How to get precise measurements of tools?

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In the sign business we like to do things such as push through acrylic letters where we essentially cut letters out of aluminum and then cut slightly smaller half-inch thick acrylic letter with a lip which we then fasten to the back side of the aluminum.  I’ve recently switched to using an amana bit for aluminum and my letters are no longer fitting correctly.  I suspect its because of a difference in the sizing of the “.25” bit.  Whats the best way to measure a endmill?

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Andrew, there are several options.

First, they make devices that can measure the cut diameter.  They’re called “Tool Presetters.”  They’re not inexpensive and are more commonly used with VMC’s than CNC Routers.  But, they work and might be a solution for you.  You can also get tool probes that mount on your machine that let it automatically measure and compensate for diameter.

Second, you may have to resort to measuring a test cut.  It’s cheap and cheerful, although it is an extra step.

Lastly, after considering the first two options, you may want to look for a cutter provider that offers better guaranteed tolerance on diameter than this vendor.

All vendors should quote their tolerance or at least tell you what it is if you ask.  Often it’s a lot less than you’d have thought, meaning there is a fairly large variance in size of cutter.  All that said, if you’re very far off, more than a few thousandths, this could be due to tool deflection as well.  Be sure to have a look at what G-Wizard Calculator thinks the deflection is.

If it was me, I would take a look at redesigning the sign with a little more clearance to accommodate these tool issues.

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