The heart of a CNC router is its tooling - where technology gets down to the business of cutting wood. The fundamentals in best practices for tool mounting and machining were covered in a recent webcast at Woodworkingnetwork. Presenters noted that when selecting a tool to use for an upcoming project there are four considerations that should be factored into the decision.

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.


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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. 
ThermoGrip Mounting - The ThermoGrip is a specially made chuck that allows an operator to gain more control cutting wood and other materials. What makes this chuck different than all other chucks, is after the chuck is heated through induction heating to 475 degrees, it expands allowing a shank to be placed inside. After the chuck cools the shank is firmly in place, creating the best possible link between machine spindle and cutting tool. This greatly reduces tool deflection and wear on the cutting tool.


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“The yield for this is it extended life upwards of 30%,” said Alster. “Generally we can increase the speed rates by a factor of at least 15%,” he added. ThermoGrip can also work with either carbide or steel shank tools. If diamond tools are desired it is recommended that sharpening of the tool be done while it is in the chuck. In addition the slim design allows the operator to cut more precisely and handle jobs that require cutting in tight spaces or deep routing. Maintenance and service life of the ThermoGrip is virtually obsolete. If tools break during a job it will not damage the chuck nor will the induction heating required to place the tool inside the chuck. 
Optimal Dust Extraction - In the webcast two dust extraction methods were discussed. One option was a standard dust extraction fan and the other an innovative tool body design. The second one is used for larger tool bodies. “Both concepts are designed as a vacuum assist to supplement an existing system,” said Burton. The purpose of these fans is to extract the dust from the cutting surface upward into the vacuum system. 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. Some things to keep in mind when using this equipment is make sure the tool and fan fit, the fan is installed and at a proper height above the material, eye and ear protection is used, and avoid small parts that can be pulled into the fan.
Vortex Tool Selection App - This app is designed to make buying a tool as easy as possible. The app gives recommendations based on the criteria provided by the customer. At which point the app will present you with either one or two choices to select from. An even cooler feature of the app is that it offers calculators for chip loads, feed rate, RPM, and converting metric to English. 
Industry 4.0 - Internet and connectivity have brought on a new industrial revolution and it has impacted manufacturing. The new evolution is connection and retrieval of information from machine to machine or intelligent tooling. Machines can operate and program itself 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.
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. 

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