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The History of Cutting Tools


On a daily basis, individuals use cutting tools in everyday life, whether it is knives, lawnmowers, to more industrial tools in plumbing, woodworking and metalwork. At the same time, not too many people question how these helpful and more-than-necessary tools came to life and even fewer know the history of cutting tools. In the context of metal working, a cutting tool, or tool bit, is used to remove metal from the work piece by shear deformation. Cutting tools are also made of materials harder than the substance it will cut to withstand the heat generated and have an increased tool life.


The history of cutting tools began during in the industrial revolution in 1800 A.D., but the first cutting took was cast using a crucible method in 1740. In 1868, R. Mushet discovered that adding Tungsten can increase hardness in metals and increase tool life. Tungsten is a chemical element and a steel-gray colored metal. It’s known for its robust physical properties and it has the highest melting point of all non-alloyed metals and the second highest melting point of all elements after carbon.


F.W. Taylor did the most basic research in metal cutting in Pennsylvania between 1880 and 1905. Taylor was also able to invent a high speed steel and better alloy to improve previous designs and techniques. In 1890, Tungsten carbide was first synthesized and was used in Germany. 


In 1980, the first collections of router tools were designed to slice and shear instead of chop materials. In 1981, tool design became revolutionary and tools were able to cut thick steel. In 1983, tools were first produced to cut plastic materials. In 1986, the first production tools were designed to reduce wear and hot corrosion through geometry and special carbide. In 2004, there was a major introduction of unique tools to accommodate the growing use of modern composite materials.


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