Blog IndexPosts by TagHome

Learning about milling

Posted <2022-08-14 Sun 21:07> by Aaron S. Jackson.

Since joining the Nottingham Hackspace I've been increasing interesting in learning a bit more about metal working and machining. In particular, I've been really wanting to learn more about milling. Turning is next though! Milling has always seemed very intimidating - likely for good reason. Fast, often brittle (but strong) things spinning quickly, smashing into other things, making tiny chips of hot metal fly towards you…

Anyway, I've been reading a great book (recommended by Ben Krasnow, either in a comment somewhere or in a video) called Building Scientific Apparatus. While it doesn't go into huge detail about machining, it gives a good overview, which hopefully provides enough confidence to give it a try. I think for me, this was the case. I learnt about different types of milling tools, feed rates, clip load, the number of flutes, RPM and how all these link together. I think generally (keep in mind, I'm a beginner) the slower your spindle, the higher your feed rate needs to be. This seems counter intuitive, but it's about keeping a consistent chip size, and the chips are what carry the heat away from the part and tool.

I bought a few milling tools from Rennie Tools and APT. Two single flute end mills, at 4 and 6mm, a centre drill and some drills at 3.3mm and 4.2mm (for machine screw threads). Jelly at the hackspace kindly also gave me a few end mills of different sizes (thanks!).

I found an old aluminium heatsink which seemed like a good victim for some experimentation. I started with a 4 flute end mill (one of the ones from Jelly) and conventionally milled the side of the heatsink. The surface finish ended up being pretty rough. I think I was struggling to keep the feedrate high enough given the higher number of flutes.

Next I switched to one of my drills so I could give tapping a go. This went very smoothly and I didn't break the tap.

Then I decided to try an end mill again. I switched to one of my DLC coated single flute mills (4mm if I remember correctly) and gave it another go. The surface finish was so much better! I will stick to single flutes for manual milling I think. If I start using the CNC machine, I will try multi-fluted end mills again, but not for now!

Wanting to leave a comment?

Comments and feedback are welcome by email (

Tags: hackspace

Blog IndexPosts by TagHome

Copyright 2007-2022 Aaron S. Jackson (compiled: Sun 14 Aug 21:24:09 BST 2022)