Understanding the Different Types of Cutting Tools

Understanding the Different Types of Cutting Tools
Understanding the Different Types of Cutting Tools

What are the Different Types of Cutting Tools?

What are the Different Types of Cutting Tools?

Cutting Tool Materials

Cutting tools employ a variety of materials, each with unique properties and applications. Here, we’ll explore the critical materials:

  1. High-Speed Steel (HSS): HSS is a high-performance tool steel used in many general-purpose applications. It withstands higher cutting speeds and retains its hardness at elevated temperatures.
  2. Carbide: Carbides are typically composed of tungsten carbide and a binder like cobalt. Carbide tools offer superior hardness and heat resistance compared to HSS, enabling faster cutting speeds and longer tool life.
  3. Ceramics: Ceramic cutting tools offer excellent heat resistance and hardness but are often brittle. They’re used for specific applications requiring high-speed machining of hardened steel and cast iron.
  4. Diamond: Diamond, the hardest known material, is used in cutting tools for machining non-ferrous materials like aluminum, copper, and their alloys.
  5. Cubic Boron Nitride (CBN): CBN is second only to diamond in hardness. It is used for precision machining of high-hardness ferrous materials and superalloys.

Selecting the suitable cutting tool material can significantly impact machining performance and efficiency. Therefore, it’s essential to consider factors like workpiece material, cutting speed, and tool life when making your selection.

Types of Cutting Tools Used

There are several types of cutting tools used in the industry, each designed for specific applications. Here, we delve into the most common ones:

  1. Drills: Drills are used to make round holes. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes and can create different kinds of holes in many other materials.
  2. Milling Cutters: Milling cutters are used to remove material from the workpiece. They are commonly used in milling machines to perform milling operations.
  3. Reamers: Reamers are used to enlarge the size of a previously drilled hole. They provide a smooth finish to the spot.
  4. Taps: Taps are used to cut or form a thread on the inside surface of a hole, enabling a tight fit with a threaded partner.
  5. Boring Tools: Boring tools are used to enlarge holes that have already been drilled. They are often used in lathes or mills.

Understanding the capabilities and limitations of these cutting tools can lead to improved efficiency and effectiveness in your machining processes.

Common Cutting Tools

  1. End Mills: End Mills are versatile cutting tools that can perform a variety of operations, including facing, profiling, and slotting. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials to meet diverse machining needs.
  2. Bandsaws: Bandsaws are commonly used for cutting a variety of materials. They incorporate a continuous band of metal with teeth along one edge to cut fabric at high speeds.
  3. Lathe Tools: Lathe tools, often made from carbide or CBN, are used in turning operations. They can be used for cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, or deformation of material.
  4. Broaches: Broaches are used to remove material in a linear motion. They are handy for cutting keyways and splines.
  5. Inserts: Inserts are replaceable cutting tips used in a broader cutting tool. They come in different shapes (square, round, hexagonal) and sizes.

Each of these tools has unique properties that make them suitable for certain tasks. Therefore, understanding their specific capabilities can help optimize your machining processes, achieving greater precision and efficiency.

CNC Machining Tools

CNC, or Computer Numerical Control, machining tools are integral to modern manufacturing processes. These tools are controlled by a computer program, enabling high precision and repeatability in manufacturing complex and intricate parts.

  1. CNC Mills: CNC Mills are able to perform operations like drilling and turning. They are highly versatile and capable of handling a multitude of tasks with efficiency and precision.
  2. CNC Lathes: CNC Lathes are explicitly used for turning operations. They offer high precision and are particularly useful for producing parts with symmetrical features.
  3. CNC Routers: CNC Routers are primarily used for cutting complex shapes and patterns in sheet material.
  4. CNC Plasma Cutters: These are used for cutting 2D shapes out of sheet metal. They offer speed and precision and are often used in the automotive and construction industries.
  5. CNC Grinders: CNC Grinders are used for various grinding operations, providing high precision in surface finishing.

Each of these CNC tools offers unique capabilities, contributing to the efficiency and precision of the manufacturing process. Understanding their specific functionalities can help in optimizing production, leading to more excellent quality and cost-effectiveness.

