Blade and Bit Resharpening

Most cabinetmakers agree that sending blades and bits out for resharpening is a practical and economical choice. March 25, 2007

Believe it or not, I have never had any router bits or saw blades sharpened. I have always bought new ones and yes, it has become expensive. Does a resharpened blade or bit cut as good as when it was new from the factory? And how much does it cost on the average to have cutters sharpened?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor P:
You're kidding, right? There's no reason not to have blades and bits sharpened, and several times, too. In fact, your sharpened blades and bits will cut better than when new from the factory. I've been paying between $16 to $28, depending on size blade and how many teeth, for resharpening.

From contributor L:
First time for everything... I get my blades, knives, and cutters done by a local sharpening service that caters to any trade that uses cutting edges (their equipment is highly automated; this is not done with a hand file). Prices vary by the size of the blade or bit, how many teeth or facets it has, and what material your cutting tools are made of. So the cost to sharpen a carbide spiral planer blade will be different than a 10" 40 tooth saw blade, which will be different than a 2 flute straight router bit. I think a resharpened tool is every bit as good as new (assuming your sharpener has the means to do it well).

Beware that pattern router bits, once re-sharpened, will afterwards be slightly smaller than the bearing. Also, cutters that work in nesting pairs, i.e. stile/rail sets, will produce parts that don't fit exactly as snug as when new after a few sharpenings. You can go quite a few cycles before this becomes problematic, though.

From contributor A:
Better start sharpening! The only caveat I can think of is that with certain router bits - a flush cutting bit with bearing, for example - sharpening should reduce the cut diameter slightly, making it no longer flush to the bearing. On table and chop saw blades it's the way to go. I've been using the same Forrest Chopmaster blade for about six years. Sharpened three or four times and still cuts like a dream with plenty of carbide left on those teeth.

From contributor R:
I don't resharpen saw blades. Tried all the major brands and found that 18.00 blades at Menards work best for us. Doesn't pay to sharpen. I keep them around to use for misc. jobs. As for router bits, we use Grizzly, get all the use out of them, and throw 'em away.

From contributor M:
For many years we used a local company to sharpen our saw blades, router bits and boring bits. The boring bits never worked as well after being sharpened. The router bits only worked well some of the time and the saw blades once in a while did not do well. We now send all our tooling to Active Machine and they cut better than new tools. And the best thing of all... believe it or not, even with shipping it is less expensive than local vendors.

From contributor O:
Sharpening is definitely worth it. We have all of our tools sharpened by a cutting tooling manufacturer. We have had problems with small sharpening shops in the past and have found that the best place to get tools serviced is always a manufacturer. We use Lemmon & Snoap Company in Michigan. They have been around longer than many of the other cutting tool manufacturers and they do a very good job.

From contributor J:
Has anyone sent their Forrest saw blades back to Forrest for sharpening? I've got a growing pile of Woodworker II blades that I need to get sharpened and have heard they do the best job.

From contributor E:
I send all my saw blades, any manufacturer, to Forrest for sharpening and they come back good as new. They'll also do any other repairs, special grinding or whatever you need.

For myself I built a box that will hold about 6 blades, with cardboard in between each. Easier to send a bunch out at a time. The only downside is they are pretty expensive compared to some other places.

From contributor W:
I'll second contributor M on the quality of Active Machinery's work.

From contributor V:
I was sending my blades to Forrest also, until I found Eide Saw and Tool Service in Minneapolis. They are a little cheaper and now I don't have to pay for shipping. They do just as nice a job and they are local for me.

From contributor A:
My old boss taught me that it costs the same amount of money to sharpen a $50 blade as a $100 blade. The difference is the $100 blade will always give you a better cut and it will stay sharp much longer. Basically you break even on the first sharpening, by buying the better blade. Likewise, go with a larger sharpening company. The local guy ruined two of my blades.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the good responses. I have a local guy here that has done it for years. I think I will drop him off one of my not so favorite blades and give him a try. And give the Active Machine guys a try too.

From contributor G:
We use Accurate Cutting Technologies of Indianapolis, IN. Our blades, knives, and bits come back better than new. Much better. Used to use a local hardware and often they came back worse than when sent. Make sure they are using CNC equipment to sharpen with a 600 grit or better diamond finish. We buy new bits for the CNC due to geometry issues after sharpening. If anyone knows of someone who can sharpen my resaw blades, I would love the lead. We use Bacho 3tpi carbide insets 205".

From contributor L:
Contributor D, give Acme saw a call. Maybe they can do it for you.

From contributor B:
I know I will get a lot of flak on this since there are a lot of guys on this forum that are sure that you have to pay more to get more in tooling and sharpening, but I go along with contributor R with the cheaper blade idea. A while back I began buying Black and Decker 10" 60 tooth carbide circular blades from Home Depot for about $20 and sending them about ten at a time to a very good on-line sharpening service (Bull Sharpening). They cost $12 each to sharpen and the cost to ship is very low due to Postal Service flat rate priority boxes at $8. 10 per shipment regardless of weight. These blades cut great and come back cutting like new.

I think all the hype about grades of carbide is a bunch of BS. The only thing that matters on a circular saw blade is flatness (lack of run out) and sharp, precisely-ground carbide. In 32 years in this business, I have bought very expensive carbide blades as well as these cheap ones, and believe me, they all get dull at the same rate.