Skip to Content

19 Different Types of Cutting Tools

Photo collage of different types of cutting tools.

We use cutting tools regularly for a variety of reasons and we often take for granted just how many types of cutting tools there are. These tools make our lives easier because they perform cutting tasks that would be much more difficult or impossible if we didn’t have them around. But have you ever wondered just how many types of cutting tools there are?

Well, let’s find out!

What Are Cutting Tools?

Cutting tools are sharp-edged or wedge-shaped tools that we use to remove layers of material. We do this to get the desired size and shape of an item. These tools come in many forms, and some of them are considered power tools because they have to be powered by batteries or electricity to do their job.

Materials Used for Cutting Tools

Because cutting tools have different purposes, they’re made from different materials best suited to making them effective. It’s important for cutting tools to be able to handle the rise in temperature that happens when you cut certain items. They must be durable and robust to last long and perfectly cut things.

The materials used to make cutting tools are:

High-speed steel

This is a type of steel with very high hardness, high heat resistance, and high wear resistance. It is used to make impact-resistant cutting tools used in metalworking.

Ceramics

Cutting tools made of ceramics have high hardness and good abrasion resistance. This material also has high chemical stability and does not interact with steel even when very high temperatures are reached.

Cemented carbide

This material is made of hard compounds of refractory metals and bonded metals. It offers cutting tools wear resistance, heat resistance, high hardness, and impressive toughness and hardness.

Diamond

Diamond is a popular material with amazing thermal conductivity and highly impressive sharpness. Cutting tools made of diamond are very sharp and used for cutting chips with small sections.

Cubic Boron Nitride (CBN)

This material is artificially made and has good abrasion resistance, high hardness, and even better thermal stability than diamonds. CBN is often used to make tools that have to process steel.

Classification of Cutting Tools

All cutting tools will fall into one of three categories. These categories describe the way the cutting tools work. 

Single-Point Cutting Tool

These cutting tools have only one cutting edge that removes material and they’re typically used in shaping, planning, and turning. Generally, single-point cutting tools are made of diamond, ceramic, or high-carbon steel.

Double-Point Cutting Tool

A double-point cutting tool has, as the name suggests, two cutting edges that work to cut or shear together. They have two flanks and two rake faces and one example of this tool classification is the drill.

Multi-Point Cutting Tool

These tools have more than two main cutting edges and they can have up to a few hundred cutting edges. Typically, multi-point cutting tools are faster than the other two classifications and they are quite wear-resistant.

Types of Cutting Tools

The following list is in no particular order. I do not discriminate against any cutting tools and have no favorites!

1. Drill

A Drill held by man.

This is a cutting tool that can drill a hole in a workpiece with a cutting edge at the tip and a very noticeable groove in the body. This groove is for getting rid of chips. Drills are attached to lathe machines as well as milling and drilling machines.

The drill is one of the most well-known and common cutting tools and you can get them in many different types and shapes depending on what they’re going to be used for. 

2. Milling Cutter

Close-up shot of Milling Cutters.

The milling cutter is used when performing milling operations on a — you guessed it — milling machine. The term milling tool or milling cutter is generic for tools that have several cutting edges on the outer surfaces of disks. These cutting tools cut while rotating, and can be made from high-speed steel, carbide, or diamond.

3. Fly Cutter

Fly cutters are used on milling machines and are used by manual mills and CNC machining centers to remove large amounts of metal. These tools can also level the metal, and thanks to their designs, they can be used for a long time before needing to be resharpened.

4. Shaper

A Shaper held by man.

Shapers are used to give workpieces a specific shape and they’re quite precise. Shapers are used on shaping machines. People needing to cut panels and frames, for example, use shapers to make their work more accurate.

5. Planer

Hands of a joiner with an electric planer. Flying shavings, wooden board.

Planers are similar to shapers and they are used for larger workpieces. These cutting tools can trim boards and similar wood materials to the desired thickness. 

6. Boring Bar

Boring bars are used on drilling and boring machines and they perform, as you may guess, boring operations in woodworking and metalworking. Not boring, as in not entertaining, but boring, as in to bore a hole.

7. Reamer

A Reamer on the dirty sand.

These cutting tools are also used with drilling machines and they are there to finish holes that were opened by drills to ensure more accuracy. Reamers are typically made of high-speed steel, carbide, and diamond.

8. Broach

A broach is a cutting tool that is used in broaching operations, and this is done on a broaching machine. These machines are used to cut specific shapes or remove specific areas.

