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Machining Operations and Tools


There are four common types of machining. Boring, Drilling, Milling and Turning. Each one serves a different purpose in the manufacturing and finishing process and requires different tools.

An unfinished work piece has material that must be removed before the finishing process can be completed. The finished product will meet all specifications in the originating blueprints or engineer drawings. Interior and exterior diameters must be exact, as must any holes cut into the work piece. Each machining type is important to the process.

Boring uses a single, bent pointed tip tool is used to enlarge an already made hole and improve the accuracy. The work piece is spun while the tool is held steady. This machining type is fine finishing and used near the end of the manufacturing process. Boring is accomplished with jig borers and sometimes lathes.

Drilling is the most common type of machining and is used to create round holes in a work piece. The tool spins or rotates for this process and its helical cutting edges are either two or four depending on the type of Drill Press used.

Milling uses multiple cutting edges as it rotates. The tool is drawn slowly across the work piece material to create a straight, flat surface. This feed motion is done perpendicular to the tool’s rotational axis. Milling can be done vertically or horizontally.

Turning uses a single edged cutting tool to create a cylindrical shape by removing material from a work piece as it rotates. This is accomplished by moving the Turning tool in a slow motion parallel to the spinning work piece. A lathe is the most common Turning tool.

There are a handful of other processes that don’t fall into any of the above categories. They are broaching, planing, sawing and shaping; each is accomplished by a variety of saws and grinding machines.

In the last decade, advances in machining techniques have led to Electrical Discharge Machining or EDM, electro-chemical erosion, precision laser cutting and high-pressure water jet cutting tools. These new tools are now routinely used to cut and shape unfinished work pieces. Regardless of the project you may have, or the tools required, carefully research the time, effort and specifications needed to determine if this can be accomplished at home in a garage, or if a professional machine shop is the best choice.

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