Fit Problems with Re-Sharpened Cope-and-Stick Cutters

It's hard to sharpen matching cutters so that they still mill matching surfaces. Insert tooling is the answer. January 8, 2007

I have a problem with fit after I get my cope and stick cutters sharpened. I have tried several local sharpening shops with the same results. Anyone have a suggestion?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor T:
What you are describing is a very common problem. There are lots of sharpening shops out there that can sharpen, but most of them do not know how to do interlocking cutter sets correctly. A good sharpening facility offers sharpening, test cut, and adjustment on all interlocking cutter sets. You simply send in the entire set and they will make sure they fit properly before they are sent back.

It also pays to buy good quality multi-piece cutter sets, as they are the type that can be adjusted. One piece cutters for interlocking profiles are a bad purchase since they lose fit quality after just one sharpening.

From contributor J:
I used to have the same problems. Once those things are ground down, they lose their factory tolerances. My suggestion would be to get a set of insert cutters. Yes, more expensive, but you can replace the inserts for about the cost of sharpening, and they'll always match up like they should.

From contributor C:
Contributor J brings up a valid point on looking at insert tooling for cope and stick and other fit tolerance specific applications. These are available from a number of suppliers.

Contributor T is right about working with a sharpening facility that will sharpen your set as a matched set.

From contributor G:
When you have a profile that needs to be matched, i.e. stile/rail, finger joint, etc. it is very difficult with a TCT type cutter to match after the service. When you service a TCT cutter, you remove material from the face of the tool. Once you do that, the radius will change. As a few mentioned, insert tools will always match.

From contributor Y:
I second the insert tooling - we've used it for years and long term, it's cheaper.

From contributor P:
We use Freeborn cutters. They resharpen and index the cutters before shipping.