I noticed several years ago a person can’t get good drill bits in the US anymore. When you buy them they’ll barely cut into aluminum, afterward they’ll cut nothing and can’t be sharpened to hold an edge capable of cutting.
Today I walked up to Gale’s to look at some spectacular rocks he’s acquired [opalized petrified wood], and this drill bit thing was on my mind because I’d just attempted to drill through some aluminum. I mentioned the Chinese steel drill bits and how we need to watch the thrift stores for US bits from a time when they’d hold an edge.
“I’m seeing the same thing in saw blades,” he mused. Damned band saw blades won’t cut with any duration.
As we discussed it the light dawned. Even Chinese screwdrivers bend instead of breaking.
“Do you suppose it’s the alloys they’re using, or the temper?” Neither seemed to me to satisfy the symptoms.
“Might be a bit of both, but it doesn’t make sense.” Gale’s done considerable tempering of steel, as I have. “Tempering just isn’t that big a deal.”
But whether it’s intended or not, whether it’s the alloy, which it probably is [There's a good possibility they're sending us something nearer IRON than carbon steel] the fact is it creates a still greater dependence. Nobody in the US is going to be able to operate any of a hundred metalworking businesses if they can’t get good tool steel bits, blades, tools.
I’ve got a pair of wire pincers out on the porch I thought about when I got back to the cabin. I’d noticed just the gripping them enough to cut woven wire bends the handles to the center. This was a more-or-less expensive pair of pliers.
If I believed in conspiracies, I’d be tempted by this. But I’m at loss why we’re not getting high quality tool steel inadvertently.
How, I wonder, would it appear differently if it were a conspiracy?