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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What favorite brands do folks have for HSS milling tools (drill bits, end mills, and the like) that are generally consistent, good enough quality, and maybe even American made?

The DIY gunsmithing that I do/will do does not demand the highest production rate nor longest lasting tooling.
 

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I’m going to tell you that while I sell high performance tooling for most gun smithing applications it’s not necessary. From what I’ve seen most gun smiths are on a manual mill, don’t use coolant, are not concerned with cycle time, and aren’t making thousands of pieces. On the other hand you don’t want to scrap an expensive part because you’re using $hity tooling. Morse Cutting Tools are good quality and reasonably priced. There’s a Korean Mfg YG Cutting Tools that are an exceptional value. My experience is anybody willing to put their name on a tool is not selling junk but be careful of BS names like National or Quality or other made up names. Make sure they actually have a building somewhere. I’m a distributor for both and I’m more than happy to help a fellow Addict. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
From what I’ve seen most gun smiths are on a manual mill, don’t use coolant, are not concerned with cycle time, and aren’t making thousands of pieces. On the other hand you don’t want to scrap an expensive part because you’re using $hity tooling.
Exactly! I'll check out Morse and YG.
 

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Hi,
You might want to check around you locally and see if there is an Industrial Surplus dealer around somewhere.
They usually have decent prices on tooling as they buy out business closing, Estates, ect.
Just a thought and it's nice to see what your going to buy in front of you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You might want to check around you locally and see if there is an Industrial Surplus dealer around somewhere.
They usually have decent prices on tooling as they buy out business closing, Estates, ect.
I plan to scout around. That's why I am looking for recommended brands for the kind of milling I'm likely to do. That way, if I see something, I'll have an idea about if I want it. Sometimes cheap is cheap. :(
 

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I’m going to tell you that while I sell high performance tooling for most gun smithing applications it’s not necessary. From what I’ve seen most gun smiths are on a manual mill, don’t use coolant, are not concerned with cycle time, and aren’t making thousands of pieces. On the other hand you don’t want to scrap an expensive part because you’re using $hity tooling. Morse Cutting Tools are good quality and reasonably priced. There’s a Korean Mfg YG Cutting Tools that are an exceptional value. My experience is anybody willing to put their name on a tool is not selling junk but be careful of BS names like National or Quality or other made up names. Make sure they actually have a building somewhere. I’m a distributor for both and I’m more than happy to help an fellow Addict. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
My kind of fellow Addict right here folks!
 

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You’re probably going to be way ahead buying from a dealer in Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, New Jersey, New York, LA, etc.. There are a lot more customers in those industrial areas and they need to be more competitive. Don’t think for one minute that your getting a better deal if you buy online from a big catalog house.
 

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I like SGS probably my favorite mills and taps. I like Triumph, Chicago Latrobe for drills.
Sone of the Turkish and Chinese stuff isn’t too bad if you buy carbide (it’s not necessarily more expensive) but have to be careful.
when I used to buy tooling for our repair shop (injection molder) I was buying generic end mills label “made in USA” well turns out it was a Chinese company actually named —-Made in USA—- that was their real name:eek:.o::eek:.o::eek:.o::mad::mad:
 

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SGS is good stuff but it’s carbide and OP asked about HSS. Made in USA is BS but it’s cheap. Would you buy a gun somebody wasn’t willing to put their name on?
 

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SGS is good stuff but it’s carbide and OP asked about HSS. Made in USA is BS but it’s cheap. Would you buy a gun somebody wasn’t willing to put their name on?
I do realize that he asked about hss but some of the carbide is about the same price as hss and just lasts longer.
I don’t own very many hss or cobalt tools almost everything is carbide once I realized the cost difference was minimal but I too realize that I’m in a machining shop environment and not a home shop.
 

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I understand that HSS can be ground sharper than carbide and so provides a better machined finish. True?
Nope. @Babboonbobo is correct. Carbide 1/2 and below is a much better buy than HSS. It used to be that the tensile strength of HSS was higher so it worked better on less rigid machines (manual Bridgeport’s). That’s no longer true nowadays. Micro grain carbide is every bit as strong as HSS. Rigidity - better finish and carbide is more rigid.
 

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High speed is sharper but does not always leave a finer finish. The finish depends on a lot of variables. Machine rigidity and table screw backlash, speeds, feeds etc all make just as big or bigger impact as sharpness of the cutter.
So yes in general hss is sharper and cuts very nice especially on softer materials.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The finish depends on a lot of variables. Machine rigidity and table screw backlash, speeds, feeds etc all make just as big or bigger impact as sharpness of the cutter.
So, on a given machine using recommended speeds (my feeds will be by hand wheel), which will provide a better finish?