Machine Tools for Cutting

Machine tools designed for cutting operations serve a fundamental role in manufacturing. They facilitate the precise removal of material, shaping raw pieces into desired forms. Here are some commonly used cutting tools:

  1. End Mills: Used primarily in milling applications, end mills can perform a variety of cuts with great precision, including slot cutting, profiling, and contouring.
  2. Drill Bits: Essential to any machining process, drill bits are used to bore cylindrical holes in workpieces. Their design varies depending on the material they’re intended to cut.
  3. Bandsaws: Bandsaws contain a long, sharp blade consisting of a continuous band of toothed metal stretched between wheels to cut material. They are excellent for woodworking, metalworking, or missing a variety of other materials.
  4. Broaches: Broaches are used for precision machining, especially when accuracy is crucial. They are mainly used for cutting keyways and gear teeth.
  5. Lathe Tools: These cutting tools are used in lathes for performing various operations such as turning, facing, chamfering, knurling, etc.

By understanding the unique capabilities of each cutting tool, manufacturers can optimize their processes to enhance productivity and achieve superior results.

How to Choose the Right Cutting Tool?

Commonly used milling tools and their processing surfaces
Commonly used milling tools and their processing surfaces

Cutting Edge and Materials Used

The cutting edge and the materials used in the construction of a cutting tool are vital factors to consider when selecting the appropriate tool for a job.

The cutting edge of a tool determines its ability to penetrate the workpiece. A sharp edge can ensure precise, clean cuts, while a blunt edge may lead to rough or uneven cuts. The cutting-edge geometry also influences the amount a tool can produce. For instance, straight edges are used for general-purpose cuts, while devices with serrated edges are ideal for materials that tend to chip easily.

The material of the cutting tool, on the other hand, influences its durability and performance. For instance, high-speed steel (HSS) is traditionally used for cutting tools due to its toughness and resistance to heat. However, as manufacturing demands increase, materials such as carbide, ceramic, and polycrystalline diamond (PCD) have emerged as alternatives, offering superior hardness, heat resistance, and longevity.

Choosing the right cutting tool, therefore, involves a careful evaluation of the cutting edge and materials used in relation to the specifics of the machining task at hand. This cautious selection can lead to increased efficiency, precision, and cost-effectiveness in manufacturing processes.

Types of Tools Used for Cutting

The variety of cutting tools available is vast, each designed to perform specific tasks with utmost efficiency. Here are a few examples:

  • End Mills: These are versatile cutting tools used in milling applications. They can perform a variety of operations, from facing to contouring, and are available in different types, such as ball noses, corner radius, and square-end mills.
  • Drill Bits: Drill bits are rotary cutting tools used primarily for making holes in materials. They come in different shapes and sizes, with the twist bit being the most common type.
  • Turning Tools: Used in lathes, turning tools are excellent for removing material from a workpiece by means of rotation. They can perform operations like dull, facing, and turning.
  • Broaches: Broaching tools are used for precision machining applications. They are excellent for creating detailed profiles and high-accuracy holes.
  • Saws: Saws are cutting tools used for severing or trimming materials. They come in various forms, such as hand saws, circular saws, and band saws.

The choice of cutting tool depends mainly on the task at hand, the material to be cut, and the machinery available. By understanding the characteristics and capabilities of these tools, manufacturers can select the most appropriate device for their needs, leading to enhanced efficiency and productivity in their operations.

Cutting Process and Operations

The cutting process and operations involve numerous techniques, each intended to achieve a particular result in the manufacturing process. Here are a few examples:

  • Drilling: This operation involves creating round holes in a workpiece using a rotary cutting tool, typically a drill bit.
  • Milling: Milling is a versatile operation where the cutting tool rotates against the workpiece, removing material in the form of small chips.
  • Turning: In turning operations, the workpiece rotates while the cutting tool moves in a linear motion. This operation is typically performed on a lathe.
  • Boring: Boring is the process of enlarging a hole that has already been drilled or cast, improving its diameter accuracy and creating a smoother interior surface.
  • Broaching: Broaching involves removing material with a linear relative motion between the workpiece and tool. It’s an excellent operation for creating intricate profiles and precise holes.
  • Sawing: Sawing operations cut off part of the material or separate the workpiece from the stock. Saws can be used for cutting wood, metal, and other materials.

