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Cutting tools: manufacturing's unsung heroes.


Let's face it, router bits are not as "glamorous" as the router, nor, is a saw blade as awesome as the panel saw itself. But, what could the routers and panel saws do without cutting tools?

With most routers, panel saws, moulders and so forth, costing five figures and up, it might be easy to dismiss the cutting tool. It might be tempting to look at the price tag and the size of the machine, and feel that, yes, this machine can do anything and everything and do it flawlessly. But, if the user does not have the proper tooling, the machine is wasted.

What are some of the problems with cutting tools and what do some companies do to alleviate those problems? These are some of the questions WOOD & WOOD PRODUCTS posed to a number of manufacturers around the country. Here are their stories.

Ashley Furniture Industries Inc.,

Arcadia, Wis.

This residential furniture company uses a large number of different tooling suppliers to fit its wide ranging needs. One problem which surfaced was slight variances from cutting tool to cutting tool.

This problem was resolved with the use of an AutoCAD system installed five years ago. The AutoCAD system creates precise diagrams of the tools the company wants, said Mike Moran, a tooling engineer at Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. Prior to this, cutting tool manufacturers were given imprecise hand drawn diagrams to work from, he said.

"With the AUTOCAD system we are making tools from the same diagrams," said Moran. "I'd say this has improved the process tremendously. Even with different suppliers we can get the same profile cut. We can be sure we are within the same tolerance."

Ashley utilizes tooling from Leitz Tooling Systems Inc., Leuco Corp., Herco Inc., Wisconsin Knife Works, Ekstrom, Carlson and Co., Forest City Tool Co. and Voorwood Co. to make its bedroom groups, dining room furniture, occasional tables and other products.

Moran said the decision on which tool to use is based on a number of factors. "We look at ease of use; the ease of changeover and how easy it is to maintain. We look at price, service and how stock items fit on what we have."

Ashley uses Leitz insert tooling on its Weinig moulders and Celaschi double-end tenoners. Leitz also supplies Ashley with carbide blade stock for moulders and carbide router tips for Heian and Shoda NC routers.

From Leuco, Ashley purchases carbide-tipped router bits and insert tooling and boring bits for its CNC Busellato borer, plus a variety of blades, including saw blades for its Giben panel saws.

Unity Audio Corp., Lansing, Mich.

Jim McIntosh, production manager for Unity Audio Corp., is in agreement with Moran. He too believes a big problem with many cuting tools today is they are not exact. "You are never sure it is going to be exactly what it is supposed to be, and that is a problem."

If a bit is supposed to be a 1/2 inch, and it is off 1/32 inch, it doesn't affect the look of the product but might affect the sound output of the company's product, he said.

Unity Audio is a high-end home stereo loud speaker manufacturer that markets its product around the world, and is very dependent on the quality of its speakers. If this quality should drop because of ill fitting parts, business could be affected.

After experimenting with different router bits, McIntosh settled on cutting tools from GUHDO-USA Inc. The company relies almost exclusively on GUHDO bits for its Onsrud overhead pin router and the large diameter saw blades used on the Altendorf panel saw.

The panel saw is used to cut Fountain-head solid surface material, from Nevamar. The saw blade had been cutting 350 feet of the material before it needed to be taken off and resharpened, but since switching products Unity Audio gets two or three times the output before resharpening, he said.

Resharpening is another problem, according to McIntosh. He said in his experience "a lot of people who are in the business of sharpening, don't know what they are doing."

Regal Marine Industries, Orlando,


Up until a year ago Regal Marine Industries was having terrible problems with router bits breaking. It got to the point where the yacht building company would break $500 worth of bits over a three-shift period. The time it took to change the bits would sometimes go as high as 200 minutes for that same time frame.

The problem turned out to be two fold: too slow of a feed rate, and the carbide single standard flute insert bits the company was using on its 25-foot-long Thermwood Cartesian 5 CNC router.

Speeding up the feed rate to allow saw dust to escape away from the kerf, thereby reducing the heat on the bit helped reduce breakage somewhat but not enough, said Chris Ashworth, a tooling engineer for Regal Marine.

After investigating possible alternatives the company decided to experiment with a router bit from Hayes Tool Inc. "With the old bits we would do five to 20 tables before they would snap off, and we were going through 20 to 30 of these things a day," Ashworth said. "We started running those (bits), and with the first couple we got close to 200 tables before it broke.

