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General Speeds and Feeds Formulas

December 24, 2010, 7:10 pm

What are Machining Speeds and Feeds

One of the basic tasks a machinists must learn to perform is calculation of speeds and feeds required for milling, drilling and turning.

It starts from knowing your workpiece materiel and tooling you are going to use in order to cut it.
The combination of these two factors determines your initial Cutting Speed and Chip Load that you can put into the speed and feed formulas to calculate the cutting tool RPM and feed rate.

Cutting Speed is the speed at which the tip of the tool travels through material. It is commonly expressed in Surface Feet per Minute (SFM) or Surface Meters per Minute (SMM). 

Chip Load is the advancement of each tooth per revolution of the tool.

In other words Chip Load is the thickness of the material that each tooth removes per each revolution.

So how do you find the Cutting Speed and Chip Load for your tool?

Tool manufacturers often post Cutting Speeds and Feeds for their tools for various materials and cutting conditions.

Most experienced machinists simply remember cutting speeds and chip loads for materials they machine most often.

Here are commonly recommended cutting speeds and chip loads for carbide tools for a couple of materials:

  • Aluminum: 300SFM, 0.7% of the diameter (for example fz = 0.5"dia x 0.007 = 0.0035in/tooth)

  • Annealed Tool steel: 150SFM, 0.4% of the diameter (for example fz = 0.5" x 0.004 = 0.002in/tooth)

When you have manufacturers data simply find your tool in the catalogue and cross-reference the cutting speed and chip load against the tool diameter:

Since cutting speeds can be in either Imperial (SFM) or Metric (SMM or m/min) units, you have to use two formulas to calculate the RPM.

Imperial Speed and Feed Calculation


RPM= 12 x SFM = Please enter Speed and Diameter
3.14 x in

Feed Rate = RPM x x in = Please enter RPM, number of teeth and chip load (in/min)

Metric Speed and Feed Calculation


RPM= 1000 x m/min = Please enter Speed and Diameter
3.14 x mm

Feed Rate = RPM x x mm = Please enter RPM, number of teeth and chip load (mm/min)

Want something better?

Try our desktop  HSMAdvisor Speed and Feed Calc or Mobile/Online FSWizard

More about formulas needed to calculate turning, drilling, and of course milling speeds and feeds

Here are a few basic formulas with term explanations to get you going: 

Calculating Spindle Speed (RPM) Using Imperial Cutting Speed:


RPM= 12 x SFM
3.14 x Diameter

Simplified imperial formula:

RPM= 3.8 x SFM

Calculating Spindle Speed (RPM) using Metric Cutting Speed:


RPM= 1000 x SMM
3.14 x Diameter

Simplified metric formula:

RPM= 318 x SMM

Calculating Feed Rate :

Feed_Rate=RPM x N(teeth) x CL(chip load)

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