9. Hob

A hob is used with a hobbing machine and its purpose is to cut gears or screw threads.

10. Grinding Wheel

Grinding Wheel held by man.

The grinding wheel is abrasive and used for grinding operations, such as removing materials from workpieces in order to refine and shape them.

11. Kitchen Shears

Kitchen Shears isolated on white.

Kitchen sears are a must-have in any kitchen and they are ideal for opening all kinds of packaging, from thick plastic to heavy cardboard. These shears can be separated for cleaning by hand as well as in the dishwasher.

12. Pruning Shears

Pruning Shears ready to cut in a branch.

Pruning shears are meant for outside use and are mostly used in the garden or when taking care of household plants. You can find different kinds of pruning shears. Some have straight blades, others have curved blades.

Some have short handles and short blades, and others have long handles and long blades.

13. Thread Clippers

Thread Clippers on the fabric.

These cutting tools are smaller than household scissors or fabric shears, and they have short, sharp blades. Thread clippers are able to cut cleanly and close to the fabric. 

14. Rotary Cutter

Set of Rotary Cutter on a white background.

Rotary cutters are mostly used by quilters, and they’re ideal for cutting fabric, paper, and leather. They’re also amazing at cutting curved quilt pieces and come in different sizes.

15. Fabric Shears

Fabric Shears cutting a textile.

These cutting tools are made only for fabric use but they’re excellent at cutting fabric. They should never be used to cut craft items or paper and should be cleaned after use.

16. Spring-Loaded Scissors

Spring-loaded scissors are all-purpose household tools that are ideal for people who have problems with gripping or health issues like arthritis. The springs in these tools make them easier to use and work similar to normal scissors.

17. Paper Trimmer

Close-up shot of Paper Trimmer.

These cutting tools are made for arts and crafts projects and can cut photos, handmade cards, and more with ease and accuracy. These should be in the drawer of any creative person.

18. Hobby Knife/Utility Knife

Orange Hobby Knife/Utility Knife on a white background.

This is another cutting tool made for arts and crafts, but it’s quite versatile. There are different kinds of hobby knives and they all have sharp blades that are very sharp.

19. Electric Kitchen Knife

Last but not least on our list is the electric cutting knife. This cutting tool is quite impressive and makes cutting food like briskets and turkey a lot easier. It can even be used outside the kitchen to simplify arts and crafts projects.

Taking Care of Cutting Tools

Your cutting tools are only going to last as long as you let them. The way you treat your tools will have a definite effect on how well the tools work and how long you can use them. Most cutting tools are used often and quite vigorously, and they need to be taken care of accordingly.

Here follows a few tips on how to maintain your cutting tools so you can make the most of them and enjoy using them for a long time.

Heat Control

One of the most important factors for most cutting tools used when working with metal is heat.  When metal objects come into contact with each other, a lot of heat is produced during the cutting process. This heat can lead to metal surfaces and tips on cutting tools wearing out.

As such, it’s important to use oil or proper lubricants so your tools are protected and can last longer. Thanks to the anti-friction agents in these oils and lubricants, the friction and heat generated are better controlled.

Edge Preparation

Another way to prolong the life of your cutting tools is by performing edge preparation. When material is removed from the side of the tool used, it strengthens the edge by getting rid of the frail part of the material from the metal and prevents edge chipping. Also, this maintenance step balances the toughness and hardness of your cutting tool.

Tool Configuration

You should be certain that the configuration of your tools is suitable for the jobs you want them to do. Cutting tools are designed in ways to make them more effective. If your tool isn’t meant to perform a task, it shouldn’t be used.

Keep your tools’ configuration in mind when using them. For example, using fabric shears to cut paper will dull them and make them useless on fabric.

Insert Coating

You need to apply a coating to the metal cutting tools you want to use, and this depends on their design and nature. Make sure you know what kind of coating your tools need. The coating will help avoid extreme heating, and you can use Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).

General Care Tips

Here are some general tips on how to maintain your cutting tools and ensure they have long lifespans and work as they’re intended to:

  • Always store your cutting tools in a dry place that won’t be exposed to moisture
  • Store your tools in their original cases 
  • When storing your cutting tools, use silica gel packs or rust collectors
  • Clean your tools thoroughly after use
  • If your tools have batteries, maintain them well
  • Do frequent inspections of your tools to check for damage or wear and tear
  • Take as good care of the tools’ accessories as you do the tools