Using the Vertical Milling Machine

This is a picture of a milling machine Milling machines are commonly used in metalworking operations. This could be in the tool room or a high speed production line. Milling machines use complex, multi-tooth rotary cutters to make compound cuts. There are four standard types of milling machines. They are the bed type, column and knee, horizontal, and vertical milling machines. 

This sheet describes the procedure for using a vertical milling machine to drill a hole and slot to make a key way. For other operations ask your instructor or refer to one of the many texts available.
(The picture to the left is a thumbnail of a larger version.)

Controls: The controls on the vertical milling machine in the materials processing laboratory consist of the following:

Note: There are other controls on various accessories used with the vertical milling machine that are not listed in this discussion.

Operation (Drilling): Milling is the operation during which the stock is moved into the cutter on an x, y or z-axis to remove stock. All the operations that are described on this sheet are using a manual feed.  Refer to the following illustrations.

  1. Select the proper cutting bit.
  2. Place the bit in the spindle and make sure that the bit is at a right angle to the table.
  3. Tighten the spindle using the nut on the top of the milling machine.
  4. Place the stock in the vise and lock it in place.
  5. Make sure that the vise is tight and holding the material securely by hitting the handle with a rubber mallet.
  6. Position the cutter at the starting point.
  7. Place a spot of cutting oil on the spot that is to be cut.
  8. Select the right cutting speed, rpm, and rate of feed for the job.
  9. Cut the stock using the cross feed or longitudinal feed controls.
  10. Turn off the machine before removing the stock.
Note: There are several other operations that can be done using a vertical milling machine. Ask your instructor and refer to one of the many references for those procedures.
Use a rag to remove cutters from the chuck.
Hammer the vise handle so that it is nice and tight

Make sure to use a rag to remove cutters from the chuck because the cutters are sharp. Make sure to hammer the vise handle so that the vise is nice and tight.

Potential hazards: Because of the rapid spinning motion of the milling cutter, the following hazards exist.

Safety practices: Because of those potential hazards the following safety rules must be followed. Links:

Feeds and speeds chart for the verticle milling machine


Johnson, Harold V. (1973). Technical Metals. Chas A. Bennett Co., Inc. Peoria, Illinois.

Repp, Victor E. (1994). Metalwork: Technology and Practice. Glencoe Macmillan/McGraw-Hill. New York, New York. 9th edition.

ITT 252 - Materials Processing
Department of Technology
University of Southern Maine
Prepared by Amy Ouellette, 11/6/01