One critical step to woodworking on a CNC router is the maintenance of your routing tools. A woodworking router has a shaft that comes fitted with a collet that holds a router bit in place. Each router bit will have flutes, which are the cutting edges of the bit. The more you route, the faster these parts wear out and need replacing. In order to maximize the life of your routing tools you need to clean them on a regular basis.
Listed below are a few tips as to how you should care for them:
- Blow off the dust on your router bits and remove any resin that has built up with resin remover (usually available where woodworking products are sold) or spray-on oven cleaner. Resin that is left behind will eventually harden affecting the cutting efficiency of the bit. Next, clean the bits with alcohol using a toothbrush.
- Remove any resin build-up inside the collet and on the inside taper of the spindle and tool holder. Felt brushes work best. Also, clean the outside taper of the collet and tool holder. Brass brushes work best.
- Shanks and the inside of nuts should be checked for rust or burrs. Brass brushes work best. Shanks that are left unclean can affect your ability to properly tighten the bit in the collet.
- Lightly sharpen the edges of your bits with a diamond honing file (but only on the flat face of each flute). A dull bit can damage the quality of your work. Make sure you sharpen it uniformly by using the same amount of pressure and strokes on each bit.
- Do not oil your router bits to prevent rust, just make sure you dry them well after cleaning.
- Properly store your router bits. Avoid tossing them into a drawer or box where they can get knocked around and damage each other’s cutting edge.
- Router bits should be changed as soon as you start to see edge deterioration.
- Use a coolant when routing. Heat build-up caused by friction of the tool against the work piece can cause your tools to wear out faster.