Cohesive damage of PVD-coated cemented carbide cutting tools is ascribed to the residual stress state of the substrate subsurface. The present paper shows the formation of the substrate residual stress in the process chain as well as the stability of the single process steps referred to the scattering of the residual stress values. Depth resolved residual stress measurements across coating and substrate subsurface show a layer in the substrate, where possibly tensile stress occurs, from where cohesive damage may be initialized during tool use. Results of experiments are presented, where the influence of parameter variations in pre coating processes on the residual stress state is investigated. The characteristics of compressive residual substrate stress during the final PVD-process is presented as well as a correlation between coating and substrate stress.