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.

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.

If you need a precision finish, you need a fly cutter. You just can’t beat the incredible finish you get from  a fly cutter. Fly cutters were recognized as an invaluable tool in the machine shop as far back as 1884.  Sure, some CNC machinists use face mills for finishing; fly cutter setbut experienced machinists know that the secret weapon to for the smoothest aluminum finishing is a fly cutter with a diamond insert. It’s the first choice for  a mirror finish.


 One Pass Finishes with Fly Cutters

Make one pass for the finest finish over a large surface area. That is the fly cutter advantage. Even Ingersoll Rand recommends that their face mills be operated as fly cutters for the finest finish. They even tell you how to modify their face mill. So, the obvious question is why should make a face mill act like a fly cutter when you should just use a fly cutter in the first place? For the right finish at the end, you must start right inn the beginning.

Using a Fly Cutter

Finishing is just one use of a fly cutter. Use a fly cutter to machine small fly cutters an involute on a gear tooth or cut clearance notches in pistons. It’s the perfect tool for the job. Need to make circular cuts and notches in metal? The fly cutter is the obvious choice. The only limit is your imagination. Need to mill an odd shape? Use a fly cutter.

Get Your Fly Cutters Here

No matter the speed you run, The Tool Company has a fly cutter that will perform to perfection.

Every fly cutter we sell is proudly made in the USA.

Balance and Stability. Operate at high RPMs and low RPMs. No worries, our fly cutters are balanced. This proper balance extends the life of the tool. So, expect a longer operating life.  Large alloy set screws hold the blade stable.

Size Matters. When it comes to fly cutters, size does matter. Our fly cutters use the larger ½” and 3/8” bits, and this saves you milling time. In any CNC shop, time is money. In addition, 3 size fly cutters are available:

  • 1 ½” diameter
  • 2” diameter
  • 2 1/2” diameter

All of our fly cutters are backed by a 5 year warranty. So, you know they are made to stand up to the toughest shop conditions.

Don’t settle for an inferior fly cutter. Order your fly cutter today.


We get lots of questions about tools in general. We get loads of questions about the fly cutter. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about fly cutters.

Should you use a face mill or a fly cutter for the best finish?  Fly cutters always gives the best finish. There is no question about it. Fly cutters utilize just one cutting surface.  Use a fly cutter larger than the work area to get a clean finishing cut in a single pass. The quality of the finish goes down with every pass you make. Take all the cutters off your face mill except one to convert a face mill to a fly cutter.

CNC  fly cutter made in the USACan you use a fly cutter to finish aluminum?  Yes. Pick your fly cutters with care.  Aluminum is soft.  You need a hard cutter (like PCD) to get a good finish.

How do you grind the bit?  Remember the geometry of the cutter.  The end of the tool does all the cutting.  Grind the rake into the end of the tool.  The bottom of the bit determines the surface smoothness.

Are feeds and speeds different for flycutting? Calculate your feeds and speeds with your regular software.  Flycutters generally run at lower RPMs, but your software knows for sure.  Depend on your software to calculate the correct feeds and speeds. There’s no shortage of software.

How do you remove material quickly?   Use the face mill first if you need to quickly remove material. A face mill will give you deeper cuts and faster chip removal.  Make a fly cutting pass for the final finish once the material is removed.

cnc fly cutter setIs tramming necessary?  Yes, if you want to do the job right.  Most of the time we hear this question because  someone is noticing a dip in the finish.  The problem is the tool; not the tool set-up.  Make sure everything is trammed and up to snuff before the first pass.

Where can I get a good fly cutter? Some home machinists make a stab at making their own fly cutter. A serious machinist knows that’s not the best idea.  The best idea is to get a fly cutter from The Tool Company.  Here’s why.

Large Diameter Fly Cutter

The Tool Company sells large diameter sizes.  The larger the cutter, the fewer the passes.  Fewer passes equals a finer finish.

Stability and Balance

Finishing cuts require maximum stability and balance.  At The Tool Company, you get a fly cutter that is made with a larger 1/4-20 alloy set screws. That means better cutting blade stability. Run at higher RPMS with a balanced flycutter.

Save Time and Money

The Tool Company sells fly cutters made by Sierra American Multi-Systems. These fly cutters use 1/2” and 3/8” fly cutter bits. You can make larger cuts and this means your job goes faster. Since time is money; saving time saves money.

Every tool at The Tool Company is backed by a 5-year warranty and made in the USA.  Order your fly cutter today.

2017 is the year for you to operate your shop as smoothly a fly cutter finish. Here’s some New Year’s resolutions from your friends at The Tool Company, the experts in CNC fly cutters, slitting saws, and the operating an efficient shop.

software code

Use Software

It all starts with drawing with a CAD program and then a CAM program converts the design into G-code.  That’s the software you use to calculate feeds and speeds.  But your software can do much more than just feeds and speeds. But you must ask it.  Explore the power of your CAM software and harness it it fully.  You may find that you can use your CAM to increase efficiency.

