for awhile, those days are long gone. That doesn’t mean you get the most out of your tools. Take a minute to look at some jobs differently. Grab your slitting saw arbor, load your blade, and open your eyes.
Use Your Hands
There’s nothing wrong with a hand job. No, not that hand job. We’re talking about cutting a part off and then finishing it by hand. The hand finish quality isn’t equal to a fly cutter, but it is an alternative. On a 3 axis mill, just use your slitting saw and lop the piece off. Now you can finish the underside by hand. This is the perfect answer if you are machining a very thin part or working on a piece that is particularly hard to hold. Just cut it off and give it a hand finish. Believe it or not, you’ll save time by hand finishing the piece. That’s because if you ruin the part trying to machine finish it you’ve got to begin again. That wastes time, money, and material. Don’t waste.
We all need a little relief from time to time. That includes your parts. No, your parts don’t need to take a break, they need a relief slot to stop breakage.
A relief slot provides a part just enough give to clamp tightly without destroying part integrity.
The slitting saw is the superior tool for cutting a relief slot. With the saw blade tightly held in place with a good slitting saw arbor, make a relief slot in one or two passes. A good slitting saw arbor has a deep cap and low profile to get the blade as close as you want it to be.
Because slitting saws are thin and run fast, they heat up very fast. Buy a blade made from carbide if your budget can handle it. Steel costs less, but it doesn’t have the staying power of carbide.
Regardless of the blade metal, always run with copious coolant. Remember, slitting saw blades run hot. Fluid will let you make long cuts and fast cuts without warping.
Selecting a slitting saw arbor is simple. Just buy your slitting saw arbor from The Tool Company. Their deep, low profile caps get the cutter close. A”Vibra Core” design absorbs vibration. Less vibration means less runout.
Made in American for American machinists. Buy a slitting saw arbor today. And start looking that your slitting saw blade a bit different. Make it one of the most valuable tools in your cutter arsenal.
29 Apr 2019
You’ve got fly cutter questions. We’ve got answers. Talk about a match made in Heaven! People ask fly cutter questions a lot. The questions we hear most often are below:
How do I get a better finish? Use a face mill or a fly cutter?
Answering this question is easy. Go with a fly cutter every time. Get a single cutting surface with a fly cutter. Use a blade larger than the work area for a finishing cut with a single pass. Every finishing pass you make decreases the finish quality. Remove all cutters from your face mill except one and convert your face mill to a fly cutter. Or, just start with the right tool in the first place.
Can you fly cut aluminum?
Yes, but you must use the right cutting blade. Remember, aluminum is soft. Use a hard cutter for the best result.
How do you grind the bit? Never forget the geometry of the cutter. The end of the tool always does the cutting. Grind the rake into the end of the tool. It’s the bottom of the bit that determines the surface smoothness.
Are feeds and speeds different? Just use your standard shop software to calculate feeds and speeds. Fly cutters usually run at lower RPMs. Only your software knows for sure. As with any other job, just rely on your software for proper feeds and speeds. Software is very important.
Can you fly cut to quickly remove material? Use your face mill first to remove material quickly. It does this job better. You’ll get deeper cuts and faster chip removal. Once all material is removed, then make that final fly cutting finish.
Does tramming matter? Just if you care about results. This question usually comes from someone noticing a dip in the finish. The tool isn’t the problem. The tool set-up is the problem. Make sure everything is trammed and up to snuff before you make the first pass.
What makes a good fly cutter?
The real questions are who makes a good fly cutter, what makes it good, and where can you get it. The answers are as follows:
Big Diameter Fly Cutter is Best
Minimize the number of passes by maximizing the size of the tool. Bigger cutter equals fewer passes resulting in better finish. That’s the formula for a good fly cutter. The Tool Company carries large diameter sizes to handle large cutters. Repeat after me the flycutting mantra “The larger the cutter, the fewer the passes. The fewer the passes the finer the finish.”
Bigger is better in flycutting!
Stability and Balance
Just like the kids walking those train tracks, you need stability and balance to get where you are going. Finishing cuts need maximum stability and balance. You’ll get that with a Tool Company fly cutter. Their fly cutters have the larger 1/4-20 alloy set screws. So, you get better blade stability. Because they are balanced, feel free to run at whatever RPMs you need to achieve your goal.
A Large Fly Cutter Saves Time and Money
Use a larger cutter with 1/2” and 3/8” fly cutter bits to save. Because you make larger cuts, you work faster. On the job, saving time means saving money. Get productive with the right size fly cutter.
What’s Stopping You?
The final question we have is for you! What’s stopping you from buying a fly cutter from The Tool Company right now? They are made in the USA and backed by an unbeatable warranty. Get quality and get your fly cutter today.
09 Apr 2019
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.
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.
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.