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Brazing Steel to Steel- Wetting and Penetration Issues

Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2015 at 12:20 pm.

A gentleman posted on Practical Machinist looking for brazing information on his failed attempts at brazing steel-to-steel and get “away from messy stick welding”.  Using 56% silver and Harris paste flux with 1100-1700 working degree temperature, he was using a propane torch to braze a steel nut to a washer.

….I will admit, that out of experimentation I have heated the part to bright RED to see if I can flow it further out….it doesn’t work well and….I found that the silver seems to….how can I say this….”peel” off the steel when struck with a hammer….HARDLY MIG weld strength (as it is supposed to be). I cannot let the base metal melt the silver, I must use the torch heat directly on the rod AND the part…sometimes the flux turns black, and I must wire wheel it to clean it off, and then start again…each time losing more and more precious silver rod.

steel to steel

Here is Tom’s response:

Cleanliness, cleanliness. Always start with cleanliness when there is a brazing problem. Welding is pretty much a physical joining. Brazing is much more a chemical process. A really good braze joint will have both chemical and physical joining.

People do use solvents, such as acetone and similar, to clean before brazing however there definitely are residue issues as mentioned above. The advantage with something such as a soap or detergent, oven cleaner and Comet were mentioned, and they break the oils and greases down into easily removable soaps.




These are some mild steel bars I use for brazing tests. The come with scale on them. I use a bench grinder to get them clean and bright as with the right end of the top one.

A braze alloy with 56 in the title is a 56% silver braze alloy with the rest being copper, zinc, a little nickel and maybe a little tin or manganese.

We ran Charpy impact tests at Weyerhaeuser to find the best braze alloys for sawmill saws. The best was an Ez Flo 3. However this is not considered suitable because it contains cadmium. A 50% braze alloy without cadmium was about 30% weaker. 56% braze alloy with tin flowed beautifully but had about half the strength of the Ez Flo 3. A 49% braze alloy with manganese was as strong as the Ez Flo 3 but had poor flow characteristics.






We have these little braze kits. We use 0.062″ dia. wire which should be easier to use. The 56% braze alloy you’re using is a very popular braze alloy and may work very well for you if your parts are suitably prepared.

As was mentioned several times above need a very, very clean surface. It looks as though your parts may have been zinc coated. From your description of the process it appears as though you are turning the zinc and zinc oxide which is a largely and wettable surface.

I have a cheap wheel on a cheap bench grinder I use for this sort of thing. I grind to bright, shiny metal. Then I clean with an oven cleaner.

There are lots of fluxes in the world. Ideally your flux will match your braze alloy as well as the two parts being joined. This isn’t always that simple. We sell five kinds of flux for brazing tungsten carbide alone.

Were I trying to do your project I believe that I would cut a couple of short lengths of braze alloy and pound them flat. I would put a nice dollop of black flux on top of the bottom part. I would put the flat wire in the middle of the flux. I would cover the top with flux then put the bolt on top of the flux top part.

Heat the assembly until you see the flux run out.

You will need something to hold the parts in place and move the parts around. At 212 F the water will boil out of the flux and this can shift the parts. At about 1000 F the flux will liquefy and this can shift the parts. At about 1500 F the braze alloy will liquefy and this can also shift the parts.








This is a temporary brazing bench. I use fire bricks and stainless steel. I may not need two tiers but hot braze on stainless steel can set fire to the table top below the stainless steel.

You can build your own little oven. Fireplace bricks were mentioned above and they will work. We use bricks that are used to line kilns. They should be available from a ceramic supply store. We like these because they are extremely easy to work using a hacksaw, paring knife and similar. Do not use good tools on these as they will ruin the edge on a wooden saw in a few cuts.

Brazing with Propane

Difference between a cordless drill and an Impact driver

Posted on Monday, May 4th, 2015 at 3:50 pm.

