Pre-purchase help for bits from Drillman1 Ebay Store

Hey gents / gals -

I’m looking to place my first order for a good array of bits from Drillman1 on Ebay and hope you can make some recommendations. I apologize in advance for the ‘noob’ questions… bear with me. NOTE: I just placed an order for the 1/8" collet for my Makita from Elaire Corp.

Cutting 3/4" (or less) stock (MDF, Hardwood), i.e. cutting out headstocks / body cavities etc.
Detail work such as carving logos in headstocks and cutting fret slots (.023" - please see note below RE ‘shell-cutter’).

I have (what I believe to be) a list for a ‘good starter set’ as follows:

2 flute spiral bits in the following diameters: .25,” .125,” .0625,” .03125,” and .024.”

I believe the Shapeoko XL comes with (1) .25" bit (I’m waiting for it to arrive).
In the Drillman store, I’m looking at:

.25” and the .125” both up cut and down cut
“With the bits smaller than .125” buy a bulk pack as you will break them in the beginning.”
(Description says plastic etc… ok for wood? Recommendations?)


.125" Flat Cutter (x3)
What constitutes a ‘flat cutter’? Is this just a downcut or upcut endmill? Would these work:

.0625 Flat Cutter (x3)
“for plastic, aluminum / copper…” will these work for wood?

OR these?

.125 Ball Cutter (x3)
Found these but they say ‘… metal, plastic etc.’ with no mention of wood. Can these be used for wood?

.0625 Ball Cutter (x3)
I found a ton of bits here that say “… for metal etc.”, but nothing for wood.

Sharp Tipped V-Bit 45 or 60 degrees
Would these be decent?

Large Flat Head for surfacing
What would ‘large’ be in this case?

Large Ball nose
Not sure what ‘large’ would be. Any recommendations here? I’m assuming this bit would be for smoothing larger transitions?

0.0230 in. (0.584 mm) 3-flute optimized natural shell cutter, 0.060 in EFL, 0.125 in. max reach
*This I couldn’t find (and nothing under ‘shell cutter’) but I’m wondering if these would work for frets:

Thanks in advance. I’m open to other recommendations / links on the Drillman store if you have some ‘go to’ bits. I don’t want to break the bank but want a good variety of bits (and back-ups) as I get started. No doubt, I’ll hone in on what I need w/ more experience and time.

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One thing which I think most new users are surprised at is that on a CNC, one doesn’t need an array of specialty endmills as one needs on a router, esp. if one is doing 3D modeling.

Another concern is the trim routers have limited horsepower, so may bog down with too large a bit.

We have a bit at: which may help.

I think you’ll find your patience tried by trying to set up paths for the tiny endmills, or waiting for a 3D toolpath to finish on a large project with them.

These are good general-purpose endmills — the downcut need good chip clearance.

a square / cylindrical cutting profile — I believe the one in question has a vertical cutting edge, neither up nor down cut.

Yes, most endmills work for wood — we don’t spin the endmills fast enough, or move the machines fast enough for flute shape to be a significant problem as it is in industry.

Yes, I bought those for use in my Nomad and they worked wonderfully in brass — should work well in wood, but are small, so better for detailing, veining, &c.

Larger than 0.25" — see:

Probably 1/4" — yes, useful for cutting pockets / features w/ round bottoms, also for 3D roughing.

The Precise Bits folks have a similar endmill described as being suited for fret cutting:

This is important. I have a downcut bit that for my main project I do (some small hexagonal boxes) leaves a gorgeous finish on top that I barely have to sand, but when I try and profile the outside of the box it just clogs up in the .125" slot the bit leaves. I have a bunch of stock pre-cut to length so I can’t do a pocket around the outside unfortunately which would help, but once I use up this stock going to have it cut a wider contour to hopefully let me use the bit and also have chip clearance. Those chip clearance issues are with a dust boot as well.

Fusion360 with it’s adaptive clearance is another cool way to profile something with a wider area as it moves the bit on both axes relative to the piece, instead of going around once then around again it sort of moves in a wave pattern. Cool to watch and I think Winston Moy’s recent video showed it a bit, but not using F360 myself and Vectric as suggested they don’t intend to add it.


Here’s what I use regularly:

Standard bits, 2 and 3 flute, from Carbide3D store. Excellent bits, come in multipacks. Does almost everything I need
1/4" square mill
1/4" ball nose mill
1/8" square mill
1/8" ball nose mill

I can get by with just these above for many projects, however there are some bits which are useful to have around

Surfacing bit, 3/4" bottom clearing:
g-wizard, which I highly recommend, suggests the proper router speed is about 6krpm, lower than my router can go. I bump it up to the minimum of 10krpm and keep the depth of cut to less than 0.005". Works well for me.

