The speed at which we move a cutter across the material is called the “feed rate”. The rate of rotation is called the “speed” and is controlled by how fast the router or spindle turns the cutting tool. Both feed rate and spindle speed will vary based on the material being cut. A general rule of thumb is that you want to move the tool through the material as fast as possible, without sacrificing surface finish. The longer the tool rotates in any one place, the more heat that builds up. Heat is your enemy and can burn your material or radically decrease the life or your cutting tool. Feed rate vs spindle speed:
Spindle speed that is too fast paired with a slow feed rate can result in burning or melting.
Spindle speed that is too slow paired with a faster feed rate can result in dulling of the cutting edge, deflection of the end mill and possibility of breaking the end mill.
A good strategy when selecting a cutter is to attempt to balance feed rate and spindle speed by performing two passes on the work piece. The first pass, called the roughing pass, can be done by using an end mill that will eject a large number of chips at a high feed rate. The second pass, called the finishing pass, then won’t require as aggressive of a cut and can provide a smoother finish at a high speed.