Both cordless drills/drivers and impact drivers can be used for similar jobs, but there are some key differences.  A Cordless drill applies constant torque and tends to have a wide range of uses.  Cordless drills have a keyless chuck that can accept a wide range of tools.  They can be used to drill holes, drive screws and can be used with a great selection of accessories such as hole saws, rotary sanders, and wire-wheel brushes for doing a wide range of jobs.  Drills or drivers are ideal for smaller jobs, as they provide great control across a range of speeds and clutch settings.  They don’t have the impacting force that the impact drivers have and are better for drilling small screws or for drilling in softer surfaces.


Impact drivers look very similar to drill drivers and do many of the same jobs, but use a hammering like action and brute force to get the job done.  Impact drivers use both bit rotation and concussive blows to drive screws with incredible brute force.  They can be easier to use for large projects or projects that require large screws or drilling into harder surfaces.  The concussive action transfers much of the high-energy torque directly to the screw, taking off some of the stress to your wrist and forearm.  Impact drivers use a collet to accept hex-shanked drivers and bits.  Because of the high concussive force, an impact bit that can withstand the high pressures of the impact drill are typically recommended.

While Impact Drivers can do most of the jobs a drill can do, but faster and with more ease, they don’t have quite the versatility that you can get with a drill.  Using a cordless drill for small jobs and pulling out the “big guns” (aka the Impact Driver) for larger jobs or more difficult jobs you can take care of all your DIY jobs in no-time.

Oshlun Saw Blade and the No-Hassle Refund

Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 at 3:21 pm.

Customer Service Done Right

It’s kinda’ funny how we as customers (I include myself because I buy things too) get used to having to explain and apologize for merchandise that we want to return or get a refund on. Some of the scenarios include the product breaks, fails, doesn’t fit right, not the right size, he/she doesn’t like it or maybe just due to old fashioned buyers remorse. I think you would agree with me that most retailers seem to have adopted the attitude that they are doing you a service by selling you x, y & z. So how could we, as consumers possibly want to waste their time returning a defective item for an exchange, or perhaps, get a full refund without being charged a service fee?

Carbide Processors, Inc., is not perfect, but, we always do our best to provide our customers with quality products at the best price possible. Along with superior products we also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! Here is a recent example of our commitment to honor our promises:

One of our Canadian customers bought a Oshlun SBF-100080, 10″CD, 80T saw blade for mild steel and ferrous metals. The customer placed his order via our e-commerce website in mid December. I would guess that he felt confident that the Oshlun blade would work for his application due to a Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star review posted on our website by another buyer. I’m sure he also appreciated that our Oshlun Saw Blade line consists of industrial quality blades for the professional and serious hobbyist. Oshlun Circular Saw Blades feature a fully hardened, surface ground, and hand tensioned steel alloy plate, as well as application specific carbide grade tips to ensure the longest cutting life. All-in-all the best quality for the cost in the industry for a ferrous cutting saw blade.

It’s not often that a product we sell does not meet our customers expectations; after-all every product that is offered on our website has to meet our own, very high standards first. In this case, that is exactly what happened. I received an email from this particular customer on 4/22/15

“I don’t like it when I pay money for it and use it only 2 times!!I used the blade 2 times now it barely cuts through the metal, so can I return it and get a full refund?”

In this situation the customer was very clear, he did not want the blade and he wanted his money back. So that is exactly what I did! I apologized for the Oshlun blade not performing properly and promptly refunded him in full the cost of the blade and the Canadian shipping/handling charges. It was the right thing to do, ethically, morally and it makes good business sense.

Carbide Processors begins each morning with “the customer is first”, and as we leave for the evening we end our day with ” the customer is first”. Tom has been doing business this way since 1981 and seems to have worked pretty well thus far.

tomcr.jpg emily-george.jpg er-whitmancr.jpg me-in-the-backyard.jpg



General Return Policy

You may return items at any time for a full refund, there are no time restrictions on anything in our online store. We’ll also pay the return shipping costs if the return is a result of our error (you received an incorrect or defective item, etc.).


