First Cut's pallet blade: ‘nailing’ the cut with speed and productivity for agricultural and many other sectors
05 December 2016

Pallets are widely used in agricultural environments, and it is inevitable that a fair number of these end up being damaged inadvertently. As pallets are typically not high-value items, repairs need to be done as quickly as possible by sawing off any damaged wood strips and replacing them.

To do this, a hand-held reciprocating saw is ideal. However, the saw blade needs to be able to cut through both wood and nails without having the blade clog up or the teeth blunted. To do this, First Cut, a leading South African manufacturer and distributor of cutting consumables to the local market for 60 years, designed a blade with a varied pitch tooth configuration, which clears both wood swarf and metal particles from the cut efficiently.

As the blade is used in a reciprocating hand-held power saw, it has been designed to be fairly rigid. To do this, First Cut developed a bi-metal blade, where the 'body' of the blade is of a softer material than the cutting edge, which is made of a hardened, high-speed steel (HSS), suited for high-speed cutting. The two types of steel are laser-welded together by the Swiss raw material supplier to form the blade blank.

"It was a question of finding the right combination of metals for use in the bi-metal, without it being prohibitively expensive," says Ian McCrystal, CEO of First Cut.

Considering that the quality of the cut is not a major consideration, and that there is every likelihood that rough handling will break the blade long before it goes blunt, the quality of the blade has to be a sensible compromise, he explains.

However, as the blades work in a harsh and demanding environment, the pallet blades have been designed with rugged longevity in mind.

"In developing a blade such as this, we started with a prototype, and working with feedback from the customer, developed a blade that was fit-for-purpose. For example, if the customer told us that the blades were going blunt too quickly, then we would work on improving the hardness of the teeth," he adds.

A key part of First Cut's philosophy is never to turn away from a challenge. "It is our ingrained 'can do' attitude that sees us developing solutions such as these," says McCrystal. All the company's products are scrutinised regularly to see if further improvements can be made to them. In the case of this blade - which is manufactured in First Cut's Cape Town blade manufacturing facility - a number of improvements have been made over the years to the original design.

Agriculture uses many varied types of First Cut blades. For example, every farmer has a hacksaw and conventional wood saw at least. Meat farmers and processors use a number of purpose-manufactured blades for their specialised applications. And then, for those farming timber, First Cut produces a range of specialised blades for cutting logs into planks.

In addition, First Cut’s capital equipment is used by manufacturers of agricultural equipment, for any number of applications from manufacturing a plough to constructing an irrigation system. "A farm of any size will have a tool room where equipment is repaired. Here First Cut can supply tools from measuring equipment to band saws," McCrystal continues.

"For anyone in farming who has questions concerning cutting equipment or techniques, at First Cut we are always pleased to be able to offer consultancy or advice," he concludes.