When start playing darts more and more often, you will probably notice that, with time, the darts start doing more bounce-outs than usual. One of the main reasons for that (apart from hitting the wire) is because your darts have gotten dull. In order to prevent these bounce-outs and improve your scoring, you should keep your darts in top condition.
In this article, we will learn how to sharpen your darts properly in order to keep them precise and to keep your dartboard healthy. After all, a dart with burrs will damage the dartboard far worse than a well-maintained dart would.
When sharpening darts, you can use three main methods:
- Sharpening Darts With A Dart Sharpener
- Sharpening Darts With A Flat Stone
- Sharpening Darts With Sandpaper
Alternatively, we will also discuss other sharpening methods that you can use if you don’t have any of these three tools for the job. Before we dive into this, make sure you check out my guide on the best steel tip darts on the market!
Sharpening Darts With A Dart Sharpener
The best and most common method of sharpening darts is by using a dart sharpener. These are specific tools that are specifically designed to fit a dart tip and shape it perfectly.
To understanding the sharpening process, you need to remember that there are three major parts to it that you should always follow, no matter the method. These are:
- The tip should always be ground to a round shape avoiding making it too pointy
- You should grind a moderate conical profile around the tip
- Grind flat the remaining metal part (1/2″ to 3/4″) of the dart
Now, onto the easiest and most common method out there. Using a dart sharpener is something you are going to get used to, especially if you plan on getting more serious with darts. The biggest advantage of these sharpeners is that they are small and can be virtually carried anywhere in your pocket.
Use these sharpeners according to the general steps we laid out just a moment ago. Start by correcting the radius of the tip, so that it becomes round. Then, continue with the sides of the tip until you get a slightly conical shape. Finish off, by roughing scuffing the sides.
There are multiple types of dart sharpeners. You want the ones made out of actual stone with a rounded profile. These will be the easiest to use and will give you the best possible sharpening without much work.
Sharpening Darts With A Flat Stone
You can also sharpen darts with a flat stone, a rectangular stone for sharpening, or even a round sharpening stone. The process is similar to sharpening your darts using sandpaper. You place the darts perpendicular to the stone and start moving it slightly from side to side. At the same time, rotate the darts so that it rounds its edge on the stone. Next up, you have to handle the conical shape of the darts by narrowing the angle of the darts along with the sharpening stone. In the end, roughly grind the last 3/4 of the metal darts.
Sharpening Darts With Sandpaper
If you still don’t have a special dart sharpener, nor a flat stone, then using sandpaper is your next best option! A few things you should really pay attention to here is that you should get sandpaper that is medium-grade and rated for use on metal. Get a piece of the sandpaper and lay it on flat ground, preferably somewhere stable.
Next up, drag the tip of the dart across the sandpaper (holding it perpendicularly). While doing so, also turn the tip of the dart clockwise and counterclockwise. With this type of movement, you will achieve the round shape of the tip you’re after.
Lastly, hold the point of the dart almost horizontally on the sandpaper. Drag it across while twisting the darts at the same time. This should produce nice scuffs on its side which will be good enough to eliminate any uneven structures and will shape the darts as they should be.
Alternative Methods To Sharpen Darts
As we already discussed, in order to consistently hit bullseyes and not damage your dartboard, you will need well-maintained darts. However, if none of the methods above is accessible to you, I have a few alternative ones that you can try out. You can sharpen your darts the following ways:
- Using a concrete wall
- Using bricks
- Sharpening them against a curbstone
- Using fish hook sharpeners
- Using nail files or normal files
All of these methods have varying and sometimes limited success, especially when compared to using a specialized dart sharpener. One of my favorite methods is using a concrete wall near you. The principles of this method are essentially the same as using a sharpening stone. The same can be said about using a whetstone or any type of file, although the results may vary depending on the coarseness of the file and stone. Fish hook sharpeners work really well as they are meant to sharpen narrow and hard metal objects and typically have the right grit for the job.
How Sharp Should The Darts Be?
One of the most common mistakes among rookies is over-sharpening their darts, thinking that will make them very precise and will eliminate bounce-outs. While it will most certainly help, you shouldn’t overdo this. So, the question here is how sharp exactly should your darts will be?
The answer to that is (fairly) simple. Your darts should never be as sharp as a knife’s edge. When you run it through your fingers, it shouldn’t hurt or cut you. It should be somewhat smooth to the touch thanks to its rounded tip. What pierces the dartboard isn’t the sharpness of the dart but its narrow tip. Rounded tips are more durable and are far less likely to damage your dartboard in the long run.
Against all logic, darts that are too sharpened tend to actually bounce out more. Furthermore, these darts also have the potential to actually damage your wiring, which will cost you quite a lot, depending on the quality of your dartboard.
Rounded darts deflect off the wiring. This is one of the main reasons you should always aim after that shape for your darts’ tips. However, don’t overdo this by making them flat, as that will have a negative impact on the dart’s penetrating ability.
Tips to Keep Your Darts Healthy
While you can always sharpen your dull darts, you should also take a few extra steps in order to keep your darts in top condition. Some of my best tips for that are:
- Always keep your darts clean and dry.
- Don’t sharpen the tip.
- Don’t set your dartboard above hard surfaces.
- Always store your darts.
Cleaning your darts will make sure that they always have the best grip. Greasy hands and fingers tend to make them slippery which will impact your aim in a negative way. It also makes the dart less accurate since the center of mass is now slightly shifted. Believe it or not, even the slightest changes to a dart can make it shoot less accurately than it is supposed to. This tip is also valid for the plastic darts that come with electronic dart boards since they often have the same body as regular steel-tip darts.
Setting up your dartboard above a concrete floor or any other type of floor that is too hard is just asking for trouble. When (not if) you bounce out, your dart will most likely fall tip-first onto the hard surface, potentially damaging its tip beyond repair.
If you want to learn how to throw darts properly, make sure you visit my article on that topic! Now, let’s answer some of the most common questions when it comes to sharpening your darts…
Frequently Asked Questions
Do darts need sharpening?
The reason why darts need sharpening is that this will make them perform better. Apart from improved accuracy and penetration, the smooth tip of the darts won’t mar your dartboard. That is why keeping your darts sharp and smooth is one of the steps of proper dartboard maintenance.
Can you sharpen tungsten dart tips?
Yes, in fact, tungsten-tipped darts require as much attention as any other cheaper type of dart arrow. However, they will be harder to sharpen than regular steel-tipped darts. They also often require different sharpening tools.
What are dart sharpeners made out of?
While they are a ton of varieties out there, the main types of dart sharpeners are made out of stone. The small sharpening stone often comes with a pre-drilled hole in the middle where you can insert the tip of the darts.
How often should you sharpen your darts?
While there isn’t a set-in-stone rule of how often darts should be sharpened, it should generally depend on how often you practice. For casual darts players, darts should be sharpened only when there are actually visible burrs on the dart. For professional players or ones who practice a lot, it will be good to sharpen the darts a few times per month.
Learning how to sharpen your darts is going to be one of the essential skillsets you acquire along the way to a professional darts career. Doing that is one of the best ways to make sure that your darts are precise, you won’t get a ton of bounce outs, and the tips will spare the bristle dartboard. All these benefits are the reason why you should inspect your darts occasionally and sharpen them if needed!