Bandsaw Blade Brazing

Posted on Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 at 11:16 am.

bandsaw blades

Bandsaw (Band Saw) Blade Brazing

Six Easy Steps

  1. Clean and bevel the blade ends
  2.  Clamp blade ends to the fixture
  3. Spread the flux
  4. Braze
  5. Anneal
  6. Remove excess alloy

Size of Blade

With a very small, narrow blade it may be possible to join the two ends by soldering.  Soldering occurs below 800 F.  (Other temperatures are sometimes given but they are all in this range.)  Soldering is low temperature and typically makes a soft, weak joint.

With larger blade and with blades where a strong joint is needed you will braze.

braze alloy

Selecting a Solder or Braze Alloy

You will need a “silver solder” or “silver based braze alloy”.

Typically solders have something like 3 to 5% Silver in them.  Braze alloys have a silver content somewhere around 50%.

There are typically four alloys that work well.  They are sold under various names.  I have included the BAg numbers as these are the official AWS (American Welding Society) designations.  You can typically identify the alloy from a supplier based on the number sued.  E.g.  Easy Flo 3 is a Bag-3 alloy.  50Ni2 is a 50% silver with 2% Nickel.

These alloys melt over a range.  The solidus is the highest temperature where they could be considered a solid.  The liquidus is where they are officially a liquid.    It is typicvally good practice to melt the braze alloy to a point about 50 F over the liquidus.

  1. BAg-3; 50% Silver with Cadmium 1170 solidus to 1270 liquidus.  Strongest braze joints.  The historic favorite.  Easy to use and strong joints.  Not used as much in the past decade due to the health risks with Cadmium.
  2. BAg-22; 49% Silver with Manganese.  1260 solidus to 1290 liquidus.  Strongest braze joints.  As strong as Bag-3 and Cadmium free.  A bit harder to use.  Brazes pretty much like the other alloys but it does have a tendency to form little nodules or lumps.
  3. BAg-24; 50% Silver and Cadmium free.  1220 solidus to 1305 liquidus.   About 30 to 40% weaker than the above alloys.  Takes a little more heat.  When it does get to temperature it wants to run faster and farther.
  4. Bag-8; 56% with Tin.  1145 solidus to 1205 liquidus.  Very easy to use but a comparatively weak alloy.

Forms of Braze Alloy

These alloys come as a paste, a ribbon or wire.

  1. Paste is easiest to use and most expensive.  It is flux and alloy mixed together with a binder to prevent the heavier alloy particles from separating to the bottom.   You squeeze a little paste between the two parts and heat them.
  2. Ribbon is a thin strip.  If you use ribbon it should be no more than 0.005” thick and 0.003” is preferable.  You dip the ribbon in flux; put it between the two parts and heat.
  3. Rod or wire.   Comes in various diameters and is generally least expensive.  You flux both halves by dipping or painting.   You can put a bit of wire between the two halves and apply heat.  You can also apply heat until it is read then touch the assembly with wire or rod.  If it is hot enough the alloy will flow into the joint.

5# Flux


You will need flux with ribbon or wire and extra fluxing with paste is a good idea.   Black flux is more forgiving than white flux.   Flux has some cleaning and oxide removal properties but best not to count on it.  Start with clean parts instead.  Flux is primarily an oxygen interceptor so that the parts and braze alloy do not oxidize.

Grind the Blade

Each broken end of the blade should be ground to an angle of about 45 degrees to provide a scarf joint. This process also cleans the damaged ends. Quickly running it across the bench grinder is enough to do this.  A Dremel tool fitted with a small drum sander works well and is easier to control.

Grinding the ends with the teeth opposite to each other and grind both at once.  Allow about a half inch for the lap joint.


You want to end up with the two ends looking something like this.  A lap joint will be much stronger than a butt joint and you can do all your brazing from one side.

Once ground, keep the steel free of any oil and dirt.


The blade ends should be clamped onto a steel jig using toolmakers clamps, or something that will not overheat and burn or melt.  Make sure this joint is aligned the way you want it.

