Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Tale of Two Rotary Blade Sharpeners

Caution: this is a LONG product review of two different rotary blade sharpeners but I wanted to give y'all the full description.  I purchased both of these items on my own; neither manufacturer offered me anything to review and in fact, they have no idea that I even bought their units!  So, this is *my* experience and I wanted to share it with you.

Like every other quilting these days, I have an inventory of rotary cutters.   I have the original 28mm (excellent for zipping around small curves), the 45mm and the 60mm blades.  I've more or less settled on exclusively using the 60mm because you can cut so much faster (or so it seems to me) than with the small blade.

I try to be VERY careful and not run over pins or other obstructions but just the other day, doggone it! a pin was hiding from me and, sure enough, I nicked my blade.  I was really, really, REALLY annoyed because I had only recently replaced that 60mm blade.  That size is *expensive*.  Ouch.  

Being the stubborn person that I am, I was NOT going to replace that blade for one silly, annoying nick.  So, I carried on.  Every time I was cutting a length of fabric, that little nick would cause ONE LOUSY THREAD not to be cut.  That meant I needed to either snip that one lousy thread with scissors or run the rotary cutter again.  Sigh.

At that time, I didn't have a rotary blade sharpener.  They're expensive and I just didn't want to lay down that kind of money at one time.  (Oh hush!  Don't judge me on spending that much (and more) on fabric!  TOTALLY different scenario!)

Well, after being annoyed once too often regarding that one lousy uncut thread, I decided it was time for me to *invest* in a tool .. a sharpener that would allow me to use my blades just a little longer.

I did some basic research .. not any great depth or nit-picking .. but I looked at a few, read the reviews and the one that caught my eye was the "TrueSharp Power Rotary Blade Sharpener".  It looked like it was quite well throught out.  It was electric, would sharpen *all* my blades .. the 28mm, 45mm and 60mm .. so it was versatile.  It had a hinged lid that would exert the same amount of pressure every time, so there would be no guess work as to how hard should I be pressing down.

Amazon delivered the unit promptly (YAY, Amazon!) and I promptly put it to the test.  Remember that my 60mm had just ONE little nick in it.  The rest of the blade was as sharp as ..well .. a razor.  :-)   I must say, at this point, that the directions *did* explicitly say that nicks in the blade might not be corrected.  Hmm .. oh dear .. the one thing that I wanted the rotary blade sharpener to do.  But .. nothing ventured, nothing gained.  (I did bite the bullet and purchase a replacement 60mm blade, so using the nicked blade in the sharpener to see what it could do was not going to do irreparable harm.)

So I thought.  The thing to remember is .. the blade was basically 99% good.  It cut wonderfully, other than that annoying little nick.

I followed directions explicitly.  It said that you might need to sharpen a blade a couple of go-rounds the first time .. fair enough.   I ran the blade through the sharpener for the specified amount of time.  Then I ran the newly sharpened blade over a piece of quilting cotton .. which is normally what I'm cutting.  HOLY MOLEY, the blade was AWFUL.  The blade actually cut WORSE than when I started.   I was shocked .. really dumbfounded.

OK ... they had addressed this possibility by saying you might need to do the first sharpening a couple of times.  So, I did.  And each successive "sharpening" made the blade worse and worse.  I ended up with a completely DULL blade, whereas I had a mostly sharp blade to begin with!

Conclusion:  Do NOT NOT NOT buy the "
TrueSharp Power Rotary Blade Sharpener".  It is a worthless piece of machinery that not only does NOT work as advertised but actually leaves you worse off than when you started.    Fortunately, I was able to return it and get a refund.

But .. that left me in the same position I was before .. if and when (because you KNOW there is going to be a next time) I nick a blade again, I still won't have a sharpener.  By now I was determined to have one.  

The next sharpener on my list was the "Dual Rotary Blade Sharpener" by Colonial. Now the downside is that this unit is a manual one ... when you put the blade in the unit, you must manually twist it against the sandpaper 10-20 revolutions.  If you have hand/wrist mobility issues, this could be a problem.   The other downside is that it is made for a specific size blade; the unit you buy for your 60mm can't be used for the 45mm and vice versa.  BUT, I really did want a sharpener, so I ordered it.

When it arrived, I decided to use the ruined 60mm blade as a test.  Honest to goodness, it couldn't be made any worse than it already was.  Once again, the directions did explicitly say that nicks might not be able to be corrected.   Oh dear .. what *is* it about nicks?  Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I put the dull blade in the unit and twisted it manually 20 revolutions on the sand paper.  When I tested the blade on a piece of quilting cotton ... HOLY MOLEY!  It was sharp again!  Not completely sharp, but realize that the other sharpener had made it completely *dull*.  So, I repeated the sharpening procedure once again ... 20 revolutions .. and cut another piece of fabric.  HOLY MOLEY!!   I had a completely SHARP blade again .. and the nick was gone!

Conclusion: I enthusiastically recommend Colonial's "Dual Rotary Blade Sharpener" unit.  It does exactly what it says it will do.  BE SURE TO GET THE SIZE FOR YOUR BLADE!!    Look around and you'll see different price ranges.  Do take into account that a lower base price might not include postage, so beware.   It also looks as though Dritz makes a similar unit, although I did not buy the Dritz and have not used it.   

I hope this is helpful to anyone who is looking at buying a rotary blade sharpener.


  1. I have a couple of sharpeners that look like the one you like.......likely by Dritz. I have used them from time to time when I can find them and they do allow me to use blades longer. Nothing worse that a nick and that thread that is not cut.

  2. I've been using this sharpener for years. It really does get you much more life out of your blade.


    1. Carin .. that's good to know. I've been pleased with it ... so far. :-)