This paper focused on optimizing the cutting conditions for the average surface roughness (R-a) obtained in machining of high-alloy white cast iron (Ni-Hard) at two different hardness levels (50 HRC and 62 HRC). Machining experiments were performed at the CNC lathe using ceramic and cubic boron nitride (CBN) cutting tools on Ni-Hard materials. Cutting speed, feed rate and depth of cut were chosen as the cutting parameters. Taguchi L-18 orthogonal array was used to design of experiment. Optimal cutting conditions was determined using the signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio which was calculated for R-a according to the "the-smaller-the-better" approach. The effects of the cutting parameters and tool materials on surface roughness were evaluated by the analysis of variance. The statistical analysis indicated that the parameters that have the biggest effect on R-a for Ni-Hard materials with 50 HRC and 62 HRC are the cutting speed and feed rate, respectively. Additionally, the optimum cutting conditions for the materials with 50 HRC and 62 HRC was found at different levels. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.