End Milling vs Face Milling : What’s the Difference?

Last Updated on November 20, 2023 by assistant


In the world of machining, milling is a fundamental process that involves removing material from a workpiece using rotary cutters. Two common milling techniques are face milling and end milling. While they may appear similar at first glance, there are distinct differences between the two methods. In this blog post, we will explore the disparities, applications, advantages, and disadvantages of face milling and end milling to help you understand their unique characteristics and determine the appropriate usage for your machining needs.


What is an End Mill?

An end mill is a type of milling cutter primarily used for milling slots, pockets, and profiles. Unlike face mills, end mills have cutting edges on the face and periphery, allowing them to perform a variety of cutting operations.

How is the End Milling Process Performed?

End milling involves using an end mill to remove material from the workpiece. The end mill is mounted in the spindle of a milling machine and positioned in such a way that the cutting edges come into contact with the workpiece. The cutter moves along the desired path, cutting into the material and forming the desired shape.

Why Use End Mills?

End mills offer versatility and precision, making them suitable for a wide range of milling applications. They excel at creating complex shapes, slots, and profiles, as well as producing accurate holes. End mills are available in various types and geometries, allowing for customization based on specific machining requirements.


When to Use End Mills?

End mills are commonly used when precise profiling, slotting, or pocketing is required. They are widely employed in industries such as aerospace, automotive, mold and die making, and general machining.

Disadvantages of End Mills:
Limited in terms of material removal rate compared to face milling.
May require multiple passes to achieve the desired depth or shape.

What is Face Milling?

Face milling is a machining process that focuses on milling flat surfaces perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the milling cutter. The face mill, a specific type of milling cutter, is primarily employed for this purpose. It contains multiple cutting edges and is capable of removing material from the workpiece in a continuous manner.

How is the Face Milling Process Performed?

During face milling, the face mill is mounted on a milling machine spindle and positioned perpendicular to the workpiece. The cutter’s multiple cutting edges sequentially engage with the material, generating a smooth and flat surface. The cutting action begins from the outer edges of the face mill and progresses inward until the desired surface is achieved.

Why Use Face Milling?

Face milling is commonly employed in various machining operations due to its numerous advantages. It allows for the rapid removal of large amounts of material, resulting in increased productivity. Moreover, face milling produces excellent surface finishes, making it suitable for applications that require precise and smooth surfaces. Additionally, face milling is well-suited for squaring up workpieces, creating flat planes, and achieving perpendicularity.

When to Use Face Milling?

Face milling is ideal when you need to machine large, flat surfaces or create precise, perpendicular features. It is commonly used in industries such as automotive, aerospace, mold and die making, and general machining.


Advantages of Face Milling:
High material removal rate, leading to increased efficiency.
Excellent surface finish, achieving smooth and precise surfaces.
Suitable for squaring up workpieces and achieving perpendicularity.
Versatile, capable of machining various materials, including ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
Can be used for both roughing and finishing operations.

Disadvantages of Face Milling:
Limited access to tight spaces and narrow features due to the size of the face mill.
Requires a rigid setup to ensure stability and accuracy.
May generate more noise and vibration compared to other milling techniques.

The Most Significant Difference between Face Milling and End Milling

The most significant difference between face milling and end milling lies in the orientation of the cutting edges. In face milling, the cutting edges are positioned perpendicular to the workpiece surface, while in end milling, the cutting edges are located on the face and periphery of the end mill. This distinction influences the machining capabilities and applications of each technique.

Difference in Geometry between Face Mills and End Mills

Face mills typically feature larger diameters and multiple cutting edges, enabling them to cover a larger surface area in a single pass. On the other hand, end mills have smaller diameters and cutting edges suitable for precise profiling, slotting, and pocketing.

Applications of End Milling and Face Milling

End milling is commonly used for creating slots, profiles, and accurate holes. It is also effective in roughing and finishing operations. Face milling, on the other hand, is ideal for machining large, flat surfaces, squaring up workpieces, and achieving perpendicular features.


Accessibility of the Workpiece

Face milling may face limitations in accessing tight spaces and narrow features due to the size of the face mill. In comparison, end milling provides better access to confined areasand intricate geometries due to the smaller size and versatile cutting edges of the end mill.

Cutting Tools Used for End and Face Milling

End milling primarily utilizes end mills, which come in various types such as square end mills, ball nose end mills, and corner radius end mills. Face milling, on the other hand, employs face mills specifically designed for flat surface machining.

Cutting Depth in Face and End Milling

Both face milling and end milling techniques allow for varying cutting depths depending on the specific requirements of the machining operation. The depth of cut can be adjusted based on factors such as material type, machine capabilities, and desired surface finish.

Popularity of Face and End Milling in Machining

Face milling and end milling are among the most common types of milling techniques employed in machining processes. Their versatility, ability to produce precise features, and wide range of applications contribute to their popularity in the field of machining.


Face milling and end milling are different milling technologies with unique characteristics and applications. Face milling is suitable for machining large flat surfaces to achieve vertical features and rapid material removal. End milling, on the other hand, excels at precisely creating slots, contours, and precise holes. Ruitai is a mature CNC machining service provider that can produce CNC parts suitable for you based on your specific design files. So if you have a design project, please contact us for a free quote.