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Reamer Basics

  Reamers are available in a variety of types, materials, flute styles and sizes
The typical reamer is a rotary cutting tools designed to machine a previously formed hole
to an exact diameter with a smooth finish. But other types are used to remove burrs from
the inside of pipes & drilled holes and to enlarge and align holes for fasteners.

Reamers for sale by Tools-n-Gizmos: 15pt Space HSS 15pt Space Cobalt 15pt Space Carbide 15pt Space Diamond 15pt Space Unk Mat'l
Fixed 15pt Space Adjustable 15pt Space Expansion 15pt Space Hand 15pt Space Chucking 15pt Space Shell 15pt Space Aligning 15pt Space All

Fixed vs. Adjustable vs. Expansion

Fixed Reamers Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Fixed Reamer Picture
14pt Dot The reamer size is fixed and any size reduction due to wear or sharpening cannot be reclaimed

14pt Dot Constructed from a single piece of material or with permanently attached cutting edges (e.g. brazed carbide inserts).

Adjustable Reamers Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Adjustable Reamer Picture
14pt Dot The blades of an adjustable reamer are separate from the body and are fitted into ramped grooves in the body.
75 pixel space As the blade slides along the groove the cutting diameter is changed.
14pt Dot Captive nuts located at each end of the blades lock them in a fixed position.
14pt Dot The cutting diameter can be adjusted by loosening one nut while tightening the other.
14pt Dot Each reamer has enough adjustment to cover the complete range from next smaller size to the next larger size
14pt Dot They are used mostly for repair work in the field.
14pt Dot Not intended for high production work.

Expansion Reamers Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Exspanion Reamer Picture
14pt Dot The expansion reamer has longitudinal cuts between some of its flutes.
14pt Dot It is hollowed out and threaded to receive a tapered screw plug.
14pt Dot The diameter of the reamer is increased by screwing in the tapered plug.
14pt Dot Maximum recommended expansion is around 0.010" (per Chadwick & Trefethen Inc)
NOTE: Some sources of reamer information (e.g. TM 9-243) imply (or state outright) that expansion reamers are just another form of adjustable reamer (with a smaller adjustment range). Whereas, several manufacturers (e.g, Super Tool inc.) state that expansion reamers are not adjustable reamers. The expansion screw should NEVER be loosened or tightened in an attempt to use the reamer for a size other than that which it was finish ground. Expansion reamers are beneficial when the diameter wears down to the low limit. It can be expanded oversize and reground back to its original size. This can be done many times making the expansion reamer a very cost effective tool.

Hand vs. Chucking vs. Shell

Hand Reamers Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Hand Reamer Picture
14pt Dot Have a square at the end of the shank, similar to a hand tap.
14pt Dot The reamer can be turned with standard tap wrench or even an adjustable hand wrench.
14pt Dot It can also be driven by many Tap/Reamer chucks and heads which use the square end for positive drive.
14pt Dot Constructed with a tapered leading edge on the cutting head to help the user push the tool into the workpiece

Chucking Reamers Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Chucking Reamer Picture
14pt Dot Intended for use in drill presses, lathes and screw machines
14pt Dot Most commonly used style for reaming holes to a tight tolerance
14pt Dot A variety of shanks are available including: Straight (round, hex, keyed, etc.),
75 pixel space Morse Taper and other machine tapers.

Shell Reamers Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Shell Reamer Picture #1 Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Shell Reamer Picture #2 Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Shell Reamer Arbor Picture #1
14pt Dot Similar to the cutting portion of a chucking reamer.
14pt Dot Supplied without a shank and has a hole through the center
14pt Dot A arbor is used in conjunction with the shell reamer, the slots in the reamer engage lugs on the arbor
75 pixel space for driving power.

Aligning Reamers

Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Aligning Reamer Picture
14pt Dot A pilot is used to align the reamer when two holes must be reamed in line with each other
14pt Dot Many Aligning Reamers use a "floating" tapered pilot sleeve.
14pt Dot The sleeve is seated in one hole, guiding the reamer as it reams the other hole.

