I am working on a design that basically involves cutting out a 4″ diameter disk from 1/4″ thick wood, with some shapes pocketed into the surface of the disk. I have been using 10 inches per minute (IPM) to cut through the Poplar and I had no clue if this is average, fast or slow. What I do know is that it is painful to watch.

At 10 IPM cutting out the design took 67 minutes. That is probably split 60%/40% with the majority on the pocketing. Too long for my liking. I decided to try and reduce the cutting time. First I increased the speed to 30IPM, which is nearly the maximum that my PC can go. Next I reduced the depth of the pockets from 0.15″ to 0.10″. This saves an extra pass.

The new time to cut? 20 minutes. Less than 1/3 of the original time. But that’s no good if the result is a ragged mess. Tonight I found out – there are more burrs on the wood, but the vertical edges look just as good as the ones cut at 10 IPM. So I will likely continue to use 30 IPM in the future.

My next aim is to split the cutting into two parts. The pocketing with a 0.0571″ end mill and the rest with a 1/8″ end mill. This should reduce the time even further.