Author Topic: Carbide End Mills  (Read 16526 times)

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Offline Richard/RMW

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Carbide End Mills
« on: May 16, 2011, 04:16 PM »
Does anyone have experience using end mills in lieu of router bits for cutting a dado, etc? I have searched the internet but not found anything that really makes me comfortable that they won't explode and shower me with shrapnel.

Thanks in advance.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

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Offline Sal LiVecchi

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2011, 05:46 PM »
I have been using American Carbide 4 Flute 1/2 in my OF 1400 and have been very happy with the results,
They also make a solid carbide router bit in various sizes, although I have never tried them yet.
I have been using end mills for quite sometime now and I have never had one come apart yet.
I had been using them in my Dewalt 625 Router prior to the 1400.
Its the old machinist in me I guess

http://american-carbide.com/index.php
Life is too short and the road is too long to drive anything less than a Festool

Offline Jesse Cloud

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2011, 06:03 PM »
I use end mills in my OF1400.  I make furniture and sometimes need deep mortises.  Long router bits are super expensive, but end mills come in long lengths at reasonable prices.  They are not made for router speeds, but I have never had a problem with many hundreds of hours of use.  Turn the router to the lowest speed and use sensibly shallow cuts and a moderate feed rate.  If you get chatter, ease up.  The outcome will be just as smooth as one done with a router.

You probably already know this, but, the shank and the cutter on an end mill are always the same.  So you can use 1/4, 8mm, 3/8, or 1/2 inch endmills on the OF1400 or 2200.  My favorite for most mortises is the 3/8 - collet available from Festool.


Offline Sal LiVecchi

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2011, 06:18 PM »
Jesse   thanks I forgot about the lower speed , although I have used it running real strong speed wise with no problems
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Offline RonWen

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2011, 06:37 PM »
I would check the endmill manufacturer specs for max RPM's but as an example most good 3/8" carbide endmills run nicely in the 5,000-12,000 range in aluminum.

Offline Richard/RMW

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2011, 09:55 PM »
I have a bunch of end mills from my machinist dalliances. Sounds like I am safe to give them a try.

Thanks guys.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline William Herrold

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2011, 10:10 AM »
Forgive me, but can someone describe what an 'end mill' is?
"I don't believe anything, but I have a lot of suspicions"
 R.A.W.

Offline vkumar

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2011, 10:33 AM »
End mills are cutters used in milling machines. The cutting edges are only on the end hence the name.
They are suitable for plunge cuts. Hope this helps.

Vijay
Vijay Kumar

Offline William Herrold

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2011, 11:24 AM »
Said explanation evades me...I come from a woodworking background, so please forgive me, but as far as I can tell, We're talking about woodworking here...Or?
"I don't believe anything, but I have a lot of suspicions"
 R.A.W.

Offline Qwas

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2011, 12:04 PM »
An end mill is typically used for cutting and shaping metal. Consider them a "router bit" for steel.

End mills are not always sharpened on the bottom for plunging and are more commonly used for side cutting just like a router bit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endmill

Offline Richard/RMW

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2011, 12:57 PM »
Quote
We're talking about woodworking here...Or?

William - we are talking about woodworking, my original question was whether metal-cutting end mills were suitable to use for cutting wood and the answer seems to be "yes" when used properly.

What prompted the question is that end mills can be somewhat cheaper than similar router bits, depending on the source. There are also longer lengths available.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline greg mann

  • Posts: 1895
Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2011, 08:00 PM »
There is no reason to assume an end mill of same size cannot be run at router bit speeds. If anything, they are probably made to more exacting standards. As practical matter one will probably not find many solid carbide endmills larger than half inch sizes and still have half inch shanks. Lengths available are extensive. I would suggest using designs meant for aluminum in two or three flute styles. Four or more flutes tend to choke up with chips when milling wood. Aluminum grinds also are more upsharp and with more radial clearance, both desirable on wood.I use them a lot, as I am a manufacturing engineer in my day job and have access to the best of the best.

Router speed is more a function of harmonics. Longer flute lengths will tend to chatter because of system deflection (bearings and spindle rigidity for example) rather than because the end mill itself isn't up to the task.
Greg Mann
Oakland, Michigan

