27 February 2018
27 February 2018,

Every machinist needs tools and tool trays. If you use CNC equipment, you know that tooling is expensive.  Let’s take a look and CNC tools and CNC tool trays and see how you can get the most out of your equipment.

Types of tools

Machining is all about manufacturing by removal.  Your mill, lathe or press needs a tool to actually do the job of material removal.  The tool you use depends on the job you need to do.

End Mills

You’re probably most familiar with end mills. They are the most common cutting tools. They have teeth on the ends and sides of the cutter. Use end mills to machine the sides and faces of your workpiece. End mills can cut grooves, slots, and channels. End mills are available in high speed steel (HSS) and carbide. The material you are machining determines the end mill you choose.


Use drills with mills and lathes and bore holes into a workpiece.  They have a point angle at the end of the bit where the tool enters the work. End mills may have a flat end. HSS, cobalt, tungsten carbide and polycrystalline diamond drills are available.


Taps come in handy when you need to cut threads in a previously bored hole. The downward motion must be fast enough to keep threads from stretching. Don’t confuse a thread mill cutter with a tap. High speed steel and titanium carbonitride taps are the mostly commonly used taps.

slitting saw blades need special slitting saw arbors


Slotting saws are used to remove material and make a cut. HSS, tungsten carbide and diamond saw blades are used in CNC applications. A jeweler’s saw makes exceptionally small cuts and is also called a slitting saw.

30, 40 or 50 Tapers

Your tool is mounted to your CNC machine with a taper. The taper lets you change tools quickly. In any shop time is money; anything that saves time saves money.  The National Machine Tool Builders Association defined standard sizes for these tapers to make tooling easier.  The end of the taper that is closest to the tool is larger than with a Morse taper.  That makes these tapers more rigid than a Morse taper. Rigidity is always good.  The most common tooling size for NMTB tapers is 30, 40, 50, and 60. The larger the taper number, the heavier the spindle and the lower RPMS. Small tapers means high RPMs.

Now that we’ve looked at tools and tapers, lets look at how to keep them safe.

CNC tool Trays for 50 taper spindle

CNC Tool Tray for 50 taper

CNC Tool Trays

Those tools and tapers aren’t cheap. You want to keep them protected. CNC tool trays do the job, but you must use the right tray.

Because the tapers come in different sizes, CNC tool trays come in sizes too. The right tray in the right size can make tool setup and transportation easy and safe. Set up tooling to make those quick changes even quicker. Use the tray to move tooling from crib to machine safely.

cnc tool trays for 30 spindle

CNC Tool Trays for 30 taper

Sierra American Multi-Systems CNC tool trays come in all the popular taper sizes. The 30 and 40 taper tray holds ten tools. The 50 taper holds six. All trays hold your costly tooling securely. Make sure to ask for Sierra American by name when you buy your CNC tool trays. It’s quality you can trust for your tools.






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