Need to sharpen turning tool

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Forum topic by Konomigon posted 01-03-2011 12:13 AM 2305 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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55 posts in 3732 days

01-03-2011 12:13 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question


Santa brought me a lathe this year and I’m struggling to get the tools sharp. The straight tools are no problem, I was able to sharpen them on some sand paper stuck to granite. The tools aren’t HSS, but cheaper ones and burn quickly even with a white norton disk on my grinder. I am thinking about a Worksharp or slow speed grinder that runs in a water bath. Has anyone used both of these methods and can enlighten me on the pros and cons of each?

Thanks in Advance,

-- Kris

9 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5227 posts in 4467 days

#1 posted 01-03-2011 12:36 AM

I have (and use often) the tried and true Makita slow speed water stone “grinder”. You can spend way more $$$ if ya wish, but ya won’t get much more for your money. Look it up.

-- [email protected]

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 3689 days

#2 posted 01-03-2011 01:00 AM

There are a large varity of sharpening systems and techniques. Spend some time on the internet and you’ll find a lot of videos that demonstrate the systems and techniques and that way you can find one that suits you and your wallet. Also read the reviews carefully for each system and read the reviews on a few different sites. In my case I have the grinder from woodcraft that has two wheels and has 2 speeds, low rpm and high. I also use the wolvrene system which I find very simple to use and is reasonably priced. Good luck!

P.S. I looked at the Worksharp and spoke with a lot of turners in our turning club and almost everyone of them said while the worksharp worked well on a few of their tools it did have a few limitations for sharpening turning tools.

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3581 days

#3 posted 01-03-2011 01:18 AM

First, let me say that a good sharpening system is essential for turning. I think many new turners underestimate how important it is.

At one time I used the WorkSharp to sharpen my lathe cutting tools and I was very disappointed. That is not what it was intended for and it just does not work right for lathe cutting tools.

In my opinion, a slow speed grinder and the Wolverine jig (or it’s equivalent by another brand) is ideal.

A wet system is a mess to work with and, IMO, not necessary. If you are working with non-HSS metal you need to keep the blades from over heating. Just have a glass of water handy and dip often.

Some will opinion that a slow speed grinder (about 1700 rpm) is not necessary. They think a normal speed grinder (about 3400 rpm) is acceptable. They may be right for HSS. I don’t think they are right for non-HSS cutting tools.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 4530 days

#4 posted 01-03-2011 02:02 AM

I’m probably not a good one to ask, since I use no system at all. I’m a student of the old Richard Raffan/Del Stubbs freehand school, and simply use a slow-speed grinder with a white grinding wheel and the stock rest. I support my tool with two stacked fingers on the rest (watch the knuckles), and feel the grind and watch the sparks. I realize there are better systems, but I’ve been sharpening this way for 25 years and really don’t see a need to change. Granted, I wouldn’t mind one of the Veritas large rests but the other gear really doesn’t interest me. I own a WorkSharp and tried it. Like Rich, I wasn’t impressed.

I sharpen very frequently, and so don’t worry about a “perfect” edge. Unlike a chisel or plane iron, you’re going to back to sharpening in a few minutes anyway, so get a good edge that will cut, and don’t worry about perfect. You can always refine it in a few minutes.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View Konomigon's profile


55 posts in 3732 days

#5 posted 01-03-2011 02:54 AM

I love the idea of sharpening on a grinder, mainly because I already own one and I have the white wheel too. I tried to sharpen some kind of scaper and literally after only a second I get some blackness on the edge. I know it may be hard to see but have I gotten it too hot? If so I’m either going to have to get some HSS tools or some sort of slow grinder. I can remove this with a few strokes on a stone. The front of the tool has a kind of brownish hue now also.

-- Kris

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4528 days

#6 posted 01-03-2011 05:09 PM

I use one of these to sharpen tools for my lathe.
You have lots of control and can use a range of grits from coarse to fine as the situation presents.
p.s. an old furnace motor will work just fine for power.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View PhineasWhipsnake's profile


77 posts in 3554 days

#7 posted 01-04-2011 04:22 AM

It’s quite possible to spend more on sharpening systems than you did for the lathe. I really like the Wolverine jig with my slow-speed grinder/white wheel. Simple, repeatable, fairly cheap.

-- Gene T

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3701 days

#8 posted 01-04-2011 04:52 AM

So far my worksharp 3000 has worked well. It does take some practice though(like anything else) to cut the gouges correctly but works very well once you get the hang of it. I dont see a reason to get a wolverine since I already have this.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Steve Rathke's profile

Steve Rathke

27 posts in 4219 days

#9 posted 01-04-2011 05:14 AM

TORMEK or JET sell a great water cooled low speed grinder. Check out the demos on YouTube look up Tormek and or Jeff Ferris. they sharpen the turning tools exquisitely. I have a Tormek T7 and I have not lost any of the temper of metal which is common on dry sharpeners. I get scary sharp tools. Its definitely the best way to maintain your tools, even the realy hard to sharpen tools – theres a jig for it.

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