We got a good response to our carbide versus HSS question. Here’s a representative sampling.
Since carbide was in vogue when he started woodworking, Bob Want started using it and now prefers it. He used the steel blade that came with his miter saw only for really rough ripping. Robert still has a few HSS bits idling around the shop and still uses the HSS bits that came with a JoinTech system (until they get old and can be replaced with carbide). Otherwise, all his bits for everyday use and for his shop-made dovetail jigs are carbide tipped or solid. Likewise, he still has a never-used. old HSS dado stack, but all his working blades are Freud or Forrest carbide.
Roland Johnson, however, finds that he gets better cuts on short runs (particularly of “difficult” woods, such as curly maple) with high- quality steel cutters. The longer run-time provided by carbide doesn’t equal the “scary sharp” edge he can put on a steel blade. He also noted that most big millwork companies prefer steel blades because they are easier to sharpen and hold a finer edge. Though he uses mostly carbide, Donald Weimer also uses some high-speed router and shaper bits. One reason &because he’s all set for sharpening. Another is that the fine adjustments he can make, such as increasing clearance angles, provide a nicer, smoother cut on cherry, maple, and hickory & and that means less sanding and chipout problems.
The only HSS cutters C. Henry Rowe uses regularly are drill bits! He’ll use an HSS saw blade on occasion & until it gets dull, then replaces it with carbide. Except & he’s found that a couple of his HSS saw blades held their edges longer and provided an ultra-thin kerf (compared to carbide) that helped him get the “most” out of some expensive wood. And his HSS router bits have been long replaced by carbide.
Though he still uses a few HSS cutters with particular profiles for short passes, Charles sticks with carbide edges for his high-use bits. Another correspondent noted that he has always heeded advice by his shop teacher back in the mid 60s to buy carbide blades and router bits. A professional woodworker wrote that the best use he found for the original HSS blade that came with his Shopsmith was as the face for a clock and eventually as part of his company’s first logo.
It’s more a matter of availability, or lack thereof, that prevents Anthony Deering from using more HSS router bits. In his area, they seem to be available only in smaller, basic sets. And it’s almost impossible to find an HSS bit in a specific size or profile. Larry Margolis, on the other hand, will continue to use his steel bits until they need to be replaced. Despite living on the West Coast since 1962, this New England native states that the principle of “waste not, want not” is still in his blood.
RIDGID Model: Contractor Style Table Saw
Roger Bredemeier declares the TS3612 a good saw, but wishes it was available at someplace besides Home Depot.
Noting that Emerson Tool, the parent company for the Ridgid tool line, used to be the supplier for Sears’ Craftsman tools, Ernie King wrote in to explain how he transformed his Craftsman 10″ flex drive saw into a near-precision tool by adding an Incra TS3 fence and miter gauge. It’s only a “near-precision tool” because he feels it lacks any kind of a trunnion (the assembly that holds the saw’s arbor to the underside of the saw table), and he hopes that Ridgid has changed this mounting technique. A big fan of Incra, he also explained that the fence really shouldn’t be precisely parallel to the blade & since the blade starts cutting where the board first meets the blade and there needs to be some relief at the trailing edge to help prevent binding.
Ben Schroeder wrote that he saves wood on rockers by ripping 1″ thick boards stock into four 1/4″ x 1″ x 42″ pieces, then joining the pieces together on a curved mold. He also sent a nice picture of the finished product.