Understanding each of these operations allows manufacturers to make accurate decisions in selecting the most suitable one for their specific production needs, leading to high-quality output and efficient processes.

Lathe and Milling Tools

Lathe and Milling tools are integral components of the manufacturing process, enabling precise shaping and modification of workpieces.

  • Lathe Tools: Lathe tools, or turning tools, are used in turning operations on a lathe. They are typically single-point cutting tools made of high-speed steel, carbide, or ceramic, designed for specific tasks such as roughing, finishing, or threading.
  • Milling Tools: Milling tools, also known as end mills, are used in milling operations. They come in different shapes and sizes, tailored to accomplish a variety of tasks like profiling, facing, slotting, and plugging. End mills can be made of high-speed steel, cobalt steel, or carbide for increased durability and cutting speed.

Selecting a suitable lathe or milling tool for a job is critical to achieving the desired output efficiently and accurately. A thorough understanding of the properties and capabilities of these tools can significantly enhance a manufacturing process’s overall productivity and quality.

Tool Materials and Machine Operations

The choice of tool material significantly influences the performance and efficiency of machine operations. Tool materials determine the cutting speed, tool life, and machining quality.

  • High-Speed Steel (HSS): HSS is a common tool material used for its toughness and versatility. It can withstand high temperatures without losing its hardness, making it suitable for a wide range of operations like drilling, milling, and turning.
  • Carbide: Carbide tools have superior hardness and heat resistance compared to HSS. They can maintain a sharp cutting edge even at high cutting speeds, improving productivity and finish quality. They are commonly used in milling, turning, and drilling operations.
  • Ceramic: Ceramic tools offer exceptional hardness and heat resistance, surpassing carbide tools. However, they are brittle and prone to chipping, limiting their application to specific operations and materials.

What are the Main Functions of Cutting Tools?

Horizontal universal milling machine1—Base; 2—Lathe bed; 3—Suspended beam; 4—Spindle; 5—Tool spindle bracket; 6—Working table; 7—Turntable; 8—Bed saddle; 9—Lifting platform
Horizontal universal milling machine
1—Base; 2—Lathe bed; 3—Suspended beam; 4—Spindle; 5—Tool spindle bracket; 6—Working table; 7—Turntable; 8—Bed saddle; 9—Lifting platform

Cutting tools have two primary functions: removing material and shaping workpieces. These operations are achieved by the cutting edge of the device, which exerts a force on the workpiece and removes material in the form of chips.

Tool Material and Cutting Speed

The relationship between the tool material and cutting speed is a crucial factor in machining operations. High-speed steel (HSS) tools, while being rugged and versatile, perform optimally at lower cutting speeds. On the other hand, carbide tools, known for their superior hardness and heat resistance, can maintain a sharp cutting edge even at high cutting speeds, thereby improving productivity and finish quality. Ceramic tools, despite their exceptional hardness and heat resistance, are best used at moderate to high cutting speeds due to their propensity for chipping. However, it’s pertinent to note that higher cutting speeds can potentially lead to increased tool wear and reduced tool life. Therefore, finding the optimal cutting speed for each tool material is vital for maximizing efficiency and longevity.

Types of Lathe and Turning Tools

Lathe and turning tools come in a variety of types, each designed for specific operations. Some common types include:

  • Turning Tools: Used for generating cylindrical shapes.
  • Boring Bars: Used for enlarging or finishing the inside diameter of an existing hole.
  • Threading Tools: Used for creating internal or external threads.

Metal Cutting Techniques and Tools

Various techniques are used for metal cutting, each requiring specific tools. For instance, milling cutters are used in milling, while drill bits are used in drilling. The choice of technique depends on the material and the desired shape of the workpiece.

