Canadian Manufacturing

Using the right metal cutter for the job

Top quality tooling keeps holes to spec while reducing fatigue

December 14, 2016  by FEIN Canadian Power Tool Company

—Sponsored article by Fein Canadian Power Tool Company

Most manufacturers rely on the quality of their products to help maintain their competitive edge. Parts are produced to consistent, repeatable specs with the aim of continuously reducing defects, waste and time.

Metal cutting is a critical part of the process, so it’s important to provide operators with the right cutting tools to do the job effectively—matching the cutter to the application while protecting the life of power tools.

“Some job shops might only work with mild steel so they would need high-speed steel cutters. Some may work with stainless steel, titanium, aluminum, or in some cases, it might even be armored plate. So you need specific cutters to cut through that material,” says Randy McDonald, National Product Manager with Fein Canadian Power Tool Company.


Bolt holes in structural steel assemblies, bridges and building components, for example, are usually cut to specific engineered sizes, with no tolerance for deviation. Without the proper attention paid to cutter selection, quality and tool life might be impacted.

“You can use a high-speed steel cutter on stainless steel but it’s not going to last very long,” says McDonald, citing an example of how cutters might be mismatched to the application. “And as the cutter becomes dull, you can also get oversized holes or holes that aren’t smooth. They can be out of round.”

When working with stainless steel, a carbide cutter is recommended, as it will drill a precise, clean hole while lasting a lot longer than a high-speed cutter used for the same job, he adds.

Some shops have to perform ‘stack drilling’ or cutting through two pieces of material that have been welded or bolted together. A standard cutter might work, but the operator would first have to drill through one layer, bring the machine back up and pull out the slug before drilling through the layer. Slugger by FEIN ID sharp cutters are designed to cut through two layers of material at the same time.

Focus on quality
When evaluating metal cutters, quality is also an important consideration, adds McDonald. Cheap cutters typically don’t last long, and the geometry is often imprecise, resulting in holes that are oblong instead of round. The cutters may not have been hardened to the standards of higher quality cutters and they may be manufactured with lower quality material.

“When you look at some of the cheap cutters available from offshore vendors, they’ll have fewer teeth than a high-quality cutter so you’re not removing the chip as effectively. You might also be generating heat and causing the magnetic drill to run longer and harder than it would with a proper cutter, and this can have an effect on the life of the tool.”

In contrast, Slugger by FEIN HSS cutters reduce the force required to cut a hole. The amperage draw from the tool is also lessened, meaning decreased fatigue on the operator as well. The cutters are made of high-quality steel, with high tip hardness, protecting against impact and shock. Heat resistant up to 600 degrees C, the Slugger line provides lower production costs and can be resharpened multiple times.

“The higher the quality of the tooling, the more life you’re going to get out of it, the better performance, and you’re going to have a better quality product at the end,” concludes McDonald.

With the right cutting tool in hand, operators are equipped to produce clean holes to spec, maintaining top quality on the shop floor, while boosting ergonomics and manufacturing productivity.

FEIN has been a world-leading power tool manufacturer for over 140 years. FEIN Canadian Power Tool Company, located in Mississauga, Ont., provides a range of high-quality power tools and accessories. Visit for more information. To view other articles on industrial power tool selection, safety and care, see the Technology Showcase.

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