Use it to:

  • calculate depth of cut
  • save tooling information
  • reduce air cuts
  • enhance toolpaths

Let your software calculate hundreds of scenarios. Start using software to automate all manual calculations you make. Software will make your job easier and your tools will last longer. Its a win-win situation.

courtesy Stuart Miles

courtesy Stuart Miles

Organize, Organize, Organize

Your tools may last longer and work more efficiently but it won’t do any good if you waste time looking for them. Even worse, how about setting up only to find out that the tool you need for the job isn’t even in the shop inventory.  How can you operate as smooth as  CNC fly cutters if you can’t find your fly cutter? So start the year with an accurate tool inventory, keep the inventory current, and make sure tools are returned to the proper place at the end of the job.

Tool trays and collet racks  are made for keeping your tools and collets organized. They provide safe  transport from tool area to machine area. The Tool Company sells CNC tool trays that are numbered to get you even more organized. Just set up the tray in sequence and you are ready to cut, drill, or slice away. Don’t waste 20 minutes looking for the tool you need to do a 15 minute job.

Hang Up the Phone

Want to turbocharge your productivity?  Keep your cell phone in the glove box or your locker. Smart phones make for dumb machinists.

You can’t operate efficiently when you are distracted and cell phones are the greatest distraction in the workplace.

r8 tool holder

Buy American

Nothing supports American manufacturing like Americans buying American made products. You manufacture in the US, so it makes sense to supply your shop with American-made products. If you haven’t already done so, make 2017 the year you commit to buy American.

slitting saw arbors from The Tool Company

Every product sold by The Tool Company is proudly made in the USA.  Whether you need CNC fly cutters, saw arbors, micro drill adapters, knee stops, collet wrenches, or trays if you buy from The Tool Company you buy American made.




No machine shop is complete with out fly cutters.  They are as crucial to the job as your saws and drills.  It makes no difference if you machine manually or take advantage of the latest technology for CNC machining, fly cutters are specialized tools for:

  • Shallow cuts
  • Broad cuts
  • Removal of small amounts of metal quickly

Your CNC fly cutter is a perfect finishing tool.  Just use the end mill to work the piece then use a fly cutter to get that perfect smooth finish you can only get with a fly cutter.

CNC fly cutters (and manual ones too) outperform a face mill every single time.  Every time. That’s because you’ll make fewer passes and thus achieve a silkier and smoother finish.  You just can’t beat a fly cutter when it comes to creating a mirror smooth finish.  A side cutter just can’t stack up in comparison.

CNC fly cutters are extremely versatile.  Here’s a couple of very different uses to show how to think outside the box with a fly cutter.

Level a CNC Router Bed

milling machineThe tabletop for a CNC router must be absolutely smooth and absolutely level if the router is to cut properly. You can level the legs, but if the bed or tabletop has any dips or bumps your router still won’t run true.  Serious machinists know that the bed must be resurfaced several times a year.  The best tool to surface the router tabletop is a fly cutter.  That same smooth finish it gives to work products is the same finish you need for the router bed.

The router bed is large, so you use a large fly cutter.  The larger the cutter the fewer the passes and that is what gives you the smooth finish.  The Tool Company offers the FC-25 made in the USA by Sierra American Multi-Systems.  This CNC fly cutter has a 2 ½” diameter that allows you to clear that large area quickly.  You need to spend less time smoothing the bed and more time operating the router if you want to maintain shop efficiency.  We suggest you remove 1/16” at the first pass and then evaluate the finish.  Sometimes ones pass is all it takes to achieve the smooth, level surface the router demands.

Skim Cylinder Heads with  a CNC Flycutter

The fly cutter is a friend to the automotive machinist.  It is perfect for mercedes head skimmed with CNC fly cutterchanging the compression ratio or repairing damage from a blown head gasket.  You can completely resurface the head by skimming it with a CNC fly cutter.

If the head wasn’t cracked when the gasket blew and if it can still hold pressure then skimming the head will save it.  To skim, just remove 0.0002” of the surface with the fly cutter and you will restore it to the  smooth and flat state the engine needs.  If you try skimming with a face mill you are doomed.  A face mill can create crossover lines that you can’t see but the engine will know are there.  Performance will be affected in a bad way.

Put your CNC fly cutter to work cleaning up corrosion on exhaust and intake manifolds. Modify the head to get a better angle on lining up an aftermarket intake manifold.  Use a fly cutter to resurface the deck surface of the block.  These are all examples of applications where a flu cutter will do the job better than a face mill.   So for quick efficient skimming or resurfacing, the fly cutter is the go-to tool.

The Best CNC Fly Cutters Give the Best Results

cnc fly cutter set

So if you want the best results, you can’t rely on cheap fly cutters made from inferior materials overseas.  The Tool Company only sells the finest quality tools and the only CNC fly cutter we sell is made by US-based Sierra American Multi-Systems. We know you can trust Sierra American because they have been making quality products for machinists for over 20 years.  We think they are the best because they are:

  • Heat-treated for long tool life
  • balanced to operate at higher RPMs
  • Manufactured for stability

Each fly cutter is backed by a full 5 year warranty.  Don’t settle for inferior fly cutters that give inferior results.  Order your fly cutter from The Tool Company today.