Boring and Drilling Tools

Boring and drilling tools are used for creating and enlarging holes. Drilling tools like twist drills and center drills are used to create an initial fix, while boring tools enlarge this hole to a precise diameter.

Thread Cutting and Single-Point Cutting

Thread-cutting tools are engineered to produce accurate threads on a workpiece. These tools, typically made from high-speed steel or carbide, are designed with precision ground lines and sharp cutting edges to ensure a clean, high-quality finish. Single-point cutting tools, on the other hand, are used to remove material from a workpiece, typically in the form of a lathe. They are so-named because they have one cutting edge that interacts with the workpiece. These tools are often made from robust materials such as carbide or ceramics to withstand the heat and pressure generated during the cutting process. Both thread-cutting and single-point-cutting tools are integral in a wide array of manufacturing processes, delivering precision and efficiency.

What are the Common Types of Cutting Tools Used in CNC Machining?

Shank milling cutter
Shank milling cutter

In CNC machining, different types of cutting tools are used depending on the machining process. End mills, which are used for milling, have cutting teeth at one end or on the sides. Face mills provide an excellent surface finish and are used for face milling. Similarly, ball nose mills have a radius at the bottom, which makes them ideal for milling contoured shapes.

Types of Cutting Tools for CNC Turning

Turning tools are commonly used in CNC operations. These tools have a cutting edge that removes material from the workpiece. Insert tools, on the other hand, have an interchangeable cutting edge, which allows for increased versatility and reduced downtime.

CNC Machining Tools and Carbide Tools

Carbide tools, made of tough tungsten carbide, are often used in CNC machining due to their ability to withstand high temperatures and wear. These tools offer superior performance in terms of speed and precision.

Rough Turning and Boring Tools

Tooling for rough turning operations, such as roughing end mills and carbide inserts, are designed for heavy material removal. Boring tools, as previously mentioned, enlarge existing holes to precise diameters.

Sheet Metal Cutting and High-Speed Steel Tools

For sheet metal cutting, tools like nibblers and shears are commonly used. High-speed steel (HSS) tools, although less durable than carbide tools, are more resistant to impact and thus suitable for specific applications.

Choosing the Right Cutting Tools for CNC Operations

In choosing the right cutting tools for CNC operations, various factors need to be considered.

  1. Material of the Workpiece: The hardness and abrasiveness of the material being machined determine the type of cutting tool required. For example, carbide tools are ideal for hard materials due to their high wear resistance.
  2. Machining Process: Different processes require different tools. End mills are best suited for milling, while insert tools are needed for turning operations.
  3. Surface Finish Requirements: The desired surface finish of the final product can dictate the choice of the tool. Face mills, for instance, are known to provide an excellent surface finish.
  4. Speed and Precision: The operating speed and precision requirements also influence the tool selection. Carbide tools, known for their superior performance, are often chosen when high speed and precision are needed.
  5. Heat and Impact Resistance: Tools that can withstand high temperatures and impacts, like high-speed steel tools, are suitable for specific applications.

By carefully considering these factors, you can select the most appropriate cutting tools for your CNC operations, enhancing efficiency and productivity.

How to Use Different Types of Cutting Tools for Metal Cutting?

Hole milling cutter

Hole milling cutter
Hole milling cutter

When it comes to metal cutting, understanding how to use different types of cutting tools effectively is crucial for achieving maximum productivity and exceptional surface finish.

Carbide Tools: Known for their impressive wear resistance, carbide tools are often preferred for cutting hard materials. These tools, despite their brittle nature, perform exceptionally well at high operating speeds and provide a fine finish. The application of coolant is recommended when using carbide tools to prevent excessive heat build-up.

High-Speed Steel Tools (HSS): These tools are highly resistant to impact and can tolerate the high temperatures generated during the metal-cutting process. HSS tools are perfect for roughing operations or machining alloys with variable hardness. They are also preferred when the machining process involves heavy interrupted cuts.

