End mill sets are a very necessary staple of every toolbox, whether it belongs to the local handyman or a professional contractor. A Carbide End Mill Set will have an enviable service life above and beyond most of the tools available in a big-box hardware store, likely outlasting the career of its user. However, its existence at the upper echelon of available materials means that care must be taken in selecting them.
Anyone looking for a carbide end mill set is likely already aware of the advantages they will receive for their choice of material: one of the hardest tools on the planet, suitable for milling and drilling above and beyond most common needs. However, this carries with it a uniquely unfortunate challenge, which is making sure that the tools being inspected are actually carbide.
Some marketing would have you believe a great many things are carbide, including tools made of hardened steel. While these have their use, a proper set of carbide tools will be made of tungsten carbide or titanium carbide. This will have the desired application, whereas steel carbide, or hardened steel, may be insufficient. If an end mill set doesn’t specify, assume the cheapest materials were used.
That said, the price of a carbide end mill set can tell a lot about the quality of the materials used. Tools of this quality are an investment, rather than something you pick up on the spot to solve a problem around-the-house. The best deal will never be the cheapest. This is true of most tools, but especially true of tools made of high-end materials.
It’s extremely important to look into who you’re actually purchasing your tools from, as well. The vast majority of manufacturers do not sell carbide end mill sets directly. Rather, they market them to resellers, who proceed to take a cut and offer them to the final consumer. There are very few competing groups that sell directly, but it is best to take the time to seek them out. Not only is this likely to guarantee the most affordable price, it will simplify any future repairs, replacements, or warranty arrangements that might be necessary.
Another reason to avoid dealing with resellers when possible is to ensure that you are getting what you pay for. Simply put, for the same reason you should be careful to make sure you are receiving tools made of tungsten carbide or titanium carbide, you should make sure that the materials used are of the proper quality and authenticity. Resellers may market tools that were not produced according to current standards without realizing it; tools from a reseller that cost as much or less than tools offered directly are quite possibly not up to par, or possibly not even manufactured by the brand advertised. Resellers are vulnerable to other resellers as much as consumers are, so purchasing direct from the manufacturer is always ideal.
Lastly, it is best to purchase directly from the manufacturer because they will have the option to be more up-front about the tools they use to manufacture their tools. Tools aren’t made bare-handed, and the facilities a toolmaker has access to have a huge impact on the final product. A reseller will not necessarily know how the tools on their shelves were produced, possibly even making guesses for their copy based on research that spuriously assumes the best. A direct seller will know precisely how the tool was made. Direct sellers that are forward about how their tools were made are the ideal option for purchase, and those less open should provoke some caution.