Ask any manual machinist and they will tell you if you want a very fine finish, a fly cutter is the only tool to use. For most finishing jobs,  CNC’ers use a face mill, but the best CNC’er knows that for the best finish, you’ve got to use a fly cutter.

 Face Mill versus  Fly Cutter

face mills don't finish as well as fly cutters


Someone once said that the finest aluminum finish on Earth is achieved with a fly cutter with a diamond insert.  Well if that is true for a manual machinist it is most certainly true for a CNC machinist as well.  Sure you can get that face mill to spin at a higher speed, but slow and steady is what gives you a lustrous, brushed finish.

In order to get your face mill to produce that finish without any run

fly cutters


out you’ve got to remove all the cutters but one.  That means you just turned your face mill into a fly cutter.  So why not just start with a fly cutter?

You know that your fly cutter can get into places your face mill just can’t go. So don’t use a face mill when a fly cutter is the right tool for the job.

Fly Cutter Tips

Use these tips and you can get a flawless finish on even the toughest to work materials  like titanium or stainless steel.

Feeds and Speeds – With the right combination of feed rate and speed and you can machine anything. A material is only difficult because it can only be machined in a small range and has no tolerance once you get outside that range.  Use a good calculator like the CNC Cookbook to account for all the variables.

Coolant – Certain materials machine just work better with coolant and some materials require coolant to be machined. That means you should use some form of coolant. You don’t need a flood if a mist will do. Coolant is important to stop stainless from hardening.  You know you need it to stop aluminum chips from welding to the cutter.

Keep Chips Clear – Speaking of chips, you have to make sure that you keep the chips clear. It doesn’t matter if you use a liquid coolant or blow an air mist, just keep those chips clear.  Recutting chips that aren’t cleared is just as bad as double dipping your potato chip. Ain’t nobody happy. Those chips just make the tool work harder. Just clear chips as fast as they are made.

Use the Best Fly Cutter

Just like anything else, your finish is only as good as your start. Make sure you start with the finest cutter available. The Tool Company only carries the finest fly cutters They are available in 1½”, 2”, and 2 ½” diameters. They are heat treated for a longer life and manufactured to reduce chatter. They are perfectly balanced for higher RPM usage so speed is not a problem.

cnc fly cutters

The Tool Company only sells fly cutters that are manufactured in the USA.  We pledge to never sell you an inferior tool made overseas.

Each fly cutter comes with a 5 year warranty. If you demand quality and you demand a Sierra American fly cutter from The Tool Store.

Order today for fast shipping!

Last post we talked about the need for precision when cutting. However, not all precision cuts require a precision saw.   You can also use a fly cutter for very fine, fly cuttersprecision cuts.  As a matter of fact you just about can’t beat the extraordinary finish you get when you use a fly cutter. Even in the early days of machining, fly cutters were recognized as an invaluable tool in the machine shop.   These days some CNC machinists will use a face mill for finishing work; but experienced machinists use a fly cutter with a diamond insert as their secret weapon for the finest aluminum finishing.

Finish in One Pass with a Fly Cutter

To get the finest finish over a large surface you should only make one pass. A face mill isn’t going to let you do that in only one pass. That’s what why a fly cutter is superior to a face mill.  One manufacturer actually recommends that their face mills be operated as fly cutters to achieve the finest finish. It makes no sense to modify your face mill to act as a fly cutter. If a fly cutter is what you need, then start with a fly cutter. You can’t get the right finish if you don’t use the right tool.

Fly Cutters Do More Than Finish

fly cutter for precisionFinishing is just one application for a fly cutter. If you are cutting an involute on a gear tooth or making clearance notches on pistons, then a fly cutter is the right tools for the job. Fly cutters are also great for circular cuts and notches in metal. Need to mill an odd shape? Then you need a fly cutter. Your imagination is just about the only limit on fly cutting.

Fly Cutters From The Tool Company

The Tool Company has the perfect fly cutter for your perfect cut. No matter the speed, the fly cutters sold by The Tool Company will perform with the exactness you need.

In addition, The Tool Company only sells fly cutters that are proudly made in the USA.

Balance and Stability. The Tool Company only sells Sierra American fly cutters. That is because these fly cutters are balanced to operate at high RPMs and lower RPMs as well. They are made with large alloy set screws for added blade stability. Because they are properly balanced, you can expect a longer useful tool life.

Variety of Sizes Available. When it comes to fly cutters, size does matter. The Tool Company only sells fly cutters that use ½” and 3/8” bits. This saves you valuable milling time. In any CNC shop, time is money. Three sizes of fly cutters are offered:

  • 1 ½” diameter
  • 2” diameter
  • 2 1/2” diameter

All of The Tool Company’s products are made to stand up to the toughest shop conditions. If your tool is from The Tool Company, you know you can depend on it. If there ever is a problem, The Tool Company has you covered. All fly cutters are backed by a 5 year warranty.

You deserve a fly cutter that outperforms all others. You deserve a fly cutter from The Tool Company. Order on-line!



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