You wouldn’t notice this during practice but as your darts collide, you struggle with bounce outs, and repeatedly land your darts close to the wire rim, your darts will eventually start to blunt. This is only relevant to steel tip darts but the more you play, the blunter your dart tip will get overtime.
To properly maintain your darts and ensure you keep them sharp enough to minimize bounce-outs (which will naturally improve your scores and three dart averages), you’ll need to sharpen your darts regularly. As the darts are steel tip, most players actually need to know how to sharpen darts properly.
To sharpen steel tip darts, you need to use either a darts sharpener or a sharpening stone to ensure you keep a sharp point. To sharpen a dart using a stone, you should feel for a burr on the dart tip and then rotate the tip inside the sharpening stone to remove the burr without damaging the point.
In this article, I’ll run through why you need to keep your darts sharp for consistent scoring and also how to sharpen them. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it so I’ll have a range of options to suit all budgets and needs.
Why Do You Need To Sharpen Darts?
Just like any other sports equipment, darts are prone to wear and tear. Darts have optimal performance when new. But after playing with your set over and over again, they will start to bounce out more often. You might need to add more force just to stick the set into the dartboard.
If you’re not too keen on using worn-out darts, the best course of action is to buy a new set. This is one of the reasons why most players have a spare set for practice and casual plays. But if you’re short of funds, you can still use your worn-out set by sharpening them.
Dart sharpening is one of the few ways in which it can help you prolong your darts and if I’m being honest, buying a replacement set every time your darts become blunt is not really practical. Therefore, you really need to sharpen to points not only for longevity and value for money but mainly for performance reasons.
Frequent bounce-outs are going to result in countless lost points and if you play competitively in any form, every single dart will count.
When Is A Dart Sufficiently Considered “Sharp”?
Different factors affect a dart thrown into the board. For example, the throw’s force will determine if the dart will stick into the board or not. However, one of the most overlooked factors is the dart’s sharpness. It should be in the ideal sharpness to ensure no bounce-out will happen.
A worn-out dart will usually have a flat or blunt tip. If you gently tap your finger to the tip, it would feel a bit smooth instead of pointed. To make it stick to the dartboard, you need to use extra force, or it will just bounce out. When this happens, there might be accidents that can occur in the area. You’ll also lose accuracy if you are trying to throw your dart with more force each throw.
If the tip is too sharp, it won’t be a good thing either. Sharp darts are more dangerous and can cause accidents when mishandled. When thrown into a dartboard, it can create more damage to the board’s body. Not to mention that it will stick into the sisal fiber.
The tip’s sharpness will cause excessive wear and tear to the board’s material, even with minimal force. Having a dart that is too sharp is actually a leading cause for dartboard bulging and swelling as the sisal fibers become ripped and damaged.
The Right Sharpness
A properly-sharpened dart tip should not bounce off the dartboard and should not bury itself excessively either. The best way to sharpen your dart is to keep a slightly rounded tip. It should have a bit of radius in the center, and the tip should not be as skinny as a needle.
If you gently touch the tip of the darts, it should feel pointy enough but should not be able to rupture your skin.
How to Sharpen Darts Properly
You can sharpen your dart tips in three different ways: depending on your comfort level in handling darts. There are automated dark sharpeners, which might cost a bit, but will give you convenience down the line. If you don’t have extra money to buy this automated stuff, your best bet is to grind the dart manually.
1. Darts Sharpener
Automatic dart sharpeners need battery power to work correctly. All you have to do is point the worn-out dart tip into the sharpening area and let the device do its work. Additionally, you can also customize the angle at which it will sharpen the dart. The machine’s precision is one of its selling points.
If you’re not experienced in handling a dart or not confident in using a manual sharpener, the automatic one is for you. This tool is precise in its sharpening every time you use it. It’s a better choice if you’re going to play this sport in the long run.
2. Manual Dart Sharpener
The manual dart sharpener might be a better option for those who don’t want to bother changing batteries. It is a manual grinder, in which you put the dart tip inside and rotate it around the sharpener. You would be the one adjusting for the right angle and the dart’s correct position while sharpening.
Manual sharpeners are an excellent option for players who already have a bit of experience in the game. It needs a bit of know-how and might not be appealing to all players. Since this sharpener doesn’t operate with a battery, you can use this tool for an extended period, even without power.
When push comes to shove, the sandpaper is your friend. Sandpapers are inexpensive and quite intuitive to use: just wrap a sheet around the tip and make a repeated motion. You might need a few sheets to complete the process of sharpening a set.
Take note: you can ruin your dart tip by manual sharpening if you don’t know what angle to work with while sanding. Your dart can turn a bit shorter or skinnier, which is not optimal. It might be better to let other more experienced players do it for you or use an electric sharpener.
How Do You Sharpen a Dart With a Stone
If you need to see the correct way to manually sharpen a dart, I’ve added a video below that you can use for reference.
Sharpening stones are actually one of the cheapest tools you can use and I’d recommend taking the time to use them as they are both effective and budget-friendly. Getting some practice on an old, cheap set of darts is useful and is recommended before attempting this with your own darts.
To sharpen a dart with a stone, you need to feel for a burr on the tip of the dart and then grind this against the stone in either a circular or rotating motion (depending on the shape of your stone) until you have removed the burr.
You are not trying to change the angle of the dart’s tip/point so don’t be forceful and try to make it sharp, simply feel for the burr and aim to remove it.
** The burr is hard to explain but it basically feels like an edge or overhang of steel on the point. You’ll notice a burr by running your finger gently, lengthways towards the dart’s point until you feel an area that is no longer smooth.
How Often Should You Sharpen Your Dart Points?
The short answer is: it depends. Are you playing with your set frequently? Or do you use it once every two months? In some cases, non-frequent players might want to sharpen their sets every few months or even a few years (if you rarely play.)
Usually, a dart might need a bit of sharpening if it starts to bounce-out of the board without hitting another dart. Look at your dart tip closely: if the tip is flat, then it’s time to get your sharpening tools. Dart tips with bends or “burrs” should be re-sharpened immediately, as these bends can further destroy your dartboard.
When To Get A New Dart Set?
There will probably be a time in which sharpening up your dart will not revive your set. If your tip is too short, or if the bend is too severe, you might want just to buy another set. Sharpening the tip will only work if your darts are still not that worn out or if it doesn’t have damage in other parts.
Take note: prevention is still a better option than having to sharpen your gear frequently. Keep your darts dry and clean. Don’t let your set lying around and be exposed to the environment. Use a pouch or some kind of container (like a nylon storage case) that can keep moisture out.
Not knowing how to sharpen darts is something that will cause you to lose points during practice and game scenarios and will also cost you money in the long run as a blunt dart will quickly damage your board and require replacement tips and dartboards much more frequently.
Sharpening a dart can be as simple as buying an electronic darts sharpener or using the “cheap and cheerful” manual method on a sharpening stone. Whatever method you use, just ensure you are only reforming the point during sharpening. The aim is not to make a super sharp point but rather to maintain a point and prevent any burrs or flat tips.
By doing this, you’ll not only ensure that your darts equipment lasts longer but you’ll also improve as a player due to fewer bounce-outs and a more aerodynamic dart with less drag.