The majority of darts that are used for bristle dartboards have steel tips. Over time these tips can become blunt. You can tell this is the case when the dart starts bouncing off the board more than usual. It doesn’t matter what quality of darts you are using. Sooner or later, they’ll lose their point and their ability to stick into the dartboard.
All darts need maintenance after a certain point. The tips need to be sharpened so that they stick to the board and stay put until the scores are recorded.
In this article, we’ll talk all about how to properly sharpen your darts. We talk about when and how often you should sharpen the darts, how sharp the darts need to be, and the different sharpening techniques you can use.
How Sharp Your Darts Should Be
Firstly, it is important to establish the definition of sharpness for your darts. The tips need to be rounded, but not overly round, or they would be categorized as blunt. Also try to avoid making them too pointy, as that would lead to more bounce outs as well. Plus, it will chip the dartboard, damaging it prematurely.
An ideal tip should look and feel conical. This shape is perfect for latching on to the dartboard. Additionally, it doesn’t rip the fibers away and lets them self-heal once you pull out the darts. When the tip is extra sharp, it pokes deep into the board. It can also rip the surface apart, because when you throw an extra sharp dart with force, there is a chance that the tip will bend with impact on the hard surface.
Similarly, a blunt tip can also destroy the board’s surface prematurely and spoil the setup.
Can Darts be Too Sharp?
Extra sharp darts are equally as bad as blunt darts. So, how do you check if your darts are extra pointy? Simply run your finger over the tip. If it feels like a needle prick, it implies that the tips are too sharp. Extra sharp darts bounce more from the dartboard, and can damage the sisal fibers both when entering and exiting the board.
When a dart is too sharp, it can pierce the spider instead of rolling past it, causing damage to the metal wiring. The dart can lose its momentum and fall to the floor. Imagine facing this situation during a match. You would not score any points, and you will end up with a damaged dartboard.
Blunt darts do not stick onto the dartboard. You will need to apply extra force for them to stick, but by applying extra force, there is a higher probability of you missing the target. Moreover, the dart might bounce off and accidentally injure someone nearby.
The dartboard gets damaged by blunt tips. Instead of penetration, the blunt tip will steer the fibers away from each other. It will form holes on the board and destroy the surface’s texture.
The most common dartboards are made from sisal fibers. When a sharp dart penetrates, it slides between the fibers. When you remove it, the fibers get back to their original structure. However, when a blunt dart hits it, it causes the fibers to become misshapen.
What are Burrs and How to Prevent Them
Sometimes when you throw a dart with too much force, it misses the spot you were aiming for and crashes on the wall or the board. Often, the tip gets bent. This kind of deformity is called a burr. A burr is damaging for both your dartboard and darts.
When you pull out a burred dart from the dart board, it might rip apart the fibers and leave a dent on the board’s surface. Therefore, it would be best if you always inspected the dart’s tip after every bounce out.
To prevent a burr from forming, you can put cushioning material below the dartboard. A dart mat is an ideal setup that you can place on the floor below the dartboard. Then, if the dart bounces and falls on the ground, its tip can survive the fall. This also helps in preventing wear and tear of both the dartboard and floor.
How to Sharpen Darts with a Dart Sharpener
A Dart sharpener is an effective tool to keep the tips in shape. They are quite affordable and easily available. However, one needs to know the correct method of using a dart sharpener, or else it will lead to further damage to the darts. The kinds of the sharpener that you should consider while buying are:
- Opt for a cylindrical or bowl-shaped sharpener
- Choose a stone sharpener
- Pick a small one that is convenient to hold
After your purchase, you can dive into the sharpening part. At first, you need to insert the dart’s blunt tip into the sharpener. Then, slowly grind the tip by applying light pressure. Continue this process for about 15-20 seconds.
Remove the dart from the sharpener and check the tip using your finger. If the tip still feels blunt, then continue sharpening for a few more seconds.
Check the darts from time to time and use a dart sharpener only when necessary. Do not make the dart’s tip extra sharp, as this will cause more damage to the darts and the dartboards, as well as the surrounding walls.
Other Sharpening Methods
There are various ways to sharpen a dart’s tip without using a dart sharpener. Some of the items you can use for sharpening are a curbstone, concrete wall, red brick, a fish hook sharpener, an emery cloth, a nail filer, plumber’s cloth, rock, sandpaper, or a whetstone.
Although there are specific items designed to sharpen darts, you can use anything that helps in sharpening knives, nails, scissors, etc. Here, we will talk about using sandpaper and whetstone for sharpening the tips. These are the most commonly used items and can be easily found.
An excellent way to sharpen the darts is by using sandpaper. We advise you to use medium or fine-grade sandpaper for the sharpening process. At first, place the sandpaper strip on a leveled surface.
Hold your dart at a right angle with respect to the paper. Move the dart from one side to another while simultaneously rotating it. Rotate it in clockwise and counter-clockwise directions until the tip is rounded to the desired diameter.
Once you are done with the rotations, twist the dart and pull it out from the sandpaper’s surface. It will produce good scuffs that are spirally on the tip’s side.
A whetstone is a flat sharpening stone used for sharpening knives, scissors, and other tools. They are an excellent platform for sharpening blunt darts as well.
Hold the tip of the dart perpendicular to the whetstone’s surface. Rotate the tip from one side to another in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions. Stop the process once you attain the conical shape at the tip that is neither too sharp nor too blunt.
How Often You Should Sharpen Your Darts
The frequency of sharpening your darts depends on how frequently you play the game. The more you play, the quicker the tips will lose the sharpness. It would be best if you sharpened the tips when they become flat and bounce out more. Another sign of a blunt dart tip is when the tip’s sides lose their microscopic grooves.
Good quality and professional darts do not need sharpening for an initial two to three years. However, after that, it will solely depend on the frequency of use or whenever the tips go blunt.
Sharpening a dart is not a tough job. There are different kinds of sharpeners available in the market. Different alternatives like sandpaper and whetstones can also be used for this purpose. Investing in good quality darts would be beneficial as you would not require to sharpen the darts more often. However, eventually even the good ones face wear and tear after a certain period.
Ensure that the darts do not become extra sharp. You need to constantly check the tips of the darts and sharpen them when required. A blunt tip will damage the dartboard, and could also damage the surrounding wall and the floor as it will keep bouncing off the board and falling haphazardly.