This paper presents a method for measuring tool wear parameters based on two dimensional image information. The tool wear images were obtained from an ITV camera with magnifying and lighting devices, and were analyzed using image processing techniques such as thresholding, noise filtering and boundary tracing. Thresholding was used to transform the captured gray scale image into a binary image for rapid sequential image processing. The threshold level was determined using a novel technique in which the brightness histograms of two concentric windows containing the tool wear image were compared. The use of noise filtering and boundary tracing to reduce the measuring errors was explored. Performance tests of the measurement precision and processing speed revealed that the direct method was highly effective in intermittent tool wear monitoring.