CNC Tools: What Cutting Tools to Buy when Getting Started

What tools should you buy?

The key to getting started as a machine shop is to buy what you need – after all, it doesn’t do you any good to spend money on tools you may never use! Focus on general use tooling, and learn what you need as you grow.

The tools below handle the majority of basic CNC machining jobs!  We’ve been machining for over 10 years, and a basic face mill (e.g. SuperFly), a roughing tool (Shearhog) and a 1/4″ finishing end mill accomplish most of what we need when we cnc machine parts!

One important thing to remember is that you will get out of a tool what you put into it – don’t expect cheap junk tools to do the job properly, they will only frustrate you and make you question whether you are doing things the right way!

1/4″ Endmills:

When buying endmills, we find 1/4″ to be the most useful. They are sturdy enough to be forgiving, but just small enough to be versatile and useful for numerous applications. Avoid buying larger endmills (at least at first) because they can be less forgiving, especially on smaller mills. The need for smaller endmills will present itself, so don’t stock up on these until you need them.

TIP: Avoid buying HSS endmills! Other materials provide a significantly longer tool life, and the price/performance ratio of HSS can’t really be justified.



Check out the important pages below to learn how to greatly improve TTS set screw holders and check tool runout, as well as some great quick references and starting guides to Speeds & Feeds!


Drill bits are relatively inexspensive, and it’s good to have a set of common sizes around. Then you can buy others as you need them to fit your purposes.

Other Cutting Tools when Getting Started Machining:


Our go-to Face Mill! This tool leaves a near mirror finish on the part.

Shear Hog

Our favorite roughing endmill, with some of the best material removal rates we've found!

Engraving Tool

.020" Diameter Ball Engraving Tool

Haimer Indicator Tool

Great and accurate indicator for setting the WCS on your part

Chamfer Mill

60 Degree Chamfer Mill

Bull Nose Endmill

.060" Corner Radius, great for both fillets and 3D surfacing.

Spot Drill

1/4" 90 Degree Spot Drill

Tool Libraries and CAM Templates we use:

NYC CNC Fusion 360 Tool Libraries & CAM Templates

Other Necessary Resources:

Measure & Fix Tool Runout!
Upgrade Your Tormach TTS Set Screws!
Getting Started with Feeds & Speeds