I recently spent time trying to solicit repair and sharpening work from local companies that use pavement breakers, percussion drills or do any stone shaping work. I make and service my own stone tools, so why not do it for others, right?
An answer I received from a couple larger potential customers was that they sent their bits back to the bit manufacturer’s sharpening division; that’s a stance I can completely respect. A problem I ran into was with one local rental shop:
When I was told that they didn’t consider breaker bits serviceable because they had a welder on staff who tried and failed, I couldn’t believe it. When I was told he looked up forge plans on the internet and made a go of it, only to find that the bits just weren’t any good afterwards, my eyes nearly rolled out of my head; that their man looked up how to make a forge suggests this was his first attempt at shaping or heat treating metal..
How do I politely say that their man probably didn’t have a clue what he was doing?
From what was said to me about the subsequent bit failures, it appears that they were ruining the heat treatment of the shanks. If you know what you’re doing it can be tricky, but if you’re not on top of things, you’re guaranteed to turn serviceable bits into scrap.
Breaker bits are tricky work. You have to re-shape and harden the tip while contending with possible stress cracks in the tips and preserving the integrity of the shank. At first, you’re dealing with an unknown steel and using a heat treating process that may be resonably precise, but is not nearly as controlled as heat treating ovens or salt baths used by the big boys. These tools aren’t forgiving and if you mess anything up, they WILL fail.
The good news is that with a little work, you can come up with a procedure that produces good, consistent results for your customer.
So, tell me again how I can convey that in a 30 second pitch WITHOUT questioning the competence of their employee?
Perhaps next week, as my wife suggests, I’ll ask for a few of their old bits to recondition; either as a complimentary service or with a no cure, no pay arangement.