Flute Styles:

Straight Flute Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Straight Flute Reamer Picture
14pt Dot The most common reamer
14pt Dot 45 Chamfer angle to ease the reamer into the existing hole
14pt Dot With straight flutes, chips are forced forward into the hole, and should be used in through-hole applications only

Right Hand Spiral/Right Hand Cut (RHS/RHC) Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Spiral Flute RHS/RHC Reamer Picture
14pt Dot Pulls chips out of the hole
14pt Dot Ideal for blind-hole application
14pt Dot Adds extra shear to the finished hole

Left Hand Spiral/Right Hand Cut (LHS/RHC) Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Spiral Flute LHS/RHC Reamer Picture
14pt Dot Pushes chips forward into the hole.
14pt Dot Ideal for through-hole applications
14pt Dot Provides the finest hole finish

Angle Blade Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Angle Blade Reamer Picture
14pt Dot The blades in some adjustable reamers are set at a slight angle.
14pt Dot Blade angle eliminates chatter.
14pt Dot improved surface finish vs. straight flutes

Rose reamer
14pt Dot Rose Reamers are primarily used for roughing prior to final reaming.
14pt Dot The flute cutting edge has no relief giving it extra strength.
14pt Dot To prevent binding they have a slight back taper.

Flute Material:

High Speed Steel (HSS, M1, M2, M7, M50)
14pt Dot Combines good tool life and productivity with minimal cost
14pt Dot Works well in free cutting and carbon steels, as well as soft, non-ferrous materials

Cobalt (M-35, M-42)
14pt Dot Better wear resistance, higher hardness and toughness than HSS
14pt Dot Very little chipping under severe cutting conditions, allowing the tool to run 10% faster than HSS
14pt Dot With the right point angle and helix, cobalt is the most cost-effective for machining cast iron, heat-treated steels
15pt Space and titanium alloys

Solid Carbide
14pt Dot For high-performance applications.
14pt Dot Carbide can run faster and withstand higher temperatures, while providing good wear resistance
14pt Dot Carbide is brittle and tends to chip when conditions are not ideal.
14pt Dot heavy feed rates are more suitable for HSS and cobalt tools
14pt Dot Used in abrasive and tough-to-machine materials: cast iron, non-ferrous alloys, glass, plastics and composites

Carbide Tipped
14pt Dot Offers many of the advantages of solid carbide tooling at a reduced cost, especially in larger diameter tools


Special Reamers:

Bridge Reamers Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Bridge Reamer Picture
14pt Dot Designed for use in structural steel, in the building industry, bridge erection, and ship construction.
14pt Dot The cutting end of the flutes is tapered, allowing the reamer to enter overlapping and badly misaligned holes
14pt Dot Shanks come in a variety of styles for portable electric or pneumatic machines

Car Reamers Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Car Reamer Picture
14pt Dot Short flute and overall length permit use in cramped quarters or where a Bridge Reamer would be too long.
14pt Dot Primarily used to repair railroad cars and for construction work, especially fixing misaligned holes
14pt Dot A special cutting chamfer allows for easy entry and fast cutting in badly offset and burnt holes

Pipe Reamers Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Pipe Reamer Picture
14pt Dot Used to prepare a hole for tapping with a taper pipe tap
14pt Dot There are a variety of different types of taper pipe taps including; NPTF, Dryseal, and ANPT

Taper Pin Reamers Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Taper Pin Reamer Picture
14pt Dot Taper Pin Reamers have a taper of 1/4" to the foot. (standard Taper Pin sizes #7/0 to #10)
14pt Dot Designed to ream holes into which standard taper pins will fit
14pt Dot Helical Taper Pin reamers have High-Spiral construction so chips do not pack in the flutes

Morse Taper Reamers Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Morse Taper Reamer Picture
14pt Dot Morse taper reamers are designed to ream holes for standard Morse Taper tooling.
14pt Dot Helical flutes prevent chips from packing in the flutes

