CNC router tools for woodworking, metal machining, plastic cutting and composite cutting with precision collets and toolholders
Think & Tinker, Ltd.
CNC router bits and carbide cutting tools with tutorials and technical guides

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Standard & Custom Tools

If you do not find the answer to your question below, try our Reference Library or write to

Tools in general

Can I use PreciseBits solid carbide cutters on any machine?
When should I discard a bit?
Are diamond tipped bits worth the price?
Can I custom order bits?
Can bits be re-sharpened?
How does PreciseBits certify a bit?
What are the different types of bit point styles?

End mills

Is a 2 or 3 flute end mill better?
Which is better, a down-cut or an up-cut style bit?
What is another name for an end mill?
Which is the stronger end mill, 2 flute or the 3 flute?

Drill bits


Router bits

Which is better, a down-cut or an up-cut style bit?

Engraving bits


Special purpose cutters

 Can I use PreciseBits solid carbide end mills on any milling machine?

Carbide grade have improved substantially during that past decade.  Higher transverse rupture strengths, more resistance to shattering and a greater understanding of the role of each chemical component in the mix have resulted in the introduction of solid carbide tools in applications that once demanded high speed steel with exotic surface treatments. Nonetheless, the stability of your machine and the way your have it set up are very important.  Consider the following items (in order of importance):

  1. Spindle Runout (TIR) - should be less than or equal to 2% of the tool's diameter (absolute maximum).
  2. Spindle axis to table orthogonality- should be at 90 with no more than .1 variance.
  3. Spindle Peak RPM  - most of our tools require a minimum of 15,000 RPM under maximum anticipated load.
  4. Collet Retention Force - the collet must not let the largest diameter tool you will use slip under maximum anticipated load.
  5. Appropriate Feed Rates - motor drivers should be capable of moving the bit (or the workpiece) fast enough to prevent burning and tool overheating.
  6. 0 (Zero)  Slip - 0 (Zero) backlash in x and y axes.
  7. Proper hold down of work piece.

The above notwithstanding, a number of VERY skilled cuemakers successfully use our 0.010" tools on manual pantographs operating at 8,000 - 12,000 RPM.  From their experience it is apparent that even our smallest diameter cutters are compatible with manual equipment if the the skill of the operator is sufficiently high.

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 How do I read the PreciseBits Part Numbers?

PreciseBits uses a12 digit code for each of its bits.  If you learn to read this code, you can the bit type, application, size, shank size, and point style.  For more information, see  Product Id Protocol.

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How Do I Select the Right Bit?

To select the right bit, consider the following items:

  • Type of Equipment Being Used - if you are using CNC, you can use a smaller and more precise bit than if you are using a hand router.

  • Type of Material to Cut - we categorize materials into three areas:  soft media, composites, and non-ferrous metals.  A possible fourth category, metals and stone are not part of PreciseBits's product offerings.

  • How Small or Delicate are the features you need to cut - this determines the diameter you will need.

  •  How deep do you need to cut - it depends upon the surface of the item you are going to cut.  We call this depth of cut (DOC). For example, if you are cutting an inlay in a cylinder (much like pool cue makers do) there are actually two different depths you need to consider the DOC for parts and the DOC center.

To support your specific needs, we have organized some of our most popular bits by industry type. For pool cue makers, go to Pool Cue Maker Tools Page.  For Steel Rule Diemakers, go to our  Steel Rule Diemaker Tools page.  Other Industry types will follow soon.

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 What is the average bit life?

 It is difficult to give absolute values for bit life because there are many variables that can effect the cutting life of a bit; wood quality, moisture content, machine type, machine/bit calibration, type and amount of adhesives, wood resins, etc.   

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Why do bits break?  

There are a number of reasons that bits break prematurely.  See our article,  Breaking BitsAnother related article is the sweet spot test.  

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Why Do Bits Get Dull?

