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The Different Types of Milling Tools and Their Applications

The Different Types of Milling Tools and Their Applications

Whether you’re just starting machining or are a veteran who has worked for years in a machine shop, you've undoubtedly heard of milling. Milling is a method where cutters on a machine rotate to separate material from the workpiece in line with its angle to the axis.

Milling machine cutting tools usually have several blades or points. The milling tools get mounted on a computer numerical control—a CNC—or a manually operated machine to execute the milling operation. If you would like to know more about the different types of milling tools and their applications, continue reading for a guide on the assorted options you might come across.

End Mill

An end mill is a cutting tool used in milling. While they’re similar in appearance to a drill bit, there are some critical differences between them. A drill bit cuts down vertically into materials while an end mill cut laterally, typically while the workpiece moves in a radial direction. There are distinct types of shanks and flutes that vary in diameter according to your needs.

End Mill Holder

Holders help attach a tool to the revolving spindle. Keeping the tool in place is accomplished by screwing the holder onto the end mill and then tightening it against the cutter's edge. Holders keep workpieces from being loose when you’re using a machine by applying pressure to the piece. The pressure allows you to have more control over a workpiece as you continue to exert effort onto it. They also assist in shortening the time it takes to complete a task by allowing you to place tools inside multiple holders and swap them out with ease.

Face Mill

Unlike an end mill, which is elongated like a screw, a face mill is ring-shaped. Face mills, also known as shell mills, have inserts on the outside edge of the blade, which strip a slight amount of stock when the cutter first reaches the material. The amount it takes each time depends on the depth of the edge. When the edge runs over the workpiece, the other teeth work to clear stock left behind by a bur or springing caused by the cutter. They’re typically larger in diameter than the workpiece they are being used on and are great when you want a leveled, superb finish.

Face Mill Holder

Face mill holders have an arbor and two bolt-on drive keys that keep cutter bodies in place. These clamps help hold the workpiece steady as you cut into it, similarly to the end mill holder, but are designed for the radial symmetry of the face mill design. There are face mill holder sets that will come with inserts that fit along the edges and adaptors to connect different head and tail parts.

Morse Taper

A Morse taper is a tapered spindle used to position tooling on lathes and drill presses. They come in assorted sizes, but the typical ones you will see are Morse Taper #1 and Morse Taper #2, which differ in length but have the same taper per inch. The lathe or drill press determines the size of the morse taper you use. If you’re doing any project with metal or wood, you’ll probably need to use a morse taper.

Milling Inserts

Milling inserts are replaceable pieces used to cut and shape some of the most challenging substances, such as steel, titanium, and cast iron. The inserts typically consist of carbide, which helps them withstand intense temperatures and be resistant to high-speed applications such as drilling and finishing. It used to be that inserts only came in basic shapes. Manufacturer optimizations now allow for a wide range of geometric forms, such as elliptical and spiral. When buying a milling insert, some of the features you can consider are its shape, teeth, grooves, and coating.

Milling Chuck

A milling chuck is a small metal piece that attaches the machinery and the cutting tool. A milling chuck stays in place as the cutting tool rotates due to the machine's movement. They are accommodating in the metalworking since they allow you more precision when cutting and shaping workpieces.


A collet is one of the most popular types of milling chucks used for smaller workpieces with a diameter varying from 1/16 to 2.5 inches. They have many benefits when you’re exerting pressure onto a workpiece. They allow you to hold and spin heavier workpieces much faster than usual due to the lower mass of the collet over other chucks. Also, a collet clamps down on the workpiece; it distributes weight evenly, making it more resistant to force moving away from the center and giving you better accuracy.

ER Collet Chuck

An ER collet structure consists of a central shaft or body with a threaded top, a nut that hooks into the main body, and interchangeable collets. ER collet chucks have a broad clamping scope and are extremely precise. They come in different series with their capabilities and range. When working with cylindrical workpieces, an ER collet chuck will typically be what you use when milling.

Drill Chuck

Drill chucks are remarkably like the other types of chucks, but they’re generally used to hold drill tools in place. They typically come in keyed, keyless, and hybrid systems that promote fast drill bit adjustments.


Keyed chucks have a design where they use a key to ease or strengthen the hold on a tool. When sliding is a problem during heavy-duty usage, keyed chucks benefit from adding increased torque to the bit.


Keyless chucks are designed to rapidly release and tighten a tool on the drill's chuck collar, either when torque is applied or manually. The instrument becomes loosened by rotating the chuck collar counterclockwise.


Hybrid drill chucks have both keyed and keyless systems in place. The keyless portion tightens naturally, and the keyed section is configured on the chuck to provide additional grasping and torque assistance on the machine. This system blends the precision of a keyless chuck and the grasping power of a keyed chuck.

You will find that milling tools can help you shape and cut almost any type of project you can imagine when you work with CNC machinery. At DZ Sales, we have a wide variety of milling tools, including face mill cutters, for sale. If you have any questions about the various products available on our website, please contact us by email or phone.

The Different Types of Milling Tools and Their Applications