These pictures will give you an idea.  You can just use a flat piece of steel and see how that works for you.   You want to hold the two halves in place without crushing any teeth.   The steel will want to move a little as it gets hot.  Be ready for it.

bandsaw_fixture.jpg bandsaw_fixture_(1).jpg bandsaw_fixture_(2).jpg



If using wire coat each end of the blade with paste flux and heat the whole of the joint to bright cherry red before applying the solder.  With the blade still bright cherry red gently pinch the joint together with a pair of pliers.  This provides for a flat, even joint.  Gently, gently, gently.  Do not squeeze all the braze alloy out.  If you have 0.001” to 0.002” braze alloy between the two parts it should be right.   Less is o.k. as long as there is still some braze alloy.

Brazing the blade should be quick and easy.   The blade is thin so it won’t a lot of heat to get it to temperature.   If you use a paste flux the water will boil out.  Then nothing.  Then the flux will bubble up and look pretty bad.  Then the flux clears up and braze alloy melts.

Remember the difference between heat and temperature.  Flux gets used up by a combination of heat and time.  Too much heat, taking too long to get silver braze to melt will cause flux to get used up dissolving oxides and go black and no longer work and also more time for blade to expand and the overlap joint to slip over it self getting a thicker joint with possible thin spots on both sides after grinding back.

Alternate Heating Method

You can also heat a pair of brazing tongs bright red and clamp the two parts together.  The red-hot tongs wiIl heat the blade and melt the solder. Keep the tongs clamped on the joint until they turn black.


Check to see that you have a nice even line of braze alloy all the way around the joint.   If you have to you can reflux, reheat and apply more braze alloy.   It should be the color of the original alloy without too many holes in it.   Holes mean you boiled the zinc out of it.


After you have heated the joint enough to get the braze alloy to flow, back off the heat and let it cool a bit.  A short annealing carbon steel is necessary for high speed steel. The high speed steel blade joint is re-heated to slightly below the melting point of the solder and the torch’s flame backed away allowing the joint to slowly cool. The process is repeated two or three more times taking the temperature to a lower point each time and allowing the blade to cool slowly.  File a piece of un-annealed steel and the file will slide.  On the annealed steel it should bite.

Cleaning Flux

After the blade has cooled to room temperature, remove the excess flux by brushing under warm water.   If you used enough flux it will be very dark and easy to remove once it has cooled.  If the flux is clear and hard to remove you burnt it all up.   Use more next time.

Grind or File Flat and Smooth

File or grind the blob of solder off flush with the surface of the blade and flat off the blade edges to allow smooth running of the blade through the saw guides.


  1. Do not use wood for a fixture for brazing.  Brazing typically takes place above 800 F.   Wood burns around 1200 – 1400 F.  The most common braze alloys for this work (49, 50 or 56% Silver) melt around 1300F.  An oxy -acetylene torch runs at 4,000 F +.   Can’t see where using wood for a fixture is a good idea.
  2. Do not cut the blade near the original weld unless you cut the weld out entirely.   Stay far enough away so that the weld from the factory does not get too hot to touch.  Remember that the clamps will serve as a thermal barrier to some extent.

Cutting MDF and Plywood

Posted on Thursday, March 19th, 2015 at 1:32 pm.

Cutting MDF Compared to Plywood

popular tool blades

Both MDF and Plywood can be very tough on the cutting tools.  This is why it is important to use saw blades that are specifically designed for cutting MDF and Plywood.  Below is a link to some tools specially designed for cutting MDF and Plywood along with some helpful tips on how to choose a saw blade for cutting MDF and Plywood.  The rest of this article explains why MDF and Plywood have such a high wear on cutting tools and the differences bewteen the two materials.

Saw Blades for cutting MDF and Plywood

MDF is much harder on tools than plywood is for a variety of reasons.

  1. The density – especially the varying density (see below)
  2. The mechanism of separation.  Plywood shears while MDF ruptures.
  3. The amount and kinds of fiber
  4. The amount of glue and additives used to stretch it.

MDF is harder on cutting tools for several reasons.