Removing Materials and Cutting Processes: In milling operations, end mills are typically used to remove material. Face mills, on the other hand, can be used when a good surface finish is required. For turning operations, insert tools are ideal. It’s crucial to match the type of tool to the specific cutting process to achieve optimal results.

Cutting Speed and Hard Material Cutting Operations: The speed of the cutting operation impacts tool selection. Carbide tools are often chosen for high-speed applications due to their superior performance, while HSS tools are typically used in low to medium-speed operations. When cutting hard materials, slowing down the cutting speed can prolong tool life and prevent tool breakage.

Choosing the right cutting tools for metalworking requires a comprehensive understanding of the material, process, and desired outcome. This ensures not only efficiency and productivity but also extends the life of the tools and maintains the quality of your end product.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the different types of cutting tools used in a lathe machine?

A: There are various types of lathe cutting tools, including rough turning tools, finish turning tools, knurling tools, and multiple cutting edge tools.

Q: What is the primary function of a lathe-cutting tool?

A: The primary function of a lathe-cutting tool is to remove material from the workpiece during the cutting operation.

Q: What are the seven main types of cutting tools used in a lathe machine?

A: The seven main types of cutting tools used in a lathe machine include turning tools, facing tools, boring tools, parting tools, threading tools, grooving tools, and knurling tools.

Q: How do cutting tools remove material from the workpiece?

A: Cutting tools remove material from the workpiece by using their cutting edges to cut into the fabric and create the desired shape and surface finish.

Q: What are the different types of lathe-cutting operations?

A: The different types of lathe-cutting operations involve cutting, facing, turning, threading, grooving, and parting of the workpiece.

Q: What are the standard lathe-cutting tools used for cutting metal?

A: Common lathe-cutting tools used for cutting metal include high-speed steel (HSS) tools, carbide tools, and ceramic tools.

Q: How are cutting tools mounted on a lathe machine?

A: Cutting tools are mounted on a lathe machine using tool holders or tool posts, which secure the cutting tools in place and allow for precise positioning and cutting action.

Q: What are the characteristics of multi-point cutting tools?

A: Multi-point cutting tools have multiple cutting edges and are used for removing material from the workpiece more efficiently and producing smoother surface finishes.

Q: What are the types of lathe-cutting tools made based on the number of cutting edges?

A: The types of lathe-cutting tools made based on the number of cutting edges include single-point cutting tools with one cutting edge and multi-point cutting tools with multiple cutting edges.

Q: What are the tools that are commonly used for welding operations in a lathe machine?

A: The standard lathe-cutting tools used for welding operations include welding tools, which are specially designed for joining metal parts together using heat and pressure.


1. The American Machinist’s Handbook – A comprehensive guide containing detailed information on various types of cutting tools. It is widely respected in the industry for its technical accuracy and practical insights.

2. Metal Cutting Theory and Practice, 3rd Edition by David A. Stephenson, John S. Agapiou – An academic book presenting the latest research findings in the field of metal cutting tools. This book covers a range of topics, including tool materials and their properties.

3. International Journal of Machine Tools and Manufacture – A peer-reviewed academic journal publishing original research articles on machine tools, including various types of cutting tools.

4. Cutting Tool Engineering – An online magazine that provides news, articles, and in-depth features about the latest developments in cutting tool technology.

5. Sandvik Coromant’s Website – The website of a leading cutting tools manufacturer, offering detailed product specifications and usage guidelines.

6. Kennametal’s Website – Another key industry player’s website with valuable technical information about their cutting tools.

7. Metalworking World Magazine – A trade magazine offering insights into various aspects of metalworking, including tool selection and usage.

8. Practical Machinist – A blog offering practical advice and discussions on various topics related to machining, including cutting tools.

9. YouTube Channel: This Old Tony – A popular YouTube channel featuring DIY projects and tutorials on using various types of cutting tools.

10. Academic Article: Performance of cutting tools in complex turning processes – This academic article explores the performance of cutting tools in difficult turning circles, providing valuable insights for those working with hard materials.

product from SAMHO
Recently Posted
Popular Blogs
Contact SAMHO
Contact Form Demo