End mills and drill bits can perform very similar tasks and, at times, their functions may look identical. But end mills and drill bits can also differ wildly in the types of machining they can carry out, and the disparity between them in industrial use only widens when looking at domestic usage. Drills bits are quite a common sight in our homes, and having a home drill for personal use is a must-have for all home improvement enthusiasts and DIY fanatics! Yet end mills are never seen in the home, as their use is almost exclusively for industrial tooling and machining. Below we’ll discuss a few of the main differences between end mills and drill bits and how they’re used:

End Mills

End mills, like drill bits, rotate rapidly in order to cut away material to cut and shape a piece of metal, plastic, wood, or a composite material to the desired shape and size. However, unlike drill bits, end mills can be used to cut in any direction: vertically, horizontally, and even at diagonals. End mills come with a number of flutes, spiral-shaped grooves cut into the tip which allow excavated materials, or chips, to escape. End mills can have anything from a single flute to four. Fewer flutes allow more space for chips to escape, but also leave a rougher finish. End mills are available in a huge array of sizes, shapes, and tip types, and can be used to drill, cut, slot, profile, and contour the material. End mills can be used for a huge range of purposes, from carving jewellery designs to machining industrial parts, and come in a variety of materials. Carbide end mills, for example, provide higher durability and longevity than high-speed steel (HSS) end mills.

Drill Bits

Drill bits can only be used to cut and drill material in a vertical motion, and cannot be used to contour, profile, or any other cutting that requires lateral movement. Drill bits cut holes straight down into the materials, ejecting material up the spiral flutes just as an end mill would. The only drill bits to not feature spiral flutes are diamond-coated drill bits, which are used to widen already existing holes, rather than drill holes into fresh material. Handheld drills are a common sight in the home and can be used to drill into walls and other stationary materials, whereas end mills are exclusively used on industrial CNC machines, and cannot usually be employed for DIY.