VARGUS founded in 1960 is a company that is well respected in the wider tool-using world, and additionally in the specialist world of deburring tools.
VARGUS Ltd supplies customers in over 100 countries with the specialist tools needed to cut and finish metals and plastics under three well known brand names: - VARDEX thread turning and milling tools, GROOVEX turning and groove milling tools and SHAVIV hand deburring tools.
A couple of months ago we looked at some deburring tools for use on harder metals, and now it is time to examine a few versions of some ceramic bladed deburring tools mostly used on plastics and softer metals like aluminium and brass.
A quick word on the ceramic blades. The first thing users might notice is that they don’t have ground cutting edges like a conventional metal blade. The edges are finished square and are about a couple of mm thick so they don’t look as though they could cut anything. The good news is that they can cut an edge of a plastic moulding for example very easily, and the extra good news is that they won’t cut fingers because the ceramic blades are too blunt to cut skin, which can happen to operators who use metal blades to trim plastic components. I know this all seems a bit counter intuitive, but bear with me.
The ceramic blades I used were all white and looked like they were made of plastic. However, hold them to your lips and they feel cold, so they must be made of a very fine-grained ceramic material. This material has a very tiny amount of flexibility, so the blades should be protected from dropping and impact shocks.
I was sent three tools in all to test, and I will start with the Ceramix Set Q10. This is a heavy duty handle similar to a standard craft knife design that can be used with a couple of blade sets, but it came with a ceramic blade and also, a standard metal craft knife blade concealed in the handle.
The Ceramix handle is made of moulded red plastic with a spring-loaded catch that enables the two sides of the handle to be disengaged from each other. A slider switch on the top of the casing allows the blade to be slid forward or back to reveal or conceal it. The steel blade mounting inside the knife is an industry standard that will hold standard craft knife blades as well as the Ceramix blades.
The ceramic blade included with the handle can be mounted two ways so that it can be used for two different tasks. The straight angled blade end is a surface cleaner and if the blade is flipped to the other end, the two stepped edges can be used for surface cleaning of sheets up to 4mm and 6mm sheets.
Since it has been known for some workers to use a standard steel craft blade for surface cleaning with the inevitable accidents, the extra safety made possible by using a ceramic blade is a very strong selling point. Just to prove this to myself, I tried both ceramic and craft blades on a small job. The fact that the ceramic blade has a completely flat edge means that it is easier to find an angle to make the deburring work easily. However, with a characteristic ground and beveled edge of a steel blade, it is much harder to maintain a consistent angle and also to prevent the edge from digging in or sliding across the surface to be cleaned.
To convert the Q10 to the Curved set Q12 all that is needed is to buy the Q11 blade. This has a nice curve and point that enables deburring of curved edges and small ridges although the flip side of the blade has exactly the same function as the Q10 blade above.
There is no mystery in using deburring tools – you just have to find the right angle to enable the edge to be cleaned off. Removing just the right amount of material to give a clean edge to finish the component neatly does this. The Ceramix Q10 and Q11 blades work well – and despite what you might think, they are very hard and durable, so you can expect a very long service life.
The two Cera-Burr tools are slightly different from the above in that they are meant for more detailed work. You can tell this from their shape. The ceramic blades are mounted in slightly chubby ballpoint pen-like holders with a nice bit of rubber to aid the grip and handling, and even a pocket clip too.
Like the Ceramix Q10 and Q12 there are two different blades that seem to be much-reduced versions of the bigger ones above. The first of these has a fine point and a smooth curve, easily used on small and detailed components, as I found out.
The straight-bladed version works equally well and I found that the handle gave me a lot of extra reach and leverage when trying to access some out of the way places. Since the handle is rigid and the blade is fixed it seems a bit easier to find the correct angle to work at.
Because the blades have a very long service life it really doesn’t matter that the pen handle and blade are fixed to each other – it won’t cost a fortune to buy a new one when it finally wears out.
I don’t often have the occasion to use deburring tools, but when I do I always think that another tool wouldn’t do the same job as easily and efficiently as the SHAVIV deburrers I have used. With ease of use built in, a very long service life and obvious safety advantages, the ceramic blades are worth looking into. It won’t cost a fortune, and even occasional users will find that the ability to deburr quickly and easily are features that might save time and money.
Aimed at: Professional metal and plastic finishers
Pros: Safety first no-cut blades, long service life and easy to use