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One step ahead

Tooling suppliers are a busy lot, introducing new bits, blades, knives and cutters on a regular basis
Router bits are coated to reduce friction and increase the wear resistance. 

Router bits are coated to reduce friction and increase the wear resistance. 

Let’s start with the new Spektra solid carbide compression bit, especially useful for milling Baltic birch or a panel with two face veneers, from Amana Tool ( It was designed for CNC applications and features a nanocomposite (nACo) coating that adds hardness and heat resistance. The coating is a micro-thin ceramic that lets the tool’s cutting edge stay sharp and lubed, which prevents high heat and oxidation that are detrimental to cutting tool performance.

Woodworkers have been noticing purple-colored, Super-Duty router bits in the Grizzly Industrial catalog ( and wondering what it signifies. A good example is the C1392Z, a carbide-tipped reversible Roman ogee stile and rail combination bit for five-piece door construction. Custom made for Grizzly in an ISO 9001-rated factory, the bit has SAE4140 steel for the body, which is heat treated for hardness. The manufacturer applies K10 micro grain carbide and precision grinds the cutting surfaces to 800-grit using a wet grinding process. When it’s razor sharp, the wings are finished with a baked-on metallic paint, according to the company.

Vortex Tool Co. in Schofield, Wisc. ( has introduced the 1365XP, a 1/2” diameter spiral down-cut finishing bit with a full 2-1/8”-long cutting edge. The XP stands for Extreme Performance, and these tools have been specifically designed for difficult-to-cut materials where tool life is a problem. Vortex manufactures a full range of custom cutting tools, distributes major cutting tool brands, and provides both re-tipping and sharpening.

Several established companies offer quality saw blades for specific tasks. 

Several established companies offer quality saw blades for specific tasks. 

Another company known for its sharpening skills, Connecticut Saw & Tool (, also provides cutting tools to a wide range of diverse companies and industries. CT Saw offers sales, technical service and tool sharpening throughout New England and across the country. The shop sharpens all types of steel, carbide, and diamond-tipped tooling for wood and plastic manufacturing. In addition to a large catalog of bits and blades, CT Saw can create custom tooling in-house, including molder knives, shaper heads, diamond router bits and brazed carbide tools for all types of machinery.

Freud America ( produces its own micro-grain carbide. Called TiCo, it’s a high-density combination of titanium and cobalt, and it allows the factory to formulate tools for specific applications. Freud makes saw blades, shaper cutters, and other bits and blades, including the relatively new Black I.C.E. solid carbide router bits. I.C.E. stands for industrial cooling element, and the bits have a coating that the company says will “deliver double the cutting life, flawless finishes and increased productivity.” The new bits combine TiCo and Black I.C.E to offer a sharper edge with precise cuts. Optimized for fast feed rates and high heat applications, the coating shields the solid carbide cutting edge by creating a slick, lubricant-like action for reducing friction, heat and pitch build-up. A multi-axis grind also reduces burning and the advanced open-flute geometry increases the overall working life by allowing more sharpenings. The bits are designed for nesting and pod and rail production in HPL, melamine, paper laminate and other abrasive materials that are laminated on wood composites, MDF, particleboard, hardwood, softwood and plywood materials. Plus, the combination of up and down shear flutes eliminates chipping on both sides of double-sided veneers or laminated materials, according to the company.

Freud’s Black I.C.E. bits offer a sharper edge for precise cuts, according to the company. 

Freud’s Black I.C.E. bits offer a sharper edge for precise cuts, according to the company. 

Custom cutters and inserts

About 35 percent of the tooling supplied by Charles G.G. Schmidt & Co. ( is custom made, and that includes wing cutters, shaper knives and corrugated back knives. This spring, the New Jersey company acquired Esta-USA and Dispoz-a-Blade, which provide industrial manufacturers and serious hobbyists with planer blades and jointer knives that anyone can change instantly and easily. The Schmidt catalog also includes S-Alloy, carbide-tipped and solid steel tools to work on any type of wood.

New offerings from Forrest Mfg. ( include a 10” ChopMaster blade for crosscutting, featuring 90 teeth in a 30-degree ATB-R design (two alternating top bevel teeth followed by a flat raker). Forrest has also introduced a new 8” thin-kerf, three-piece dado set, designed for cutting clean 3/16” to 1/4” grooves in cabinet stock for parts such as backs and drawer bottoms. And for Festool saw owners, Forrest has added a 160mm version of its Woodworker I saw blade, which has 50 teeth.

The Multi-Pro family of insert tools from Vexor Custom Woodworking Tools ( offers woodshops the ability to add additional profiles at a fraction of the cost of dedicated insert tooling. The Multi-Pro is a multiple profile tooling system designed for use on a variety of machines. Tools are available with 1-1/4”, 1-1/2”, 1-13/16”, and 40mm bores.