1/16" tapered carving bit
I really like this bit for 2.5D carving because it’s really small and gives fine detail, but because it’s tapered I can run it a lot faster than a 1/16" ball nose and still get into all the little spaces.

1/4" compression endmill.
great for plywood and MDF. Gives clean cuts on both sides of the material, however you have to remember to make your depth of cut deeper than the “upcut” part of the end mill. For example, this one has about 0.18" upcut, the rest is downcut. If your depth of cut isn’t 1/4", then the downcut won’t come into play at all for the first cut and you might as well just be using a upcut endmill. No ramping in to the cut for sure. That means that you can’t ease your way into a cut with small depth of cut runs, you have to go deep and slow. Chip clearing is a must though, you either need a dustboot, be handy with the shopvac hose, or have compressed air running.

1/4" and 1/8" downcut endmills. These are good to have for thin hardwood when the compression mill won’t be appropriate. You can take small depth of cuts and still get a good finish. Great for doing clearing of a pocket for a 2.5D carving. The downside is having to change over to your upcut or compression mill if you are cutting all the way through your material or doing a flat pocket where the bottom finish matters to you. Again, chip clearing is a must.

For doing v-carves, chamfering, etc I have several v-bits.

30 degree 1/4" v-bit
great for doing fine detail stuff and small (less than 1" in height) letters

60 degree and 90 degree 1/2" cutters from Carbide3D. Bigger letters and bigger v-carves need higher degree cutters in order to avoid going too deep into your material. For example, with a 90 degree cutter, your carving will be half as deep as it is wide. If the stroke of a letter is 1/2" wide and your material is 3/4" thick, the 90 degree cutter will result in a 1/4" deep cut, the 60 degree cutter will result in a 0.43" deep cut, and the 30 degree cutter will result in a 0.93" deep cut, cutting through your material into the wasteboard.

Keep in mind that smaller endmills are much shorter than the thicker ones. If you want to cut completely through 3/4" material, you won’t be able to use most 1/8" end mills, as they generally only have 1/2" flute lengths. Longer ones are available, but you have to run them pretty slow in order to not break them off. Even this “extra long” 1/16" end mill is only capable of cutting into 1/2" material


I’ll echo what the others have said - it’s surprising how few different end mills you end up actually using. It’s also amazing how many you break in the beginning.

  1. I’ve never broken a 1/4" endmill. I have damaged a flute on one. I have 2 square, and 2 round, and have very rarely used the round ones.
  2. I have broken dozens of 1/8" endmills. Mostly on metal, occasionally on wood, on pretty much everything when getting started. If you’re just getting started, buy the super cheap 10 for $10-15 type. It’s a certainty you’ll break them while getting used to things. Once you stop breaking the cheap ones 2-3 per project, switch to the “good” ones. Start with 2 flute 1/8 square and round. You will almost certainly use plenty of the square. I’ve used very few ball. If you’re going to cut metal, coatings start to become important.
  3. Good end mills are “expensive” - $10+ each isn’t unreasonable. Often you can’t tell by looking but they -are- different than the cheap ones.
  4. Remember, it’s a router, you can use router bits too - in particular V-cutting router bits. Most others aren’t as helpful as you would think.
  5. Don’t bother with anything smaller than 1/8" until you need them. You’ll know when you do.
  6. There is a whiteside “surfacing” router bit specifically for CNC - . It’s really nice for surfacing both spoilboards and material. You MUST have your machine all leveled and square first, or you get some really awful results. It will likely take you a while to do that, but I recommend you have this bit on hand. You can reasonably surface the wasteboard with a 1/4" endmill, it just takes a bit longer.
  7. Seriously, you’re going to break a ton of 1/8" endmills getting started. Don’t even think about 1/32" until you stop breaking 1/8" endmills :slight_smile:

Don’t forget about workholding, this is the one thing that’s really missing from the SO setup (though there is a kit on the Carbide3D shop for it now). Workholding is the real trick!

-Mike P.


@WillAdams - Thanks for your reply. The reference link to the bits on Carbide 3D is helpful. Also, what you mention as far as not needing a huge array of bits is making sense (as echoed by @mikep).

I’m interpreting all this info as being able to get by quite well, especially in these early stages, with a 1/4" 2-flute up-cut and down-cut endmill (one round and one square). *I’m assuming ‘round’ is the same as ball-nose.

For the down-cut, what would constitute (or denote) ‘good chip clearance’? In other words, how would one know from a description? Can you make a recommendation (ebay or as I’m trying to save on the US shipping / duties etc.

@MaxamillionX72 - thanks for the refined list. I think this is a good place to start: 1/4" and 1/8" square and round as well as the bottom clearing bit to resurface my waste-board I’ll be putting over the stock Shapeoko bed.

