Machining refers to the process of removing material from an original piece called a workpiece. It refers to a wide range of techniques and technologies. Often, power machine tools are used to achieve this removal and thus arrive at a pre-defined design.

Machining Tool Types

Drilling tools - these contain two edges that rotate and create holes based on the length of the edges.

Boring tools - these tools are often used to finish the piece by making a hole larger if the hole was not large enough according to the design.

Cutting tools - saws, as well as shears, are examples of cutting tools. They typically have predefined shapes to achieve the correct cuts.

Grinding tools - these tools rotate due to a wheel. The spinning wheel makes small cuts to reduce the girth of a piece. 

Milling tools - these tools use a cutting surface that rotates and contains many blades. The resulting holes are not circular, rather they are shaped based on the attachments. These attachments are often created ahead of time in the initial design process for the workpiece.

Laser cutting - in this process, machine creates a thin laser that vaporizes the material away. This can be used for cutting all the way through the material or for doing laser etches.

Plasma cutting - this is the process of using a plasma torch to make an arc of electricity. This arc then melts the metal away.

Water jet cutting - using a highly pressurized water stream, water jet cutting is able to penetrate material. This is incredibly useful when you need to cut a material without exposing the material to high temperatures.

EDM (Electric Discharge Machining) - this is sometimes referred to as spark machining as well. The process involves electric arcs that energize the metal so quickly that the machining tool is able to make cuts. Many materials can be used as the base material for EDM, as long as they conduct electricity and can withstand high voltage. Be careful around any kind of voltage or machining tools and wear the proper electrical safety protection. 

Machining is a broad term and it's important to keep in mind the specific design intended for the process. If you find yourself looking to use machining tools, be sure to understand how each tool achieves the removal of material. In addition to metal, other materials can also be shaped with machining.