Introduction: Cutting Tools and Holders


End mills and drill bits are the most common cutting tools used in a mill.

  • End mills are designed to cut while moving sideways through material, in X or Y.
  • Drill bits can only cut while moving in Z.

End mills come in different diameters, lengths, and shapes.

Each cutter requires a different RPM depending on the material being worked - speed.

The flutes are the cutting edges. In general, use 2 flute end mills for plastic and aluminum, and 4 flute end mills for steel.

At Pier 9, Ask Shop Staff for assistance selecting an appropriate end mill for your project.

End mills must be held in a collet.

  • Never hold an end mill in a drill chuck.
  • The collet must be the same size as the shank of the end mill.
  • Only grip the shank; not the flutes.
  • Leave no more than 1/4" of shank out of the collet.
  • Hold drill bits in a chuck that installs in the mill.


  1. Slide the shank of the cutting tool into the large end of the collet.
  2. Place the small end of the collet into the bottom of the spindle.
  3. Push up on the collet, and slowly rotate it until the key in the spindle slides into the keyway in the collet.
    • Hold the collet in place for the next steps.
  4. Push the quill handle to the top of the stroke.
  5. Press and hold the gold bar on the power drawbar controller.
  6. Press the IN button on the controller.
    • Hold the button until the pitch changes - about 3-4 seconds.


All work must be mechanically secured to the mill.


Parallels are used to elevate your workpiece in the vice, and allow you to work on the top of your material, or drill through it, without hitting the table or vise.

Only items with two parallel sides and a flat bottom may be held in the vise.

  • For holding complex shapes, see Shop Staff.
  • To install or remove the vise, see Shop Staff.

  1. Clean the vise & parallels with a chip brush or shop towel.
  2. Set two equal height parallels against the vise faces.
  3. Set your workpiece on top of the parallels.
  4. Have a minimum of 1/4" of material in the vise.
  5. Tighten the vise.
    • The parallels will probably loosen a bit.
  6. Strike the workpiece straight down with a deadblow hammer.
    • Never use a metal hammer.
    • Do not re-tighten the vise.
  7. See if the parallels will move in the vise.
    • If so, remove the parts, and start over.


  1. Strap clamps are used to hold a part that can't fit in the vise.
    • Use a minimum of 2 strap clamps; more is better.
  2. Screw a threaded stud into a t-nut.
  3. Slide the t-nut into a slot on the table.
  4. Place the stepped end of a strap clamp onto the step block.
  5. Place the nose of the strap clamp onto the workpiece.
    • The nose must be slightly lower than the stepped end.
  6. Tighten the nut on the top of the strap clamp.
  7. Check that the part is secure.