Wear is certainly one reason why a blade gets dull. As each flute slices through wood, the cutting edge slowly abrades until it no longer cuts as cleanly or easily as it once did. That's why bits with carbide-tipped teeth are usually favored over high-speed steel (HSS) bits. Carbide teeth are harder, so they don't wear as easily as blades with HSS bits.

Another culprit is pitch buildup. As a bit cuts through wood, some of the resins in the wood stick to the flute. Those resins can build up to a point that the blade can't cut as smoothly.  

Resin buildup also causes the cutting edge of each tooth to run hotter than normal. This is a particular concern for carbide-tipped blades, because each flute is actually just a bunch of tiny grains of carbide held together by a material, called a binder, which acts like glue. When a blade runs hot, the binder begins to weaken, allowing some of the grains to break away.  

Resins can cause problems in still another way. Chemicals in some resins can react with the binder and break it down, again causing grains of carbide to disappear.

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How can clean out flutes?

Do the properties of the material being cut, you may sometimes, see debris loading up within your flutes.  We recommend you clean the flutes with mineral spirits or Varsol.

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How fast can I cut?

 We call this Feeds and Speeds.  The rate at which you can cut depends upon:

  • The Type of Equipment You Are Using to Cut

  • The Type of Material You Are Cutting With

  • How Fast Your Spindle Is Turning

  • Whether You Are Using Single or Multiple Passes to Complete the Cut

Most of the tools PreciseBits offers have Feed and Speed Charts available.  For soft media cutting, we used ebony for our calculations.  According to the Janke Scale, Ebony is one of the hardest woods available.  To learn more, go the specific bit type and look for the feeds and speeds link.  To learn more about the relative hardness of wood, go to the Relative Hardness Chart.

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When should I discard a bit?

Usually, a bit will break before it is worn out.  For inlay cutting, you should discard a bit when the inlay pockets and the inlay parts inserted into the pockets become too tight.  On some woods, the bit will tear the wood, look for ragged edge or bottom.   

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Is a 2 or 3 flute bit better?

It depends upon your equipment and application. In general, 3 flute bits are better for materials that do not expand or do not pack (when cutting).  3 flute bits provide greater precision, less cutting damage, and greater cutting speeds when compared with 2 flute bits. An example of a material that does expand and pack is ivory.  A 2 flute bit is recommended.  Watch in the future for our Application Cutting Guides.

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Are diamond tipped bits worth the price?

The jury is still out.  We believe that our tungsten-carbide bits have performed at similar levels diamond tipped have achieved.  If requested, we are able to provide diamond tipped bits for approximately $9.00 more than our regular bits.  We will be undergoing testing of these bit types in our Certification Lab.

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Can I custom order bits?

Yes.  Please call us for details.  We will not make custom bits available to our customer base until they have undergone our rigorous testing and analysis process.  

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Can bits be re-sharpened?

We do not recommend re-sharpening bits.  If re-sharpening occurs, the bit size changes, leading to a whole new host of problems.  

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How does PreciseBits certify a bit?

PreciseBits does not release its cutting tools to the public without undergoing a extensive amount of testing.  We send prototype bits to a select number of independent testers.  Each tester is given precise instructions to record, materials cut, spindle RPMs tested at, cutting results (amount of inches cut), bit breakage, etc. The results of this feedback help to establish a go/no go decision.

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Which is better, a down-cut or an up-cut style bit?

We believe an Upcut style bit is the better of the two bit styles.  An Upcut bit is designed to extract the cut material away from the cutting area as opposed to pushing it back into the area being cut.

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What are the different types of bit point styles?

There are several including Drill point, Fish-tail, Mill, V point, and Y point.  For more information, see Bit Point Styles.

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What is another name for an "end mill"?

The word "end mill" actually refers to a milling machine.  Nonetheless, in common usage a "milling cutter" or "mill bit" is often referred to as an "end mill".  

Which is the stronger end mill, the 2 flute or the 3 flute?

A 3 flute is stronger but has less flute volume and can be more susceptible to packing and binding.

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Updated 10/12/2016 5:42:08 PM