Do I need to clear/clean chips during a job?

Hi; I’ve never done any CNC or milling of any kind before, so I don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m watching my first test run (on the 3x2x1 renshape test block that came with the machine, and there are a billion chips of renshape all over the place (all over the work piece, all over the base, all over the little peg the machine uses to find the length of the endmill, etc.). Will those chips interfere with the milling of the piece? Do I need to get in there every 2-3 minutes and vaccum the stuff out or brush it off, or is it fine the way it is?

Later if I start using metals and there are metal shavings all over the place, will I need to clear those periodically?


Chips are expected and won’t hurt your machining. Vacuuming sounds like a pain. Get a little air compressor from Harbor Freight or somewhere and occasionally (every job if you like) blow the stuff out. Big machines use oil for a coolant and wash some of the chips off while cutting. My next door neighbor is a CNC machinist and their machines can do 4 pallets squared. I watched some military aircraft landing gear being machined. Fascinating suff.

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I’ll offer a counterpoint, kjl. Conventional wisdom is not to use compressed air around machine tools, because it can blow chips and dust into the precision bearings, which can cause accelerated wear. I use a vacuum cleaner to vacuum the dry chips and dust from the Nomad enclosure.

That said, I second what garyinco said about chips not really being a problem. It doesn’t hurt to leave them until the end of the job unless they bother you. I just remove chips occasionally to let me monitor the cut progress, then a thorough cleanout after the run.

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The answer is … maybe. With soft materials and shapes that have a lot of room for chips to fall out, probably not. But with harder materials and materials with deep pockets, the issue you would run into is “chip recutting” … google that and you will find some info.

Personally I like to clear off the piece every so often with a vacuum or some canned air. If you use air, be careful not to blast chips everywhere inside the machine, just a gentle blow and to the side away from the machinery.

I’m with Randy on this one, I’ve got a little shop-vac that I keep next to my Nomad for chip-removal, and generally I vacuum it out only every now and then to see how things are going, and to clean the work area before I put down cutting oil.

Then when done I usually wipe up the chips as best I can with a paper towel when I’ve used cutting oil, before vacuuming out the stragglers, or if I didn’t use any cutting oil then it’s straight to the vacuum.


That’s a good point on the chips. I’m used to wood. I have a little shop vac close by and will start using it. For people that don’t have a shop vac - Home Depot sells something called a “bucket head”. It’s a little vac that fits on a 5 gal bucket. Works pretty well for a $22 investment.

The more chips that your tools are re-cutting through the more heat and friction is generated which will equal unnecessary Tool Wear.

Large Industrial Routers, Like the ones I run have integrated dust collection systems that have constant vacuum through a dust shroud just for this reason.

Take a few seconds and vaccum the chips as they accumulate