Hello Sewing Fact lover! My Today’s tutorial is on how to sharpen rotary cutter blades. See both text and video from this presentation. Let’s start.
A rotary cutter is a darling in the space of any quilter. These rotary cutters help make a smooth cut on your fabric, making quilting so much fun! Unfortunately, if you are a quilting lover, it means that your blades dull quickly. This is due to the continued use of the tool, and you wouldn’t love working with a dull rotary cutter.
Dull blades don’t make accurate cuts and leave fabric threads all over, making it look ugly. Having to replace the blades could be much easier, but that would mean digging deeper into your pockets. Working with new blades is enjoyable, but why not sharpen the dull blades and save yourself some cash?
This article will guide you on how you can bring back life to your dull rotary cutter blades. Keep reading to understand more.
Sharpening with a Rotary Cutter Blade Sharpener
A rotary cutter blade sharpener has two main parts; one that holds the blade and the other for tightening. Let’s learn how to use the sharpener: –
Step-1: Disassemble your rotary cutter and take the cutter’s body apart to expose the blade.
Step-2: Pick the blade carefully and hold it up.
Step-3: Take the blade by the top part and screw it to the holder/handle.
Step-4: The sharpener has two grits in different colors, with the courser one being gray in color and the finer one, black.
Step-5: Take the blade and insert it into the holder and make it go round on the coarser grit first. Next, spray some water onto the sharpener, then turn it over to the finer grit.
Step-6: For proper sharpening, let the blade move in the same direction but not back and forth.
Step-7: Let the blade make up to 30 turns before going to the other side of the blade.
Step-8: Now turn the blade and let it sharpen on the finer grit sandpaper to up to 20 turns.
Step-9: Take the blade apart and then re-insert it into the rotary cutter. Be very careful, so you don’t cut yourself.
Step-10: Insert the blade onto its screw spindle and fix the other parts of the cutter on top.
Step-11: Now close up the cutter by securing the nuts well.
Step-12: You can then do a quick test by cutting through a piece of fabric to ascertain that the blade is well sharpened.
Sharpening with an Aluminum Foil
Sharpening your rotary cutter blade with tin foil is a handy and straightforward method. It saves you when you have no blade sharpener nearby or even some bucks to get new blades.
What you will need:
- A heavy-duty tin foil
- Piece of fabric scrap
- A cutting mat
Step-1: Cut a large piece of tin foil, then fold it several times. Fold to at least 6-7 layers.
Step-2: Take your rotary cutter and start cutting the tin foil.
Step-3: Keep cutting through the tin foil layers.
Step-4: Take your fabric scrap and cut it to test if the blade is sharp enough. If it hasn’t gotten to your desired sharpness, repeat the whole process until you achieve the edge you want.
Sharpening with edge rulers
Some rulers are coated with diamond carbide edges. So as you cut your fabric, the blade is sharpened, eliminating any dullness.
How to Keep rotary Blades Sharp
You want to avoid those frustrating moments when cutting through your fabric by taking proper care of your rotary cutter. So how do you ensure that the blades stay sharp for long?
- Proper storage – Store the rotary cutter in a cool and dry place. Storage areas with high humidity will rust your rotary cutter blades.
- Avoid cutting cardboard and paper with your rotary cutter as they make the blades go dull very fast.
- Keep the blades clean at all times by wiping them off after every use. Keep the rotary cutter on a flat surface and hold the center of the blade firmly. With a paper towel, wipe the blade from the center to the blade’s edge to remove any residues. You can then hold the blade on your fingers and immerse it in some hot soapy water. Next, rinse it, then pat it dry.
What’s the best Rotary Blade Sharpener?
There are several rotary blade sharpeners in the market. Different brands come with various features. Before purchasing one, it is necessary to put into consideration what you will be working on. The best sharpener is that which will suit all your needs comfortably. Below are some of the factors to check out before purchasing a blade sharpener.
i. Spin speed
Electric-powered rotary cutters will require an ideal and reliable blade sharpener, preferably an electric run sharpener. A sharpener with high RPM (rounds per minute) will perform better than a cutter with a lower RPM.
ii. Ease of use
Get a sharpener that you will use quickly. A simple design that works perfectly can fit to be the best. Manual sharpeners are simple to use as all you need is to place the rotary blades inside the sharpener then close the lid. After covering, the top, twist the sharpener so the blade inside can be sharpened.
On the other hand, using the electric sharpener is relatively easy as well. With just a push of a button, the sharpener starts to work on your dull blades. But, of course, you have to first place the blades inside the sharpener for the job to be done.
Go for a high-quality material like the diamond grit so that the sharpener serves you for long. Lower quality materials help you for just a while, and you’d keep purchasing new sharpeners every now and then, which is not worth it.
iv. Mode of operation
There are manual and electric-powered rotary blade sharpeners in the market. The manual sharpeners do not need any electrical connections. Still, the sharpening task might take a bit longer than when using the electrical run sharpeners.
v. Blade compatibility
Some blade sharpeners are specifically designed for specific blade sizes. Go for that which can sharpen your blades comfortably.
Electric sharpeners are mostly large in size, but there are smaller ones alike. You will find that some manual sharpeners are not as large as the blades.
Tips and tricks for sharpening rotary cutter blades
- Avoid holding the blade with bare hands, especially after sharpening.
- Be very careful when sharpening the blades. Do not get into other things while still sharpening the blades.
- You don’t have to wait until your rotary blades get dull. Instead, sharpen the blades frequently, especially if you keep cutting strips often.
- Always wear protective hand gear when working with the blades to avoid cutting your hands.
- You can oil the rotary cutter blade before you start sharpening.
- Be keen when removing the blade from the sharpener as it can stick to the holder.
- If your blade is nicked, then the best thing is to replace it since a sharpener won’t eliminate the nicked edges.
- When reassembling your cutter after sharpening, avoid overtightening the nuts as it slows the blade and makes cutting harder.
- Wipe off any oil residues left on the blade edges after sharpening before you start using the rotary cutter.
Why Sharpen Your Rotary Cutter Blades?
Here is why you should keep your rotary cutter blades sharp: –
- To restore the blades’ sharpness for easy cutting through your fabric.
- There will be less wastage of material when working with sharp blades. But, again, this is because there’s no destruction of fabric.
- Sharpening saves you some cash that would otherwise be used in purchasing new blades. Also, there will be no wastage of material that would have been destroyed by the dull blades.
- Sharpening removes the minor nicks that cause missed cuts on fabric.
- Working with sharp blades is easy and less tiresome.
Video Tutorial on How to Sharpen Rotary Cutter Blades
Working with dull blades can be very frustrating. Eliminate the dullness by sharpening the blades with the above methods. Sharp blades will save you time and money. You should, however, be very careful when handling the rotary cutter after sharpening.