15 Different Types Of CNC Cutting Tools

In modern manufacturing industries, automation plays a significant role, and CNC machines are gaining popularity due to their ability to automate processes. The selection of the appropriate cutting tools is crucial in determining the quality, cost, and speed of production. Factors such as material type, surface finishing, and precision requirements should be considered when selecting tools. Incompatibility between the tool and CNC machine can lead to inaccurate machining, machine damage, and even operator injury.

There are 15 examples of CNC cutting tools with specific applications in the industry.

#1. End Mills

End mills are a type of machine tool frequently utilized in CNC machining for milling, drilling and contouring processes. They are made of durable and wear-resistant high-speed steel or carbide and come in various sizes and shapes. End mills are employed to create slots, pockets, and intricate designs in different materials. The size and shape of the feature being created determine the type of end mill used, as well as the desired surface finish.

End mills are crucial in achieving high precision and accuracy in machining operations, such as drilling precise holes in circuit boards or etching complex designs onto metal surfaces. They are an essential tool for contemporary manufacturing processes.

#2. Drill Bits

Drill bits are essential for CNC machining and come in different materials and sizes. HSS drill bits are durable and used for metal, wood, and plastic. Carbide drill bits are wear-resistant and suitable for hard metals. Diamond drill bits are precise and used for brittle materials.

Examples of their real-world use include drilling holes in metal, PCBs, and wood. Choosing the right drill bit ensures high-quality and secure manufacturing processes.

#3. Reamers

Reamers are cutting tools used in CNC machining to create precise and smooth holes in workpieces. They come in various forms and sizes and are made of durable materials like high-speed steel or carbide. One of the main advantages of using reamers is that they remove excess material left from the drilling process, resulting in a more accurate diameter and a smoother surface finish.

Reamers find extensive use in drilling holes in metals, plastics, and wood. In industries like aerospace and medical devices, where high precision is crucial, reamers are essential to create accurate holes with smooth finishes. Similarly, reamers are preferred in the automobile and consumer goods industries to produce perfectly fitting plastic components. In woodworking, reamers are used to create precise holes necessary for furniture or cabinet production.

#4. Taps

Taps are a critical tool in CNC machining for creating threaded holes in workpieces. They are cutting tools that accurately cut threads into a hole, and are available in various sizes and shapes for specific uses. Taps are made of high-speed steel or carbide, which ensures durability and wear resistance.

The key benefit of using taps is the creation of precise and accurate thread patterns in a range of materials, such as metals, plastics, and woods. This is essential for producing threaded components, including screws and bolts, with a proper fit and function.

Examples of real-world use include tapping threaded holes in metal for aeronautical or medical products, producing precise thread patterns in plastics, and creating threaded holes in woodworking projects.

Choosing the right tap for a specific application ensures high-quality, effective, and safe production processes. Taps are essential tools in modern industrial processes for drilling holes in various materials.

#5. Broaches

Broaches are a critical tool in CNC machining for making precise cuts on workpieces. These cutting tools are made in various forms, sizes, and materials, with each one designed for specific cutting operations. High-speed steel, carbide, and diamond are some of the materials used to construct broaches, depending on the material being cut.

The ability to create complex shapes and structures with extreme precision and accuracy is one of the key benefits of using a broach. This is essential in industries where the quality of the finished product is critical, such as aerospace, medical, and automotive manufacturing. Broaches can easily manufacture internal and external splines, keyways, slots, and other complicated features.

Broaches have several real-world applications, such as cutting keyways to ensure a secure connection between machine components, carving splines into cylindrical or spherical surfaces for reliable connections, and producing accurate teeth on gears for optimal operation.

#6. Countersinks

Countersinks are precise cutting tools made of high-speed steel, carbide or cobalt that are used to form chamfered holes in hard materials such as titanium, steel and aluminum. They are essential for producing countersunk holes, deburring and chamfering workpiece edges, and drilling countersunk rivet holes that adhere to strict tolerance and surface polish criteria.

Countersinks offer exceptional accuracy and are crucial for creating flush surfaces that lessen the possibility of harm or injury while accommodating fasteners such as screws and bolts. With a variety of forms, dimensions and materials available, manufacturers can choose the right countersink for the job to ensure high-quality, effective and secure manufacturing processes.

Overall, countersinks are an essential tool for contemporary production processes, whether used for deburring and chamfering, countersunk holes or rivet holes.

#7. Counterbores

Counterbores are essential tools used in drilling and machining operations to create holes with flat bottoms that allow screws or bolts to be flush with the material’s surface, ensuring stability and preventing loosening over time.

