As your local CNC professionals and enthusiasts, we have compiled a list of helpful tools for those that are CNC novices. We hope you find this list helpful because we understand what it is like to try something new. We may be biased, but we think you’ll grow to love CNC Machining with a bit of time and practice! Regardless of where we start, the experience doesn’t need to be intimidating. It is a learning process, and we hope you can find learning about these tools to be helpful as you grow more familiar with the CNC world and as you continue to build your passion and knowledge of CNC machining!
- High-Speed Steel (HSS) End Mills
The first step is to find a good pair of HSS end mills to help you get familiar with the CNC basics. However, we do not recommend investing in expensive carbide cutters when you are first starting out, as there is a high chance that you will break the end mills while practicing. Therefore, we recommend an affordable set of HSS flat endmills from Little Machine Shop. Click here to view this product.
- Drill Sets
While drill sets at hardware stores are convenient, the quality and the endurance of these hardware drills are not well suited for your CNC needs. Instead, we recommend these two HSS sets from Little Machine Shop, Drill Set, #1-60 Screw Machine Length HSS and Drill Set, 29 Piece Jobber Length HSS.
- Workholding Vise
We designed and manufactured a low-profile vise that can help solve fixturing challenges when machinable area and workholding is a concern. Its easy setup, with removable and customizable soft jaws, makes it suitable for any machinist, novice or advanced. We have more descriptions with images and videos available on our site.
- Measuring Tools: Calipers, Micrometers, Height Gauge, Surface Plate
Calipers are one of the handiest measuring tools available. The Dial Caliper, 6″ Industrial Quality is well suited for measuring internal and external dimensions. The fine adjustment knob seamlessly turns with one hand in a 360-degree rotation. You may also consider the Dial Caliper, 6″, Starrett, which accurately and reliably displays the measurement to greater precision directly from the dial. Starrett 120 Series dial calipers are the only American made dial calipers on the market!
Micrometers help to accurately measure small distances or thicknesses between its two faces, typically external diameters or rounded geometries. The micrometer has a rigid one-piece frame of drop forged steel and an extremely hard and stable one-piece spindle (the heart of the accuracy). The Micrometer, 0-1″ shown below is an analog micrometer that features a ratchet stop for exact repetitive readings and a lock lever to lock the barrel. This micrometer is ideal for any beginning machinist who works with parts less than 1 inch in diameter. Larger micrometers and micrometer kits are available to purchase for larger scale measurements. You may also consider Starrett 0-1” micrometer.
Height Gauges are used to measure the height of an object or used as a placeholder for another object that is being measured. They are incredibly useful for measuring tool heights and stick out when preparing your tools for a machining project. The stainless steel, Height Gage, 12″, Dial, is a great starting height gauge. It features a fine feed adjustment, 0.001” graduations, and has a carbide tipped scriber, which allows for longer tool life.
Surface plates are ideal for running quality control on your machined parts. Machined flat, surface plates allow for an easy visual check of any flat, concave, and convex surfaces. We recommend the Surface Plate 9″x12″ as an entry-level surface plate.
- Feeds and Speeds Chart – Learn How to Use It
Companies that manufacture and sell their own line of tools typically provide accompanying speeds and charts as references. We have more information on our website and you can also learn more about how to calculate speeds and feeds in The Fundamentals of CNC Machining textbook.
We are ecstatic to know which tools you are planning to have in your CNC toolkit or better yet, you may have all of these tools. Either way, we are glad to help you learn more about CNC and what a new CNC Machinist needs.