Sharpening question

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SpiritRider

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I have always used carbide cutters since I started turning but I scored a set of the hss micro tools from Penn state.

Is there a frugal way to get into sharpening? I have trouble getting a edge on a knife and I have never been satisfied with my attempts to sharpen chisels and planes. A almost fool proof jig is what I am hoping for. I considered starting with a slow speed grinder and add what I can as I go.
 
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Woodchipper

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There are a number of low speed grinders on the market. I got a Rikon from Woodcraft. The Wolverine sharpening system is good as it allows you to sharpen skews, bowl gouges, etc. My go-to YouTube videos are either Mike Peace or John Lucas. John put on a sharpening demo at an AAW chapter. Very informative.
 

leehljp

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Sharpening, when not skilled or experienced, is usually only as good as your persistence to get it better.

Slow Grinding: I have a Grizzly Slow Grinder (water wheel) and while it is very good, it is SLOW. The very point and purpose behind slow grinding is to hold the temp down. Temp becomes the enemy. However, slow grinding requires patience, patience, patience if not experienced with patience. Slow grinding does not take much off quickly and is not a quick way to "shape" the blade. As a repeat sharpening, once shaped, - that is its best feature, and it is good. Slow grinding is great but it takes time and patience. Good turners will tell you that even then, the tools needs to be honed - off the grinder for the best sharpening.

Best of both worlds: CBN wheels are excellent for 1. Shaping and 2. Sharpening HSS tools. (There is a difference between SHAPING and SHARPENING) Here are a couple of threads on the subject of CBN wheels:
http://www.penturners.org/forum/f30/cbn-wheel-question-s-147589/

https://www.penturners.org/threads/cbn-wheels-for-grinder.155103/

Once shaped and sharpened, there is another step for keeping the blades pristine sharp during turning and that is a "scary sharp" system, which consists of a glass lapping plate and different grades of PSA sanding sheets on the glass. Taking two or three swipes every few minutes keeps the blade pristine sharp.
 

moke

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Cedar Rapids, Iowa
I have always used carbide cutters since I started turning but I scored a set of the hss micro tools from Penn state.

Is there a frugal way to get into sharpening? I have trouble getting a edge on a knife and I have never been satisfied with my attempts to sharpen chisels and planes. A almost fool proof jig is what I am hoping for. I considered starting with a slow speed grinder and add what I can as I go.
Short answer, No. I have spent a lot of money on grinders, CBN wheels, guides, this and that....it was a long and frustrating, but I am finally fairly proficient at it. I am sure I will get flamed by someone saying I am wrong, and I could very well be, but this was my experience. I am normally a glass half full kind of guy.....
 

Hartwell85

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Findlay, OH
Get a 8 inch low speed grinder like Rikon or Delta variable speed grinder. The most efficient way to grind HSS is with CBN wheels. If you can't afford CBN wheels, then get the blue Norton 3X grinding wheels. https://www.woodturnerscatalog.com/p/97/2651/norton-3X-8-Inch-Grinding-Wheel. I bought the Rikon low speed grinder but replaced the wheels with Norton because there grinding efficiency was better than the OEM wheels. The Wolverine sharpening system makes sharpening easy.
 

Robert Taylor

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Something tha no one has mentioned is You will spend more money on a system that is not going to work very long on those tools as they are too short to fit the Wolverine type system. Get an 8 inch low speed grinder like Rikon and the wheels that come on it will more than get you started. Learn to sharpen freehand. I strongly reccomend watching some youtube videos by Tomislav Tomasic and Richard Raffan.
 

derekdd

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Sharpening tools, whether turning tools, planes, or knives is a skill we all have to develop. There is a bit of a learning curve, but it becomes muscle memory after a while.

When I watch some of my favorite makers on YT sharpen their tools, I often find they are taking off a whole lot of steel when all that really is required is cleaning up the edge again on a high grit diamond stone or sandpaper as mentioned above.

Find a system/process that works for you and fits your budget.
 

monophoto

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It has been said that a boat is a hole in the water that you pour money into. Something similar could be said about tool sharpening. Sharpening devices and systems aren't cheap, and inevitably someone will come along with something 'better' before you learn how to use what you have, and the key is to develop the self-discipline to say NO to constantly upgrading.

As others have noted, its a skill, and all skills take practice to become proficient. And practice means repeatedly sharpening tools - but if you start off with small tools, they will become tiny before you acquire significant sharpening skills. And that would be after spending a lot of money on a grinder, wheels, a grinding jig/system. etc.

I'm frugal. When I started out, I sharpened my 'starter tools' using some old oil stones that I inherited from my Dad. The beauty of oil stones (or diamond hones) is that they can do a great job of sharpening without wasting a lot of tools steel. Later, I bought a grinder (6", high speed) with aluminum oxide wheels., and built my own grinding jig. That's a workable system, but a high-speed grinder can remove a lot of steel very quickly. Later, I upgraded one of the wheels to a higher (finer) grit. Along the way, I picked up a few diamond plates that I use for straight-edge tools such as skews and scrapers. That's good enough for me. But I have to say that I use conventional HSS tools almost exclusively - I do have a few carbide tools that I keep for special purposes, but I prefer conventional gouges, skews and scrapers.

