This paper contains an explanation for the variation of the “coefficient of friction” in metal cutting. The chip partly sticks to and partly slides over the tool and only in the latter region can friction occur. In the experiments, the contact area between the chip and the tool is controlled and the change in the size of the sticking region is observed. The ploughing force acting on the tool edge is taken into account and the force acting on the tool face is determined. It is found that the force on the tool face varies with the depth of cut and the contact length in a simple manner. From the variation of the normal and tangential forces the stress distribution on the tool face is deduced.

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