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sharpening woodturning tools

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Forum topic by Freedom posted 01-18-2021 11:59 PM 732 views 2 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Freedom

6 posts in 397 days


01-18-2021 11:59 PM

I am just starting to learn wood turning and have been experimenting, it’s been great fun! I now need to ask what is the best grinding wheel (6”) to use for sharpening my gouges, etc. I am trying to get into turning pens and already messed up one, oh well, live and learn, but I’m not sure if it’s me or the tools are getting dull. Also, how often do you have to sharpen the gouges?

Thanks for your help.

Freedom


19 replies so far

View Maro2Bear's profile

Maro2Bear

40 posts in 40 days


#1 posted 01-19-2021 12:09 AM

Greetings.

The sharper the tool, the better the cut. Depending on what im working on, i sharpen my traditional lathe “tools” multiple times throughout a project. Of course, turning a small object like a pen blank wouldn’t require much.

If you are turning small items like pens, on nice hardwood, you might check into carbide tools. They don’t require sharpening, are very sharp & work well.

Here’s a link – https://www.easywoodtools.com/shop-landing-page

-- Mark B. Glenn Dale, MD

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Eeyore

101 posts in 223 days


#2 posted 01-19-2021 02:40 AM

Sharp gouges will throw chips and shavings. Dull gouges will throw scrapings and dust.

-- Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans

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Eeyore

101 posts in 223 days


#3 posted 01-19-2021 02:46 AM

If you are turning small items like pens, on nice hardwood, you might check into carbide tools. They don’t require sharpening, are very sharp & work well.

I’ve watched videos of people using expensive carbide tools to remove bark and rough out shapes that a cheap gouge would be faster and cleaner at, and wondered, “Why?”

-- Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans

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LittleBlackDuck

6488 posts in 1827 days


#4 posted 01-19-2021 02:56 AM


... you might check into carbide tools…
- Maro2Bear

As the ’Bear suggested, for pens, I do recommend changeable TCT blades on dedicated chisels… no need to sharpen. Replacement blades do cost, but so does sharpening (in time and accessories). Do not go for anything with interchangeable heads (as opposed to blades)... all you’ll be doing is changing heads and I’ve found the head attachment mechanism often interferes with tool rest comfort.

If you will branch out and undoubtedly you will do… if you can afford it, it’s hard to beat a Tormek... again, the jigs cost shekels, however, there is little in a workshop (or garden, or household) that it can’t sharpen.
Heavy cost up front, but over time will definitely pay for itself…

There are many cheaper alternatives, however, having a Tormek, I have no desire to learn about them.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

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bigJohninvegas

939 posts in 2469 days


#5 posted 01-19-2021 04:54 AM

I am just starting to learn wood turning and have been experimenting, it s been great fun! I now need to ask what is the best grinding wheel (6”) to use for sharpening my gouges, etc. I am trying to get into turning pens and already messed up one, oh well, live and learn, but I m not sure if it s me or the tools are getting dull. Also, how often do you have to sharpen the gouges?

Thanks for your help.

Freedom

- Freedom


well most of us that use grinding wheels are using 8”. And the factory wheel is fine to start out with. but there are plenty of choices in upgrading stone wheels, all the way to CBN. Here s a link to a good CBN wheel. Scroll down to find 6”.
https://woodturnerswonders.com/collections/cbn-wheels
I don’t know anyone using a 6” CBN. but Ken does sell it. I would maybe keep using a stone wheel till I could upgrade my grinder to 8”. Before I invested in a 6” CBN. But that’s just me. Not a right or wrong.

Are you using a Wolverine jig?
As shown in this Woodcraft page you will need to add a Vari-Grind jig to sharpen bowl and spindle gauges.
https://www.woodcraft.com/products/oneway-wolverine-grinding-jig

And for how often depends on the wood, or other material you are working with. ie, turning Acrilic pen blanks, or Corian.
Turning a pen you may easily get through the whole project. then again maybe not. Once you have a good sharpening system. You will learn what dull tools feel like and sharpen as often as needed.
Oh and I like the Mega Square CBN, at 1.5” wider is better. spartan looks tempting for the price, but easy to fall off the edge.
Good luck.

-- John

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mel52

1967 posts in 1271 days


#6 posted 01-19-2021 04:55 AM

I’m with a lot of the above. I use carbide tools on some of my smaller projects and the cutters can also be sharpened a time or two at least using small diamond cards before replacing. I learned how off YouTube. Mel

-- MEL, Kansas

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TDSpade

127 posts in 3423 days


#7 posted 01-19-2021 05:55 AM

I use the Robert Sorby pro edge system. A bit spendy up front, but well worth it in my opinion. I am one of those odd people who have trouble using carbide tools.

-- For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert.

View drsurfrat's profile

drsurfrat

476 posts in 193 days


#8 posted 01-19-2021 01:17 PM

I have an old coarse-wheel grinder that I used on HSS lathe tools. I take the skew chisel to 1000 grit after that, but my thumbnail gouge I leave as-is off the grinder; since so little actually cuts, the coarse texture is not relevant. I use the scrapers very little, and have either a carbide replaceable tip, or the usual HSS flats.

