Getting the know the bits and pieces

Peter Jacobs

The skilled labour shortage we’re all facing right now makes hiring challenging. This means that you might need to hire someone with the right soft skills and train them on the job for an open position. While a CNC machinist will have learned CNC programming from the ground up as part of their training or education, a CNC operator is typically a button-pusher, your most basic kind of operator. Beginners may do little more than turn than load and unload parts and start the machine.

CNC routers play a prominent role in the manufacturing process, and the router bits are the essential tools for CNC router or milling machines, which are used to cut, engrave and produce fantastic woodwork. The operators need to understand the classification of router bits to learn how to choose the right ones on their own for the project. Choosing the best router bits requires a prior understanding of the CNC milling machine, and if you choose the wrong bits, it can spell disaster. A craftsman faces tons of problems due to inaccurate and inefficient router bits.

They are also called CNC tools, CNC cutters, machine bits, or engraving bits, depending on the process they are crafted for, which can be confusing to a new operator. Router bits work on furniture, cabinets, moldings, and other types of trimming work that’s required for home accessories and other woodworks.

Each type of CNC router bit is crafted for specific requirements, and their usage is determined based on temperature efficacy, cutting speed, or the force required for cutting or engraving. This article can help new operators understand the important differences.

What is the Classification of CNC Router Bits?

CNC router bits come in many types and are usually classified based on the tip shapes, and these are further divided into many types based on features like strength, toughness, and temperature resistance. These include:

Flat bottom bits

Flat bottom bits or cylindrical router bits generally have two types of shapes of the side edge. The spiral edge flat bottom CNC router bits are mainly used when engraving on metal or plastic. Meanwhile, the straight edge flat bottom router machine bits are used for wood cutting. 

Ball nose bits

Ball nose bits come in many shapes and are ideal for cutting and engraving processes, such as semi-finish or engraving complex surfaces or routing channels in cutting boards or countertops.

Tapered ball nose bits

They are narrow and tapered, with the small tips being perfect for delicate work like relief carvings, projection carving, and other engravings. 

Corn teeth end mills

Corn teeth end mills are shaped like corn teeth on their side edges and are commonly used in woodwork. The unique shape makes it ideal for cutting hardwood or materials like carbon fiber, composite boards, fiberglass, etc.

Drill bits

If you are looking for CNC router bits to drill holes on your woodwork, drill bits are what you should opt for. These CNC bits are available in many shapes and sizes based on the depth and diameter of the hole, making it convenient to choose as per the requirement. Our featured article can explore more about CNC Drilling and Dowel processes.

Three-dimensional irregular router bits

These are different from standard CNC router bits and are tapered router end mills with an excellent taper angle at the tip. Three-dimensional irregular router bits also come in many unique forms and are ideal for engraving work and can be chosen as per the project designs and materials required.

How to Choose CNC Router Bits for Your Project?

When choosing CNC router bits for your specific requirements, there are several variables the operator will need to take into account. The type of material and the project type are two major factors you need to consider. When it comes to soft materials such as wood, the operator will need to opt for low hardness and toughness, such as carbide CNC carving bits.

The project type also makes an impact. For example, if you need minute detailing and complex shapes, ball nose spiral end mills are your best choice. But when making signage or lettering, V groove engraving router bits are the best option for the shallow details.

Parting Thoughts

We hope this unique guide of CNC router bits helps your new CNC operator understand what they need before selecting the right bits for the milling machine. Selecting the right tools achieves excellent results and reduces the tools’ abrasion, and helps it last longer. So when making a choice, be cautious and take the next step carefully to get the best results for your projects.

Additionally, do check out how you can maximize your CNC machine and keep on with the art of woodworking. It takes time, patience and practice to perfect, so keep going strong, and in case you have any questions, do feel free to get in touch with our experts!

Peter Jacobs is the Senior Director of Marketing at CNC Masters. He is actively involved in manufacturing processes and regularly contributes his insights for various blogs in CNC machining, 3D printing, rapid tooling, injection molding, metal casting, and manufacturing in general.

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