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What should you know before using a milling machine?

Milling machines can be dangerous if not used properly.

  • Read the owner's manual carefully.
  • Make sure you understand instructions and are properly trained before operating a milling machine.

Refer to Metalworking Machines - General for basic safety tips.


What are some safe work principles to follow when using a milling machine?

  • Wear appropriate safety glasses.
  • Ensure that the milling machine has a start/stop button within easy reach of the operator.
  • Ensure that the work piece and cutter are mounted securely before taking a cut.
  • Check that work is mounted squarely.
  • Mount work in a vise that is bolted or held magnetically to the table. Use proper hand tools to make adjustments. Refer to Hand Tools for more information.
  • Hold milling cutters with a cloth to avoid being cut when handling them.
  • Move table as far as possible from cutter while setting up work to avoid injuring your hands.
  • Mill the largest surface first.
  • Keep hands, brushes and rags away from the revolving milling cutter.
  • Use a vacuum, brush or rake to remove cuttings only after the cutters have stopped moving.
  • Change cutting compounds periodically.
  • Keep cutters sharpened correctly and in good condition.
  • Keep working surface clear of scraps, tools and materials.
  • Remove cutting tools from spindle when cleaning the machine.
  • Keep floor around the milling machine free of oil and grease.
  • Use lifting equipment when appropriate to move heavy work to or from milling machines. Refer to Materials Handling for more information.
  • Make sure the power is off before changing cutters.
  • Always stay at the machine when it is in operation.

Before starting the machine, what should you check?

Before starting, make sure that:

  • all guards are in place;
  • work is properly secured in place;
  • bolts used to hold down work clear the tooling;
  • tooling and supporting pieces are properly tightened in position;
  • table stops are secured properly;
  • handles on all feed screws are in neutral;
  • table is free of stock, tools or other loose material;
  • the arbor and arbor support are clear of the work;
  • the cutter is rotating in the right direction.
Milling machine

What should you consider when setting the cutting speed?

Ensure that the following factors are considered when setting cutting speed:

  • material to be machined;
  • type of cutter;
  • finish required;
  • depth of cut;
  • rigidity of machine and work piece.

What are some things you should avoid doing?

  • Do not wear gloves, rings, watches or loose clothing. Tie back long hair.
  • Do not attempt to mount, measure or adjust work until cutter is completely stopped.
  • Do not use an excessively heavy cut or feed as it can cause the cutter to break. The flying pieces could cause serious injury.
  • Do not reach over or near a revolving cutter. Keep hands at least 30 cm (12 in.) from a revolving cutter.
  • Do not lean or rest hands on a moving table.
  • Do not make any adjustments while the machine is running.
  • Do not use paper shims to check the distance from the cutter to the stock.
  • Do not move the operating levers without knowing what they control and what action is going to take place.
  • Do not leave machine unattended while it is running.
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Document last updated on August 8, 2011

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