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What is Face Milling?

By B. Turner
Updated May 17, 2024
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Milling machines use special cutting tools to cut and shape materials such as wood or metal. As the blades or bits on the milling machine pass through the material, they can be used to cut the material along the edges or face. During face milling, the cutting tool rotates perpendicular to the face of the object, rather than parallel. To better understand this concept, picture a floor buffer rotating as it cleans the floor. Just as the floor pad rotates perpendicular to the floor, so too does the blade on a face milling machine.

In standard edge milling, the cutting machine is equipped with standard saw blades and bits, with rotate parallel to the face of the object. This type of milling is appropriate for cutting the edges or sides of an object, but makes it more difficult to shape the face of the item. In face milling, blades along the bottom or sides of the cutting tool are used to cut and shape the face of the object.

Face milling machines may be used in home and commercial woodworking shops, as well as in a variety of industrial applications. They may also be found in manufacturing settings, where they are used to shape wood and consumer goods. Face milling is also used to cut an infinite number of parts and components used in electronics and machine parts.

One of the primary advantages to face milling is its ability to quickly cut and shape large objects or large surfaces. Compared to standard edge milling, face milling allows machinists to use a much smaller bit while shaping a relatively large item. This makes face milling convenient for small spaces or smaller milling machines. It also helps users create a flat surface over a large area with ease, which can save time and money.

Milling machines require special blades and cutting tools to make them compatible with face milling techniques. Blades with different types of tips or designs allow for flexibility in cutting and shaping. Many tools used with this technique feature teeth or cutting edges formed into the face of the blade, which helps users cut holes or cut-outs in the face of an object. Others include teeth along the sides for cutting the sides or edges of an item into intricate patterns or designs. Many of these blades feature diamond or titanium coatings to enhance strength and durability, resulting in cleaner, more precise cuts.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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