I could probably have gotten by using a sanding disk, but I don't regret spending money on a grinder. For one thing, I also learned to use it to sharpen my lawnmower blade, something that I do before the beginning of each mowing season, and the lawn looks better for it!
 

Woodchipper

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I searched for a video of a fellow which, I believe, was in Marrakesh. He used a bow lathe, skew of unknown metal, and sharpened the skew with a file. No low RPM grinder.
I bought a new laptop and when the data was transferred, it was a fiasco, to say the least. Photos lost or put in another unrelated file, etc.
 

monophoto

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I searched for a video of a fellow which, I believe, was in Marrakesh. He used a bow lathe, skew of unknown metal, and sharpened the skew with a file. No low RPM grinder.
I bought a new laptop and when the data was transferred, it was a fiasco, to say the least. Photos lost or put in another unrelated file, etc.
Captain Eddy use to say that you could sharpen a turning tool with anything - even a brick.
 

Robert Taylor

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I searched for a video of a fellow which, I believe, was in Marrakesh. He used a bow lathe, skew of unknown metal, and sharpened the skew with a file. No low RPM grinder.
I bought a new laptop and when the data was transferred, it was a fiasco, to say the least. Photos lost or put in another unrelated file, etc.
Maybe this video:

 
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If you are sharpening the carbide cutters, my friend used a diamond card with a drop of 3N1 oil and just rubbed them around in the oil they the were sharp... I only use a carbide tool as a scraper and haven't had to sharpen one yet.
 

dogcatcher

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First the mini chisel sets are too small for almost all of the lathe chisels sharpening jigs. To sharpen them I would suggest reading and studying how to sharpen carving chisels and gouges.

Next read about the "Scary Sharp Sharpening System". This method uses different grits of sandpaper. It requires a lot patience and practice. There are some that use angle guides. Others do it freehand using experience as their guide.

My next advice. Find a local wood turning club and join up. Woodturners freely give their secrets and are really helpful.
 

Woodchipper

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Adding: I use the Rikon grinder and Wolverine system occasionally. I have found that the three piece set of DMT diamond files to be great for touch up when turning. It is said that if you think you need to sharpen your tools, you are overdue to sharpen.
 

sbwertz

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Another vote for the Wolverine system. I have one at home and also at the blind center. Get the skew attachment. My grinders are variable speed, set to the slowest speed. CBN wheels at home, white aluminum oxide at the blind center.
 
Last edited:

sbwertz

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Sharpening, when not skilled or experienced, is usually only as good as your persistence to get it better.

Slow Grinding: I have a Grizzly Slow Grinder (water wheel) and while it is very good, it is SLOW. The very point and purpose behind slow grinding is to hold the temp down. Temp becomes the enemy. However, slow grinding requires patience, patience, patience if not experienced with patience. Slow grinding does not take much off quickly and is not a quick way to "shape" the blade. As a repeat sharpening, once shaped, - that is its best feature, and it is good. Slow grinding is great but it takes time and patience. Good turners will tell you that even then, the tools needs to be honed - off the grinder for the best sharpening.

Best of both worlds: CBN wheels are excellent for 1. Shaping and 2. Sharpening HSS tools. (There is a difference between SHAPING and SHARPENING) Here are a couple of threads on the subject of CBN wheels:
http://www.penturners.org/forum/f30/cbn-wheel-question-s-147589/

https://www.penturners.org/threads/cbn-wheels-for-grinder.155103/

Once shaped and sharpened, there is another step for keeping the blades pristine sharp during turning and that is a "scary sharp" system, which consists of a glass lapping plate and different grades of PSA sanding sheets on the glass. Taking two or three swipes every few minutes keeps the blade pristine sharp.
I have a WorkSharp grinder for kitchen knives, but use low speed grinder with CBN wheels for turning tools.
 

SpiritRider

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Illinois
I have been able to keep the mini tools usable but not happy with the gouges. I am using a whetstone so far. I was given a set of VERY abused tools that I need to get back to the proper shape. I am ordering a rikon 1/2 hp low speed grinder and will build up.
I will also continue hand sharpening

Thanks everyone.
 

Paul in OKC

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Oklahoma City, OK, USA.
I used to worry about that, found I spent more time sharpening than turning. I have a 30 year old 6" bench grinder and use it. I'm sure they're not what an absolutist would say is ideal, but they work fine.
 

Woodchipper

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I have been able to keep the mini tools usable but not happy with the gouges. I am using a whetstone so far. I was given a set of VERY abused tools that I need to get back to the proper shape. I am ordering a rikon 1/2 hp low speed grinder and will build up.
I will also continue hand sharpening

Thanks everyone.
I have the Rikon grinder. I spent part of the afternoon sharpening tools. Used a skew yesterday which was dull as a two hour sermon. Cuts great now. Wolverine has a good system for sharpening. Turners don't recommend the Vari-Grind 2 but lean toward the regular system. This what I used today. Mike Peace has good Youtube videos on sharpening; a search will show more.
 
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