TriSharp’s Dual Rotary Blade Sharpener: People ask me “Does it really work?” more often than they ask about any other product, and for good reason. Replacement rotary blades sell for approximately $9 each.
Most quilting books and teachers recommend that you replace your blade each time you start a new quilt. If you quilt as much as I do, over the course of a year, the cost of replacing rotary blades can be quite an investment.
Many of my blades don’t get changed until the blade gets too dull to cut. I imagine that quilters who save every tiny scrap of material because they don’t want to waste anything probably don’t change their blades until they notice it’s hard to get a clean cut.
But saving money isn’t the only reason I have a Dual Rotary Blade Sharpener (made by TriSharp, but marketed by Prym Dritz) in my sewing room. If I’m working late into the night, I can’t dash out to buy a new blade if I need one. But I can take out the sharpener, put a fresh edge on my dull blade, and get back to work.
Using The Sharpener
The rotary blade sharpener only sharpens 45 mm rotary blades (the most common size), but you can buy this same sharpener in two other sizes. To sharpen a rotary blade, unscrew the two sections of the sharpener handle, one from the other.
The bottom section has a screw sticking out of it. Put the rotary blade on the bottom section with the screw sticking up through the hole in the center of the blade. Then screw the top and bottom halves of the handle back together.
The other part of the Sharpener is a round, flat disk with a 1-1/2 inch hole in the center and two different colored abrasive surfaces, one on each side. Each of these abrasive surfaces has a different use, hence the word “Dual” in the product name.
The beige side is a coarse abrasive used to smooth damaged blade edges. The dark grey surface on the other side sharpens your blade.
Insert the top half of the handle through the 1-1/2 inch hole in the disk until the blade edge comes in contact with the abrasive. Then twist the handle (and therefore the blade) around a few times, sharpening one side of the blade. Turn the handle over and insert the other side through the hole to sharpen the other side of the blade.
Two Steps, Two Sides, Several Twists
I found that twisting the blade just two or three times didn’t seem to sharpen it very well. So I usually do it eight or nine times. That works well for me.
The instruction card suggests putting a small drop of oil on the blade once every 10 to 20 times you sharpen it to make it work better. This made sense to me because many tools use a lubricant during the sharpening process.
To test this sharpener, I chose the worst fabric in my stash, one that I’ve had trouble cutting before. I used the Sharpener on a really dull blade that cut a small section then skipped a section. It perforated fabric rather than cutting it.
After using the Sharpener on this problem blade, it cut much better, leaving one or two threads uncut unless I pressed a little harder than usual. Leaving one or two threads uncut while cutting this particular fabric should not be considered a flaw. I got the same results using a brand new blade right out of the package.
As the next step in my sharpening test, I added a little light sewing machine oil to the blade. After only two or three turns in the sharpener on each side of the blade, I re-installed the blade in my rotary cutter. It cut like a hot knife through soft butter. This oil-sharpened blade did a better job of cutting through my crummy fabric than a brand new blade.
For me, even if saving money wasn’t enough of a reason to get the TriSharp’s Dual Rotary Blade Sharpener, avoiding the frustration of cutting difficult fabric certainly is.
Before I bought this sharpener, I thought the price was a little steep. But I’ve saved so much money in blade purchases since I’ve owned it that I no longer feel that way.