Offline Jay Evans

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2011, 10:34 PM »
Got to chime in here.  I was a tool and die maker on the bench for 10 years after a 5 year apprenticeship.  I am extremely experienced with end mills, carbide and steel.  I have been using them for 25+ years as router bits and have never had an issue with them in performance or safety.  As a matter of fact, when woodworkers were first introduced to "solid carbide spiral up-cutting router bits", I have more than a suspicion that they were just repackaged carbide end mills sold to the wood working trade.
The big disadvantage used to be the cost of the carbide endmills, because of the labor and cost of the diamond wheels needed to shape and sharpen them.  Today, with 6 axis CNC grinding machines, manufacturing carbide end mills has gotten faster, cheaper and better.  Many carbide end mills today are made for high speed milling of hard materials, so 30,000 rpms means absolutely nothing to a 1/2" solid carbide end mill.  Some run at 60 to 100 K rpms, but have to be balanced in the tool holder.  I regularly run 1 1/4" long fluted, 2 flute spiral carbide end mills at full speed in my 1400 and 2200 routers.  If you are running longer flute lengths, then you need to dial the speed back.  Carbide tools will not whip like steel, because they have hardly any elasticity in them.  They are very ridged and will simply snap off if they get too far out of balance (not a good thing). Carbide has no modulus of elasticity- that's what makes them more ridged and reduces  chatter.   When I use 3" long flutes in the router, I turn the speed down.
End mills are available in many shapes and sizes- flavors if you like.  The fewer the flutes, 2 vs 4, the more chip clearance you have allowing for deeper cuts and faster feeds.  3 fluted mills cost more, but have better harmonic balance at high speeds and a good amount of chip clearance.  In my experience, 2 flute standard length, 1/2 dia are the standard.  Typically expect feeds to be faster for routing than milling,because in milling the feeds are controlled mechanically and a slow and steady feed is easy to do on a machine.  Hand routing tends to get faster feeds because you are driving the router and it's very difficult to feed slowly and steadily for a long time.
4 flute end mills are OK if you are wanting to trim and edge, like edging Corian before seaming.  The spiral flutes of the end mill actually do a better job of edging, because of the shearing action of the cut.  Using a spiral flute is like angling your hand plane and gives a more slicing cut than just a standard straight fluted router bit.  I have machine thousands of inches of solid surface material with carbide endmills and have never encountered any difficulty.
I know for a fact that the 2200 router will bury a 2 flute solid carbide endmill in walnut 1 1/4 inches deep, and with the dust extraction on that machine, chip clearance is not an issue at all.
Almost all 2 flute end mills are "center cutting" , which means you can plunge cut with them.  Most solid carbide endmills are center cutting these days, because they are sharpend and fluted on CNC machines held in collets.  Some of the older High Speed Steel endmils are not center cutting.  Just make sure when you look at the end, the face cutting edges meet in the center of the cutter.  If there is a small hole in the cutting end of he mill, it wont center cut.

Make sure the shank of the endmill is clean and free of oil when you put it in the router, and put the end mill shank in all the way, then back out 1/8" before tighten the collet.  The polished carbide is slick, so I tend to tighten the collets a bit tighter on carbide shanks than on Steel shanked router bits.

Festool makes a 3/8 collet for the 1400 and 2200 and those are very handy because the standard shank for most end mills (High Speed Steel) under 3/8 cutting diameter is 3/8.  It would be very handy to have some 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 solid carbide two flute endmills for wood working.  You can buy them cheaply at machine suppliers like MSC.  The imports are getting better in quality all the time.

Be very careful handleing and storing the cutters.  The carbide tips of the cutter can chip on the corner of the tip, and that will cause poor finishes and cutting problems.  The carbide tips are very brittle.  Experienced toolmakers round the cutting tips with a diamond hone most of the time ( about a .005" rad), but it is tricky to do correctly-  your tool sharpener (guy or gal) can do this for you.  The .005-.010" radius will increase the tool life 3X if done correctly.  Once the tip chips, it's a whole nother ballgame.
Just some general thoughts-  Hope this helps someone
Jay
« Last Edit: May 18, 2011, 10:39 PM by Jay Evans »

Offline Jesse Cloud

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2011, 11:41 PM »
Great thread!  I learned a lot.  Thanks all.

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2043
Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2011, 07:25 AM »
Greg/Jay, great info, thanks for sharing.

I have a bunch of end mills that I bought used with some other machinist stuff, all older US make. Some are dull or chipped. Is there a mail-in service you can recommend to re-sharpen them?

Also, I found an 8mm end mill on eBay for $14 including shipping, decided to add that to the arsenal. I will probable buy the 3/8" collet as well.

Lastly, the Festool collets look suspiciously like ER 32's, which I have only seen in photos. I am curious if you think the ER 32 would interchange and perhaps expand the options available for shank size?

Thanks again.

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline John2532

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2011, 10:06 AM »
Greg/Jay, great info, thanks for sharing.

I have a bunch of end mills that I bought used with some other machinist stuff, all older US make. Some are dull or chipped. Is there a mail-in service you can recommend to re-sharpen them?

Also, I found an 8mm end mill on eBay for $14 including shipping, decided to add that to the arsenal. I will probable buy the 3/8" collet as well.

Lastly, the Festool collets look suspiciously like ER 32's, which I have only seen in photos. I am curious if you think the ER 32 would interchange and perhaps expand the options available for shank size?

Thanks again.

