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I have a milling machine for metal working and have a number of spiral cutting end mills. Has anyone used them for routing box joints or other straight slot cuts? I am not sure they are solid carbide but would expect they are. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks Larry
 

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I've read about it being done. Also read about using metal lathes for turning wood. I wouldn't ask, I'd just try it, and see if I liked it.
 

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I've done it, but I found that I often get better results using router bits. Metal responds to different blade cutting angles than wood. Try it for yourself, but don't invest a lot of money until you get the results that you want.

Charley
 

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i believe that i have read that end mills are typically up-cut bits. i am thinking you will get better results with down cutting for the tasks you mentioned. wrt metal working bits, i'd bet that the cutter geometry is different than that for wood, as well as efficient/recommended rpm's.
 

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i believe that i have read that end mills are typically up-cut bits. i am thinking you will get better results with down cutting for the tasks you mentioned. wrt metal working bits, i'd bet that the cutter geometry is different than that for wood, as well as efficient/recommended rpm's.
The geometry for router bits meant to cut plastic are also different from ones for wood. Like Charley said, different materials react differently to the cutter.
 

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I do know one person that uses 4 flute bits, made for metal cutting, 90% of the time for his wood projects. I don't recommend it for the hobby level machines because most of them are limited in feed rates needed to get the proper feeds for a 4 flute bit.

Another important thing to remember is that the chips created when the bit is cutting carries away the heat produced while cutting. Moving too slow because you are trying to make the bit meet optimum feed rates and spindle speeds for a 4 flute bit will often lead to burning material and overheating the bit. This could also be hard on your spindle because they are normally limited on their lowest speed recommendations.

Of course, that is just my opinion.
 

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Good point Mike. The gullets on metal cutting bits are shallower for the added strength that gives the cutting edges but it doesn't allow for getting rid of wood chips at the higher feed rates of cutting wood.
 

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Hey, when I look at websites, how do I know if a bit is made for metal, wood or plastic? Will a end mill made for wood cut plastic? I have an Avid machine on order and this is all new to me. I want to cut the dust shoe out of HDPE as per the video on their website. I have begun to look at the bits and actually ordered a couple. Not trying to hijack the topic but I hope I am not purchasing the wrong things.
 

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Hey, when I look at websites, how do I know if a bit is made for metal, wood or plastic? Will a end mill made for wood cut plastic? I have an Avid machine on order and this is all new to me. I want to cut the dust shoe out of HDPE as per the video on their website. I have begun to look at the bits and actually ordered a couple. Not trying to hijack the topic but I hope I am not purchasing the wrong things.
go to the bit's manufacturer's site...
plug in your particulars they will tell you what bits you need...
 

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Thank you sir!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I checked some more on my end mills. They are HSS and have an rpm rating of 1200 rpm. It would be unsafe to use the in a router. Just a thought. Enjoyed the comments. Thanks Larry
 

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I checked some more on my end mills. They are HSS and have an rpm rating of 1200 rpm. It would be unsafe to use the in a router. Just a thought. Enjoyed the comments. Thanks Larry
As long as you can stay within the limits provided by the manufacturer you should be able to use HSS mills for cutting wood. I have some surplus aircraft HSS 2 flute 3/16" spiral bits I use for roughing on small projects all the time. I bought 25 for 22 dollars and after using them went back to buy some more in different sizes from him but he had sold all of his HSS bits to someone that contacted him and made a reasonable offer for them.
 

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Hey, when I look at websites, how do I know if a bit is made for metal, wood or plastic?
Companies that make wood router bits typically do not make metal cutting end mills, and vice versa.
But both may make bits for plastics. And there are also bits for different kinds of plastics. Softer plastics and harder plastics need different cutter geometry for optimum results.

Generally, if they are being called endmills, then they're most likely metal cutting bits. If they are called router bits, then they are for wood. If they are for plastics, the description should tell you that.
There are also router bits made for non ferrous metals, like aluminum and brass. Non ferrous router bits are similar to plastic cutting router bits.

Generally, you can use router bits to cut wood, plastics, and non ferrous metals. Sharp bits will give good quality cuts in any of these materials.
What you don't want to do, is use a bit that's been cutting wood to cut plastic or aluminum. Keep bits for plastic and aluminum separate, and never cut wood with them. Wood is actually very abrasive, and will dull bits faster than plastic and aluminum.
 

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End mills for metal won't give you the really nice finish, but I am finding a growing number of ways that a vertical metal mill is great for accurate work. Especially tenons. You can use router bits, my experience is that they don't give a better finish, but the advantage is all the shapes available.
 
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