They are widely used in woodworking to make pilot holes for screws and in metalworking to install pipe fittings securely, while in plastic fabrication, they drill holes in gears and bearings for proper fit and smooth operation.

Counterbores are a critical tool in achieving expert finishes in various industries, regardless of the material used.

#8. Chamfer Mills

Chamfer mills, or chamfer cutters, are important tools in drilling and machining operations for producing beveled edges or chamfers on workpieces. Chamfers offer benefits such as improved aesthetics, durability, and functionality by reducing stress concentration and enhancing fluid flow.

Real-world examples of their use include aerospace engine blades, automotive gears and engine blocks, and medical implants and surgical tools. By using chamfer mills, projects can achieve smooth and polished edges, greater strength, and better performance.

#9. Face Mills

Face mills are cutting tools used in milling machines to produce smooth surfaces on workpieces in manufacturing and industrial settings. They consist of a cutting head with angled inserts or blades that remove material from the workpiece as the tool rotates.

Face mills are commonly used for flattening surfaces, squaring up edges, and machining large items like steel plates or castings. They are more affordable than other machining options and can be used on a variety of materials. Face mills are also popular in high-speed machining applications due to their ability to resist the high speeds and forces produced during machining.

#10. Ball End Mills

Ball end mills are important cutting tools used in milling machines to create intricate curves and shapes on a workpiece. They have a rounded tip and cylindrical shank that inserts into the milling machine’s spindle.

Ball end mills are commonly used in industrial and manufacturing settings where precise and complex machining is required. They are ideal for machining contoured surfaces, 3D shapes, engraving patterns or logos, and finishing processes, as they can produce a uniformly smooth finish without rough patches or edges.

Overall, ball end mills are adaptable, precise, and invaluable tools for any manufacturing or industrial context.

#11. Corner Rounding End Mills

Corner rounding end mills are cutting tools used in milling machines to round the corners of a workpiece with precision and consistency. Their rounded tips, which may have a concave radius, make them ideal for creating fillets, chamfers, and complex profiles. They are frequently employed in aerospace, automotive, and medical device manufacturing, as well as in the creation of molds.

#12. Slotting Cutters

Slotting cutters are cutting tools used in milling machines to create precise and consistent slots or grooves of different widths and depths. They are made up of a cutting head with circumferential teeth and a cylindrical shank that attaches to the milling machine’s spindle.

Slotting cutters are widely used in industries such as automotive and aerospace for making keyways, splines, interior and exterior slots, broaching, and thread milling. They are essential tools for any manufacturing or industrial context due to their versatility, precision, and adaptability.

#13. T-Slot Cutters

T-slot cutters are used in milling machines to produce T-shaped slots or channels with different widths and depths in a workpiece. They have a cutting head with a T-shaped cross-section and a cylindrical shank that fits into the spindle of the milling machine. T-slot cutters are essential in manufacturing and industrial applications where precise and reliable T-slotting is required.

T-slot cutters have various applications, such as fixturing, making tool holders, jigs and fixtures, work holding, and tooling plates. They can produce precise, consistent T-slots with variable widths and depths to accommodate various components. T-slots’ simple adjustment capabilities make them ideal for holding workpieces in place during machining or assembly and securing cutting tools or other components.

#14. Thread Mills

Thread mills are cutting tools used in milling machines to create threads with high precision and accuracy. They consist of a cylindrical shank and a solid cutting head with spiral flutes. Thread mills can produce threads of various diameters, pitches, and forms on materials such as metals, polymers, and composites.

In the aerospace, automotive, medical, and oil and gas industries, thread mills are crucial for producing components that require accurate and precise threads. Thread mills are cost-effective and efficient, making them an essential tool in any manufacturing or industrial setting.

#15. Fly Cutters

Fly cutters are cutting instruments used in milling machines to make flat surfaces on workpieces. They consist of a spindle-fitting shank and a cutting head with one or more edges.

Fly cutters are widely used in surface finishing, engraving, repair work, and aligning lathe chucks. They are particularly useful for machining large workpieces that are too big for normal milling machines.

Fly cutters provide an efficient, cost-effective, and adaptable solution for producing accurate and smooth surfaces, making them a valuable tool for any manufacturing or industrial environment.


Gavin Leo is a technical writer at Aria with 8 years of experience in Engineering, He proficient in machining characteristics and surface finish process of various materials. and participated in the development of more than 100complex injection molding and CNC machining projects. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience.