Questions and answers from the Saw Shop: tool steel temper, pitted saw blades, and more!


Vern Burke, SwiftWater Edge Tool Works

Skowhegan, ME

Wow, the questions are coming fast and furious!

1. (question about chisel turning blue when sharpening)

Discoloring the steel of any tool when sharpening means that you’ve overheated the steel enough to impact the temper of it. Discolored (usually blue) or “burned” spots are likely to be soft, not take and/or hold a good edge, and be easy to damage in use.

So, how does “burning” steel tools happen? The usual culprit is high speed grinders. Grinders can be used to sharpen most straight edged tools but they require a light touch and good judgement, it’s very easy to fatally mess up a tool on a grinder. Get too aggressive with the blade on too coarse a wheel at too high speed and you’ll burn every time.

2. (question about smoothing a pitted saw blade)

The bottom line is, don’t. Attempting to remove enough metal to smooth a pitted saw blade will accomplish nothing but weakening the blade. If the pitting is light (less than 25% of the blade plate thickness), leave it and live with it. If the pitting is heavy, scrap the blade.

3. (question about how many teeth can be missing from a 24T carbide saw blade before it’s unsafe).

None. As a rule, blades 40T and up can be missing one carbide without impacting the blade operation objectionably. Missing a carbide on a 24T blade not only produces lousy results from the blade, it greatly increases the chance of kickback.

Visit me at any of the following locations:

B&G Treasures, 11 Depot St, Norridgewock, ME (Mondays)

Tractor Supply, Skowhegan, ME (Tuesday)

Somerset Woods turnout, Canaan Rd (Rt 2), Skowhegan,ME (Wednesday)

Arundel Flea Market, Rt 1 & Log Cabin Rd, Arundel, ME (Fridays)

Fryeburg Flea Market (Fryeburg Fairgrounds), Fryeburg, ME
(Sundays, Memorial Day thru end of September)

298 W Front St, Skowhegan, ME (all other days)

If you’re looking for a special tool, please drop me an
email and let me know and I’ll restore one just for you!

SwiftWater Edge Tool Works provides mobile sharpening services across Maine and mail in services around the world for handsaws, carbide blades, planer knives, hand planes, chain saws, knives, scissors, hair clippers, router bits, and almost any blade!

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