Properly selected transformation methods obtain the most significant characteristics of metal cutting data efficiently and simplify the classification. Wavelet Transformation (WT) and Neural Networks (NN) combination was used to classify the experimental cutting force data of milling operations previously. Preprocessing (PreP) of the approximation coefficients of the WT is proposed just before the classification by using the Adaptive Resonance Theory (ART2) type NNs. Genetic Algorithm (GA) was used to estimate the weights of each coefficient of the PreP. The WT-PreP-NN (ART2) combination worked at lower vigilances by creating only a few meaningful categories without any errors. The WT-NN (ART2) combination could obtain the same error rate only if very high vigilances are used and many categories are allowed. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.