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sharpening rotary cutters

junkhound | Posted in General Discussion on

Anyone successfully sharpened rotary blades, olfa for instance?

How did you do it.

Contemplate chucking one in a lathe and stropping with rouge??


  1. sewelegant | | #1

    Did you buy one of those round gadgets in the notions department meant for this purpose?  I did and proceeded to "sharpen" the old blade.  It seemed to need sharpening because it would skip a place somewhere on the wheel and did not leave a clean cut.  After going through the sharpening procedure two or three times it still skips so I do not know if I did it correctly or not or if this is just another "miracle gadget" that is better left on the notions wall!  To be fair - I am not that great at sharpening kitchen knives either, but they, at least, do stay sharp for the project at hand.

  2. marymary | | #2

    I have a couple of those sharpening gadgets for rotary blades.  They do not sharpen an old blade to make it as sharp as a new blade.  I have been successful in making a blade a little better, but I think the reason it seems better is that the process also cleans the blade.  Sometimes the only thing a sharpened edge needs, whether it is a rotary blade or a pair of scissors, is cleaning.  Of course, a blade with a nick will not benefit from cleaning.

    Can't hurt to try a lathe.  Once a blade gets past a sharp edge, it isn't good for anything else, anyway.

  3. Sunshine | | #3

    One of the sharp ladies at PatternReview had posted this method ~ 2 yrs ago, to use with one of the Dritz sharpening tools.  I tried to attach this as a Word file, but for some unknown reason, the website doesn't want to complete the download and attachment.  As a substitute, I'll paste it in here & hope it's readable!

    "Many of us have purchased the Tri-Sharp Rotary Blade Sharpener. It works well on the first few blades sharpened, but then it wears out and doesn't seem to do the job anymore.First, let me point out that this tool is ingeniously designed. The part of the tool that grinds the blade to sharpen it has the correct pitch or angle, so the blade is sharpened correctly. The handle holding the blade is a wonderful design too, making it so the task can be done safely.The problem is, in order for the manufacturer to make this tool inexpensively, they used sandpaper instead of a 'wet stone' for grinding the blade. Here's a way to fix the problem:

    Materials needed:<!----><!----><!---->

     - Wet or dry sandpaper, 400 grit [3M Imperial aluminum oxide is the best]. This is better than what the tool had originally. It’s available at Walmart in the auto dept. It costs less than $3, has 5 half sheets [which makes 85 replacements for a 28mm cutter!].<!----><!---->

     - Glue, or a glue stick - Small pointed scissors.<!----><!---->


    1.  Trace the O-shaped sandpaper that's currently on your sharpener, and make a cardboard or template plastic pattern [something stiff enough to trace around].2.  Trace this pattern multiple times on the backside of the sandpaper, then cut the shapes apart. It's important that the inside of the circle is cut big enough to slide easily over the sharpener's handle. The outside circle just needs to be big enough, and doesn't need to be cut perfectly.  Tip...it's easiest to cut the inside circle first, while you have more paper to hold on to.3.  Remove the old black sandpaper on your sharpener...it should peel off easily. If it won't come off, just leave it and glue the new ring of sandpaper on top of it. Over time, as more and more layers of sandpaper accumulate, you may want to soak them all off in a basin of warm water. The tool is plastic, so soaking won't hurt it.4. Leave the beige sandpaper on the other side, to be used as the finishing side. (Optional)Voila, all fixed!<!----><!---->


    Rotary Sharpener TipsThe directions for this tool say to twist the blade a few times on each side of the blade. This really depends on how hard you push, and how dull your blade is. Twist the blade back and forth while counting, then count to the same number after flipping the blade. A really dull blade may take a count of 40 for each side. This is another reason many people thought this tool was no good...they didn't sharpen long enough.A tiny drop of oil may be used with this sandpaper. It's also good to give your rotary cutter a tiny drop of oil so it turns freely.After sharpening, test for sharpness on a scrap of fabric, while the blade is still in the sharpening handle. Use both hands to hold the tool's handle, and roll into the fabric about 1/4 turn. Reposition your hands and test the next 1/4 turn, etc. This way if it's not sharp enough, you know before putting the blade back in the rotary cutter's handle. Use a magnet to move the blade from cutter to handle and back, so you can't get cut accidentally.  <!----><!---->


    Bonus … when I was done cutting, my little craft scissors were so sharp! Apparently the cutting action through this sandpaper works the same as grinding a blade on it :) "





    1. marymary | | #4

      What a good idea!  Thank you, Sunshine, for sharing that information.  I shall try it.

    2. sewelegant | | #5

      Aha, I was not doing it long enough!  I thought 10-12 times should be enough, after all the directions seemed to indicate 3 or 4 and I didn't want to ruin the blade!  Understanding how something works makes fixing it a lot simpler.

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