The heart of a CNC router is the tooling - where technology gets down to the business of cutting wood.

Best practices for tool mounting and machining were covered in the recent webcast “How to Improve CNC Router Tooling Performance.” Available on-demand at, the webcast features industry experts Mike Serwa, vice president of Vortex Tool, Mark Alster, regional sales manager of Leitz Tooling, and Scott Burton, tech sales manager of Royce//Ayr as they discuss the top considerations.

1. Shorter Tooling Is Better

First, selecting a tool that has the shortest overall length possible, will guarantee that the tool is as rigid as can be. Maintaining a level of rigidity ensures the operator of high performance.

2. Set Shanks True

Second, adhering to proper collet setting techniques will safeguard against damaging the tool and shortening its life. The shank should also fill at least 75 percent of the internal diameter of the collet.

3.  Match Tool Diameter to Material

Third, an important consideration that can easily be overlooked is tool diameter vs. material thickness. When an operator is in the process of cutting, the material is resisting the tool with every rotation. This is called tool deflection, where the tool wants to move off track but the machine wants to move in a linear path. By choosing a tool with a larger diameter, tool deflection sometimes can be prevented or reduced. This is not always the case; the operator will have to assess each project based on the material being cut.

4. Choose Proper Rotational Direction

Lastly, when cutting any material an operator may notice one side on the finished product looks good and the other side does not. This is determined by the direction in which the tool is rotating. Switching the rotation of the tool can make either the climb cut side or the conventional cut side the better-looking side.

5. Other Considerations

Optimal Dust Extraction - Dust removal is not only important it’s vital in keeping the workplace safe and healthy for employees. It also reduces labor which means employees can focus on projects rather than cleaning up. One option is a standard dust extraction fan and the other involves the tool body design. Both concepts are designed as a vacuum assist to to extract the dust from the cutting surface upward into the system.
Integrated Tool/Holder Concept - This option has been around for years but recently has gained traction among industry professionals. In this case the tool is mounted directly to the machine spindle interface with no point of connection. The outcome is maximum centricity, rigidity, and balance of the tool. An example of machining that would benefit from this method would be solid wood raised paneling. Another application that this method can be applied to is door edge production. This concept is advantageous because of the tools balance. The operator can be more precise with his/her cuts getting an optimal result. Finally, extreme material removal benefits from this method because the single unit provides the operator with tremendous performance, safety, and accuracy.

Industry 4.0 - Internet and connectivity have brought a new industrial revolution impacting manufacture. The new evolution is connection and retrieval of information from machine to machine or intelligent tooling. Machines can operate and program themselves based on information given by the operator. A machine is now able to communicate to the tool and vice versa presenting the operator with data pertaining to the job or which tool would work best. In a sense the human aspect is being removed and the result is less human error. Also with the introduction of cloud computing, information can be stored and accessed away from the job site. The data collected will be updated in real-time and will reflect what is going on with a particular machine or tool.

Listen to the free webcast, “How to Improve CNC Router Tooling Performance” on demand. To see the entire series of webcasts available, visit

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.