"We wanted to see how far we could take it so we ran it till it broke," he added. "Now after 75 to 80 tables we take the bits off, sharpen them and run them on another 50 to 60 tables."

The company is using a Hayes Performance Plus Chipbreaker - a 1/2-inch solid carbide, two flute router bit with a chipbreaker edge.

Regal uses a downcut spiral version because it uses a roller hold-down and the downcut helps keep parts from moving on the table. It can run the bit at up to 428 inches per minute, depending on the workpiece.

Palliser Furniture, Winnipeg,


A year ago Palliser Furniture had a problem. Its |Logic Division' (named for the furniture it produces - nice, simple and easy to manufacture) was producing up to 1,500 pieces of furniture a day and its Weinig moulder was being pushed to its limit. The company's first solution, but not its last, was to go out and purchase a second moulder. Which it did.

But, a problem then arose because the shaft size on the new moulder was different than the old moulder and separate parts had to be ordered for the machines. It was then that Weinig representatives told Palliser about multi-tooling. "We didn't even know it existed until then," said Ernie Funk, assistant plant manager.

In December of 1990 Palliser switched to multihead cutters on its Weinig moulder. For its profile cutterhead the company relies on FS Tool products, said Frank Caligiuri, of FC Machinery Ltd., tool supplier for Palliser. Since the switch, Palliser has increased its yield, reduced its saw cut, and gone from two shifts down to one. According to Caligiuri, productivity increased 30 to 40 percent.

Ironically, in one sense the increase was a negative. "We now have excess capacity," said Funk. "If we would have known before we bought it we probably wouldn't have bought a new one (moulder)."

Western Cabinets, Woodinville,


When at full production levels Western Cabinets can produce 1,000 cabinets per day, not to mention any millwork the company might be contracted to do. This amount of output translates into a lot of cuts on its Giben panel saw and a lot of saw blades.

The company runs its panel saw between 16 to 20 hours a day, cutting melamine on particleboard and wood for its face-frame doors. The saw blade the company had been using would last approximately 15 to 20 hours, which meant an new blade had to be installed on a almost daily basis, said Chris Guyton, supervisor of the cabinet division at West.

After a series of tests, the company settled on saw blades from SystiMatic Co. and also altered the cutting depth. Western had been cutting at 500mm but cut back to 400mm, said Guyton.

"You can't cut the same stack height, but the blade runs a lot longer," Guyton said. "It's a tradeoff."

Guyton added he can "set his watch" by the blade change time. The blades now last approximately 40 hours, cutting around 2,500 sheets per blade.

Western still has a small problem cutting commercial grade plywood, said Guyton. Because of the grain of the wood the saw has a difficult time with the substrate; at times the blade has actually been stopped by the plywood. Guyton said it is a minor problem because the company only uses perhaps 40 sheets of the product a week.

ABCO Products, Global Fixtures,

Florence, Ala.

These sister companies, one making budget office furniture, the second store fixtures, totally utilize medium density fiberboard and particleboard in the products they produce. Because of this the two firms needed a saw blade that could cut through large amounts of these materials between replacements.

After investigating, the companies decided on DML's Dyanite saw blades, and since that time have relied almost entirely of this brand of blade. Marvin Morrow, vice president of the company said Global Fixtures has been in business for five years, with roots going back 15 years, and has always used DML blades. ABCO Products has been in business since the start of the year.

The two companies are very dependent on the cutting tools and their capabilities. At ABCO, the material is cut with a Holzma panel saw, and Global uses a smaller SCMI panel saw for the more custom product it produces. Global also uses two Onsrud inverted routers, and ABCO utilizes one Onsrud inverted router, and a Shoda router.

Michiana Box & Crate/Lake States

Wholesale Lumber, Niles, Mich.

Tired workers with aching backs are problems faced by companies making products with heavy pieces of lumber, MDF or other substrates. A number of devices helped to relieve this problem including air tables, conveyors belts and vacuum feeders.

The Michiana Box & Crate/Lake States Wholesale Lumber company was looking for a way to make work easier for its crew, when it hit across an inexpensive idea utilizing Top-Cote from Sandaro Industries.

According to Gary Cehovic, president, the surface of the machine is coated with Top-Cote which makes it easier for his workers to slide the green lumber used to make the company's products around the machine during resawing, ripping and crosscutting.

The company also uses Dri-Cote blade lubricant to reduce friction on the saw blades, routers bits and drills, Cehovic said.

A cornucopia of cutting tools

The following is a roundup of a variety of cutting tools. For more information circle the corresponding number on the Reader's Service Card. Also, consult the Cutting Tools chapter beginning on page 143 in the 1991 WOOD & WOOD PRODUCTS RED BOOK.


L.R.H. Enterprises Inc. offers a specially designed line of carbide-tipped shaper cutters for 1/2 in. to 3/4 in. spindle machines. The Co-st Cutters work with ball-bearing rub collars and smaller diameter cutters. The cutters have been manufactured to work with ball-bearing rub collars for cutting curved pieces and smaller diameter cutters (2-5/8 in.) allow cutters to be lowered through the opening of the shaper, the company says.

North American Products Co. has manufactured and serviced custom and standard carbide tooling for over 50 years through a network of 13 service centers. They now offer an immediate delivery inventory of standard carbide tooling. The delivery is guaranteed by the company to be made within 24 hours.

A diamond profile cutter developed by Gladu Tools Inc. substantially increases feed rate while reducing profile sanding costs and noise levels, the company says. It is engineered for postformer and softformer machine applications and for use on double-end tenoners, manual shapers and hardwood moulders.

Cascade Tools Inc. offers a 3-in. O.D. panel cutter with undercutter that produces a 1 1/4-in. wide profile and can be used on 5/8-in. and 3/4-in. stock. The company says it uses CNC equipment for machining proper relief angles and exacting profiles.

The blue carbide-tipped shaper cutters from Delta International Machinery Corp. were designed with a computer for optimum cutting performance, the company says. A silver copper brazing protects cutting edges and gives the cutter a longer life, adds the company. There is a wide variety of cutters available including: door edge detail, corner round, flute or half round convex and straight.

The 1/4-in. OPTI-coated fingerjoint cutters, from Wisconsin Knife Works deliver durable knife surfaces, according to the company. Offering cleaner cuts, a tighter fit and less clogging, the blades are reported to last up to three times longer than M-2 steel. Increased productivity from less downtime, waste and fewer sharpenings are additional benefits, the company says.

Drake Corp. specializes in custom cutterheads and says there is no limit to the profiles it has available. Insertable knives may be Tantung, carbide or HSS. The company offers brazed and diamond tools and tool reconditioning services.

Graycon Tools Div. of Diehl Machines provides complete tooling services, including round heads, vise-grip heads, clamp-T heads and SC-injector heads. The company will repair and recondition tools or adapt older tooling to use the ETP Hydro-Grip sleeve.

Adjustable insert groovers are an alternative to multiple carbide-tipped groovers offered by GUHDO-USA Inc. They offer long cutting life, abrasive-resistant carbide knives, less downtime for changing cutterheads and no regrinding costs, the company says.

The multiprofiler from HoWema is a universal profile cutterhead, with reversible profile-ground carbide and diamond knives, designed to fit most shapers, moulders and double-end tenoners.

Leiser U.S.A. Inc.'s carbide insert cutterheads feature constant diameter and profile, long cutting life and elimination of sharpening, according to the company. Cutters are available for all types of machines, including those with programmed stackable spindles.

A straight top groover shaper cutter from Lobo Power Tools is designed for use with 2 15/16-in. diameter rub bearing for flush trim applications. It features three wings and 3/4-in. bore with 1/2-in. bushing.

Markay Cutting Tools says it can meet all custom cutting tool requirements for shaper cutters, brazed and replaceable insert tooling.

Quietcut, a helical carbide cutterhead available from Newman*Whitney, is said to reduce noise. A new, super finishing version with additional rows of cutting knives is offered.

Cutterheads offered by Charles G.G. Schmidt & Co. include standard moulder heads, roundheads, four-knife pocket for wedge heads and a junior line of 3/4-in. spindles with 60 [degrees] corrugations.

W.F. Meyers offers a complete line of standard and custom-designed carbide-tipped tools for woodworking uses, according to the company.

This two piece counterprofile tool set with disposable carbide profile knives is available from Leitz. It can be used to cut end grain and along the grain. The cutterhead set is used to produce cope and stick pieces of raised panel doors 20 - 28mm thick, and is ideal for 1 in. doors. By switching the cutterheads, the production of both profile and counterprofile is possible, the company says. Five standard profiles are available for this tool.

Onsrud Cutter Inc. offers the Tersa insert cutterhed for use on moulders, planers, shapers and tenoners. It is said to outperform conventional insert knives because the outer diameter is constant from edge to edge, insert to insert, the company says. No gib screws are required - centrifugal force locks knives in place.

Cutterblocks with 10 [degrees] hook angles to machine American hardwoods are offered by Precision Cutting Tools Inc. in 4-, 5-, 6-, 7- and 10-in. diameters and with turnable knives. Profile knives and bodies are machined to customer specifications within two weeks.

S & J Industries offers ready-to-braze cutterheads that are CNC-machined on all surfaces and have milled tooth seats, the company says.

Tel-Con Industrial Diamond Tools are made from polycrystalline diamonds with abrasion resistance 150 times greater than carbide and up to 300 times longer lived than carbide, the company says. Diamond tools are said to reduce downtime caused by tool changing.

Model 6000 Clamp'n stile and rail cutters from Tri-State Tooling Systems Inc. feature replaceable solid carbide or Tantung blades for consistent profile machining. Blade changes take only minutes, the company says, and inserts can be resharpened. Custom profile cutters are also available.

True Cut Tool Corp. offers custom tooling and a complete line of standard, insert and diamond tools. Other services include retipping and precision sharpening.

U.S. Futaba Inc. says CMT Utensili tools offer wide hook angles and wide open gullets for proper chip clearance. The tools are concentricity tested.

Michael Weinig Inc. says its original, Swiss-built moulder cutterheads are continuously tested during production for function and quality.

Wadkin USA offers the Hydrowedge cutterhead Megablock, which reduces changeover time up to 90 percent, the company says. The hydraulic pressure-wedge system eliminates the use of securing screws for improved safety and reliability, easier cleaning and maintenance and no cutterhead distortion, according to the company.

Router bits

Byrom International Corp. is introducing carbide-tipped, vertical and horizontal panel-raising router bits. The bits are available in more than 20 styles, in diameters from 1 in. to 3 1/2 in. and come in a selection of seven styles and sizes.

The Her-Saf adjustable carbide router bit offered by Safranek Enterprises can be used with Rockwell and Porter-Cable routers. With a turn of the gear, the user can change cutter diameter, thereby increasing or decreasing the dado width, the company says.

Custom profile bits for CNC routers are available from Great Lakes Carbide Tool Manufacturing Inc. The company will study customer specifications and design and manufacture the precise bit to produce the part.

Henderson Diamond and Carbide Inc. offers two diamond router bits. One, already being utilized for cutting Corian countertop material, has a cutting life reportedly 50 times greater than carbide tools. The second is newly designed to cut MDF or particleboard that has been laminated with one- or two-sided paper, melamine or vinyl.

Eagle America offers more than 900 different router bits, shaper cutters and accessories in its product line.

Solid carbide micro-grain, high-speed router bits from Hayes Tool Inc. come with straight or spiral flutes. Designed for free cutting, the bits allow for lower power consumption. The company says the bit can be run at 600 ipm with no loss of quality or excessive load on the router head.

FS Tool Corp. offers more than 600 router bits for industrial cutting applications on wood, plastic and Corian, the company says. The bits are available from stock and profiles range from classical to contemporary, the company says.

Ekstrom, Carlson & Co. offers a variety of router bits including: high speed steel, carbide tipped and solid carbide. The bits are available in pilot panel, straight flute and spiral. Shaping, bearing and form cutters are also offered.

Forest City Tool/Textron Inc. has added 72 new bits to its line of solid carbide router bits. They are designed for high-speed feed rates, longer wear and faster, more accurate cutting performance in abrasive/hard materials, composites and plastics, the company says. Included are: single and double edge down cut, single and double edge up cut, single and double edge straight flute and three-wing serrated hogging bits.

Saw blades

The Superfine Dado from SystiMatic Co. produces smooth and perfectly square dado channels without chipping, the company says. It has 42-tooth outer blades and round six-wing chippers which offer vibration-free dado that goes through the material like a hot knife through butter, the company says.

DML Inc.'s Golden Eagle saw blades are tipped with Dyanite carbide and last two to five times longer than other carbide blades, according to the company. More than 50 varieties are available for applications such as cutting melamine and solid surfacing material, scoring and trimming.

STS Inc. new Super ThinSaws division manufactures and distributes a variety of very thin saw blades, according to the company. The company adds that achievable thinness depends on stock thickness, species, grade, moisture content, desired production rate and other variables.

Sterling saber saw blades from Diamond Saw Works are designed for cuts that require a very smooth finish on prefinished paneling, countertops, Formica, Plexiglas and other materials not exceeding 3/8 in. thickness. The company says the M-2 HSS blades will not cause burns or chips on either side of the workpiece. Blades are hollow ground and available in 1/4-in. shank designs.

Carbide-tipped saw blades from Bimex Inc. are available in all sizes from stock. The blades make use of specially milled steel for strength, and they cut clean, the company says. They can be used with table, panel and radial arm saws.

Bandsaw blades from Suffolk Machinery Corp. are made of Swedish silicon steel. Blade sizes range from 1/16 in. to 1 1/4 in. The company says it ships within 24 hours of receipt of an order, and says it guarantees its welds.

Demp's Saw & Tool Co. manufactures a complete line of carbide- tipped saw blades for a variety of uses.

General Saw Corp. offers blades for horizontal panel machines. The company says its carbide tips are pressed from the latest technology sub-micron carbide powders. Main blades are tensioned according to the maximum stacked thicknesses actually being cut.

Duraline HiA/T saw blades from Forrest Manufacturing Co. Inc. are designed for sawing low pressure laminates and ply veneers. The new tooth design stops bottom chipping, so fast feed improves blade life, the company says.

Saw blades from Everlast Saw and Carbide Tools Inc. include a complete line of industrial grade saws and the TC2 Contractor Series of tungsten carbide-tipped saws.

Danit, a Sandvik Co., offers a number of corrosion-resistant carbide grades including: DC03P PL knives/saw tips, DC05P saw tips and DC05 saw tips.

Norfield Tools & Supplies offers the XL4000 Series of extended-life, industrial saw blades for high-volume woodworking applications. A special saw blade for melamine comes in diameters of 8-, 10-, 12- and 14-in. and 220mm, with 42- to 100-tooth styles available.

Boring bits

Continental Counterbore offers an improved version of its counterbore tooling for the Evans, Ritter and unique face frame boring machines. It is manufactured from a specially made steel, precision finished tipped with carbide to withstand impact and abrasive conditions, the company says.

High-speed steel countersinks and deburring tools from The Weldon Tool Co. shear through wood providing chatterless operation when cutting wood, aluminum, vinyl and ferrous metals.

Miscellaneous tooling

Desert Cutting Tools Inc. distributes American and European tooling for all manufacturing applications. The company says it is supported by a fully-computerized service center.

Leuco Tool Corp. offers immediate shipment on its entire range of popular diamond tooling. Included are: diamond panel saw blades, hogging units, jointing cutterheads and router bits.

Consistent precision and hardness are qualities of Fisch tools available from Johann Eberhard GmbH, according to the company.

Tear-out free tooling from Herco is designed to improve the quality and increase productivity on top and bottom cross-grain raised panel cuts, the company says. It is compatible with practically any pattern, the company says.

Lemmon & Snoap Co. offers carbide- and Tantung-tipped tools and accessories including: moulder heads, shapers, groovers, dado heads, tenon heads, saw blades, milled-to-pattern knives and specially formed router bits.

Macoser Inc. manufactures and distributes tooling for wood turning, carving, embossing and drilling.

PHOTO : Leuco Tool Corp. offers a variety of diamond tipped tooling including this saw blade.

PHOTO : Fingerjoint cutters from Wisconsin Knife Works are OPTI-coated for durability.

PHOTO : These carbide-tipped shaper cutters from Delta were designed with a computer.

PHOTO : Insert cutterheads from Onsrud Cutter have a constant outer diameter from edge to edge.

PHOTO : These L.R.H. shaper cutters were designed for 1/2-in. to 3/4-in. spindle machines.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Vance Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Adams, Larry
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Date:Jun 1, 1991
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