Cutting tool materials must be harder than the material of the workpiece, even at high temperatures during the process.
In the context of machining, a cutting tool or cutter is any tool that is used to remove some material from the work piece by means of shear deformation. Cutting may be accomplished by single-point or multipoint tools. Single-point tools are used in turning, shaping, planing and similar operations, and remove material by means of one cutting edge. Milling and drilling tools are often multipoint tools. It is a body having teeth or cutting edges on it. Grinding tools are also multipoint tools. Each grain of abrasive functions as a microscopic single-point cutting edge (although of high negative rake angle), and shears a tiny chip.
Cutting tool materials must be harder than the material which is to be cut, and the tool must be able to withstand the heat and force generated in the metal-cutting process. Also, the tool must have a specific geometry, with clearance angles designed so that the cutting edge can contact the workpiece without the rest of the tool dragging on the workpiece surface. The angle of the cutting face is also important, as is the flute width, number of flutes or teeth, and margin size. In order to have a long working life, all of the above must be optimized, plus the speeds and feeds at which the tool is run.