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How do I know when my bit needs sharpening - and is it even worht sharpening as opposed to simply getting a new one?
 

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I have some diamond needle files that I use to sharpen up my TCT bits. Just a couple of strokes and the bit is as sharp as ever.
 

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Hi John! When the bit starts to cause material pull out or burns throughout the whole cut the edge is probably dull. They make square diamond hones that you could try. You might want to check with your local machine shop. They can take a thousands or two off the face of the cutter and make it like new. The secret is having a fine diamond cup wheel and a surface grinder. Most machine shop have the equipment needed to do the job. With business being slow they might be able to sharpen you bits for a reasonable price. It's worth a try.
 

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Sear's used to sell a sharpening system for router bits, but they seem more in getting new stuff than keeping old stuff. So I do not know if they still carry it. Anyway it had a cup grinding stone that fit in it the place of the bit, with a jig that held the bit (to be sharpened) with adjustments etc. I have one that I bought a long time ago.
Gerald R.
 

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Gerald,
Does it sharpen carbide?
 

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John... the answer to that question depends upon many things. This list isn't complete but I'll try to start it, to give you some information to use in making your decision.

* If the bit has been overheated and burned in the process of dulling, then no.. as the crystalline grain structure has changed and it will not retain a good edge.
* Would you take it to someone to be sharpened ($), or do it yourself?
* If you take it to someone, what do they charge?
* What is the turnaround time? Do you want to wait?
* Do you enjoy such activities?
* Does the pleasure of sharpening your own bit exceed the time it takes you to do so?
* If you do it yourself, will doing so let you finish a cut (or project) that you might otherwise have to defer until you bought another?

As for myself I work full time and woodworking is my hobby. Sharpening my chisels and planes is rewarding when they glide through what I'm cutting but as hand tools you can feel that more. I do not find pleasure in sharpening machine bits. Therefore, if the bit is expensive I would have it resharpened; if its a $2 bit I would likely toss it. I don't know this for certain but I'm pretty sure that different folks will have a different sharpen / toss point, with some on either side of me.
 
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