Router bits can lose their sharpness over time with use. A dull router bit can cause tear-out, rough edges, or burn marks in your material. Keeping your bits sharpened is key for clean, smooth cuts every time. Sharpening a router bit is easy to do yourself at home with a few basic tools.
What is a Router Bit?
A router bit is a cutting tool used in a rotary tool like a wood router. Bits come in different shapes and sizes and allow you to cut various edge profiles for joinery and decorative edges. Common types include straight, rounded, chamfer, ogee, and dovetail bits. Bits are composed of extremely hard steel and have sharp carbide cutting edges.
Why Sharp Bits are Important
A sharp router bit is extremely important for getting clean, accurate cuts in your material. A sharp cutting edge slices smoothly through wood without tearing, splintering, or leaving burn marks. Dull bits require more force and friction which results in rough edges. Keeping your bits sharp also prevents potential kickback and safety issues.
When to Sharpen a Router Bit
It’s a good idea to periodically inspect and sharpen your router bits even if they seem to be cutting fine. Small micro-fractures can develop over time that eventually lead to poor performance. Signs that it’s time to sharpen include:
- Rougher cut quality – frayed edges, tearout
- Burn or black marks on the material
- Increased cutting effort and strain on the router
- Less efficient chips and sawdust output
Anytime you notice these signs, it’s time to sharpen for a fresh, sharp edge.
Read also 5 Best Wood Routers for Beginners
How to Sharpen a Router Bit Guide
Sharpening a router bit is easy to do yourself at home with a few basic tools.
Tools and Materials Needed
Before sharpening you need following tools and materials:
- Safety goggles
- Work gloves
- Cleaning brush
- Sharpening stone (preferably diamond or ceramic)
- Lubricating oil or water
- Honing guide (optional)
- Soft cloth
Step 1: Disassemble the Router Bit
Before sharpening, you’ll need to take the router bit out of the collet nut assembly. Use a wrench to loosen the collet nut and remove the router bit.
Step 2: Cleaning the Bit
Use a cleaning brush to remove any debris or resin buildup from the router bit. This ensures a clean and smooth surface for sharpening.
Step 3: Inspecting for Damage
Carefully examine the bit for any signs of damage like chips or cracks. If you find any damage, it’s best to replace the bit instead of sharpening.
Step 4: Secure the Router Bit
Clamp the shank of the router bit securely into a vise or clamp. The cutting edges should be facing upward and accessible.
Step 5: File the Cutting Edges
Use a small fine-grit file to sharpen the cutting edges of the router bit. Gently file at an angle along each cutting edge on both sides of the bit.
Step 6: Use Sharpening Stones
Follow up the file with a set of sharpening stones to hone the cutting edges. Start with a coarse stone and move to finer grits to get a razor sharp edge.
Step 7: Remove Burrs
Use a small piece of fine grit sandpaper to remove any fine burrs along the cutting edges. Wrap sandpaper around a dowel if needed to reach narrow areas.
Step 8: Honing the Bit
After sharpening, you can use a honing guide for additional precision. Repeat the sharpening process with the guide, ensuring that the cutting edges are align properly.
Step 9: Reassemble
Once sharpened, carefully reassemble the router bit back into the collet nut. Tighten securely before use.
Step 10: Testing the Bit
Once you’ve sharpened and honed the bit, it’s best to test its sharpness. Take a scrap piece of wood and make a test cut. If the bit cuts smoothly without tearing or leaving burn marks, your sharpening job is successful.
With just a few simple tools, it’s easy to sharpen your router bits at home. Keeping bits freshly sharpened allows for smooth, accurate cuts and improved router performance. Check bits regularly for signs of dulling and sharpen as needed for quality results.
Yes, carbide router bits can be sharpen with diamond or ceramic sharpening stone.
The frequency of sharpening depends on usage. It’s recommended to sharp when you feel decline in cutting performance.
Sharpening spiral router bits requires specialized equipment and expertise. It’s advisable to seek professional help for sharpening spiral bits.
Sandpaper can be used in a pinch, but sharpening stone provides better results.
Yes, it’s essential to wear safety goggles and work gloves to protect yourself from any potential accidents.