• Free Delivery on Orders Over £79 ex vat*
    *View Terms & Conditions

  • The BEST Technical Advice in the Industry
    Call Our Tech Team on 01924 869 615

What are the best milling tools for manual machines?

“What are the best milling tools for my manual machine?”


This is a question I get asked more often than you would think, so I wanted to help answer this in the shortest and simplest way I can.


Cutwel's EZChange system is a perfect partner for milling on manual machines. It provides tool changes in just 5 seconds! Click here to find out more.


The main variable you need to consider is the substrate the tooling is made from. The 2 most suitable substrates you should choose between for manual milling machines are:


·         HSS (High Speed Steel).

·         Power Metal.


HSS is the most common substrate for general machining of soft steels, Cast iron and Aluminium. It offers excellent performance on unstable or lower speed machining. The forgiving nature of HSS is what makes it excellent for manual milling.

If for any reason you are heavy handed, touch the material too hard or wind the cross slide in the wrong direction, 9 times out of 10 the HSS will absorb the blow and soldier on.

By adding premium ingredients (e.g. cobalt content) you will gain extra tool life and wear resistance, which is always useful when getting the most out of your tooling. Our premium Superhardened HSS range offer a wide range of geometries and cutter styles including slot drills, endmills, ripper cutters and form tools.



Whereas HSS is perfect for general manual milling operations, the highest performing substrate for manual milling is Powder Metal (also known as PM or Powder Metallurgy). In short, PM is the bridge between HSS and Carbide, as it offers:


·         Similar toughness levels associated with HSS substrates.

·         Improved performance and wear resistance found in carbide substrates.


You will be able to run Powder Metal cutters much faster than HSS tools and increase feed rates simultaneously. This inevitably leads to improvements in tool life and surface finish, both of which will make Powder Metal more cost effective in the long run.

Our Only One (PM) range would be the first choice for machining Steels <40HRc, Stainless Steels and Cast Iron. We have seen significantly higher performance over HSS cutters when machining trickier materials like 303, 304 and 316 Stainless Steel.

The range also offers an advanced coating which withstands temperatures up to 1200°C, giving much better tool life over HSS.



We would always advise to avoid using solid carbide cutters on manual milling machines, as they are brittle and are unforgiving where vibration (chatter) is an issue. However, if you were on a CNC machine with no vibration, a premium Carbide substrate would easily outperform HSS and Powder metal.


If in doubt, please give our technical team a call to discuss your requirements on 01924 869615 or email sales@cutwel.net.