Tuesday, 12 January 2016

4 Steps to better routing and longer lasting cutters.

There are different cutters available to anyone with a router. Sizes, profiles, guided, the list is enormous.But they all share one common thing. COST!You can not only get confused into getting cutters you don't always need, but what ever you do have, you'll want to look after. that way you cutter collection, and indeed your router will last you much longer before needing to be replaced.

Burnt cutters will dull faster.

Check your cutters!
Regularly, before and after use. Look for signs of wear and damage. Tungsten is hard which makes it brittle even a small nick in the cutting edge can make simple cuts look horrible.

Damage as a result of being dropped or knocked with other tools.

Clean your cutters! 
Resin and pitch build up on cutting edges will mean they dull more quickly because the heat produced during routing will build up much faster. This not only dulls the cutting edges faster, but will also make the cutter work hard slowing you down....This ends up being a ever increasing cycle. It will also slow down your feed rate as you cut, meaning the heat gets transferred to the material being cut so you end up burning the edges of your cut. making the cuts look horrible. There are lots of good cleaning products for tools. My preferred Favourite is the "Tool and Bit cleaner" from Trend, available in both the UK and the US. It's also great for all your other tools like saw blades and drill bits etc, as well as windows and alloy wheels! :-) Just spray it on, leave for a few minutes and scrub it off with an old tooth brush. Then leave it to evaporate off.

Sharpen your cutters! 
Carbide cutters can easily be sharpen, giving them a pretty much new life. Only a tiny amount is taken off if you do it yourself rather than sending them away to be re-ground, so the last you longer and it's basically free once you have a few tools to do it. Trust me investing in a good Diamond credit card stone or similar, far out weights having to buy new cutters that could otherwise be resharpened in 2 minutes! Just remember to remove any bearings prior to spraying any cleaning fluid around!

To explain the sharpening process in words would be very long, and dull. This is a great video that covers the aspect of cutter care. Sharpening is very quick and easy to do, the secret being to sharpen the flat edge, and not the bevel. All profiles of cutter can be sharpened in this way.

.Various tools cleaning options for tooling.

Protect your cutters! 
From corrosion, each other and other woodworkers!Once you've spent a few minutes cleaning them off, give them a coat of Dry Lub spray like PTFE, this will keep the rust goblins at bay between use, weather its a few days, or a week or so. It will also help keep the resin and pitch at bay while using the cutter! But don't spray any bearings as the propellant used can spoil the bearing running smoothly.

After lubricating, store them safe, either in the packaging they came in, or in some kind of router storage case. Many cutter firms sell these, but they can easily be made in the workshop from scraps, and it's also good routing practice for the Novice and Veteran alike.
Lastly - Don't EVER lend your cutters to anyone, EVER! they nearly always come back dirty, blunt, broken, or not at all! 

Good storage solutions can be purchased, but it's good practice to make them for your needs.

Richard, the Owner and founder of WoodcraftBPW.com, is a regular user of many kinds of routers, including CNC. He has spent many years using routers, working with router companies, He also teaches basic, intermediate and advanced routing to both DIY'ers, and tradesmen alike, across the UK.

If you have a request for some routing information, get in touch, I'll see what I can put together for you!

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