In this work cutting FEA of cutting tools prior to fracture is investigated. Fracture is the catastrophic end of the cutting edge that should be avoided for the cutting tool in order to have a longer tool life. This paper presents finite element modelling of a cutting tool just before its fracture. The data used in FEA are gathered from a tool breakage system that detects the fracture according to the variations of the cutting forces measured by a three-dimensional force dynamometer. The workpiece material used in the experiments is cold work tool steel, AISI O1 (60 HRC) and the cutting tool material is uncoated tungsten carbide (DNNIG 150608). In order to investigate the cutting tool conditions in longitudinal external turning operations prior to fracture, static and dynamic finite element analyses are conducted. After the static finite element analysis, the modal and harmonic response analyses are carried on and the dynamic behaviours of the cutting tool structure are investigated. All FE analyses were performed using a commercial finite element package ANSYS. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.