Last Updated on May 12, 2022 | Andrew Jason
When a woodworker is working on tight deadlines, a question pops up in their mind ‘Can router bits be sharpened at home?’. Well, we are more than pleased to say, yes. Using a router to add character and depth to your woodworking projects is a reliable way to do so. A router comes in handy for any woodwork project. With the router, comes router bits. The router cannot function without the router bits and dull router bits, on the other hand, can leave noticeable burn scars on your wood panels. Leaving you to sand them away while your sunny weekend goes up in smoke. Router bits, especially ones without the carbide tips, wear out faster than you can imagine, and it can waste each penny you spent. Hence, it is critical to know how to sharpen the router bits.
The wearing of the router bit happens at a different pace for different materials. It entirely depends upon the material. Router bit sharpening is an important thing that a woodworker should do occasionally. When working with solid wood, it happens swiftly. While material such as plywood and other resin-filled sheet goods are concerned with working, it happens faster than what you can expect. The endurance of carbide router bits is renowned, but this can lead us to believe that a bit’s edge is still sharp long after it should have been refreshed. Router bits are traditionally transported to industrial sharpening centers to be reground for a new edge. That, however, is not the convenient way. Why waste your time and not learn how to sharpen the router bits?
Things You’ll Need
There is more than one way to sharpen your router bits. In the following process, you will require either of these two things:
- Diamond wheel
- Diamond hone
One of these can be used if the bits are mildly dull but to achieve the best possible result both should be used together.
Sharpening The Router Bit With A Diamond Hone File
A pair of diamond honing files is all you need to sharpen high-speed steel and carbide bits. It’s a great router bit sharpener. By sharpening carbide router bits on diamond hones, which are hard enough to abrade carbide, you can end up saving a lot of time, extend the life of the router bits, and maintain a more consistent sharp edge. When opposed to grinding, honing removes a thinner layer of carbide, allowing you to hone more frequently to retain sharpness. This process is recommended if your router bits are mildly dull.
Step 1: Removing the pilot bearing
Begin with a fine (600-grit) file and work your way up to a super-fine (1,200-grit) one. Work slowly and carefully to avoid overdoing it. Here’s how you can keep your router bits as sharp as a razor. Remove the pilot bearing first if the bit has one. If the pilot can’t be removed, make sure the files are kept away from it. A pilot can be ruined by a minor flat area. Next, remove pitch and tar, which can quickly accumulate if you rout softwoods frequently. Scrub the bit with an old toothbrush and lacquer thinner or a router bit cleaner.
Step 2: Filing the bit
Start with the fine file and work your way up. To ensure that the cutting edges are honed uniformly, count the sharpening strokes, or alternate the cutting edges every few strokes. It’s preferable to do a bit too much honing than too much. Even carbide can be sliced swiftly with a diamond file, which may surprise you. Finally, use the super-fine file. Use relatively mild pressure and an equal number of strokes on each of the bit’s flat surfaces. Replace the pilot bearing after lubricating it with light oil. Wipe the bit with oil to prevent rust from pitting polished surfaces.
Sharpening The Router Bit With A Diamond Hone And Diamond Wheel
If your router bits require deep cleaning, then we recommend this process. The diamond wheel when combined with other tools such as a diamond hone file and a router bit cleaner, is a great option. They are cost-effective and can easily get the job done. For this process, you will need a degreaser to clean the bit, a diamond hone, and a diamond wheel.
Step 1: Preparation
The very first thing you should consider is the condition of your router bits. If they are little burned and no longer cut well as they should. Then, they are still in good shape and need a little bit of sharpening. Sometimes, cleaning router bits is all that is required. Use an industrial degreaser and clean these router bits as thoroughly as you can. You can also put the degreaser on the bits and leave them for a few minutes, for even better results.
