I think it’s the nature of scratchboard artists to constantly look for new tools, even if their current set of tools works perfectly well. For example, I have done the majority of my work with #16 and #11 Xacto blades, and they have served me very well. But, tiny steel points don’t hold up forever, and eventually I have to reach for a new blade. Durability is probably the first reason a scratchboard artist would seek for a new tool that does essentially the same thing as an Xacto blade.
Several years ago a friend of mine did me a favor and made me some scratch blades out of discarded cobalt deburring blades. To try them out he let me borrow me a pin vise for a few days and I thought they were great. Not long after that came the flurry of activity in my life that involved getting married and moving across the country. The little steel blades were the last thing on my mind at the time, and lay forgotten in a storage box until last summer. When I finally looked at the bits again, I realized I didn’t need a pin vise. I could drill a 1/8″ hole in a section of dowel and insert one of the bits. They are great tools. I included a photo in a post back in August.
Of course, I wondered if might want to try grinding some of my own, and I couldn’t remember what they were and what material they were made of (later found out they were cobalt deburring blades). I thought they might be milling bits, but my searches turned up some bits that didn’t look like what I had. They actually looked much better. They were carbide steel engraving bits for CNC machines.
They look a lot like some of the fancy blades I’ve seen other scratchers use. They fit just right into the 1/8″ holes in my dowels. So, with even more excellent tools, I guess it’s time to dust off some of my works in progress and put these tools to use.