How to Sharpen and Maintain your Router Bits

How to Sharpen and Maintain your Router Bits

Is your cutter giving a rough finish instead of a smooth one? Or it has become difficult to move it through materials?

These are some frequent things observed by people over time of using routers and router bits. Router bits, just like any other tools get dull with continuous usage. Even those tipped with carbide dulls faster when exposed to plywood and solid wood. Therefore, proper sharpening of these tools is very important because a sharpened tool do makes a difference. The sharp bits ease through the wood.

A lot of people ask this question that how they can identify that their router needs sharpening? If a router cutter is displaying any of the characteristics like difficulty in using, rough finish, blunt or chipped and declining cutting performance, then your tool needs honing or sharpening. Now, once you have identified that your router bits need sharpening, next step is to identify the methods or tools that can sharpen them.

Tools Required to Sharpen Dull-router Bits

Every time going out and buying a new one just doesn’t make sense. Proper Sharpening not only prolongs your router bits’ life but also improve its performance. Keep them clean and well lubricated. Make sure that you sharpen only the larger, inside, flat edges and not the outer face of the cutting edge.

Following tools or methods can be used to sharpen your dull-router bits:

  1. The easiest thing is to get them sharpened by the sharpening services that have the equipment. It does cost you more than doing it yourself, but it’s way better and usually costs about half than buying a brand new one.
  2. You can do it yourself with hand-held diamond stone or diamond hones or saw blades and freshen the edges. But this process is quite slow and time-consuming. Just make sure you use equal number of strokes on each edge to balance the bit. To ease it a bit, you can always use suitable lapping fluid to help with sharpening.
  3. Go for a coarse grit stone. It is very important to choose the correct coarseness of stone. Just remember the rule that higher the number, lower coarse the grit is. So don’t go for anything less than a 300 grit stone, specially for blunted cutters.
  4. You can use diamond wheel to sharpen carbide saw blades. This method is quite simple and seems to work great.
  5. To clean the pitch off, use a brass brush and not a steel one as it is quite harsh and can damage the cutters.

Sharpening Techniques

Maintenance requires tools, and so does sharpening. Having tools is one part, and knowledge to operate them is other. So, its very important to possess the knowledge of working with sharpening tools.

  1. Firstly arrange all your router bits, saws, stones or blades on the table. Start with a thorough cleaning.
  2. For safety measures, tighten the router part that needs to be sharpened with the help of clamps.
  3. Hold the stone in one hand and the router cutter in the other.
  4. Apply a very little downward pressure and move the router cutter back and forth across the face of the stone,
  5. Keep your hand rigid and don’t change the angle.
  6. Make the required (5-8) strokes on one cutting edge to sharpen it and then subsequently turn the cutter over the other side.
  7. Make sure to make equal amount of strokes on each side, otherwise the cutter will be out of balance.
  8. Once you have sharpened it, hold it under natural light to check for any imperfections. You can easily make out, whether its sharp or not. In case not, repeat the process and sharpen it from places where it is required.

Almost all kinds to bits can be sharpened with the same technique. However, as far as sharpening of rounded router bits is concerned, these are the most difficult ones to deal with. To sharpen them, you need to focus, be very precise with every stroke and hit every angle. Instead of going straight, sharpen it in a circular motion and keep your angle steady.

Maintenance of Router Bits

Now, that we have talked about sharpening, let’s discuss about maintaining the router bits. Like any other tool, they require routine maintenance to function effectively. Clean them properly to avoid any problems caused by dust. Pitch and resin is bound to build up with continuous usage of router bits. The problem arises when this pitch keeps on building up. It increases the temperature on the cutting edge and ultimately affect the sharpness of the carbide edge.

It is worth investing in some storage box for your bits. Keeping them loose can damage the edges. Maintaining your router and router bit takes time, effort and money. Don’t hesitate to invest in all of them as this investment is bound to pay off in the long term.

For better understanding, watch this video

Conclusion

Bits can go quite a while without needing sharpening. Don’t sharpen it after every use. If you are doing it yourself, be very careful otherwise you’ll just ruin the bit. As far as sharpening of spiral router bits is concerned, send those straight to the sharpening shop, don’t attempt to do it yourself. So, whenever you notice dull router bits, sharpen them in no time with these effective techniques

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