One of my bikes had the brake pads positioned poorly and they developed a pretty pronounced lip where the pad hung off machined braking surface on one side. The bike is using cantilever brakes.

These brakes have great stopping power, but It's hard to adjust the pads since one of them has an uneven surface due to the protruding lip. Is there any way to cut off, grind off, sand off, or otherwise remove the extra material from the brake pad to make it even again?

3 Answers 3


You can trim off the lip with a sharp blade, if you do it carefully. However, I normally recommend that the lip be filed off with the flat side of a 3/4" bastard file.

It's more accurate, the mechanic is less like to hurt the self if they slip, and it has the added benefit of roughing the surface of the pad to remove any heat glazing at the same time you are flattening the surface of the pad.


Slice it off with a sharp knife if it is really big because a file will take too long and sometimes the large mass of rubber gets stringy on the edge with a file. Then file the whole pad flat. Re-surfacing the pad is part of normal brake pad maintenance. You want to remove glazing, uneven wear, and debris. Pick out and deep metal chunks with a sharpened old metal spoke.


I would be inclined to use a coarse wheel on a dremel tool. Brace either the tool or the work (in this case the work, i.e. the brake pad, being small, might be easier to brace). Use consistent pressure to avoid undulation. A few passes should do.

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