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Carbide Bits vs. Steel: Shopping for Quality

Last month I bought a new (used) car. When searching for the right car, of course I did some basic research.

First, I went to a few different mechanics with a list of models and asked them which ones they saw the least. Second, while driving around took notice of which older cars I saw on the road most often. But wait…what does this have anything to do with woodworking and why is this on a woodworking blog page?

Just like any new purchase, it’s important to do your research when buying new tools and accessories. Asking other woodworkers their experiences with their tools and reading reviews (just be aware that some are actually for promotion purposes) are important. Look at how the tools hold up. Go visit an established workshop whose purchases have been made years ago.

If you can get the chance, see how others store their tools because that is where they will be for most of their life. When taking care of one’s tools, storage is most important. Tools should be stored away from the elements, whether it is dust and moisture, so when they are taken out for use, they are in top shape. Though, as we all know, moisture will end up just about anywhere and through time can damage our drill and router bits… if they are made of steel.

But there’s another option available that gives your tools a much longer life span: Carbide bits; a material that is not only much harder than steel, withstands much higher temperatures, and last, does not rust. Certainly carbide is a much superior material for bits.

Therefore, when you look around other shops and ask which is best, you will come to the same conclusion as I have about the car I had just purchased. The models which are still seen on the roads after so many years and the models which are standing up to hard use is a great direction to go into if you don’t like going back and forth to the store for replacements.

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