As anyone with milling experience knows, end mills are essential tools that are ubiquitous in machining and metalworking operations. They have the ability to cut and shape a variety of materials, including a range of metals such as steel, aluminum, brass, bronze, and titanium, with specific end mills excelling at work with one material or another. End mills come in an impressive range of sizes, with small ones that can create intricate shapes and designs, and large ones that are purpose-made for bulkier jobs.

Beyond different sizes, there are also many different coatings, with different use cases for each depending on the material you will be working with.

With so much versatility and flexibility with this simple tool, end mills can do anything from fine finishing edges to creating a wide variety of custom shapes. End mills are an indispensable tool for creating precision parts in any industry, and BlackHawk Industrial is committed to providing our customers with the highest quality end mills for any job. The answer to which mill is correct for your job is unique to your project, and if you are not sure about the correct selection, we encourage you to reach out to our team to discuss your needs. Whether you are looking for a tool for something simple like drilling holes into metals for DIY projects or are looking for the right end mill for something more complicated like creating intricate patterns into ceramic or glass tiles on a commercial scale, there is an end mill for the job.

Our team of experts is standing by, ready to answer any questions you may have about the type of end mill that is best for your project. If you aren’t sure where to begin, take a look at this quick guide below, or contact us right away! Trying to make sense of the many different specifics for selecting the right end mill can be overwhelming, but our team prides itself on helping our valued customers get the right equipment for the job.

We have a variety of end mill sizes and coatings to suit the needs of any project or job. Whether you're looking for a small precision tool or a heavy-duty industrial-grade tool, find milling supplies near you today!

The Many Applications of End Mills

End mills are incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of applications such as woodworking, automotive manufacturing and customization, and all types of machining. End mills are typically used for drilling holes, as well as profiling both the inside and outside of a material. Depending on the type and size of the material being milled — and, of course, the specifics of your project — they can be used for projects either piecemeal or in large batches. They are also used for engraving designs, lettering, and other things into stone, ceramic tiles, and even glass. When used with the correct platform, they can also help create 3D shapes out of flat pieces of metal like brass sheets.

The secret to an end mill's versatility and performance is the ability to rotate at very high speeds while maintaining structure and rigidity as it cuts through tough materials. Some end mills are designed to be exceptionally hard and maintain their sharpness over time, while others are coated in softer materials that allow for use on different types of materials with the tradeoff of faster dulling.

End mills can work at varying depths and lengths to make unique shapes at precision specs. They can create flat surfaces, round corners, multiple radii edges, and different size holes — sometimes in a single pass. End mills are used for a variety of tasks like slotting, pocketing, profiling, and drilling nearly any type of hard material, including stainless steel, aluminum alloy, and titanium (with the correct type of end mill and the appropriate coating).

Where traditional methods fall short, end mills can create intricate and masterful shapes with high speed and precision that would be nearly impossible without decades of mastery. As such, these tools are invaluable assets to anyone working on projects that require craftsmanship with both accuracy and precision, all with an efficiency that would be impossible by hand.

End mills also come in handy when working on projects with tight tolerances and intricate shapes, such as molding parts or nesting designs. End mills can be used to cut through materials in order to create the desired shape with repeatable precision and reliable results.

The right end mill for each job is key, so it pays to understand the range of sizes and coatings that are available, as well as the specific needs of your project. The right end mill for the job can be the difference between a mediocre end product and consistent success.


Profiling is the process of cutting a shape or contour into a material, and the shapes can range from simple arcs or curves to complex 3D shapes depending on the type of end mill and the desired outcome for your project.


Drilling is the simple process of machining a hole into a piece of material, which is done by rotating the end mill at a high speed and pressing it into the material with even speed and pressure. Depending on the type of end mill, you can drill holes of varying sizes, shapes, and depths.


Pocketing is similar to drilling, but is done to create a “pocket” in the material by carving out an area. The pocket can be a simple or complex shape or recess, and can be done with wood, metal, or plastic. As with any other application, the size and shape of the pocket depends on the type of end mill you are using.

Milling & Machining

Milling and machining both involve cutting away material from the workpiece in order to create a desired shape. The end mill rotates at high speed against the material while it is pressed and shifted in specific measurements to cut away excess and create a shape. End mills can create intricate shapes and fine details, and can cut material away faster, more precisely, and more repeatably than with manual tools like chisels or files.


