Router Bit Care | Router Cutter Care and Maintenance
Router Bit Care
If you want to get the most from your router cutters, regular router bit care and maintenance is essential. Here we explore some of the processes you should undertake to help ensure your router cutters always perform at their best.
Clean makes better cuts
Whatever quality your cutters - budget, mid-range or premium - you won't get the best out of them unless you keep them clean and their edges sharp. Dirty cutters with resin deposits on the blades will heat up when you come to use them next, dulling the cutting edges. A clean router cutter bit will always produce sharper, cleaner cuts so keeping your router bits clean should be a top priority.
To clean router bits, begin by removing the bearing if it has one to avoid washing out the lubricant. A word of caution: brand new router cutters often have the bearings screwed on incredibly tightly so we recommend using a glove or piece of rag to save your fingers from getting scraped!
Remove excess residue
Next, use a small brush to brush off any loose dust. Once you've removed the excess residue and burnt-on deposits, use a rag wetted with a quality cleaning fluid to remove resinous deposits. Thankfully, a little goes a long way making the Axminster Bit & Blade Cleaner economical to use. It is designed to dissolve resin, pitch, goo, gunk, crud, gunge and other nasty residues. This special formula helps to maintain cutter performance and gets to work within 60 seconds.
As with everything to do with cleaning, it's far easier to tackle if you do it as you go along. A router bit that has just been removed from your router will still be fairly warm. This means that any resin on it will be soft and easier to remove than if it's hard. Axminster Blade & Bit Cleaner will get to work in an instant, and also lubricate it for future use as well.
In many instances, you'll want to restore the router cutter's edge with a hone. It’s worth mentioning that ONLY the face should be honed and never the bevel; to do so would rapidly decrease the diameter of the cutter. Hone the flat surface of the cutter blades using a fine grade diamond hone and Axcaliber lapping fluid for lubrication. Lapping fluid gives better results than water and means the cutters also don't need spraying with a lubricant afterwards.
It is important that you don't hone your router bits dry. WD40 is ideal for honing router cutters.
To preserve the balance it is advisable to give each face of the router cutter the same number of strokes. A double sided hone - fine and coarse - is ideal for this task. Fine is the everyday grade for honing router cutters, but the coarse side is ideal for bringing back a blunt edge. The coarse side of the hone is also suitable for sharpening HSS router cutters.
Let the diamond do the work
Dab the lubricant on the hone and place the face of the blade flat on the surface. Gently rub it back and forth. You will know if metal is being removed as the diamond surface will turn black. Again, give the edge an equal number of strokes to preserve the balance of the cutter. Lastly, carefully wipe the hone dry and clean off any cutter marks with a pencil eraser.
Store with care
If you store your router cutters loose in a tool bag, drawer or box it's likely that they'll end up damaged, chipped and ultimately useless. Storing cutters separately prevents damage to sharp edges. Router cutter presenters have the advantages that they grip the tools, display the cutters for easy selection and can be sprayed with thin oil (i.e. MetalGuard Oil) to protect the cutters. What's more, they can be cut to fit into cabinets, drawers or rack for a convenient storage solution.
Axminster offer two foam router cutter presenters; a 275 x 325mm version or a handy A5 option. Alternatively, why not get creative and make your own storage blocks, drilled with holes to accept the different shank sizes? That's woodworking with a function!
Router Bit Care Round Up...
If you want your router cutters to last longer it is essential that you maintain them. Regular router bit care and maintenance will help to provide years of trouble free service; a little bit of TLC really does go a long way!
Finding the right router cutter for the job can be a minefield for some. Here at Axminster, we share your passion for routing so why not take a look at some of the router cutter options available.
If you have enjoyed reading this piece, take a look at some more of our router cutter articles.
Get in touch...
If you have any router bit care tips for keeping your router cutters in tip top condition we’d love to hear from you. Comment below or send us a photograph and tell us what works well for you. Alternatively, get in touch via our social media platforms. Find us on Facebook or send us a tweet using #routercutters to @AxminsterTools.