What Is a Milling Fly Cutter Used For?

Written by robin reichert
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A fly cutter is a versatile tool for milling metals. The tool resembles a lathe tool bit, and it rotates rapidly above the piece of metal to be cut, grooved or smoothed. Most fly cutters have two cutting blades, which result in a superior smooth surface. You can use fly cutters to smooth aluminium and brass and to make gaskets, washers, gears and holes. Always wear eye protection when using a fly cutter, because it is designed to throw chips and curls of metal as it cuts. Also be aware of hot metal bits.

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Cutting Gears

A single-point fly cutter is a superior tool for cutting gears, especially the tiny gears used in watches, clocks and older cameras that use a gear to wind film. Use the fly cutter to mill to the correct thickness and then smooth the surface of the gear blank. Cut the gears using a single-point fly cutter set to the appropriate angle for the type of gear that is being cut.

Cutting Holes

Use a fly cutter with a template to cut precision holes in metals such as aluminium. Cut a precision lightning hole in a wing template for an aeroplane or holes for wiring in electrical boxes or appliance covers. Use the routing template's master wood templates to guide a single blade fly cutter. Bolt two identical templates to the metal and centre the hole under the drill press with a fly cutter in place. The rapidly spinning blade cuts a smooth circle in aluminium with no need for filing.

Smoothing Surfaces

Use a fly cutter to achieve smooth metal surfaces. The rapidly spinning blades can sheer off as little as 20 thousandths of an inch for a precision flat surface on metal. Feed the metal through a milling machine slowly so that the surface is as smooth as possible. Put the mill on automatic feed so that the metal is fed at a steady pace.

Engine Parts

Circular holes in aluminium facing for automobile pistons are made using a fly cutter. You need the precision of a fly cutter, because pistons must meet exacting measurements. Tooling engine cylinder heads also requires the exactness of a fly cutter. You can set the fly cutter to remove a tiny amount of surface metal to within a few thousandths of an inch tolerance. The fly cutter is the perfect tool to smooth the surfaces of engine parts.

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