At some point, or another, we’ve all been in the situation, where you are right in the middle of a project and you open your toolbox expecting to find your router bit, saw blade, shaper cutter, or other cutting tool, and instead, you find that the tool you need is dull or even worse, coated with rust.
You can find yourself wasting hours just trying to replace a poorly stored or misused cutter. Replacing them can delay you as it takes time, and cleaning them back to a usable state can take hours, if it is possible at all.
Here are some tips for router bit, saw blade, and shaper cutter maintenance to help ensure that your tools are in the condition you need them to be in, when you need them, to get the job done.
Storing Your Cutting Tools and Attachments Properly
The first step is to map out how you use your tools. Do you keep all the specific wrenches and jig attachments for your router with the router bits? If you don’t, it may be because you are worried about the metal edges clinking together and dulling your cutting surfaces.
The problem is that if you do not keep them together, they can be misplaced or fall into disrepair. So, how do you keep your wrenches from rubbing on the cutting edges?
Most people like to keep them in the containers that they came in and this is an OK solution (if they came in a container). The problem is that many woodworkers end up with a collection of bits in boxes rumbling around in the bottom of their tool box, making it difficult to find them, ultimately resulting in the possibility of duplicate cutters or even getting mixed up and using the wrong bit for the job.
The best way that I have found to keep your router bits, shaper cutters, and saw blades sharp and organized is to provide a permanent, stabilized storage solution.
Tips for Storing Router Bits
Drill multiple holes into a ¼” piece of melamine that fits, with a little room to spare, into the top bay of your tool box. This way when you open the lid of your tool box, each bit shank that you have will fit into a predrilled slot. This helps you to organize and protect your router bits at the same time.
Tips for Storing Saw Blades
Store the new or freshly sharpened blades with the tooth protection still in place. If the blade does not have a light coat of machine oil on them, apply it yourself with a rag, wiping off any excess to avoid extra dirt and saw dust from sticking to the blades and making a big mess.
If you have a saw blade that needs to be stored and does not have any tooth protection, store it in a slotted out piece of foam rubber or wrap it with a rag to protect the saw blade teeth from contacting any other surfaces.
I like to keep two of each table saw blade, a ripping saw blade with fewer teeth, a crosscut saw blade with many staggered teeth, and a combo-blade or glue line rip saw blade, and a High ATB saw blade for laminates and melamine. That way I can keep one sharp blade on the saw at all times and when it needs to be sharpened, replace it with the fresh one.
Tips for Storing Shaper Cutters
Shaper cutters are a little trickier to store, as they are often odd sizes and sometimes they come in sets. The foam rubber cutouts that I described above can work nicely and when stored in a drawer or two of your toolbox, can keep your shaper cutters clean and working properly for years.
Prevent Rust from Forming on Your Cutting Tools
Make sure there is a fine layer of machine oil on the cutter surface to prevent rust from forming. Once rust has begun to degrade the surface of a tool, it can really never be stopped. It can be slowed down or even stalled, but not stopped.
Keeping Your Router Bit Bearings Tight
Use a little threadlocker on the bearing screws that hold a bearing down to the router bit. This prevents the bearing from loosening over time and even flying off the work piece while you are using it.
A little threadlocker placed on the threads keep the screw from vibrating loose. To open the screw to replace the bearing, it just takes a little more elbow grease.
Keeping a Clean Toolbox and a Clear Mind
If you keep your router bits, saw blades, shaper cutters in good working order, you will be amazed at how simple it is to build a project. Instead of fighting every step of the way to find the right tool for the job, paying way more than you need to on replacing tools that have been neglected or misplaced, you will find that your mind will be clear, just like your toolbox is.
The very last tip is to always use your common sense and be safe and methodical about every aspect of building your project. Safety always comes first, followed closely by organization and care of your tools. Enjoying the entire process of building your project is as important, if not more, than enjoying the final piece.
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