  1. There is just more material being cut.  Typically MDF is heavier than plywood because MDF uses wood fibers and then compresses them.  (See below)
  2. Plywood uses peeled wood while MDF can use a variety of fibers some much more abrasive.
  3. Plywood and MDF can both use the same woods.  However in plywood the cells are open or hollow.  In MDF the cells have been compressed flat.  Cutting hollow a straw is easier than cutting a solid piece of plastic because you can cut the straw one wall at a time.
  4. The binder is distributed differently in the two materials.  In plywood the binder is largely in the overlapping sheets.  MDF can be considered binder with particles in it.

In analysis of worn tools we see several things.

  1. Just the amount of material being cut.
  2. MDF is more abrasive because it denser.  When cutting the fibers are severed but the cut material rubs on the side of the tooth causing wear similar to the effect of a stiff bush versus a soft brush.
  3. MDF seems to trap more heat in the cut and heat affects the saw tips.  Again this is a natural property of the density and the glue distribution.


  1. It is widely believed that MDF is “grabbier” on cutting tools and tests with ammeters have seemed to confirm this.   MDF draws more power than wood or plywood.
  2. It is widely believed that the glue in MDF is stretched with a clay like binder much as clay is used in paper.  This binder is much more abrasive than wood as clay is technically fine sand.
  3. MDF is made of wood fibers and any source can be used.  Although the fibers are broken down into cells they retain many of their base properties.  Bamboo cells have different properties than fir cells.

The Materials 


This is the generic name for a panel manufactured from lignocellulosic or plant materials. Technically, this is can mean anything from straw or Bagasse (sugarcane stalks) to wood. This material is combined with a synthetic resin or other suitable binder, and then bonded together under heat and pressure. The basic raw materials for particleboard are plant residues or low-quality logs. Some recycled material, where it is economical to use such a substance, is now part of the raw material supply.

MDF, or Medium Density Fiberboard

The same general procedure is employed to manufacture MDF, except that the panels are compressed to a density of 0.50 to 0.80 specific gravity in a hot press by a process in which the entire interfiber bond is created by the added [synthetic resin or other suitable] binder. A wide variety of raw material types can be handled in an MDF plant. These types range from pulp chips to planer shavings to plywood trim to sawdust. Other non-wood materials, such as bagasse, (sugarcane stalks) also make excellent MDF.


These panels are made by laying up layers, or plies, of wood so that the grain direction in each ply runs at right angles to the one next to it. Cross-grain construction is what gives plywood its strength and dimensional stability. Standard veneer-core plywood 3/4 in. thick consists of seven plies: two outer veneers, plus five hardwood or softwood plies between them.  The layer structure leads to more uniform properties than solid wood, since the effects of grain anisotropy are minimized. The properties of plywood vary with the quality of the constituent layers; typical values are listed below.

Physical Properties


Modulus of Elasticity of 2500 – 5000 MPa

Modulus of Rupture is from 28 to 80 MPa.

Density of 600-800 kg/m³

Particle board density 160-450 kg/m³

Hardboard (high-density fiberboard) 500-1,450 kg/m³

Color (visual) ……………… Beige

Density ………………………39 lbs./foot³

Internal Bond ……………….90 lbs/inch²

Moisture Content …………..5-8%

Hardness (Shore D)……….45-55

MDF weight 70 90- – 100


Tensile Strength, Ultimate 31 MPa 4500 psi  parallel to face;

Flexural Modulus 9.3 GPa 1350 ksi  8.2 – 10.3 GPa.

Modulus of rupture in bending is typically 0.06 GPa.

Compressive Yield Strength 31 – 41 MPa 4500 – 5950 psi  parallel to face

Shear Modulus 0.17 GPa 24.7 ksi  in plane (rolling shear)

Shear Modulus 0.7 GPa 102 ksi through thickness (edgewise shear)

Shear Strength 1.9 MPa 276 psi in plane (rolling shear).

Shear Strength 6.2 MPa 899 psi through thickness (edgewise shear)

Thermal Properties

CTE, linear 20°C 6.1 µm/m-°C 3.39 µin/in-°F


Choosing the Right Router Bit

Posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2015 at 1:02 pm.

