As material passes through the cutting area of a milling machine, the blades of the cutter take swarfs of material at regular intervals. Surfaces cut by the side of the cutter (as in peripheral milling) therefore always contain regular ridges. The distance between ridges and the height of the ridges depend on the feed rate, number of cutting surfaces, the cutter diameter. With a narrow cutter and rapid feed rate, these revolution ridges can be significant variations in the surface finish.
The face milling process can in principle produce very flat surfaces. However, in practice the result always shows visible trochoidal marks following the motion of points on the cutter's end face. These revolution marks give the characteristic finish of a face milled surface. Revolution marks can have significant roughness depending on factors such as flatness of the cutter's end face and the degree of perpendicularity between the cutter's rotation axis and feed direction. Often a final pass with a slow feed rate is used to improve the surface finish after the bulk of the material has been removed.. In a precise face milling operation, the revolution marks will only be microscopic scratches due to imperfections in the cutting edge.