Slotting with an end mill is the process of cutting grooves — or slots — into a material. The end mill is rotated at a high speed and pressed into the material to strip excess away to the desired depth, and moved back and forth to create the desired slot.


Counterboring is the process of enlarging an existing hole in order to accommodate a larger bolt or screw. This is done by sinking an end mill into the existing hole that is the desired diameter.


Counter-sinking cuts a conical recess in the face of your material in order to allow a countersunk screw to sit flush against the surface without displacing material and causing cracks or fractures. The end mill you choose will need to fit with the bevel of the screw in order to make sure that it sits snugly.


Reaming is similar to counterboring in that it takes place in an existing hole, but reaming is the process of smoothing the interior of the existing hole instead of enlarging it. Reaming requires high speeds and sharp cutting edges to ensure that the finish is as smooth as you need for your project.

Choosing the Right End Mill

When selecting the right end mill for a particular job, there are many factors to keep in mind. The guidelines below highlight some of the key elements that should be taken into account when deciding on an appropriate type of end mill; however, it is essential to remember that these pointers only provide you with a general overview, and different projects may require more specific considerations.

Material Type

End mills come in a range of materials, and the type you choose for your project will depend on the material that you are milling. For instance, if you are cutting aluminum then a high-speed steel (HSS) or carbide end mill is ideal; however, if you are cutting stainless steel, then cobalt is the recommended coating. For milling wood, a plated carbide end mill is a great option.

Flute Type

The fluting on an end mill refers to the number of cutting edges, and vary depending on the job to be done. If you need an aggressive cut, then a four-flute end mill will give you more contact with the same number of rotations, whereas a two-flute end mill is a good choice for a project that requires a smoother finish.


End mills also come with a variety of coating options on the cutting edges, each of which will provide specific performance (and maximize the life of the tool). End mills can be coated in titanium nitride or carbide, tin, tungsten carbide, and cobalt, to name a few. There are pros and cons to each of these coatings, and some are more compatible — or incompatible — with specific materials and use cases. If you are cutting stainless steel, then a titanium nitride coating is a good option due to its excellent heat dissipation and resistance to wear; alternately, if you are cutting aluminum then a diamond-like carbon coating is a great option to consider because of a low coefficient of friction and minimal adhesion, which is important for a material like this as they're prone to sticking.

Size & Shape

It won't come as a surprise that the size and shape of an end mill are essential considerations, as these factors will determine how the tool interacts with the material, as well as the end result. A smaller diameter end mill is ideal for intricate shapes, but may not be able to handle tougher materials for very long. A larger diameter end mill can provide more stability and useful life for tough materials like stainless steel, but you won't be able to use it for fine detail work. Also, you may find that a large end mill makes it difficult to work in hard-to-reach spaces, in which case a bull nose end mill (also known as a corner radius end mill) may be a great option.

Different Types of End Mills

When it comes to choosing the right end mill, there are many things to consider. BlackHawk Industrial offers a wide range of end mills to help our customers get exactly what they need to get the job done right the first time. We have end mills of various sizes, materials, and coatings so that you can find the best option for your project.

End mills can be found in a variety of sizes, from small micro-end mills to extra-large diameters. We also offer cutting tools with unique shapes, such as ball nose, corner rounding, and dovetail end mills, as well as unique cutting angles.

Some of the most common types of end mills include:

  • Square End Mills
  • Ball End Mills
  • Corner Radius End Mills
  • Roughing End Mills
  • Tapered End Mills
  • Dovetail End Mills
  • Keyseat Cutters
  • Woodruff Keyseat Cutters
  • Chamfer Mills
  • Helix

The most important factor to consider when choosing an end mill is the material and hardness of the material being cut, as this will determine which type of end mill is best suited for the job. Harder materials like stainless steel, hardened steel, and cobalt call for more durable tooling, such as carbide or high-speed steel end mills, while softer materials like aluminum can be cut with an HSS or cobalt end mill.

The right coating also plays a critical role in the useful life of an end mill. We offer tools that have coatings such as TiCN, AlTiN, and TiAIN to provide the best possible finish while increasing the tool's cutting life.

In addition to these materials and coatings, BlackHawk Industrial also offers a variety of purpose-made end mills for specific tasks such as pocketing, engraving, ramping, and slotting.