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November 16, 2009

Highland's Mail-In Saw Sharpening Service

Have you tried the new Sharpening Service that Highland Woodworking now offers? Maybe you didn't know there was such a service available, but there certainly is. I thought I would give it a try and let you know how it works.

I had one very dull twelve inch sixty tooth carbide tipped saw blade, and five each half inch carbide patternmaker router bits, the ones with the bearing on the bottom. And no, they did not know it was me giving them a test for the blog, as if that would have made a difference. It was a Wednesday afternoon when I took the whole package to my local retail shipping outlet and asked them to pack the stuff up for me and ship it to the service in New Jersey. I live in Atlanta so they checked all three shipping options and decided on UPS to get it there on the following Friday afternoon. They charged me $12.80 for the minimum five pounds plus $2.00 for the box. Both the other shipping options were within a dollar or so. (If I'd shipped it myself via Priority Mail using one of the Post Office's free Flat Rate boxes, It would've cost around $5.00 to ship.)

The finished tools came back Thursday a week later. They are all sharpened perfectly as nearly as I can tell so far. I used one of the router bits all day yesterday routing the window openings for a new house and it performed very well.

The charge for sharpening the saw was $22.00 for 60 teeth and the return shipping was $12.00. Total cost for shipping everything and sharpening the blade was $47.00. The router bits were additional cost. Was it worth it?

saw blade.jpg

The actual sharpening cost is right in line with other services I have checked. Of course I could take my blades to a local guy working out of his backyard (no offense here people) but two problems come to mind. If I pay $135 for a top of the line Forrest blade, I darn well am not going to take it to "Ralph's Pretty Good Saw Shop" and take a chance on getting it completely messed up. Plus if a tooth needs to be replaced, I don't think I want Ralph doing it for me. One definition of a bullet is a carbide tip coming off a table saw blade.

The shipping is what adds to the cost. There happen to be two professional sharpening firms within about forty minutes of my house. If I deliver my blades to one of them, it will cost me four one way trips plus the time. On the other hand, my time is pretty cheap these days.

I conclude that even in an urban area with professional shops fairly close, if I need high end blades sharpened, I will accumulate as many as I can and ship them all together to save on shipping costs. (And if you send them at least five carbide sawblades to sharpen at one time, the return shipping is free.) I think the service is well worth it under that circumstance. On the other hand, if all I have is one $35 blade, then I'll probably let Ralph do it.


More about Highland's Mail-In Sharpening Service

November 2, 2009

Just the Spax, Ma'am

I love Spax screws. I bet I have ten different sizes and lengths of screws in my shop and I use them all the time for all sorts of things. My primary use is attaching the faceplate to a new chunk of wood to put it on my lathe. With my little impact driver I can put in six screws in about ten seconds and I am ready to turn

I went to the Spax website and checked out their history and would you believe 1823? The company started in Germany and has been in business all this time and is still very successful today. While you are there, take a look at the neat little games on their web site. There is a car racing game, a retail counter service game to see if you can sell enough screws fast enough to keep the customers happy (that's a new one on me), and a football game that is really a soccer game — they are German, remember?

The secret to the screws is in the shape of the barrel of the screw and in the shape of the threads. The bottom threads are wavy with serrations which act like a miniature drill to cut right through most materials. The net result is effortless work without having to drill pilot holes first unless you are running them into masonry. That's right, the same screws work for mounting things to a masonry wall. And oh yes, the same screws work on sheet metal up to 24 gauge without pre-drilling. Are you getting the idea here? THESE THINGS JUST WORK.

Of course Highland has all the Spax screws you could want. Go try out an assortment to begin and then find the ones you really need on a regular basis.