The online catalog for the Wood Tooling Shop in Wilmington, N.C. ( includes 11 carbide-tipped saw blades, 84 assorted drill bits, 28 solid carbide router bits, and 66 PCD diamond router bits for CNC routers, 60 of which are designated for drilling. The company also carries diamond-tipped sawblades, a few fiber-cement blades and some IMS toolholders. Among the CNC router bits are half a dozen compression bits intended for nesting operations. The solid carbide router bits include compression, down spiral, mortise compression, and up spiral bits.

Profiles in steel

Hickory Saw & Tool ( in Hickory, N.C. offers everything from bits, blades and boring heads to custom tools. The engineers at Hickory can design tools using CAD files or hand-drawn prints. They can also reverse engineer existing tools or inserts using a calibrated optical comparator. Insert tools are available for raised panels, stile and rail, back panels, outside edges, flooring, base and crown moldings, finger-joints, lock miters, and stair parts, including handrail. There are several innovative bits in the catalog, including the 40-50 which is designed to cut a groove with rounded edges, or the 30-300 PM-HSS which is a honeycomb hogger with geometry that is ground into the same steel as the shank.

Williams & Hussey ( has been manufacturing molders and profile knives for over 60 years. Custom profile knives are a specialty, and those start with a sketch, a drawing or a sample of the profile. The company can make knives for anything from simple casings to more creative solutions that may be needed for deep cut profiles. A woodworker can download a template on the website and draw a custom knife to size, then email or upload it to start the process.

The primary product line at Original Saw Co. ( is industrial radial arm saws and the factory also builds crosscut and beam saws. Established in 1990, it purchased Williams & Hussey in 2020 and moved it to Iowa. In addition to the molder knives, Original Saw makes a range of crosscut and general-purpose circular blades for larger saws. They come in diameters from 12” through 14”, 16”, 20” and 22-1/2”.

Specialty bits and blades

Peak Toolworks ( is North America’s largest manufacturer of engineered diamond and carbide cutting tools, and it is also a major resource for sharpening. Here a woodshop will find anything from massive saw blades over six feet in diameter to micro-sized carbide shank tools. Some of the brands in the Peak family include NAP Gladu, Riverside and RKO Saw.

Carbide Processors ( has a large online store that includes many major brands, including its own. The company makes a line of circular saw blades, along with insert knives, drill bits, band saw blades and grinding wheels.

Carter Products Co. (, which is known for a hefty catalog of devices to upgrade the accuracy and usability of band saws, has launched its own Accuright brand of band saw blades. They’re made with a hard, carbon-based steel, and the teeth are milled to within 3/1000”, about twice as accurate as the industry average, according to the company.

The Micro-Kerf, from Total Saw Solutions (, produces a kerf width of 0.061” and 0.070” for its 10” and 12” saw blades, respectively. But there’s no hint of wobble thanks to two highly accurate stabilizers attached to the plate.

DeWalt ( says its new 10” and 12” circular saw blades deliver up to three times the life of its standard blades.

Makita ( has three new blades in its Max Efficiency line of 7-1/2” saw blades, engineered for more efficient cutting when used with a cordless miter saw, according to the company.

Active Tooling in Michigan ( caters to shops of all sizes and provides both sharpening and custom tooling. Also available is Active Advantage Coating for its solid carbide spiral tools, which is designed for longer tool life, longer run cycles and less profile change over time, according to the company.

The catalog at Freeborn Tool Co. ( in Spokane, Wash. includes brazed shaper cutters, insert cutters, spiral surfacing cutters, router bits, custom tooling, and options for CNC tooling.

GDP Industrial Tooling ( is another great resource for industrial quality knives, bits and blades. GDP supplies circular saw blades, insert router tooling, solid carbide spirals, diamond tooling, CNC blades and groovers, drill and boring bits, and planer/molder knives. The Georgia-based company also does PCD (diamond) sharpening.

CutterShare ( is an interesting concept. This is a business located in Blaine, Wash. with a facility in Vancouver, B.C. that lets a woodworker use the best quality shaper cutters available, and then send them back when the job is done.

More sources

Here’s a short list of other resources worth exploring when looking for bits, blades, knives, cutters and sharpening services.

ASAP Tool (; Belsaw Co. (; Comsurge Tooling (; DIMAR USA (; Eagle America (; ILMA-US (; Infinity Cutting Tools (; Leitz Tooling Systems (; Leuco Tool Corp. (; (; Oshlun (; PME Distributors (; Pro Cut Saw & Tool (; Redline Tools (; U.S. Router Tools (; W. Moore Profiles (; Weinig (; Wood-Mizer (, and York Saw & Knife (  

This article was originally published in the December 2022 issue.

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