How To Sharpen A Router Bits? (And Maintain It)

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A router (wood :p) is one of the must have power tool in your wood shop. It can perform a wide range of tasks, including surfacing stock, creating custom moldings, turning spindles and so on. 

Using a router to create a miracle out of wood can be extremely satisfying.  And the router bits are the forefront of it.

This being said, you are surely aware that even if you have the best router bits, your bits get dull and rounded over time, thus decreasing their effectiveness. 

Then you either need to replace or sharpen them. 

Router bits can be expensive, so naturally you will want to get the most out of every bit. 

So the second option is the way to go, but you will probably want to know how to do it, right? 

Well, you are in the right place to satisfy your curiosity. So sit back and enjoy this article.

Things You Will Need:

Some of the things you will need to successfully clean and  sharpen your router bits are -

  • An allen key.
  • A clean rag.
  • A scouring pad.
  • Water.
  • A degreaser or tool cleaner (such as Trend) and a 300/600 grit diamond honing kit.

The Preparation:

The first thing and probably the most important thing is preparation. 

They say, good preparation is half the job done. 

So what do you have to do exactly to prepare efficiently? 

Well, firstly you need to set up your workshop. You will need a good clean area to work on. 

So if your workshop is unorganized, take some time to rearrange your tools and create the perfect setting. 

Over crowded workshop can really affect your work. 

Start by cleaning up any sawdust and organizing your tools so that whenever you need a specific tool, you know exactly where it is. 

This way your workshop will always be tidy and clean.

Before you start cleaning your router bit, you are going to need to remove the bearing from the router bit. 

Before removing the bearing from your router bit, test to see if the bearing is working properly. 

Hold the router bearing bit with your left hand. With your right hand turn the bottom of the bit. 

It should turn with ease. 

If it does not turn with ease, you may have to replace the bearing. You can purchase new bearings for replacement. 

If it does turn with ease you are ready to continue with the cleaning of your router bit.

Cleaning Your Router Bits:

  • First, hold onto the router bit carefully. The bits tend to be very sharp 
  • Now, use an allen key to remove the bearing at the top of the router bit. Under some router bits is a dust shield.
  • Make sure you do not lose these pieces. Put all of the little parts in a safe place. The excess film that builds up on the router bit is called wood pitch. This is what you want to remove. 
  • Liberally apply a tool cleaner or degreaser to the router bit. Let it sit for a few moments. 
  • Using a scouring pad scrub the debris away. If you use Trend tool cleaner it also acts as a lubricant.
  • Use a clean dry cloth to wipe clean. Put the dust bit and bearing back with the allen key. 
  • Lubricate if you did not use Trend tool cleaner. You are done cleaning your router bit, it’s ready to use for your next wood project.
  • Keeping the router bits in a storage case a storage case will make sure it stays clean. Here's 19 free router bit storage plans you can follow to DIY a router bit storage case.

Sharpening Your Router Bit:

When it comes to sharpening a router bit less is more. Keep it simple and don’t over do it. 

Step one: 

Clean your router bit first, Removing the bearing and dust shield and leaving it off. 

Step two: 

Using a diamond honing file (like Trend) with 300/600 grit, wet the file with water. 

Step three: 

Place the router bit flat on a work surface. File with moderate pressure on the face of the blade. You want to sharpen it as if you are sharpening scissors, not a knife. Be careful to only sharpen the face of the blade holding the file flat onto the bit. 

Step four: 

Make sure you do both sides with the same pressure and number of strokes,to keep everything even. The magic number of strokes seems to be 10. Wipe the bit off with a clean cloth.

Lubricate if you did not use Trend tool cleaner. Put the dust shield and the bearing back on. 

Step five: 

You are ready to go. Remember, you can sharpen your router bearing bit up to 5-6 times before having to bring it to a professional sharpener.

If you really want to save time and money you can build your own jig. This is called “deep sharpening”.  

Visually look at your router bit. If you can see any nicks or abrasions you should do a deep sharpening. 

First test your router bit on a piece of hard plywood. This way you can see the difference after sharpening it on a jig. 

If it needs a deep sharpening it will leave burn marks and will not run smoothly across the plywood. 

To do a deep sharpening you will have to build a jig out of wood to hold your router bit firmly in place.

Here's how you can build a homemade router bit sharpening jig.

The final words...

Maintaining your router bit is a great way to make them last longer.

Cleaning, sharpening and maintaining your router bit is a fast, effective way to get a good clean cut and save you money. 

You can sharpen your router bit 5-6 times on your own before you should bring it to get professionally sharpened.