Test-drive deburring tools to find the best approach for your shop.

Even with perfect technique and high-end machines, machinists have to manage burrs. Should you use that CNC machine or are hand-deburring tools more cost-effective?

No matter how efficient the metal removal process, no matter how sharp and well-maintained the cutting tool, burrs are a fact of machining life. The question is: Where and how should you remove those burrs?

Machine and robotic deburring are both faster and more accurate than manual scraping or filing, yet a strong argument can be made that using an expensive CNC lathe or machining center for such work is wasteful, especially when the machine operator has the time on his or her hands to deburr parts.

“No machining process is ever perfect, so there will always be a need for manual deburring of tight corners and other hard-to-reach areas,” says Zvika Pilosof, Shaviv global product manager at Vargus Ltd.

Hand Deburring Benefits: Fast, Effective and Simple

Hand deburring is on the rise because of, not in spite of, the advancements in machining and automation, says Avi Widovski, director of marketing and sales at Noga Engineering Ltd.

“Some of that is due to the need to keep increasingly expensive CNC machine tools busy making parts as much as possible, so it makes a lot of sense taking deburring operations offline,” Widovski says. “At the same time, we’ve given our customers far more deburring options to work with.”

Pilosof adds that manual deburring offers greater flexibility. “Beyond that, I would argue that it’s very cost-effective because it’s a hand tool.”

“It’s not a drill press or CNC machine, so not only is it much less expensive, but there’s no setup time or programming needed,” he says. “It’s also fast—much faster, in most cases, than using a cutter on a machine tool—and easy enough to operate that most people can get consistent results with a minimum of training. Lastly, we can tackle almost any application possible, which is something machine deburring cannot do.”

While some shops might still rely on hand-sharpened knives or triangular files turned scraping tools, there is now a wide variety of specialized deburring blades, blade materials and handles to choose from. And the category now boasts hand-deburring tools with dozens of application-specific blade geometries and materials.

Hand Deburring Tools and Brands

From Noga, the options include blades for plain holes, cross holes, deep holes, straight edges, curved edges, hard and soft metals and plastics, as well as right- and left-hand blades, single or double edge, coated or uncoated carbide, high-speed steel (HSS), and ceramic blades. The list goes on.

Considering the bewildering number of options, it might seem easier to just reach for your tried-and-true scraping blade. How does a machinist searching for the right tool even know where to begin? To be fair, it’s not that difficult.

Most makers, including both Noga and Vargus, work hard to educate users and provide detailed product information online.

“No machining process is ever perfect, so there will always be a need for manual deburring of tight corners and other hard-to-reach areas.”
Zvika Pilosof
Shaviv Global Product Manager, Vargus

For job shops and those who machine a range of workpiece shapes and materials, perhaps the best bet is to order a few products and give them a test-drive.

Widovski suggests starting out with the Noga EZ Burr Pro sets or a Platinum Box with an assortment of blades.

Vargus also offers an assortment of blades, handles and kits. To eliminate any confusion, the company recently released its Shaviv Genius Hand Deburring Tool Selector, a Q&A-style software application designed to lead customers to the correct tool quickly.

Pilosof says that for anyone working with multiple workpiece materials, the Vargus Mango II, Glo-Burr or UniBurr sets and kits are an easy way to get started with hand deburring and to identify the tools that work best in your shop.

Considering the relatively low cost of either of these solutions, however, there should be no hand-wringing. Make an initial small test investment and then use the tools that fit your jobs and machinists.

Do you rely on automated deburring? Learn how to avoid six common mistakes in this article.

Alternate Deburring Process: Tackle the Problem in Motion

There are also options for removing burrs at the point of creation with power deburring tools.

That’s the tactic taken by Cogsdill Tool Products Inc. It offers a range of mechanical deburring tools designed for both automated and CNC machine deburring as well as manual operations using a power drill, says Don Aycock, vice president of sales and marketing for the company.

These include the clothespin-style Burr-Off, the spring-loaded Burraway and Micro Burraway, and an Ellipti-Bur for curved or angled surfaces. Whatever the tool, Aycock says, these deburring operations are fast and easy, most often using a simple in-and-out motion to remove burrs on holes smaller than a toothpick to those larger than a golf ball.

Aycock says he remains agnostic on the question of manual versus machine deburring, as his tools work equally well in either situation. Factors such as production quantity, operator availability, part complexity and more all play a role in deciding which way a shop should go, he says.

Like Pilosof and Widovski, he notes that deburring blades are very affordable, with some customers ordering them by the thousands. Carbide-tipped and HSS blades are available, as are a variety of coatings and geometries for the Cogsdill products.

What’s not available is a one-size-fits-all solution, Aycock says. Each of Cogsdill’s tools cover a certain size range, so you buy one for every hole diameter your shop machines.

Regardless of the method by which a burr is removed or the brand of the tool removing it, Aycock offers one final bit of advice: Always manage your machining processes so as to generate the smallest burr possible.

“This is especially relevant to those shops with a dedicated deburring department, because oftentimes a machinist will push their tools until someone in the other area starts to complain,” he says. “If following good machine shop practices, they’re not going to let the tool get so dull that it creates a huge burr in the first place. If there is, it needs to be investigated, because it could indicate a much bigger problem.”


No matter how efficient the metal removal process, no matter how sharp and well-maintained the cutting tool, burrs are a fact of machining life.

The question is: what’s the best way to remove those burrs? Take our poll to test your knowledge.

There are distinct benefits to using hand-deburring tools. Can you identify a common one from the list below?

What tools and techniques do you lean on for deburring work? Share now or swap ideas with experts in our machining forum.

Talk to Us!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Signing into Better MRO is easy. Use your MSCdirect.com username / password, or register to create an account. We’ll bring you back here as soon as you’re done.

Redirecting you in 5 seconds