When I was first woodworking, putting a carbide-tipped saw blade on a machine was not exactly rare, but it was a conscious choice. There were tons of high speed steel blades and router bits in our shop, and the sharpening service dropped off and picked up bits, blades and cutters every Tuesday. These days, things are different. In my shop, my HSS saw blades are dusty and maybe even a bit rusty … I don’t know because I haven’t used them since that other guy was the host of This Old House. I did use one of my old steel router bits about eight years ago when I really needed that specific profile. It still worked fine and it gave me a little kick to “pull the old fellow out of retirement.” But for the most part, these bits and blades are now almost antiques, not really part of my day-to-day woodworking experience. What about you? Do you use HSS cutters every day, once a week, a month, a year … never? If you do use one, is it because you really prefer it, or because you own it and are too frugal to replace the venerable old guy? When you go shopping for a new cutting blade or router bit, do you even consider buying anything other than a modern carbide-tipped beauty? Let me know. As always, I’ll share your answers and I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal