Cutting tools are the workhorses of most every metal fab, restoration, or DIY shop. whether you cut wood or metal your cutting tools tend to get abused and you can greatly decrease the life of the tool or the cutting surface on the tools. We put together Our top tips below of ways to extend the life of your cutting tools on metal.
Don’t Over Heat Your Cutting Tool
Overheating the cutting surface of tool can very quickly damage or dull the tool so it won’t cut as well or possibly at all. For instance on a drill bit the cutting surface is mainly on the tip of the bit and when you push too hard, run the bit at an incorrect speed, or don’t use lubrication you may overheat the tip and dull the blade in a matter of seconds. If your bit is blued, smoking or squealing it’s dull and needs to be resharpened or replaced. On reciprocating cutting tools like a sheet metal shear the chance of overheating the blades is unlikely but it can happen if you’re forcing the tool itself. A cutting wheel like used on a 4.5″ Angle Grinder can become dangerous if overheated and forced. We’ve seen them fail internally or the cutting wheel heat up and explode. We always suggest to take your time and watch the cutting surface, if it isn’t cutting correctly you may need to change your cutting method, style, or bit. If you can take anything away from this tech tip make it: Never force a cutting tool!
Testing the boundaries is in our nature and we always want to try and take something to the limit. While some tools do come underrated we don’t suggest trying to cut something that is beyond the tools ratings. You may get a few cuts in but you will severely decrease the life of your cutting tool and could void the warranty. If your tool has a shearing or nibbling cutting style you may break, fracture, or chip the jaws by trying to exceed the limits and this can get costly depending on the tool.
Clean The Work Surface
Cutting tools don’t like to cut through debris or rough edges. We suggest making a practice to deburr or clean the metal you’re about to cut. Attempting to cut through hardware, MIG welds, or rivets, or cutting slag may decrease the cutting consumables or tools life as well. Abrasive cutting tools can handle cutting through those types of debris but it could make you go through cutting or grinding wheels much more quickly.
Lubricate the Cutting Surface
Anytime you’re cutting, punching, drilling, or abrading metal using a lubrication will help extend the life of the cutting consumables as well as speed up the cutting process. A sure fire way to dull a sharp cutting surface is to run it regularly dry as it will dull the edges and require resharpening or replacement. A good cutting fluid or Penetrating Oil on a cutting surface will help you make cleaner cuts and increase blade life.
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