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I think I am ready for a powered sharpening system, but which?

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Forum topic by controlfreak posted 03-11-2021 05:53 PM 2380 views 0 times favorited 56 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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controlfreak

2923 posts in 850 days


03-11-2021 05:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question sharpening

I know this can be a tiring subject and I did do some searching but could use some input. I started out with whetstones but grew tired of all the slop/slurry making a mess and it had to go. I moved to “scary Sharp” using PSA on float glass with six different grits and its cleaner but still a bit of a pain. I don’t like the fact that I can’t hone using a back and forth motion due to the blades ability to cut the paper. I also have grown to hate fiddling with my cheap honing guide to get to the right angle each time.

I want to solve three common issues 1) being able to tune up a tool with a bad grind, chip or angle correction quickly. 2) Highly repeatable bevel angles 3) sitting down and sharpening all of my chisels and blades at one time like before starting a project.

I have about twelve chisels, 25 hand planes and will soon add craving tools to my shop. Ideally if whatever I get can do all three it would be a win. Ease of setup and storage is needed so I don’t keep finding myself working with tools that are in need of an edge. I know this is not going to be cheap so if I am going to go big I want this to be the last sharpening system I buy. I am also aware that some of the accessories can push the cost up quickly. To those of you that are power sharpeners I would love your feedback, thanks.


56 replies so far

View tvrgeek's profile

tvrgeek

2292 posts in 2898 days


#1 posted 03-11-2021 06:28 PM

1: I have a Makita wet wheel. Messy. Always had trouble with consistent bevel. Going to buy a new planer with a Byrd or Lux head, so won’t need a gig for that.
2: Bought a WorkSharp. Kind of nifty. Just ordered diamond wheels for it as the paper lasts seconds.
3: just ordered the M-Power jig. It looks like it may be the easiest yet. I expect to use it for the 1200, then go to manual for 3000 and strop.
4: or my Jointer blades, I found the aluminum block that holds two on paper to work excellently. Better than power, but I ordered a Shelix head to obsolete it.
5: Had a cheap copy of a Tormak and gave it away.
6: I also have the low speed Rikon grinder and just got a Wolverine jig for lathe tools. If nothing else, a far better platform than is stock. Do the primary grins, then 1200 diamond plate for second bevel and leather strop. Secondary only needs to be large enough for the edge. Not much larger than a hair, so bu hand is actually easier and quicker than any jig or machine.

Not happy with any of my methods for carving gouges. Maybe they poor quality of my tools. More to experiment with. I have water slip-stones for the inside de-bur. Don’t know if that is best, or shape some wood and use paper.

So, in a few weeks, I’ll have an “edge-off” and put all the loosers up for sale. Maybe recover enough for a new 1200 DMT plate. I know my Sypderco and black Ark. stones are OBE for me. Foe that they do, I think I lkie th estop better.

Everyone has their choice. A lot prefer water stones over oil or ceramic. What is right is what works for you. The only problem I have with Scary system is paper quality. For now, 3M only, but open to suggestions.

Pretty much the full gauntlet. Pick your potion. I can still do a plane iron or bench chisel by hand as quick as I could set up a machine. I did have a very good instructor and have never seen any y-tube with Joel’s technique.

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RClark

174 posts in 3434 days


#2 posted 03-11-2021 07:10 PM

Right up front: I’m not the expert. I don’t even play one on TV. :)

I use several methods.

1. Power sharpening. I have a 10” Jet Slow Speed wet grinder. It’s the Tormek clone. I bought mine about 15 years ago. I used it for several years and then it sat, underused, for a number of years. A couple years ago I decide to get it back out and get it going again. What I use it for:

- Grinding new edges; it’s not as fast as grinding wheel, but it does a good job in taking large nicks out of chisel blades and putting new edges on plane irons. It leaves a hollow grind, which is fine by me.

- Sharpening lathe tools. I don’t do enough lathe work to make it beneficial to me to invest in a setup specifically for lathe tools. This one is “good enough”.

- I have sharpened my jointer blades using this machine. It’s about time to do that again.

In my view, the Jet wet grinder won’t make things “scary sharp” but it does get them ready for honing a nice edge.

2. Stones. I have three decent stones: Soft Arkansas, Hard Arkansas, and a Hard Arkansas Black. I use them to hone my chisels, plane irons, and spokeshaves. I’ll get the edges almost all the way there on the Jet and then use the stones to hone the final edge.

3. Sandpaper/glass. This is what I started out with, and I still have this capability. I used some polished granite tiles as the flat surface when I first started, but i recently happened upon some tempered glass for free and so I’m likely to reconstitute the setup using that. Like you, my jig is cheap. I will probably upgrade that guide. I use the heavy cloth backed sandpaper up through 220 grit to provide durability. I also use 10-12 grits, from 60 up to 2000. But, this method is slow. I think a good guide is key to getting a square edge and not tearing up the sandpaper.

