Maintaining Router Bits
Time to Seek a Pro?
Is it time to seek professional help? You can hone a router bit five or six times, but eventually it needs professional grinding. The following tests will tell you if that time has come.
- Inspect the bit in good light. Look for nicks or blunt spots on the cutting edge.
- Hold a fingernail against the cutting edge and gently rotate the bit. It should shave the nail with very little effort.
- Run the bit through softwood, watch how it cuts, and examine the surface it leaves.
- Check the chips. If they look more like sawdust than thin shavings, the bit needs professional help.
We visited Puckett Tools' new shop in Waukee, Iowa, to see router bits sharpened on professional equipment. Chris Miller, 22, shown at left, uses a Foley-Belsaw machine equipped with a diamond wheel to get the kind of results you see below.
Notice that Chris wears latex-coated gloves to protect his fingers and keep a firm grip on his work. He puts the bit in a chuck, turns a couple of cranks to line it up with the wheel, then works it back and forth with a lever. A couple of minutes, and he's done. The shop charges $5.75 for two-flute bits and $24 for three-wing, raised-panel bits.
Chris says you can have straight bits sharpened many times. Profile bits, however, might need replacement after about four trips to a professional.
These bits from the WOOD. magazine workshop were showing a lot of wear. Chris used a wire wheel to clean off all the residue before taking them over to the diamond-wheel sharpener.For more in-depth information on routing, visit the Routing Techniques section in the WOOD Store.
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