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This paper presents an automated method of optimal cutter selection for finish milling of sculptured surfaces on a 5-axis machine. The objective is to maximize the machining efficiency with the largest feasible cutter (ball-nose, filleted, or end-mill) available while ensuring that at least one attitude of the cutter can be found at every point of the surface that does not cause gauging. A discrete point-based approach is employed to check whether a given cutter is feasible for finishing the entire surface. To reduce the calculation time, the whole surface is firstly partitioned into several regions with different machining features based on the local surface geometry. Only critical regions are subject to the analysis of gouge avoidance. Based on the comparison between the local part surface and cutter surface shapes, an exact geometry analysis method is developed to avoid local gouge problem along every possible feeding direction. An example is given to show the efficacy of the developed method.