I do have a bench grinder, but I don’t have any wheels suited for sharpening tasks.

One other thing: This past year I discovered the use of a strop. Frequent stropping of a freshly honed edge is a very good thing. Frequent stropping while using the tools will also get more mileage on the tool between full-up sharpening sessions. Strops are not new; the experienced hands here might read this and ask, “What took you so long to learn that?” That’s a dang good question.

Bottom line: I haven’t found the final answer, and I think many woodworkers are just like me. I use a blend of the methods and do what seems best with the situation presented.

-- Ray

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Fred Hargis

7241 posts in 3742 days


#3 posted 03-11-2021 07:11 PM

Don’t know about the carving tools, but for chisels and planes I think my choice would be a Worksharp, with a caveat. The bad grind stuff (or a deep nick) can take a while on WS. It gets it done, just a little slower than a slow speed grinder (dry grinder). What I like better but gets fairly costly is a Tormek with CBN wheels. The CBN takes the water out of the equation, and they cut fairly rapidly. Even so, the WS is a very good choice.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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HokieKen

19427 posts in 2387 days


#4 posted 03-11-2021 07:12 PM

I have the Worksharp and sing its praises regularly. However, there are some drawbacks, particularly since they stopped making/selling two accessory kits which are what make the sharpener so versatile for me. Those accessories are the Wide Blade attachment with gives you a table flush with the top of the abrasives and the Tormek style bar that allows you to use various shop made and Tormek jigs for things like carving tools. For me, it’s a one-stop shop for all of my sharpening needs with the exception of turning tools. I still prefer my bench grinder with Wolverine setup for those.

So, I can’t really recommend it for a full-function sharpening system unless you’re comfortable rigging up those two accessories yourself and making or buying jigs as needed for special tools like carving tools.

If I didn’t have diamond plates, oil stones galore, a bench grinder with wolverine attachments, the Worksharp, a variety of jigs, lapping papers and granite plates, a 1×30 belt grinder and a 2×72 belt grinder already in the shop and was just starting out and knew what I knew now… I’d snatch the Sorby Proedge in a heartbeat. The price makes the heart skip a beat or two. But, it’s a buy once cry once (with the exception of abrasives and future jigs). I’d just have to figure out how to sneak it past the wife…

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View pottz's profile

pottz

20741 posts in 2233 days


#5 posted 03-11-2021 07:22 PM

ive got a tormek system not cheap but sounds like your willing to spend whats needed.it will sharpen just about anything with an edge with the right accessories from chisels tp an axe or planer blade.depending on how many attachements you need your gonna spend around 1k give or take.once that pain in your chest stops you can look further if it sounds good.ive also got wet stones,oil stones,diamond plates,there just is no magic way to put on a good edge without some effort.i like the tormek for what it can do.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Loren's profile

Loren

11277 posts in 4897 days


#6 posted 03-11-2021 07:26 PM

I have a Makita with an extra 1000 grit wheel the previous owner used on gouges. There are concentric rings in the shape of the gouges on it. Wheels are about $60 each I think.

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Loren

11277 posts in 4897 days


#7 posted 03-11-2021 07:27 PM

I have a Makita with an extra 1000 grit wheel the previous owner used on gouges. There are concentric rings in the shape of the gouges on it. Wheels are about $60 each I think.

Makita is messy and you can get wet if you’re not wearing an apron and you might still get wet. I have only used it in the warmer months in the past so getting wet didn’t bother me much. I haven’t used it with an apron either because I’m a slow learner.

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

4078 posts in 3047 days


#8 posted 03-11-2021 07:34 PM

I recommend the Tormek. I’m on my second machine I will buy a third if I live long enough to wear out my second.

-- Aj

View sepeck's profile

sepeck

523 posts in 3390 days


#9 posted 03-11-2021 07:56 PM

I’ve just switched to this system this week so have no long term data but when I found Matt Estlea’s video I was “HEY! That looks so straight forward, all in.” He uses a Tormek to set the initial bevel, then uses water stones with a guide to sharpen it. To touch up, he uses stones until it’s time to redo the bevel.

As I am a hobbyists (2 sets of chisels and 3 planes) and do not have the money for a Tormek, I picked up the WEN wet/dry version from Home Depot for the initial set and will be using my existing diamond stones. I have an eclipse guide and need to make the angle jig Matt mentions but did a quick measure and clamp and tried it with one chisel. It worked better then the Paul Sellers by hand method I had been using which was frankly frustrating.

Most recent overview video is here

How to get a STUPIDLY SHARP edge on a PLANE blade
How to get a DEADLY SHARP edge on a CHISEL
Honing Guide PROTRUSION STOP

He’s got others but you have search skills :)

NOTE: Several folks mentioned that the WEN has a softer stone then the Tormek, which should be fine for my hobby use and if not, I can always replace the stone when it gets worn anyway.