My inclination towards HSS was for the finish and the lower likelihood of shattering the tool when run by a novice.
 

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Carbide all the way, I own about 3 HSS cutters and that's it.. They are all the same cutter, and are used for the same purpose every time. Reason I use those is two fold. 1.) They were recommended by a master in the industry for a specific cut, and 2.) The number of teeth, would make them totally cost prohibitive as much as I use them. I get good life out of the HSS and they can be sharpened really easily.

I will also say some of the best cutters I have come from babboonbobo, and from Slapshot. Slapshot gave me a number of 2 flute 2mm ball end mills that cut like butter. Clean, sharp edges and they just do a much better job then any of my 1/16 4 flute ball end mills. I am about to purchase some tooling from him as soon as I can recoup some needed funds. Neither of these guys will steer ya wrong and both know exactly what they are talking about.
 

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Lets travel down the rabbit hole a little further.... You need to have an understanding of Surface Footage (spindle speed) to really understand the difference. There are two factors that can help you decide. The diameter of the tool and the maximum RPM of the machine. For round numbers you can run HSS around 50 SFM vs. carbide at 300 SFM or 6 x faster. I’ll leave the relationship to feed rate out for now. So say you have a mill with a max RPM of 2500.

50 SFM on a 1/8 tool = 1526 RPM
300 SFM on a 1/8 tool = 9160 RPM

So realistically you really can’t maximize the carbide tool on your mill and in general carbide does not like to be run slow.

Another factor is how you hold the tool. I see a lot of shops buy good cutters and put the in crappy collets or holders because they’re cheap. Concentricity can really help tool life.

My suggestion is to buy good stuff cheap whenever you can. Used for gun work you could find 3mm carbide cheaper than 1/8 and it wouldn’t really matter for what your doing.

I’ve got boxes upon boxes of new surplus carbide endmills that I can sell cheap. Feel free to PM me with any questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Lets travel down the rabbit hole a little further.... You need to have an understanding of Surface Footage (spindle speed) to really understand the difference. There are two factors that can help you decide. The diameter of the tool and the maximum RPM of the machine. For round numbers you can run HSS around 50 SFM vs. carbide at 300 SFM or 6 x faster. I’ll leave the relationship to feed rate out for now. So say you have a mill with a max RPM of 2500.

50 SFM on a 1/8 tool = 1526 RPM
300 SFM on a 1/8 tool = 9160 RPM

So realistically you really can’t maximize the carbide tool on your mill and in general carbide does not like to be run slow.

Another factor is how you hold the tool. I see a lot of shops buy good cutters and put the in crappy collets or holders because they’re cheap. Concentricity can really help tool life.

My suggestion is to buy good stuff cheap whenever you can. Used for gun work you could find 3mm carbide cheaper than 1/8 and it wouldn’t really matter for what your doing.

I’ve got boxes upon boxes of new surplus carbide endmills that I can sell cheap. Feel free to PM me with any questions.
Thanks! This is good stuff. I have read some about speed (surface speed) and think I'll be able to calculate that for the different materials. From there to spindle speed is more easy math. With a mill that "only" has 6 speeds (115, 220, 320, 600, 1120, and 1700 rpm), I'd pick the closest speed to the calculated result that was not higher. So, as you point out, I just won't be able to get the most goodie out of carbide.

And my DIY work will certainly not require banging out multiple parts rapidly.

So I'm still confused about getting carbide for my needs.

For whatever tooling, I'll be PMing you before I buy anything, for sure!
 

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You can most certainly do everything you want or need with HSS but once you use a carbide mill even with your limited spindle speeds you will understand the difference. My comments were based on the actual cost not necessarily the “need” for carbide. It can be run at slower speeds just not optimized at those lower rpms.
Most definitely stay in touch with slapshot for your cutter needs, he will steer you in the right direction. I have a bunch for myself and help friends once in a while but I do enough of this stuff at work I don’t want to do it in my spare time so I don’t have stuff at home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
You can most certainly do everything you want or need with HSS but once you use a carbide mill even with your limited spindle speeds you will understand the difference. My comments were based on the actual cost not necessarily the “need” for carbide. It can be run at slower speeds just not optimized at those lower rpms.
Most definitely stay in touch with slapshot for your cutter needs, he will steer you in the right direction. I have a bunch for myself and help friends once in a while but I do enough of this stuff at work I don’t want to do it in my spare time so I don’t have stuff at home.
OK, that's key. If I can get the same end result using carbide, vs. HSS then carbide makes more sense for its improved life. You and @Slapshot have been very, very helpful. I assume others will find this thread and learn from both your experiences, too.
 
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