Tool: Centurion Tools solid carbide V groove bits
Tool Rating: 10
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One of the many lessons I have learned in my woodworking career is that concrete and carbide don't mix. So when I was doing a bit change when making a sign, and my only 60 degree V-groove bit rolled slowly to the edge of the table and dropped off of the edge, I knew I was in trouble. Sure enough, the bit was 1/8" shorter than when it started...
I needed to finish this project, and I didn't relish the thought of driving an hour up to woodcraft, or wait 2 days for Amazon. I remembered reading on another forum about a company in Virginia that makes carbide cutters, and they were just over the county line. I scoped out their web site https://www.centuriontools.com/
and found they were just over the county line to the south of me.
I gave them a call, and they invited me to come down the next morning. They usually do specialty work for major companies, but will run small batches of cutters during the slow times. They work in a small shop off of the beaten path, and have slightly odd hours so that they get most of their time in before the heat of the humid Virginia summers makes it unbearable.
I almost missed their place when I drove by, it doesn't look like a router bit manufacturing plant from the outside. They invited me in, and showed me the 5 or 6 CNC mills that are cranking out the bits, the coolant systems, and the other associated hardware. We talked about where the raw materials come from, and who their main customers are. All of their products are sourced in the USA. Their goal is to make a quality product that is affordable, and I think they are on the right path.
We went into the back room and I picked up some bits, they averaged about $26 a piece. I ran a few cuts with them and they do a great job. The edge grind profile is a little different than my last bits, but they worked pretty much like the others as far as feed speeds.
They will sell you 1 bit or 1,000, with shipping about $10 for any order up to 6 bits, and free shipping for orders over 6 bits. If you plan on showing up in person, call ahead. They may not have all bits in stock at any time (since the hobby woodworker trade is not their main business) but they can usually find the time to grind it in a day or 2.
I really enjoyed the visit, meeting the machinists, and seeing where my bits came from, and appreciated the time they spent talking to me. I am very happy with the bits, they saw a lot of carving in poplar, and did a good job without a lot of fuzzing in the 99% humidity we've been having. I will definitely be buying more bits from them in the future, probably after dropping another one. If you are in need of V groove bits, you might want to give them a try.