I sharpen about once per bowl or spindle part, usually just before the final cuts for the best surface before finishing.

-- Mike (near Boston) ... Laziness is the mother of invention, necessity is the mother of exhaustion - me

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

8408 posts in 3206 days


#9 posted 01-19-2021 01:52 PM

I have both a 6” and 8” grinder – and don’t use either for sharpening woodturning tools. That task is left to the belt sander and a couple of homemade jigs. Here is a video to show the process:

Cap'n Eddie Castelin - # 122A belt sander sharpening

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Freedom's profile

Freedom

6 posts in 397 days


#10 posted 01-19-2021 07:18 PM

Thank you all for your responses. I don’t have any kind of jig for sharpening yet, but will look into your suggestions. Apparently the tools are dull as I am getting scrapings and dust for the most part. When I bought the mini-lathe the gentleman supplied me with a set of 8 turning gouges and I know he made a small bowl before I got them. I really want to learn to use what I have, but I am looking into the carbide tools. I see there are “regular” length and “mini” length of them, since I will mostly be making small projects I’m wondering if the mini-length would be okay to use. Any other help or suggestions would be really appreciated, this is a totally new thing for me as I usually do work on a scroll saw and just had a great opportunity to get a min-lathe. Thanks.

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

723 posts in 1755 days


#11 posted 01-19-2021 09:55 PM

I use a 120 grit white 8” wheel and a Veritas adjustable rest. I don’t sharpen further and don’t feel that I need to.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

8408 posts in 3206 days


#12 posted 01-19-2021 11:58 PM

... this is a totally new thing for me as I usually do work on a scroll saw and just had a great opportunity to get a min-lathe.
- Freedom

No reason why you can’t use both!

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View LesB's profile

LesB

2859 posts in 4450 days


#13 posted 01-20-2021 12:10 AM

For most turning the tools need to be sharpened frequently. You will learn to tell then they are not cutting correctly.

Scraping tools actually cut with a burr created on the edge by the grinder. When the burr is gone they stop cutting. There are ways to quickly restore the burr without regrinding (similar to how a burr is created on a cabinet scraper) but that only works once or twice before you need to grind.

Carbide tipped scraper are great for rough turning but I find that high speed steel scrapers produce a finer and smoother cut so I finish up with them.. Carbide tips can be re-sharpened on a diamond coated stone by rubbing and rotating them with the flat side down (1200 grit)

Some manufacturers have carbide tipped hollowing tools that have a small cup shaped cutter that works well. I like one made in Austrailia by a guy named Munro, available from Packwood tools….expensive but a great tool.

Gouges and other lathe tools work better the sharpest you can make them.

-- Les B, Oregon

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Kelly

3372 posts in 3951 days


#14 posted 01-20-2021 05:32 AM

I started off with a 1” x 42” sander I already had and a 6” grinder. The grinder took metal off quick for profiling the belt was my go to tool for bringing edges back.

Now I have a four wheel grinder and I rarely touch the metal eating 6” grinder. The four wheel beast is my go to tool because it is totally variable speed and reversible. I run it around 500 RPM’s so it heats metal slower and eats less of it too.

I have two CBN wheels on it. One is a 6” 80 grit for serious removal and the other is an 8” 180 grit. If I could only have one CBN it would be the 180.

For the other two wheels I have a small diamond puppy and the white beast that disappears quickly, but heats less because CBN’s don’t like carbide and other, soft steels.

As others say, bigger is better. That is, IF you can, go with 8”. If you can’t, hold off on the CBN’s until you can.

Remember, don’t dip your high speed steel [HSS] in water to cool it. That causes fractures. Instead, take more time and if you do blue the tip, just use it, then remove it as you re-sharpen.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2736 posts in 2996 days


#15 posted 01-20-2021 04:11 PM

Carbide tools are an option, and not difficult to make your own. I have 6 or 7 I made myself and purchased inserts for. Here is how I made a couple of them. The only time I use them anymore is for hollowing forms (not bowls). Carbide leaves a surface requiring a lot more work to finish vs hss. All but the cup style inserts scrape, and without a burr. HSS scrapers with a burr are far superior.
Stay with your hss tools and learn how to sharpen and use them. Buy a jig and platform system, Wolverine with vari grind is probably the best but there are copies out there. Capn Eddie shows how to make a gouge jig cheap if you want. Still need a decent platform for other tools – no grinder comes with a useable one. 6” grinder can work but you need an AL oxide wheel. 8” slow speed 1750 rpm is better. I use an 8” to shape and sharpen all but gouges. I use a Grizzly wet sharpener with Tormek jig to sharpen (not shape, too slow) gouges, because I already had it. Belt sander can work if you have one. Get belts for metal. Get a small carbide burnisher for hss scraper edges, and look up Stuart Batty negative rake scrapers. Grind your own, dont buy them. I use 30/30 angles. 30-35 deg bevel for spindle gauges, utube Mark Silay for tool presentation and control.

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