Chisels, Planes and a Wet/Dry Grinder (Delta 23-700)

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Blog entry by Geedubs posted 09-10-2010 02:02 PM 13205 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As a hobbyist, I am just now moving toward more hand-tool work and have purchased some decent chisels, a bullnose plane and a low-angle block plane. I also have a honing guide and water stones on the way. I want to re-work some old chisels that I have, keep my new chisels/planes sharp and perhaps, be able to restore old planes or chisels that I might be able to find sleuthing around garage sales, etc.

My question has to do with the option of a suitable bench top grinder. I currently have a cheap, 6”, single speed dual wheel grinder which frankly scares me, is very noisy…and is just poor quality. It looks like I may have the opportunity to pick up a used Delta 23-700 wet/dry grinder for $35-40. I have read multiple negative reviews and comments about this machine but still wonder if it is a decent option for me, considering the price. My needs for grinding are limited so I don’t want to make a big investment. I also have a small shop area and have some concerns about the size of the 23-700.

Thoughts/suggestions? I really appreciate having you all as a resource. Enjoy the day!

-- Todos los dias aprendemos algo nuevo.

5 comments so far

View canadianchips's profile


2627 posts in 3446 days

#1 posted 09-10-2010 02:40 PM

I do lots of work with hand tools. My old method of sharpening was “okay” took time. I just recently bought a used wet dry sharpening wheel at an auction for $3. It runs a lot slower than a regular grind wheel. Very little worry about overheating the irons. It is doing an amazing job of sharpening my chisels and planes. I use it to put the hollow ground on the blades, then I use “scary sharp” method to finish the edge.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3508 days

#2 posted 09-10-2010 02:54 PM

I’m not familiar with that specific grinder, so I can’t state an opinion, but I can offer these suggestions. If you mostly will use a grinder to grind the initial bevel on a tool prior to honing, then the grinder you have may be sufficient. From what you describe, it may only require some higher quality grinding wheels, and a more precise tool rest/guide system to do the job. The single speed can be a problem, but if you keep some water handy to quench the tool so that the metal does not get overheated you can do fine. I know lots of people use the Tormek and similar tools and swear by them. Personally, I only use the grinder for the initial shaping of the bevel and then I prefer to hone by hand with water stones or the scary sharp method (sandpaper glued to plate glass). One other method that you may not have considered for grinding the intitial bevel is a simple belt sander. I have a stationary belt sander that I use a lot for this purpose unless the edge on the tool is really badly damaged. With a 120 grit belt, I can get the tool pretty close to sharp where only minimal honing is required to get the tool ready. I know folks that simply clamp their belt sander upside down in a vise to do this. Last, regardless of which type of tool you use for grinding, it is fairly easy to fabricate a method of guiding the tool so that you get good consistent and square edges on your tools. You can certainly purchase tool guides and rests for your grinder, but it isn’t difficult to make one from plywood and common hardware from your home center. Once you have the tools sharp the first time, most of the time, you only need to do an occasional honing which only takes a few seconds on a water stone to freshen up an edge. You should not need to reqrind the edge very often at all. Most of the time, this is because I have dropped the tool or something like that has happened and the tool has a ding in the edge. Also, don’t leave out the final step of stropping the edge. For chisels and planes irons, this can be as simple as a piece of MDF rubbed with honing or polishing compound. For carving tools, most people use a leather strop of some sort. The final step of stropping the edge does make a big difference in the final quality and durability of that edge, especially on paring tools that have a pretty low bevel angle (often as low as 20 degrees). The last suggestion I would make for you is to go to a flea market and buy some junk chisels to practice on before attempting to grind your expensive tools. You may find, like me, that some of those “junk” tools, turn out to be some of your favorites once you get them sharpened. Also, you don’t risk ruining that $100 chisel while you are learning the basics.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4097 days

#3 posted 09-10-2010 04:22 PM

I never had a high speed grinder, so when it came to it, I got a slow wet grinder (scheppach – you can see my review of it here). it definitely speed things up to shape the bevel, and clean up nicked blades, but once the bevel is set- I only hone it freehand on sand paper. my point is – since you already have a high speed grinder – it may work just fine for you to set the bevel on your blades, after that unless the blades are nicked and need regringing of the bevel, you would probably not need to resharpen them for quite a while.

If you read bad reviews about the delta sharpener – I’d stay away from it. I personally don’t know it though.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View CiscoKid's profile


345 posts in 3322 days

#4 posted 09-10-2010 10:05 PM

I read the same reviews about that machine and decided to take a chance on it. Mine has worked just fine for my needs. I will say that the motor housing gets pretty hot if you have it running for any length of time, but who really runs their grinder for more than ten minutes? Eventually I decided that I liked it well enough to throw away the box so I guess I’m keeping it. If you can pick one up for $40 I say go for it.

I would like to add that I received a WorkSharp WS3000 for Christmas last year. I used it to touch up my collection of Japanese chisels and was so impressed that I went in search of every chisel in my shop and spent an afternoon sharpening everything I could find. Even inexpensive chisels become scary sharp using the WS3000.

-- Al, Culpeper VA

View Geedubs's profile


143 posts in 3678 days

#5 posted 09-11-2010 03:09 PM

Thanks for all the information above. History has taught me that when I experience serious hesitation to do something I should listen to that voice of caution. Based upon that, suggestions above and my limited shop space, I think I will hold off for a better solution. Again, thanks for the help.

Now, for all of that football today!

-- Todos los dias aprendemos algo nuevo.

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