Step 2: Sharpening with a diamond hone and diamond wheel
Now, let’s move towards sharpening the carbide router bit with a diamond hone. First, apply some water to the bit. This will act as a lubricant, making the sharpening of the bit relatively easier. While doing this, make sure that you keep the cutting edge of the router a bit flat against the diamond hone to avoid any mishap. After that, use sandpaper, preferably P600 to dry the wet edges, and finish the process with P1000. One minute per edge is more than enough.
If the blade is nicked or very dull, you can also use a coarse, 45-micron hone, that should also be lubricated with water, to immediately remove carbide. Stroke back and forth with the flat face of the carbide against the hone till the sharp edge is only visible as a fine line. Stroke each flat face the same number of times to keep the bit flat. Finish with a fine 25-micron honing until the edge is razor-sharp. You can repeat this process up to three to four times to get the sharp router bits back.
Step 3: Deep Sharpening
If your router bit is still leaving brunt traces on the wood, extensive sharpening may be necessary. A diamond wheel is used to sharpen the blades deeply. Against the grinding diamond wheel, the cutting edge must be flat. Make sure the diamond wheel does not touch the bit’s body while also digging deep into the cutting edge. It’s a difficult procedure. It becomes easier as you get the hang of it. Then adjust the horizontal movement with this screw and wing nut and this other stop. You’ll be able to grind down all the cutting edges evenly this way. All that’s required now in ‘how to sharpen router bits ‘is to tighten the screw to firmly fasten the bit and double-check that everything is in working order. Close the bit carefully to the diamond wheel, making sure the wheel hits the cutting edge’s whole surface.
Router Bits Cleaning & Maintenance
Cleaning router bits should be your habit, after each use. Additionally, employ a resin remover to avoid resin collection and future hardening. It has an impact on the bit’s cutting efficiency. If this is done frequently, then your router bits will last long. Dirty shanks stimulate the formation of blurring and rust, which prevent the router bits from being properly tightened. Rust could result from oiling the router bits. So, instead, wipe them dry and store them appropriately. When routing, make it a habit to utilize coolants on the bits. The routing process generates friction and heat, which adds to router bit wear. Deteriorating edges indicate that it is time to replace the bits and do a complete makeover.
Using router bits for any purpose can be dangerous, hence you must keep the following woodworking safety tips in mind to remain safe.
- It is advisable to wear eye protection.
- Wear a good anti-dust mask while you are sharpening.
- Wear Woodworking aprons to keep your clothes safe and tools organized.
- Try to sharpen, slowly because doing it in a hurry could hurt you.
- Make sure that you wear gloves otherwise you can end up with a cut.
- Wearing loose clothing or jewelry that could get tangled in the equipment is not a good idea.
- During use, keep rotating cutters away from your body and face.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you sharpen the router bit at home?
Yes, you can sharpen the router bits for your CNC router at home. The process of ‘how to sharpen router bits’ has been explained in this article thoroughly.
Is it hard to sharpen router bits?
Sharpening router bits might seem like a daunting process, at first but it’s not very difficult. Over time, by sharpening again and again you can easily become a pro at it.
How do cleaning router bits differ from sharpening router bits?
Cleaning involves wiping router bits with a cleaner whereas sharpening involves wear and tear with diamond wheel and file. If both are correctly done together then your router bits are going to be clean and sharp as if you just took them out of a new box.
You now have a better understanding of how to sharpen router bits. Every expert would tell you that true sharpening requires the assistance of a professional but that’s not true. This article will teach you how to retouch your pieces without any trips to professional sharpeners. Learning how to sharpen router bits will cut down the number of trips you’ll have to make to a professional sharpener.
Sharpening router bits can help you create a masterpiece out of every work item you cut, but it is not easy. Sharpness can be maintained with the appropriate procedures, so you won’t have to re-sharpen the bits a dozen times. Keep in mind that every sharpening practice will result in some wear and tear. If you don’t want to sharpen the bits, you can always opt for new ones. Check out our guide for purchasing some spectacular router bits.
Now that you have all the information you need for sharpening carbide router bits, you can get to work! Happy routing.