Choosing the Right Router Bit


When choosing a router bit, there are several things to consider to get the most value for your money. Here are some tips to choose a quality Router Bit:


Router Bit Shank Size

The shank size of the router bit has an affect on the overall value. Choosing a 1/2″ Shank over a 1/4″ Router Bit may be more beneficial because 1/2″ Router Bits are more sturdy, and less likely to break.

Router Bit Material

There are 3 different materials from which Router Bits are made: High Speed Steel, Carbide Tipped, and Solid Carbide. Choosing a carbide Router Bit over a high steel router bit is usually your best bet to get the most for your money.

*High Speed Steel Router Bits are generally the least expensive and are fine for softwood and light plastics, but tend to dull much faster than carbide.

*Carbide Tipped Router Bits are usually more expensive than the high speed steel router bits, but they stay sharper longer and work better in hardwoods and other hard materials, so they may save you money in the long run.

*Solid Carbide Router Bits are the most expensive, but are typically meant for specific applications where other router bits may not perform as well. You may want to choose a Solid Carbide Router Bit for Mortising, Laminate Trimming, and Pattern Cutting.


Use a Sharp Router Bit

Using a Sharp Router Bit is much safer, cuts better, and requires less power than a dull router bit.

Choosing the right grind

The grind of the router bit can greatly affect the performance.

Maintaining a good balance

Reducing the vibration is very important not only to safety, but to the quality of the cut. Make sure the Router Bit you are using has a good spin.

There are many Router Bit manufacturers to choose from, and it can be hard to know which company makes a quality Router bit. We have been in the industry for a while, and we really like: Whiteside and Southeast Tool. Whiteside is known for their quality, and Southeast is a great value. Both Whiteside and Southeast Tool were ranked in the top 5 and considered excellent by Fine woodworking Magazine in their head to head router bit challenge.

Fine Woodworking Magazine  frequently tests many different Router Bits from a wide spectrum of manufacturers. They assess which company produces the sharpest, most durable and best value router bits. Companies with the top performing router bits receive awards.

We sell the entire line of Whiteside and Southeast Tool router bits at discounted prices.  Feel free to test them out yourself without having to pay full retail. Buy Whiteside Router Bits. Buy Southeast Tool Router Bits


Also see “Router Bit Glossary” for more helpful information on Router Bits.

Quick Change Router Chuck

Posted on Monday, March 9th, 2015 at 3:22 pm.

The Best and Easiest way to change out your router bits! Quick change router chucks offered by Whiteside are the way to go for pain-free, fast change out-out without using the 50+ wrenches you have!

The Quick change router chuck features a cam-lock design that clamps and loosens with a partial turn using a hex key wrench. Much simpler than the original two wrench method these quick change router chucks were recently featured on Fine Woodworking Magazine.

quick change router chuckcollet reducer

Made in the U.S.A : Quick Change Router Chuck

Porter Cable 9700

Bosh 9710

Dewalt/Festool/Frued 9720

Dewalt 616/618/621 9730


Available only in 1/2, you can purchase the adapter for the following shank size:

Made in the U.S.A: Router Collet Reducer

1/2 – 1/4  Whiteside 6400 or Southeast Tool SE6400

1/2 – 8mm Whiteside 6400×8

Watch Roland Johnson’s video to see how the quick change router chuck makes your woodworking life easier!

Inspecting a Router Bit

Posted on Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 at 2:48 pm.

Inspecting a Router Bit


                                      router 1

 First, just pick the bit up and look at it.  Does it look even and balanced?   Any dings or similar?

router 2

Then spin it in your fingers to see if you notice anything. I start by inspecting the shaft



router3                        router4

This is an ordinary digital caliper.   I first put the router bit fully between the jaws and hold it up to the light.  I want to see if any light comes through either side.   Then I measure the diameter of the shaft in several places.   This was a ¼” shaft and measured 0.248 all the way up and down.  I think the shaft should be a couple thousandths under size because that was the way I was taught.  In reality router chucks are very forgiving.  A little oversize should be fine.  I variation of a thousandth or two in shaft diameter should also be fine.  I do think it is a sign of a quality part when the shaft is a bit undersized and the same diameter all the way up and down.


