A brief look at what woodworkers want from their bits and tool holders.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article dovetails with the feature on bit and tool holder usage which appeared in the March issue of Wood Products. It can also be found online at WoodworkingNetwork.com/RedBook.

As wood products manufacturing continues to evolve, so too must the tooling and machinery. A number of industry experts noted changes being made to improve the tooling in order to meet today’s needs for increased feed and speed.

“In today’s competitive marketplace we are often tasked with increasing a customer’s machine performance. This will usually be accomplished by addressing a combination of issues, including but not limited to: part hold down, tool holding, tool selection and process development,” said Mike Serwa, vice president at Vortex Tool Co.

Garry Davies, president of Surrey Precision Tools, agreed. “Machine makers and wood product manufacturers are continuously increasing speeds and feeds, requiring tools with far better balance,” he said.

Increasing productivity includes looking at tool selection, tool holding and process development.

“End products also are being designed with tighter and tighter dimensional tolerance and higher demands on cut quality,” Davies added.

Productivity also can be enhanced by using tooling, which accomplishes multiple activities in once pass, such as sizing and chamfering or grooving, said Mark Alster, regional manager at Leitz Tooling Systems LP.

“Customers are generally interested in reducing part defects, and obtaining the very best finish quality in a single pass,” Alster said. “We frequently respond to questions about when to use conventional or climb cutting for the best finish, or how to best enter and exit a cut without creating damage on critical corners and edges. Oftentimes, existing tooling can provide significantly better results if correct machining techniques are utilized,” he added.

Ron Migedt, CEO of Riverside Tool Corp. also commented on tooling and finish needs. “We are continually being asked for the best finish possible when cutting, machining, and shaping customer’s products. Most customers are trying to eliminate or drastically reduce the amount of sanding before the finishing process. With new extreme-shear and high-precision tooling designs we are seeing customers achieve this goal,” he added.

Extreme-shear and high-precision tooling designs can help improve the finish process.

In addition to sharper cuts, customer requests for longer tool life were also cited by a number of experts, including Southeast Tool President Chuck Hicks and John Michel, Leuco director of Sales and Technical Services.

Scott Feimster, vice president Sales & Marketing at LMT Onsrud, also weighed in. “Customers expect cutting tool manufacturers to provide specific solutions to their cutting challenges and provide feed and speed settings to maximize both their productivity and ROI of their tooling investment,” he added.

Karin Deutschler, president of GUHDO USA agreed. “Longer tool life, less machine downtime for tool changes, smaller diameters to minimize material waste, or cutting tools capable of faster feed rates are some of the questions that we find solutions for daily,” she said.

Requests are also coming in regarding tooling choices for optimizing the routing of wood-based panels outside of particleboard and MDF, such as OSB, noted Andy Tucker, sales representative for NAP Gladu. In this instance, he said, “the answer would be diamond. Unfortunately carbide and abrasives in OSB are not very good friends"

Substrate & Small Run Impacts

No longer are woodworking operations cutting strictly wood or wood composites. “As the number of unique materials and designer/architect specified materials increase, more and more companies are being forced to work with unfamiliar composite panels and woods,” noted Frank Horvath, marketing manager at FS Tool Corp.

This has resulted in tooling manufacturers offering “a greater variety of profiles, geometries and custom tools,” he added.

The trend for small batch manufacturing is also having an impact, particularly with regards to setup times and tool life.

“As production runs have reduced, it is difficult for customers to fully comprehend the value of long-life tools,” Feimster said.

Bob Barone, sales manager at Benz Inc., said he is receiving requests for “very dedicated CNC aggregate tool holders designed specifically for a single task. This typically is to eliminate an operation offline from the CNC machine.”

Davies agreed, adding, “The correct design and choice of cutting tool and tool holding system are critical to meeting these new demands.

“Just as critical, is to take a holistic view of the machining process, with the manufacturer, machine builder and toolmaker working together at the start of any new product development to ensure that [the] goals can be met at the lowest cost and highest quality.”