3 Ways for Woodworkers to Save Money

Updated: Dec. 14, 2021

Woodworking can be one expensive hobby. High-quality blades, sanding belts and router bits are costly—and worth every penny. Here are three great ways to make these items last.

A sharp blade that’s coated with gunk will cut like a dull blade. A quick cleaning is a lot cheaper than a new blade.

Revive a “Dull” Blade

Before you give up on that expensive blade, give it a good cleaning. It may still be sharp, but if it’s coated with wood pitch, it will cut like a dull blade. Some woodworkers use special blade cleaning potions; others just use oven cleaner. Either way, the key is patience: If you give the chemicals enough time to work, the gunk will be easy to scrub off with a toothbrush.

A sanding belt that’s coated with paint or wood pitch can’t bite into wood. A belt cleaner grinds the gunk off without harming the grit.

Extend the Life of Sanding Belts

Most sanding belts get chucked in the trash not because they’re worn out, but because the grit is plugged with paint or wood pitch. So if you have a belt sander, a belt cleaner is mandatory. Twenty years ago, I bought one for $8 and figure it’s rescued a hundred bucks’ worth of belts. It also works on sanding discs, though not as well. Sanding belt cleaners aren’t sold at most home centers, but there are lots available online.

If you router bit isn’t cutting as cleanly as it used to, this video is for you. You don’t need to go buy a new one because The Family Handyman Senior Editor, Gary Wentz, will show you sharpen your dull router bit.

Tune up Aging Router Bits

When a bit is losing its edge, I give it a few swipes with my diamond paddle (mine cost about $25). That won’t restore a really dull edge or match the original factory sharpness. But it does give me a bit that’s almost as good as new. And considering the cost of router bits, that’s good enough.