I want the shaft to clearly marked so that I know what it is and can buy an identical one later.


I like a nice bevel on the end of the shaft. It is probably not that important but it means the manufacturer took an extra machining step.  It does make it slide in and center a bit more easily.  It also means that the edge is less likely to deform if banged or dropped.

router7            router8


What is wrong is any sort of rip or tear (sometimes called an upset) in the shaft.   These could be easily filed out and the bit would be perfectly serviceable but it is a mistake.

router9                 router10


You want the shaft to be square with (perpendicular to) the body.    This can be somewhat tricky.  On this bit the shaft tapers into the body, which is good, and the carbide (red arrow) sticks down below the body which is also good.  However that leaves a very small area for testing.  Ideally you would rest the shaft against the caliper body.  In this case it has to set away a bit.

router11    router12    router13



Take your bearing and turn it slowly so you can feel it. There should be just a wee bit of drag which means it is tight. It should feel uniform all the way around. It should not spin freely. Twist the bearing a bit to make sure it has some play. 0.005” to 0.010” is pretty good. You also want a sleeve or dust guard between the bearing and the router body. I like to use an inspection block for the next part.  This is a piece of Fir 2 x 4 with a hole drilled in it.


The carbide should be identical from one side to the other.   This is really important for balance since carbide is 50% heavier than lead.  The carbide should be the same thickness all the way down the wing (or flute).   Depending on how good or bad the grinding is you can sometimes see where the carbide is thinner in the middle or at one end.  This greatly increases the chances of the carbide snapping in use.

Generally thicker carbide is better because it is stronger. It also gives you the opportunity to dress or re-sharpen more times. However dressing and sharpening both remove material and thus change the type of cut the bit makes.

Carbide is graded from C 1 – C 4 typically. C 1 is tougher for rough cutting. C 4 stays sharp longer but is more likely to break in rough work.


There are advanced carbide grades that are both tougher and that give longer life. They really do work well and are still a bargain even if they cost a bit more. If it is an American, European or Japanese brand you can almost always trust the package information in this area. I have never seen one that was misleading but I haven’t seen them all. There can be excellent tools from other sources but I am not familiar enough with all of them to give an opinion.



Ideally you want to see a line of braze alloy about 0.003” thick between the carbide and the steel.   Here the calipers are set at 0.005”.  You can see that it is a very small line.  The average hair is maybe 0.007”.   The bit was probably sandblasted after brazing to clean it up so you may not be able to see anything yellow.   Look at the joint.  You don’t want the carbide resting against the steel since it breaks easily that way.   You want a nice, even line with no holes or just very few small holes in the braze alloy.   If the braze alloy has a gold or yellow color that is better than a copper color.  It means more Silver in the braze alloy which means it brazes at a lower temperature.  In turn this means much less thermal stress and much better cushioning and protection for the carbide.   This not a really big deal, however.

The Evolution of Triton Tools

Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 at 2:47 pm.

Triton Tools was founded by George Lewin in 1975 in Australia.  Frustrated with tools that didn’t cut straight or square, Lewin decided to design a tool that would perform better.  His first innovation was a bench with an upside down saw that he patented and successfully sold as the original Triton workstation.

As Tom would say, “the quality of a tool is what the person using the tool says it is”.  It seemed to be unanimous among the Australian woodworking community that this new design for a workstation was a quality one.  Woodworkers loved Lewin’s innovative Workstation design and demand for Triton Tools grew rapidly.

Triton Workcentre 2000

In 1983 the Mark Workcentre was launched in Australia and earned Lewin many awards for his innovative saw-bench.  By 1986 Triton Tools began to find their way to countries all over the world and in 1994 Triton tools achieved ISO 9001 quality accreditation.

Triton Tools continued to expand and meet the demand for more quality tools.  They innovated and expanded their range of tools to include routers, track saws, drills and more.  In 2014 Triton Tools was acquired by Power Box and production was completely overhauled and a U.S. distribution center was created. Even more measures were taken to ensure every Triton Tool that left the factory would be guaranteed to work and last.

