The Cutting Edge

Sometimes as sewists we don’t always think about taking care of the items in our toolkits until a tool either breaks or is too dull to cut. But we all know that blunt scissors, pins and seam rippers are a pain when you’re trying to finish sewing that last-minute gift at 2 AM. You can avoid the snags, pulls and making repeated cutting efforts by keeping these tools clean, unbent and oiled.

One of the common mistakes that a sewist makes is replacing the blade in a rotary cutter and throwing it away! You can save yourself lots of money in the long run by sharpening the circular blade with a dual rotary blade sharpener. I’ve only owned 2 rotary blades since college, because I take the time once a month to properly sharpen, oil and clean my rotary cutter. Some people tell me that there’s just no way that’s true- but it is! If you’re careful not to run over pins and never cut on anything but a cutting mat, a dual rotary blade sharpener can definitely save you cash on expensive replacement blades.

To use the blade sharpener, start by taking your rotary cutter apart, noting what goes where and what direction everything is facing. Wipe off the plastic pieces of the rotary cutter with a soft cloth, and clean out any lint you find.

Set the blade aside for now, and clean and oil the metal ring, nut, and blade holding bolt using sewing machine oil. Use a paper towel and wipe off the excess oil and crud on the bolt. Yours may look like this if you haven’t cleaned it:

It’s very important to clean and oil this part of your rotary cutter because it’s where metal rubs on metal. If your sewing machine’s joints and parts don’t get oiled where they rub, your machine will rust and not work. It’s the same with your cutting tools!

It is key that you DON’T oil your rotary blade before you sharpen it. Oiling it first would cover the sharpener in oil, and render it useless. Place the blade in between the two handled pieces and place it on the GRAY side first. The gray side of the sharpening disk is rougher than the reverse tan side, and will shave off any excess nicks in the blade.

Twist the blade back and forth in the sharper, making and even number of turns on both sides. After sharpening the blade on the gray side, flip over the sharpener and refine the blade on the tan side. Wipe the blade powder off of the sharpener with a paper towel. When you remove the blade from the holder, place it on a paper towel, and put two drops of oil on it. Wipe this on both sides of the blade with the paper towel, oiling the blade and cleaning it off.

Be careful when picking up your newly sharpened blade! I put two fingers on the top of my blade and scoot it to the edge of the table, where I can then pick it up while avoiding the edge of the blade.

Put your rotary cutter back exactly the way you took it apart. It’s hard to stop once you see how much nicer your rotary cutter works, so if you start here, you’ll probably clean out the rest of your toolkit and oil your scissors too! All of the rotary cutters in the MD toolkits are freshly cleaned and sharpened, and we have sharpeners for 28mm, 45mm, and 60mm blades.

One Response to “The Cutting Edge”

  1. Rotary Cutting Safety | Modern Domestic | Portland, OR

    […] did a great post here about sharpening your blades and she outlined her method for changing and handling new blades.  A […]

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