If you have a small part that needs a keyway cut, you can use a specialized tool called a broach to cut the keyway. Unlike a drill, this tool does not require shims, and it can be used for small keyways. Before cutting the keyway, you must lubricate the broach with cutting oil. Once it is lubricated, the teeth of the broach should engage the part and rotate it to make the cut.

 keyway milling cutting
Layered milling

Keyway milling is a milling process used to make keyways for rotating parts. A keyway prevents a sheave from rotating on a shaft. The keyway is created using a specialized milling machine. The keyway is milled using a milling cutter that progressively mills the part.

The process reduces the keyway layer by layer, with each layer measuring about 0.5-1 mm in depth. The milling cutter is blunt after several operations, but its size does not affect the depth of the keyway. It is less versatile than typical cutting processes, however.


Broaching operations are performed on CNC lathes and milling machines. CNC lathes are ideal for this operation because they can finish workpieces without re-clamping. For broaching processes with polygon profiles, serrations, and splined shafts, a CNC lathe should be equipped with a C-axis. However, the Z-axis is often sufficient to open a single keyway.

Another important technical consideration is the type of insert material. Carbide inserts are not recommended for broaching, because of their poor breakage strength. While this material can be used to make several hundred keyways, it does not guarantee process reliability. After a few dozen keyways, the edges of the inserts may break off and the surface quality can become inferior.


Milling is a type of cutting operation that produces keyways in metal objects. Milling machines are equipped with two symmetrical cutting edges, and the cutter’s width and radius determine the size of the keyway. The cutter’s center of rotation is located on the bisector of the V-shaped iron, and the bottom of the workpiece is a half-slot that is cut at a right angle to the cylinder. The milling machine also has the function of plunge drilling, which makes it suitable for the processing of closed depressions.

A sanding drum that is held securely is an essential part of milling a keyway. This is because a small milling head can cut a wide keyway in just a few cutting sweeps.

Wire EDM

EDM is a spark erosion process that can be used to cut any material including copper and tungsten carbide. Wire EDM can also be used to cut keyways. Reliable EDM has a variety of EDM machines, including a Texas EDM, which allows for more intricate work.

This type of wire cutting produces cylindrical-shaped holes and slugs. It works by using an electrically charged wire that cuts the material as it moves through it. The wire is guided on the workpiece by an upper and lower guide. CNC technology is used to program the wire’s path, making it ideal for complex and intricate parts.

What Is a Key Cutter?

A Key Cutter is a tool used to cut notches into blank keys. This helps to replicate the notch pattern of an original key. There are many different types of Key Cutters available. There are some pros and cons to each type. Learn more about these tools to find the one that works best for you.

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