Triton tools

All new Triton Tools sold after 2014 have undergone a rigorous quality control and completed the quality management cycle.  New Tools are constantly being innovated and each new design goes through a vigorous critique process before ever being distributed.  New Triton Tool ideas are closely monitored for design, and manufacturing capabilities.  All raw materials that are used in the manufacturing process are audited before the tools are assembled and every tool receives a pre-shipment inspection.  The final step is a tool review and the Triton Tool Reviews are great!  Here are a few things that people are saying about Triton tools:

“The Sander’s Strong point is in its design, which means the belt is flush to the side, allowing sanding up to a wall” -Anthony, Triton Tool user

Woodworking Plans and Projects Magazine wrote that “Triton continually push boundaries with their innovation, both for power tools and the Workcentres they fit in.”

And a very satisfied TRA001 Triton Router user and ex-furniture builder says he “uses every spare moment  [he has] now knocking something up with this little treasure!”

British Woodworking Magazine boasts about the new Workstation, saying that it’s “One of the most eagerly-awaited ‘up grades’ of a workstation that reflects its original brilliance.”

Since it’s humble beginnings from a woodworker that simply wanted better tools to work with, the Triton brand has earned a reputation for quality and has continued to expand its line of innovative power tools. See for yourself the quality and ingenuity that Triton Tools have come to be known for.



Importance of Machine Coolant Management

Posted on Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 at 10:16 am.

A great number of industrial processes such as grinding, milling and turning create heat and particles.  Machine coolants are used to keep the work surface cool and to carry away chips and particles.  Filtering Machine Coolant traps the small particles that get recirculated with the coolant and can cause damage to the tools and equipment.  For more information on filtering take a look at some of our articles in the Machine Coolant Index.

grinding with machine coolant

Saws and other tools are commonly carbide tipped.  The tungsten carbide used is man-made material and it is the closest substance to diamond available.  It has much more give so it does not break as easily as diamond.  Tungsten carbide saw tips are brazed onto the steel saw body and then they are ground to make them sharp.

The tungsten carbide saw tips are actually very small pieces of tungsten carbide that are held in a matrix of cobalt.  The cobalt is like the caramel in a popcorn ball.

The grinders are flood cooled which means that water is flooded over the work area.  This cools the work and washes particles out of the way.  The liquid is typically 90 to 95% water and 5 to 10% machine coolant.  The liquid runs over the work area and then down the machine where it collects in a sump at the bottom of the machine.  The liquid is pumped out of the sump and constantly recirculated.   As the tip is ground, the tungsten carbide and the cobalt collect in the sump.

Far and away the majority of machining is done with carbide or ceramic tools.  These tools wear and micro-chip in use.  Machining creates chips.

Machining creates big chips.   Everyone has some sort of program to handle big chips.  Even the worst shops shovel them out of the way when they start to bury the machine.   Unfortunately many, many people think that all you need to do is to remove the big chips.  Every big chip means lots of small chips the same way boulders are surrounded by little rocks.  It is the little chips that do the most damage.

Several hundred times more damage is done by chips too little to see than is done by big chips.           

There are a million to a million and a half people in the US who are exposed to grinding and machining machine coolants.  These machine coolants and their contaminants cause skin rashes, allergic reactions, epidermal scarring, lung scarring, emphysema, severe emphysema and death.

The use of cutting, grinding and machining fluids results in the estimated creation of well over ten million gallons of waste annually.

filter unit with pump

Principles of Filtration

Filtration is the process in which particles are separated from a fluid by passing the fluid through a permeable material. There are also non-filtration separation methods such as gravity settling or flotation, the use of centrifugal force as in a cyclone or centrifuge, and processes such as ion exchange or reverse osmosis for the removal of dissolved solids.

There are four basic reasons why liquids are filtered:

(1) To save the solids and discard the liquid

(2) To save the liquid and discard the solids

(3) To save both

(4) To save neither.