CNC lathes are made up of many elements to ensure they operate correctly and deliver the desired geometry. Tool holders are an essential part of the process and a deep understanding of their technical specifications is fundamental for choosing the right one. The following article provides an in-depth discussion of what tool holders are, the different types available and how to choose the most appropriate one for your production process.


The tool holder is an attachment system for the cutting tools used when machining on a lathe, or any other machine tool. That is, tool holders are used to attach a cutting tool during the machining process. They also facilitate torque transfer from the lathe spindle to the cutting tool.

They are mainly used in a wide variety of CNC lathe applications. Different tool holders are required for different types of machining or cuts. It is essential they ensure high geometric accuracy to guarantee the quality of the finished parts. Maintenance is also crucial, because a tool holder with signs of excessive use can lead to costs due to defective parts. For that reason it is advisable to conduct thorough routine checks and ask your supplier for the estimated change date.

For example, a common bad practice which should be avoided is to secure the cutting tool into the tool holder while it is assembled in the turret. This practice creates deformations in the track the tool holder flange travels along when the turret turns.



There are different types of tool holders for different applications. There are two main groups: driven tool holders and static (non-driven) tool holders. Driven tool holders:

  • Axial driven tool holders. This type of tool holder is used for machining on the axial plane of the part. There can be one or two tool directions for machining on the main and the sub-spindle of the lathe.
  • Radial driven tool holders. These are used for machining on the radial plane of the work piece, that is, on the plane perpendicular to the centre line of the spindles.

Portaherramientas Motorizado Orientable para Torno CNC




There are also tool holders with both characteristics, that is, they are both axial and radial. With these tool holders, the angle of the tool can be adjusted +- 90º, so they can fulfil both functions. These tool holders are called orientable live toolholders, and they offer many advantages for machining.




On the other hand, static tool holders include:

  • Internal turning tool holders. These tool holders are used to affect or machine the internal part of the piece with a variety of tools. They are used for drilling, reaming, tapping, boring, grooving, and profiling, among others.
  • External turning tool holders. These tool holders are used to machine the external faces of the work piece. They are classified into various types according to the tool to be used or the number of tools that can be attached. They are used for facing, profiling, grooving, screw cutting, parting off, knurling, and many more.

Portaherramientas Doble para Torno CNC

In this case as well, there are multifunctional tool holders which offer many advantages and high flexibility for machining. There are tool holders which can be used for internal and external machining. Work is done simultaneously with two tools mounted in the same turret. While one tool works on the left spindle centre line, the second works on the right spindle centre line at the same time. These tool holders, known as double tool holders, are of great interest for anyone wanting to take their machining to the next level.

Finally, another of the interesting technical characteristics of some tool holders is that the cutting fluid can be applied on the outside (external) and inside of the tool (internal) There is a valve to select how the cutting fluid flows onto the cutting tool.


The correct choice of tool holder is essential for optimising machine performance and ensuring precision machining. Many characteristics influence the choice of tool holders best suited to your production needs. These characteristics include:

  • The type of machining. The choice of tool holder will depend on the type of cutting or machining to be done. You will also need to know if the tool holder is going to work on the main spindle and/or sub-spindle during the program and the depth of cut to prevent collisions.
  • The system for securing. The insert plays a fundamental role, because the stability of the tool will be compromised if the insert moves or lifts up.
  • Type of tool. The type of tool to be used is a factor to take into account when deciding on the most suitable tool holder.
  • Cutting fluid direction. The choice of tool holder will depend on whether the cutting fluid is to be directed externally or externally. On some tool holders the flow rate can be regulated.
  • The geometry of the tool offers some guide to the choice of tool holder because types differ according to the operation.

These are some of the characteristics to be taken into account when choosing a tool holder. In any case, it is important to ask a trusted supplier to advise you on the purchase of your tool holders to ensure the correct fit with both the type of tool and the way it attaches to the turret.


At CMZ we have an online shop for tool holders to suit a variety of production needs. With our aim of continuing to commit to a “made in Europe” product, we have over 40,000 m2of facilities so we can undertake 80% of the production process. And so, we are able to manufacture tool holders for use with our CMZ lathes.

At the CMZ store you will find a wide range of tool holders and you can see what’s in stock in real time. As the store is open 24 hours a day and has a fully mobile friendly design you can buy tool holders wherever you are and benefit from a 20% discount (already included in the price shown) compared to buying through the after sales service department.

If you are looking to buy tool holders, at the CMZ Store we have tool holders and accessories for your CNC lathes.