I hesitate to send this because this kind of post is often greeted with “do your research” responses - I’ve done that & I see lots of options (I’ll explain that if I need to), but I need to pull the trigger on something soon. So, here goes…
I’m going to do some work for my employer on my XXL. I’ll be cutting:
6061 Aluminum - some work will be profile cuts & shallow pockets in material no more than 1/4" thick, and some will be cutting something like what’s shown below out of 3/8" thick material.
1/8" Cast Acrylic - all profile cuts.
What I want to buy:
- A square end mill suitable for aluminum profiling & pocketing
- A ball end mill suitable for cutting the part below
- A square end mill suitable for acrylic profiling
I’d like to buy from either Amazon or Toolstoday. I don’t need the best of each - just something reliable or widely used that I can get started with. I’m thinking 3/16" diameter for each might be a good start? Ideally, I’d like a part number for each. Whatever additional info you need, I’ll give you.
I’m nervous about the responses I’ll get, but thank you…
Sounds like a good analysis and neat project!
We have some official documentation at: https://docs.carbide3d.com/support/#tooling-support and the community has some further notes at: https://wiki.shapeoko.com/index.php/Endmills
For 3/16" tooling you’ll need a 3/16" collet (available from Elaire or Precise Bits) and the selection in that size seems limited compared to other shank sizes.
I was at both of those.
Why this is hard for me: The wiki lists nine mills for aluminum. Some HSS, some carbide; some coated, some not; different flute numbers & types. Some people swear by HSS, some by coated carbide. I’ve read to use 4-flute, and to use single flute. I think everybody’s preference & situation is a little different, and in time I’ll figure out what works for me but right now I just want to get something ‘reliable’ on its way to me. I understand that this might be easier said than done, but I asked anyway in the chance that somebody would say ‘yeah, i get what you’re doing & if you go with THIS you’ll be fine for now’.
So I went back to the wiki and picked this from the list:
It doesn’t look like a square nose, but it says it is? But it says it’s appropriate for aluminum AND acrylic. Since I need both, could this be a good choice?
The problem is you’ll need a 4mm collet to use that.
My suggestion would be to just start with the basics: https://wiki.shapeoko.com/index.php/Endmills#Suggested_starter_set
- three 2-flute 1/4" straight endmills (such as the #201 endmills from Carbide 3D — one will be included with the machine, a pack of two will fill one out with: 1 for initial experimentation/roughing, 1 for finishing passes, and 1 spare
- two 2-flute 1/4" ball end endmills (such as the #202 endmills from Carbide 3D) — if one wishes to do 3D modeling or cut parts which have rounded profiles along the bottom (often a good idea in woodworking for increased strength)
- two 90 degree V-bits such as the #301 from Carbide 3D — if one wishes to do V-carving or cut joints which use this angle
Since you’re working on small / detailed parts, then add a 1/8" collet and:
- five 2-flute 1/8" straight endmills (such as the #102 endmills from Carbide 3D 
- two 2-flute 1/8" ball end endmills (such as the #101 .125" Ball Cutters from Carbide 3D)
- two smaller straight endmills (say 2 mm or so) (such as the #112 0.0625" endmills from Carbide 3D)
Once you’ve got some experience w/ the 1/4" endmills and how the machine sounds / feels when it cuts, then try the 1/8" ones.
Otherwise, if your research indicates that 3/16" is optimal for your needs (the notable use case I can think of there is cutting exactly 1/4" round holes) then get a 3/16" endmill and find what you can use for that.
It is square (I’ve used them) they have a lot of chip clearance, but a little easy to damage.
This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.