-- -Steven Peck, http://www.blkmtn.org

View Kudzupatch's profile (online now)

Kudzupatch

301 posts in 2457 days


#10 posted 03-11-2021 07:59 PM

Makita user and well pleased with mine. Up front I will say I am sure the Tormek/clones will do a fine job too. Cost is why I went with Makita. I could find then used at a good price.

I have all three stones for mine. So I can grind out a nick and the sharpen it to shaving sharp. But just barely able to shave but I find that plenty sharp.

I do my planer and joiner blades too. Planer blades were the main reason I went with this way. Been a good choice for me and I have no regrets. I would buy another one.

My only issue is that it can be wet but I think that is because; 1. water control, the drip rate is a little hard to get just right. It slows as the reservoir empties. 2. I think we tend to put to much water on the wheel so it slings off.

I have found that when I adjust the water just right there is very little being slung off. But it is easier to put to much than fuss with the little valve. Too much water and it is a mess! So an apron is a good thing.

I have thought about getting some sort of magnetic angle gauge to set on the bar and be able to repeat an angle more consistently. But I tend to set it and just sharpen everything at the same angle. Works for me. Not optimal but I keep in on the drainboard of my sink so I just step over and touch up a blade in a couple of minutes.

-- Jeff Horton * Kudzu Craft skin boats* www.kudzucraft.com

View woodbutcherbynight's profile

woodbutcherbynight

10421 posts in 3658 days


#11 posted 03-11-2021 08:04 PM



ive got a tormek system not cheap but sounds like your willing to spend whats needed.it will sharpen just about anything with an edge with the right accessories from chisels tp an axe or planer blade.depending on how many attachements you need your gonna spend around 1k give or take.once that pain in your chest stops you can look further if it sounds good.ive also got wet stones,oil stones,diamond plates,there just is no magic way to put on a good edge without some effort.i like the tormek for what it can do.

- pottz

Same here. Yes an investment to be sure BUT it does give consistent results. Had for 20 years never an issue, just sharp tools.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View dschlic1's profile

dschlic1

515 posts in 3218 days


#12 posted 03-11-2021 08:27 PM

I use a Worksharp. I found a 1200 grit 6” diamond plate on Amazon and use that to touch up the bevel. I also have a MDF disk which I coat with green polishing compound to hone the edge. If you don’t misuse your edged tools, all you really need to do is hone them when you have to increase the force to cut. Honing on the WS takes less then a minute, I do it free hand.

View tvrgeek's profile

tvrgeek

2292 posts in 2898 days


#13 posted 03-11-2021 08:55 PM

Wow, a $520 belt sander! I winder what makes it so fantastic?


I have the Worksharp and sing its praises regularly. However, there are some drawbacks, particularly since they stopped making/selling two accessory kits which are what make the sharpener so versatile for me. Those accessories are the Wide Blade attachment with gives you a table flush with the top of the abrasives and the Tormek style bar that allows you to use various shop made and Tormek jigs for things like carving tools. For me, it s a one-stop shop for all of my sharpening needs with the exception of turning tools. I still prefer my bench grinder with Wolverine setup for those.

So, I can t really recommend it for a full-function sharpening system unless you re comfortable rigging up those two accessories yourself and making or buying jigs as needed for special tools like carving tools.

If I didn t have diamond plates, oil stones galore, a bench grinder with wolverine attachments, the Worksharp, a variety of jigs, lapping papers and granite plates, a 1×30 belt grinder and a 2×72 belt grinder already in the shop and was just starting out and knew what I knew now… I d snatch the Sorby Proedge in a heartbeat. The price makes the heart skip a beat or two. But, it s a buy once cry once (with the exception of abrasives and future jigs). I d just have to figure out how to sneak it past the wife…

- HokieKen


View HokieKen's profile (online now)

HokieKen

19427 posts in 2387 days


#14 posted 03-11-2021 09:22 PM



Wow, a $520 belt sander! I winder what makes it so fantastic?

- tvrgeek

From everyone I know that has one, it’s the precision of the machining on the components from the drive system to the flat platen to the rest and the mechanism that locks it in. And the available jigs for it. And I personally prefer a belt system to a wheel for even wear, squareness and abrasive life. Also quick and easy to swap belts and go through grades. Plus, I’m not a fan of hollow ground bevels on most things. But, yeah, that price tag is steep. But, if you spend enough time sharpening it may be worth it. As expensive as it is and as cheap as most of us are when it comes to “luxury” items like a power sharpener, everyone I know personally that has plopped down the cash for it has been glad they did.

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View corelz125's profile

corelz125

3751 posts in 2225 days


#15 posted 03-11-2021 09:54 PM

I use a worksharp for fast and repeatable it’s hard to beat. To grind a chip or a new bevel it’s not very fast.

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