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Frequently Asked Questions

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General Questions

I have been told that 'C-4' grade carbide is the best carbide for all applications. Is this information accurate?

No. Contrary to popular belief, there is no single grade of carbide that is suitable for every situation. For example, saw blades for ripping wood and for cutting non-ferrous metals (aluminum, etc.) use softer grades such as C-1 or C-2. If C-4 grade were used, it would be too brittle for these materials. Carbide grain size, binder, and ultimate surface quality (grinding) must also be taken into consideration when manufacturing high-quality cutting tools.

How do I know when it's time to re-sharpen my router bits and saw blades?

When cutting tools become dull, there is a noticeable difference in:

Finish quality of the cut (burning may also occur).

Amount of necessary horsepower or the amount of feed-rate required to    maintain the cut.

Sound from the machine motor and the sound from the cutting action (usually a higher pitch and decibel).

Size of the chips from the cut (will become smaller or turn to dust) because the cutting tool is grinding or abrading the material rather than cutting it.

Color of the cutting tool will change. It will become blue or black from overheating and 'work-hardening'. The router collet or other tool holding device may also become overheated.

Surface quality of the cutting edge - will eventually chip or break. 'Soft' carbide has often been blamed for this phenomenon when, in actuality, the cutter has been run beyond its capacity and useful tool-life.

What are the benefits of using 'insert' tooling?

Although the initial cost is higher, there are several real advantages to insert tooling, or tooling that uses replaceable knives. The primary benefit is that no re-sharpening is necessary. Most insert tools have at least two cutting edges per knife, while some have four. When the knife becomes dull, you simply loosen the knife (or knives), rotate them and re-tighten. This can often be done without removing the cutter from the machine or router, which saves valuable set-up time. Of course with the proper safety precautions Another key feature of insert tools is there is no diameter loss as with re-sharpened tools. This is particularly beneficial if tight tolerances must be adhered to, or if the piece being cut must exactly match the previous piece.


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