Many people are of the opinion that when your router bits get dull, you need to get a new one. This is the tradition that many people use for replacing their router bits. For them, there is no need for much maintenance, a good old replacement solves the issue.
Eventually, you will realize you can’t always solve the issue of dull bits by replacing. You will have to learn how to sharpen your router bits at the end of the day. The good news is sharpening router bits is quite easy.
There are some who prefer to send their tools to sharpening services, whose job is to specifically to get the router bits sharp again. These services have equipment that is primarily dedicated to this end, which makes them a good fit for the job at hand.
However, sending out your router bits to a sharpening service may not be exactly cost-effective. The reason is sharpening costs on an average of about half the cost of a new one. There are local shops that even charge more than the cost of a new one to grind and sharpen router bits. This is why it is important for you to know how to sharpen your router bits – and thankfully, it is not even hard to do.
How to Sharpen Router Bits
Whatever the type of router you own, the trim router or plunge router or the palm router, you should have a router bit sharpener like the drill bit sharpener.
Here are the things you need to sharpen your bits and get it back to the optimum and effective working state;
- Diamond paddles or diamond needle files (Note that diamond needle files are used for router bits that are very small.)
- Good source of light
- Comfortable seating position
As you can see, all of these things are quite easy to get, especially the last two.
This is the chief equipment you need to sharpen your router bits. It does primarily all the work that you need to do. It comes in various options so that you can have one that specifically suits your needs.
They are great for reshaping the edges of several cutting and drilling tools, router bits included. They are perfect for restoring the sharp edges of cutting and drilling tools, giving you a homemade option to get your tools back to their best working self.
The small size and lightweight feature of the diamond paddles make them quite handy and easy-to-use. This is because, for a job like this, you want something that you can easily handle while going back and forth. You don’t want something that is too heavy or something that would require having huge upper body strength.
For example, bigger stones that would have been ideal to use for this purpose become very difficult to handle. Sometimes, they don’t even fit into the edges of cutting tools. The small size and lightweight of diamond paddles have eliminated these problems, giving users a high degree of ease-of-use.
The diamond-coated surface of the tool is a ¾” x 2” fitted into a 6” plastic paddle. Here are some of the options available to you when choosing diamond paddles;
- Coarse – 250 grit
- Medium – 400 grit
- Fine – 600 grit
- Super-fine – 1200 grit
- Extra Coarse – 150 grit
- Set of 4 – 1200 grit
- Set of 5
The grit of the diamond paddle determines the type of material that it will be used to sharpen. For example, a fine – 600 grit diamond paddle is not good enough or recommended for sharpening carbide-tipped router bits. The coarse abrasive part of the tool can break the brittle carbide edges of the router bits. The result is that your router bit becomes worse than you started.
Good Source of Light
The point here is that you need to work in an area with a good amount of light. The edges of router bits are quite delicate and you don’t want to ruin the profile of the router bits due to your efforts in trying to make them sharp again. Therefore, make sure that there is a good source of natural light wherever you choose to work, and if it is not enough, add more artificial light. It is not advisable or recommendable to work at night.
Comfortable Seating Position
By now, you already know that sharpening router bits are easy to do but it requires a lot of carefulness. It is a delicate act of maintenance. You need to do it in such a way that it makes the edges sharp and not worse than before. Therefore, you need to seat in a comfortable area that gives you all the room and convenience to do the work properly.
Sit on a firm chair in a wide area with access to natural light – this makes for the best and most comfortable seating position for the job at hand.
These three things make for everything you need to sharpen your router bits. Diamond paddles are quite cheap and the other two things are basically free and available at your disposal.
How to Make Use of the Diamond Paddles
The first thing to know is that you are working on the flat radial face of each flute. You don’t require any fancy finger work when you are doing this (this can even change the profile of the router bits).
Also, sharpen the router bits uniformly; if you give one flute five to seven strokes, give the next flute the same number of flutes as the first one. Don’t try to work on one flute until it becomes sharp before going to the next – this will leave the edges uneven.
Pay attention to every single detail; take a good look at each flute as you work to locate any area that you might have missed or added too much pressure on.
Use the diamond paddles with water; this makes them easy to clean and less likely to clog. You can also use the diamond paddles dry but it is not as effective as using when wet.
Clean your router bits regularly. You will realize that often times, dirty router bits make for dull tools. When you clean them, they become sharp once again. Also, ensure that all ball-bearing pilots are removed before you commence cleaning. Don’t oil your router bits; this removes the friction that is supposed to hold them together.
When sharpening your router bits, place the diamond paddle on the flat face of the flute, then hold it lightly so you can properly feel that it is staying flat.
I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.