Choose the Ideal Spindle

There are two basic types of spindles that can be used on an engraving or routing machine. This article explains the advantages and disadvantages of each type, to help you choose the ideal spindle for your application.

Rotary Top Load

This is the most commonly used spindle in engraving.  It accepts industry standard cutters of varying shank sizes. Most are 11/64” or ¼” and use 6 ½” long cutters. There are no particular advantages to any particular size, except that the maximum width of a single pass cut is limited to the cutter size. The exception is cutters with oversized tips, which are loaded from the bottom for wide cut applications.


  • Less expensive spindle
  • Industry accepted
  • Easy to use
  • Changing tools is very quick

Rotary Top & Bottom Load (Collet Style)

This spindle will accept both a top load long cutters and “bottom” loaded shorter cutters depending on the collet size used.  Using a collet spindle turns the engraving machine into a light milling machine.  The collet is pulled tightly around a cutter by a drawbar which tightens easily from the top of the spindle.  The use of collet spindles eliminates most of the vibration during engraving of hard materials and deep cuts in plastics.  The interchangeable collet sizes allow the holding of tools such as end mills, router bits, short shanked engraving bits, drills, and specialty tools. Since collets can easily be changed, different shank diameters can be used in a single spindle design. Collet spindles can be equipped with solid collets so they can be used easily with drop in cutters.


  • Great flexibility and versatility
  • More rugged in design


  • More expensive
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