Can I Sharpen My Hole Cutter?

Hole cutters are the tools used for punching holes through fabric to make way for grommets and fasteners to be installed. Over the course of several big canvas projects your hole cutters can see a lot of use. If you start to notice that they aren’t cutting as well as they used to you can sharpen up your hole cutter. We’re going to show you how and give you some helpful tips for using your hole cutter.

How to Sharpen a Hole Cutter

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Hole cutter with a Dremel tool

If you take a close look at the cutting end of your tool, you’ll notice that the metal is slightly beveled. This bevel is what helps make the tool sharp. If the tool needs sharpening, the bevel might look worn down or be hard to spot at all. Sharpening your tool is basically just recreating that bevel.

To bring back the bevel, you’ll want to use a Dremel tool with an Aluminum Oxide Grinding Bit (we like the cone shaped ones). Run the tool around the outside of the hole cutter’s cutting end to sharpen. This can also be done by taking the hole cutter to a grinder.

Hole Cutting Tips

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  • • To keep your cutter sharp, use a proper cutting block whenever cutting holes. Hitting into softer materials, like pine, will cause your cutter to dull quicker.
  • • When cutting, place your block on a concrete surface. This will eliminate the bouncing you would get on a table and give you a better direction of force, making your cut smoother and easier.
  • • For the best cut in one blow, use a mallet instead of a hammer. Mallets send the best amount of force to your cutter. You can use a hammer, but you will need to hit the cutter several times.

Find the perfect hole cutter for installing fasteners, grommets, and eyelets and all the right accessories at www.sailrite.com.

Have you sharpened your hole cutter before? Did this method work for you? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

8 comments
  1. Robert L. Chayer said:

    A whetstone used frequently works well. U:sing the hole cutter with hand pressure and a twisting motion preserves the edge much longer.

  2. Ron Bath said:

    One of the best things to use as a base for a hole cutter is a piece of hardwood end grain. It can be a small log cross cut with a flat spot or I have used a piece of 6″ X 6″ oak that came from an old machine pallet for more than 20 years. I mount it in a vise and because it is end grain, the hole cutter stays sharp much longer. And it costs nothing to replace.

  3. Akke Bengtsson said:

    If you don’t have access to a filing jig, you may better insert your cutter into your favourite drill machine and recreate the bevel against a whetstone using just a light pressure and not too high speed.

  4. Akke Bengtsson said:

    On second thought- is the bevel on the inside of the cutter? Then, a flat whetstone would be useless regardless of which way you try to apply it.

    • Nikki said:

      Hi Akke,

      On the hole cutters Sailrite sells the bevel is on the outside. So you’re right, a whetstone would also be a great way to sharpen it.

  5. Amazing! I never thought to sharpen them. I used to make and repair truck tarpaulins and I’d destroy a punch in a few months and just replace it. I would have never got it that sharp again anyway. ( well that’s my excuse!)

  6. John said:

    Setting the cutter in a drill press and sharpening from the side works pretty well. On things that cut more complex shapes (like the “oval-hole-and-four prongs” for some twist-tab fasteners, you have to suck it up and work with a dremel, though. one useful trick: “flatten” the cutting edge with just a few passes over a horizontal stone with the cutter held vertically. What used to be your cutting edge is now a very thin annulus. You can paint this with red dy-chem marker (or a red sharpie) and then start sharpening. When the red’s gone, you’ve got a sharp edge and it’s all at the same “depth”, i.e., when you try to use your cutter, it won’t have any “high spots” that require and extra whack or two. Or you can skip the red marker and work with bright light from overhead illuminating the cutter held vertically in a vise. That annular area will show up as a very bright reflection, and you can gradually grind it away to get a sharp edge. One of those hands-free magnifying glasses makes this even easier.

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