Abstract A review of various techniques employed in measuring cutting temperatures is presented and it is pointed out that the method of IR photography is certainly better than other techniques for the accurate measurement of the temperature distribution in the cutting region. The thermal sensitivity of high speed IR film has increased significantly in the past two decades. It is now possible to use IR photography for measuring cutting temperatures without preheating the workpiece and the cutting tool. Temperature measurements in the surface region of annealed 18% Ni maraging steel were made at cutting speeds of 80 and 160 ft min −1. It was observed that the temperature is very high at the surface and decreases with depth beneath the surface. The cutting temperature increases with an increase in the wear land or dullness of the tool.