Will the 1/16" tapered carving bit work well for doing a logo on a headstock? *Think the ‘Gibson’ logo. Ideally what I’d like to do is carve out my logo on my headstock which will be a dark wood like rosewood or ebony and then cut the actual letters out of a lighter wood such as maple and glue that into the recess.

The only other bit I think I’d look at at this point is the shell cutting bit for cutting fret slots from PreciseBits that @WillAdams mentioned (thanks!). I’m guessing the 1/4" round endmill will work beautifully for smoothing out / cutting the fretboard radius.

@mikep what you say about going smaller than 1/8" makes sense. I can venture down that road as the need arises (with the exception of the fret cutting bit - something I’ll need right away). Hopefully PreciseBits can recommend speeds etc. for running that bit. Thanks for all the tips - solid advice.

In sum:
1/4" square mill
1/4" ball nose mill
1/8" square mill
1/8" ball nose mill
Surfacing bit
Variety of V-Bits (TBD)
Fret cutting (shell bit) from Precise bits

As far as work-holding, I was looking at the bed and T-Track kit but that runs $240 up here. I was able to pick up 4 lengths of T-Track locally for under $100 and I have enough 3/4" MDF to fashion my own. My plan is to follow Winston’s YT video for truing up the table first and then running the surfacing bit to level everything. My T-track sits well below the 3/4" height so I shouldn’t run into any problems there (hopefully).

Thanks gents.

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Chip clearance is a function of the toolpath, part geometry, and dust collection — a deep narrow slot won’t have good chip clearance, a large, shallow pocket with an adaptive clearing toolpath will have good chip clearance.

Yes, usually round ~= ball end, though there are specialty endmills which are actually spherical.

For the inlay, I’d suggest using as sharp a V endmill as makes sense — you might want to consider Vectric Vcarve since it has explicit support for inlay, but it can be done by hand:


Hey gents - just trying to get some bits together from Ebay… I have a few more questions:



  1. Anything that reads as being good for “plastic, aluminum, copper, and steel milling” is safe to assume to be good for wood?
  2. This does not denote ‘downcut or upcut’ from what I can see; is this still a good bit for general purpose shaping / smoothing?


  1. Would this be a decent bit:



The 1/4" 2-FLUTE BALL END is an upcut, perfectly fine for a BN bit as the only part that’s really cutting in the ball part. All of these end mills look like good choices to me. If Drillman1 is selling them, they’re generally pretty good.

Will the 1/16" tapered carving bit work well for doing a logo on a headstock? *Think the ‘Gibson’ logo. Ideally what I’d like to do is carve out my logo on my headstock which will be a dark wood like rosewood or ebony and then cut the actual letters out of a lighter wood such as maple and glue that into the recess.

The tapered carving bit is more for doing 2.5D work. the angle is only about 9 degrees per side, I think, so wouldn’t give you enough wiggle room for the inlay. I’ve experimented with the inlays and the same rules apply for the v-bits for inlays as applies to plain v-bit carving words. Small, 1" high inlays with thin lines need a 30 or 60 degree bit, bigger letters need more angle. It would be something you’d want to experiment with. Basically, for an inlay, you cut a pocket with a sloped side, and then the inlay with a sloped side to fit into it. Coat the pocket in glue, stick the inlay in, then cut/sand the inlay down to be level. Once you get your head around how it works, it’s amazingly simple. This is the best explanation I’ve seen on how it works

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Thanks @MaxamillionX72!
That video is perfect - makes sense to me now and seems that it would definitely make for a better fit / reduce chance of errors as compared to a straight up/down cut. Essentially the inlay is a wedge that gets glued in / sanded flush… light bulbs are going off ;). I’m thinking a 1/8" 30* and 60* would be good for these smaller inlays (finer fonts / lettering on headstocks).

What are your thoughts on the laser he references ( - seems like a great thing to have to zero the machine when changing wood etc.

Lastly, have you done much of this yourself? I’m wondering what the ‘easiest’ software / method would be to accomplish this. In the YT video Shawn is using VCarve (can’t recall if PRO is needed)…

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I’ve done a couple of experiments with inlay, just mostly bulky carvings so far. I use Aspire to do it, so the video works well for me. @WillAdams tutorial is excellent on how to do it with Carbide Create if you want to experiment with that. The beauty of the 90 degree v-bit inlay method is that it’s very forgiving. 30 and 60 less so. With a 1/4" 90 degree you might find it’s all the depth you need for small inlays, that’s a matter of experimenting. 1/8" might be too small to work with and take way too much time to get to the depth you need.

You won’t need the Pro version of vcarve to do inlays, the working space is plenty big enough to do what you want it to do.

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