Advanced surface engineering technologies have been successfully applied to high speed steel drills and carbide single-point cutting tools, but, as yet, limited benefits have been realized when applying the same technologies to multi-point cutting tools of commercial quality. This paper discusses the factors that have limited the benefits of advanced surface engineering treatments when applied to high speed steel circular saw blades. Common manufacturing defects have been identified on the teeth of the blades. Tests which evaluate the blade performance throughout its useful life and examination by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) have shown that these defects adversely affect the performance and wear resistance of surface engineered blades. Further investigations suggest that significant improvements in coating integrity can be achieved through the careful preparation of the substrate surface and refinement of the cutting edge geometry prior to treatment. For this application, the need for refinement and enhancement of current manufacturing practices is demonstrated if the full benefits of advanced surface engineering are to be realized.