How to be a “clean cutter” every time…
Clean cuts are key to good woodworking. Without clean, crisp cuts, your woodwork looks shabby, makes your projects look amateurish and can also be a safety matter. No one likes to buy new blades and bits for our tools – they’re EXPENSIVE! But, using worn down blades and bits is a bad move no matter how you look at it.
Kinda funny that I am even making note of this, but it is actually a problem with many shops. Since I am primarily speaking about safety, let’s cover that first.
Dull tools are dangerous because they can cause the woodworker to push harder on a work piece to get it cut through. When pushing hard on a work piece, you increase the risk of slipping off the work piece and hurting yourself. You also risk burning up the blade or even causing the power tool to overheat. All could turn into serious matters quite fast. Just doesn’t seem worth it to me, and, I think nearly everyone reading this would agree. But those blades can cost some serious bucks!
Oh, and… Dull tools may also kick back more often, and harder. With table saws, kick back is one of the most feared events for a variety of reasons, but mostly because we don’t like being injured by wood missiles or projectiles. Drill bits can get bound in the work piece and become a violent ballerina on the drill press table!
Sharpening devices for drill bits have become more affordable, so you could invest in one of those for drill bits. Saw blades are another matter. I did recently spot an ad for a sharpening service that uses CNC machines to sharpen circular blades. Looking online there are a lot of options available, local and all over the US. Looking at one such place, it appears that blades from 6 to 40 teeth are only $8.50. 41-60 teeth are $12.00 – not too bad when you consider some of the high end blades from Freud and others can range from a reasonable $40.00 on up to $99.00
Buy one of the $99.00 blades and have it sharpened 3 times (a combo blade with 40 teeth) and your cost for that would be:
$99.00 – blade
$25.50 – 3 sharpenings
$15.00 – shipping for 3 sharpenings
$139.50 TOTAL — vs. $297.00 for 3 blades – NOT BAD!
Keep in mind, you can only sharpen a blade so many times before there is not enough metal left to sharpen it. but, even if you sharpen that blade 3 times, it’s a lot less expensive than $99.00 a pop when it dulls. Shoot, you can even have them retoothed for about $1.50 per tooth + sharpening costs.
In any case, dull cutting tools make for an unsafe work shop, and, makes for frustration, slower work, possibly damaging or destroying your work pieces. Seems to me that keeping things sharp is the way to go.
Next safety rule #5… Don’t get over extended (not credit cards!)
May your shop be filled with sawdust all year long,