What is the difference between indexable end mill and face mill

An indexable end mill and a face mill are two types of cutting tools commonly used in milling operations. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct differences in design, functionality, and applications. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics of each tool and explore their variations.


An indexable end mill consists of a solid body with flutes or cutting edges on the side, while a face mill is a larger tool with a flat cutting surface, often in the shape of a disc or cylinder. The indexable end mill typically features a replaceable insert that fits into the end of the tool. This insert contains the actual cutting edges and can be easily replaced when worn or damaged. On the other hand, a face mill has multiple inserts arranged around its periphery, each with its own cutting edges. These inserts are also replaceable and can be rotated or flipped to expose fresh cutting edges.


The primary function of an indexable end mill is peripheral milling. It is used for cutting along the sides or periphery of the workpiece, creating slots, pockets, or other profiles. The replaceable inserts allow for cost-effective maintenance and quick tool changes. On the other hand, a face mill is designed for facing operations where the cutting surface of the tool comes in contact with the face of the workpiece. It is used to create flat surfaces or perform shallow cuts across a large area. Face mills are often utilized for squaring blocks, machining large surfaces, or producing finishes with a specific pattern.


Indexable end mills are commonly used in various milling applications, including general machining, contouring, profiling, and slotting. They are suitable for both roughing and finishing operations and can handle a wide range of materials, including metals, plastics, and composites. Face mills, on the other hand, are primarily used for machining large surfaces, such as the faces of castings, plates, or blocks. They are efficient tools for high-volume material removal, particularly in applications where flatness and surface finish are critical. Face mills find extensive use in industries like automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing.

Cutting Performance:

The cutting performance of an indexable end mill depends on the insert geometry, material, and coatings. These factors determine the tool's ability to handle specific cutting conditions, such as high-speed cutting, roughing, or finishing. The individual inserts can be customized to suit different machining requirements, providing versatility and adaptability. Face mills, with their larger cutting diameter compared to indexable end mills, allow for covering more surface area in a single pass. The multiple inserts in a face mill distribute the cutting load, reducing vibration and enhancing stability. The cutting performance of a face mill is influenced by factors such as insert size, geometry, and the number of inserts.

Tool Selection:

When selecting between an indexable end mill and a face mill, several factors should be considered. The choice depends on the specific machining operation, workpiece material, desired surface finish, and available machine power. Indexable end mills excel in versatile peripheral milling applications, whereas face mills are ideal for facing large surfaces. It is important to match the tool's capabilities with the requirements of the job to achieve optimal results.

In conclusion, while both indexable end mills and face mills are essential tools in milling operations, they have distinct designs, functionalities, and applications. Understanding their differences will enable you to select the appropriate tool for your specific milling needs, ensuring efficient and precise machining.