Center Reamers Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Center Reamer Picture
14pt Dot Designed for Counter Sinking Holes for Centers or for enlarging existing hole
14pt Dot Odd number of flutes reduce chatter, while providing better accuracy than a single flute countersink
14pt Dot Available in many angles e.g. 60, 82, 90, 100, 110, and 120

Repairman's Reamers Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Repairman's Reamer Picture #1 Tools-n-Gizmos Reamer Basics - Repairman's Reamer Picture #2
14pt Dot Built for the removal of burrs in pipe and conduit, and for enlarging holes in sheet metal


Reamer Sizes:

Standard Sizes (typical)
14pt Dot Number sizes #70 through #1
14pt Dot Letter Sizes A through Z
14pt Dot Fractional sizes 1/32" through 1" in 1/64" increments
14pt Dot Fractional sizes 1" through 1.5" in 1/16" increments
14pt Dot Metric sizes 1mm through 25mm in 0.5mm increments

Over/Under Reamers
14pt Dot Sizes 1/10th above or below standard sizes
14pt Dot These sizes will allow the user to create a tighter or looser hole than the standard fractional size

Special Decimal Sizes
14pt Dot Covers all sizes outside of the standard fractional, letter, wire and metric sizes
14pt Dot Available off-the-self in increments of 0.0005"

Dowel Pin Sizes
14pt Dot Readily available in standard dowel pin sizes

Taper Pin Sizes
14pt Dot Readily available in standard Taper Pin sizes (#7/0 to #10)

Morse Taper Sizes
14pt Dot Readily available in standard Morse Taper sizes (#1 to #6)


Using Reamers

Using a hand reamer
14pt Dot Secure the work in a vise so that the hole to be reamed is perpendicular to the top of the vise jaws.
14pt Dot Using a tap wrench, tighten the handle to the square end of the reamer shank
14pt Dot Position the reamer at the top of the hole. Turn slowly clockwise until the reamer is centered in the hole.
14pt Dot Straight-hole reamers have a slight taper at the end so they will fit into the hole easily.
14pt Dot Turn the wrench clockwise with a steady, firm pressure until the reamer has been turned in the hole.
14pt Dot When reaming steel, use cutting oil or machine oil to lubricate the tool.
14pt Dot When reaming soft iron, do not lubricate the tool.
14pt Dot Turning too fast or too slow will cause the reamer to chatter, producing an unevenly reamed hole.
14pt Dot Remove the reamer from the hole by turning clockwise and raising the reamer at the same time.
75 pixel space Note: Do not turn counterclockwise at any time - doing so dulls the reamer.

Using a chucking reamer
14pt Dot Reaming feeds are usually higher than those used for drilling.
14pt Dot The best feed rate varies with material; a good starting point would be 0.0015" to 0.004" per flute
75 pixel space per revolution.
14pt Dot Too low of a feed may cause glazing, excessive wear, or chatter.
14pt Dot Too high of feed may reduce the accuracy of the hole, it may also lower the quality of finish.
14pt Dot The best speed is found to lie around one half of the speed used for drilling the same material.


Care of Reamers

14pt Dot Keep reamers absolutely clean to do accurate work
14pt Dot Do not use the reamer to remove more than 0.002" to 0.003" of metal.
14pt Dot If the proper pressure is applied in use and the reamer chatters, replace it to insure accurate work.
14pt Dot If the reamer edges are only slightly dulled, honing the edges on an oilstone may restore the sharpness.
14pt Dot On an adjustable reamer, the blades may be replaced.
14pt Dot To prevent chipping or dulling, turn the reamer in the cutting direction only.
14pt Dot To prevent damage, ensure reamers are stowed where they will not come in contact with each other,
75 pixel space or other tools.


Note: The information provided on this page is intended to be a top level basic exposure to reamers.
As such, it is representative and incomplete. Please seek manufacturers information on the specific
reamer you intend to use in your specific application.

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