RMW

RMW,

Here are some basic specs for the different ER collets.

http://shopswarf.orconhosting.net.nz/colletmill.html

John

Offline greg mann

  • Posts: 1895
Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2011, 11:27 AM »
Greg/Jay, great info, thanks for sharing.

I have a bunch of end mills that I bought used with some other machinist stuff, all older US make. Some are dull or chipped. Is there a mail-in service you can recommend to re-sharpen them?

Also, I found an 8mm end mill on eBay for $14 including shipping, decided to add that to the arsenal. I will probable buy the 3/8" collet as well.

Lastly, the Festool collets look suspiciously like ER 32's, which I have only seen in photos. I am curious if you think the ER 32 would interchange and perhaps expand the options available for shank size?

Thanks again.

RMW


I do not believe they are ERs. I think I checked this a while back but my memory isn't what it used to be so I will check again. It would be great if ther are because that would open up the possibility of using odd sized tools on occasion because, as you know, you can get ERs in almost any size you wish.
Greg Mann
Oakland, Michigan

Offline greg mann

  • Posts: 1895
Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2011, 11:37 AM »
I agree with everything Jay has said but didn't have the time to write it out so eloquently. I might add that using a half inch carbide endmill with 3 inches of flute length, especially a four flute version, should be done with care. A bad move causing a grab could damage a router spindle. Perhaps not a 2200 but it certainly would be possible to damage a lesser machine. There is a lot of leverage out there and you could crack the spindle taper or bend the shaft. I am not saying don't use them but make sure you have your router technique thought out. The stiffness of these tools is pretty impressive. When milling aluminum at 20,000RPM or more and traveling well over 100 incher per minute it is possible to soak up 30 or 40 HP on a machining center. I haven't done it lately so I cannot translate to a 'small' size like a half inch but we have facemilled with a three inch cutter at 600 IPM and have used almost all of 60 HP. It is fun to watch.  ;D ;D
Greg Mann
Oakland, Michigan

Offline William Herrold

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2011, 12:49 PM »
Thanks for the info- I'm always looking out for the longest 1/2" or 12mm solid spirals for cutting mortises and tenons- the longest I've found is Leigh's 1/2"- 4" overall, 2,1/8" cutting length. The Leigh bits have a quite aggressive spiral, as opposed to the CMT spirals I have, which have only a mild "twist"- maybe less than 90° Any thoughts in the difference between these designs? I'm guessing the CMT is better suited to lateral cutting while the Leigh is for plunging. I also have a CMT straight bit at 4,3/8"overall- 2,1/2" cutting, but the smoothness of the solid spirals have me spoiled.
"I don't believe anything, but I have a lot of suspicions"
 R.A.W.

Offline Richard/RMW

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2011, 09:53 AM »
In another thread someone posted sources for sleeves or collet reducers that were designed for metal machining but suitable for use in routers. I can't locate that post, can anyone shed any light on this?

Specifically, I am looking for a reducer for the OF 1400 1/2" collet to get it to accept 10mm end mills or CNC router bits.

Thanks in advance,

RMW
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline William Herrold

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Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #20 on: May 26, 2011, 02:17 PM »
In another thread someone posted sources for sleeves or collet reducers that were designed for metal machining but suitable for use in routers. I can't locate that post, can anyone shed any light on this?

Specifically, I am looking for a reducer for the OF 1400 1/2" collet to get it to accept 10mm end mills or CNC router bits.

Thanks in advance,

RMW


A number of companies make reducers, I don't personally recommend them because of slippage issues, but here is a link to CMT's versions:
http://www.cmtutensili.com/show_items.asp?pars=RIC~799~2
"I don't believe anything, but I have a lot of suspicions"
 R.A.W.

Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 2043
Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #21 on: May 26, 2011, 08:10 PM »
In another thread someone posted sources for sleeves or collet reducers that were designed for metal machining but suitable for use in routers. I can't locate that post, can anyone shed any light on this?

Specifically, I am looking for a reducer for the OF 1400 1/2" collet to get it to accept 10mm end mills or CNC router bits.

Thanks in advance,

RMW

Thanks William. I can see where this type may slip because of the single slit that closes to tighten, it would appear to be tough tighten it enough to make it grab the bit.

The reference I saw was from someone who used a metal-milling sleeve of some sort and they stated they had good results.

Thanks again.

RMW


A number of companies make reducers, I don't personally recommend them because of slippage issues, but here is a link to CMT's versions:
http://www.cmtutensili.com/show_items.asp?pars=RIC~799~2
As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline greg mann

  • Posts: 1895
Re: Carbide End Mills
« Reply #22 on: May 26, 2011, 09:45 PM »
Companies like KennAmetal and Sandvik make high precision sleeves for metalworking. Try MSC and search for tool holding college / sleeves.
Greg Mann
Oakland, Michigan