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What do I need to sharpen without a grinder? (Read 478 times)
 
Matthew Gingerich
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I'm completely new to woodturning. I made my own lathe, which I'll be using until I save up for a real one.
What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Sep 12th, 2017 at 6:55pm
 
I just got my first set of lathe tools and I'm looking for a way to sharpen them. I have 2 spindle gouges, a parting tool, a skew, and a scraper. They all seem to have an okay grind out of the box, which is good because I don't want to drop $200 for a bench grinder.

I'd like to learn to sharpen them the old fashioned way with a flat stone and a leather strop. But what kind of stone do I need? I looked at oil-stones, water-stones, diamond stones, slipstones of various shapes, but I'm not sure what I need in what combination. For example, will a flat oil-stone and a piece of leather be all I need? Or do I need a slip-stone as well in order to sharpen the inside of the gouge? Thanks for any advice!

--Matt
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Don Stephan
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #1 - Sep 12th, 2017 at 7:46pm
 
Matt

It's possible, maybe even likely, that the old fashioned way to sharpen lathe tools was with a foot powered grinding wheel.

Think of how many lineal feet of wood a wood chisel goes through when chopping dovetails for 20 minutes, versus how many lineal feel of wood a spindle or bowl gouge goes through in 20 minutes.  The wood chisel is not continuously cutting wood, but the gouge is.  It is not uncommon to sharpen a lathe tool after every few minutes of use to get acceptable quality of cut.

With the wood chisel, ten strokes on a medium stone sharpens the entire length of the cutting edge at the same time, maintaining the desired shape of the end of the chisel.  With a curved gouge, ten strokes sharpens just one very narrow bit of the overall length of the cutting edge, perhaps 1/16".  But one does not want a bit of straight cutting edge on a gouge, instead one needs a continuous curve.  Even worse, one cannot sharpen a lathe gouge by simply rotating about the axis of the tool and handle (for most common grinds).  Instead, the handle would have to swing quite a bit from side to side at the same time, and in close coordination, that the tool is rotated about the axis.  All this manipulation is needed to maintain the shape of most gouge grinds (swept back or fingernail).

That's not to say it is physically impossible to sharpen a swept back bowl gouge or a fingernail spindle gouge by hand on a stone, but it would require an intense amount of trial and practice to develop the necessary muscle memory for the needed combination movements, and I suspect much more time would be spent sharpening the tool than using it.
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Matthew Gingerich
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I'm completely new to woodturning. I made my own lathe, which I'll be using until I save up for a real one.
Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #2 - Sep 12th, 2017 at 8:07pm
 
So you're saying I should bite the bullet and get a grinder? In that case, what kind should I look for? The idea in my head of sharpening using a grinder would be that I would grind the outside edge on a coarse wheel, then sharpen the outer edge on a finer wheel, then use a leather strop to knock the bur off the inside edge and the result would be a sharp tool-- but is this correct?
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Chris Neilan
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #3 - Sep 12th, 2017 at 10:49pm
 
Welcome to the forum. You will get great information here. He is saying yes, get a grinder. Every woodturner reading this is saying get a grinder! Get one with white wheels, not gray, and try for 8 inch "slow speed". (1750 rpms.)  Most of us leave the burr, that is what cuts quickly.  Watch some youtube videos, and better yet try to find a woodturning club near you. Lathe tools need to be sharpened often, a dull tool is a dangerous tool.

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« Last Edit: Sep 13th, 2017 at 5:50am by Chris Neilan »  

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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #4 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 6:56am
 
Well, not every woodturner.  The parting tool and skew are easily sharpened with a stone, I use a diamond card (the size of a credit card). For the scraper I prefer to burnish, just like you would for a cabinet scraper.  The gouges present a problem as the constant changing radius does not lend to a stationary stone, but if you have a belt or disc sander you can adapt a jig to get it done. 
Having said that, if you get the bug and stick with turning, you will eventually spend big bucks for an 8 inch 1750 rpm grinder (~$150 on the low end), wolverine jig (~$120) and a CBN wheel (~$150-$180) or two.
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Bob_Macgregor
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #5 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 7:33am
 
Do you have a sander in your shop?   Although the technique is a bit different, a sander (belt or disk) can be used to sharpen lathe tools.
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Ed Weber
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #6 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 9:03am
 
Matthew Gingerich wrote on Sep 12th, 2017 at 6:55pm:
I'd like to learn to sharpen them the old fashioned way with a flat stone and a leather strop


Sharpening with a "flat" stone is for flat tools (I know you can sharpen other things)
Most woodturning tools, like gouges have a curved cutting edge. This can be difficult and time consuming to sharpen with a stationary flat stone, not to mention bad for the stone.
Most woodturning tools are therefore sharpened on a grinding wheel of some type This translates into much faster removal of material and consistency of the ground edge.
The amount of wood that passes over a turning tools edge as compared to say a chisel or plane requires them to be sharpened much more frequently. This is why a powered sharpening system is typically used. The amount of time needed to sharpen by hand and the frequency necessary for turning tools makes it impractical. IMO
Use of a grinder-based system also falls into two categories, freehand (platform based) and jig based.
With "freehand" sharpening you typically rest (anchor) the tool on the grinders platform and then move the tool (by hand) in which ever direction is needed to follow the grind on the cutting edge. "Freehand" sharpening is less expensive (no special jigs to purchase) but takes a skilled operator to be able to achieve the proper grind. Many times gouges have complex curvatures that are difficult to replicate time after time.
With jig based systems, typically the tool is secured into a jig of some type that limits the direction of travel so that you can only grind what is needed. These are adjustable to accommodate different grinds for different tools. The benefit are speed, efficiency the ability to replicate the exact grind every time.

The most popular sharpening setup today is probably an 8" slow speed grinder and a Oneway Wolverine sharpening system. (I won't get into wheels)
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Bill Neff
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #7 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 9:34am
 
Check out Reed Gray's video on sharpening.  He's a great teacher and frequently hangs out here.

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Matthew Gingerich
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I'm completely new to woodturning. I made my own lathe, which I'll be using until I save up for a real one.
Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #8 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 2:23pm
 
Thanks for all the advice. I don't have a belt sander (or any power tools other than a hand drill, actually). Would it be a good idea to find a cheap used grinder somewhere and buy new wheels for it? Or would that end up costing me about the same as a new grinder? I don't need the fanciest grinder on the market, but I do care a lot about having safe tools and I know that cheap tools are rarely safe. What accessories would I need with the grinder? I haven't yet found anything that lists exactly what you need to have to sharpen.
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« Last Edit: Sep 13th, 2017 at 2:58pm by Matthew Gingerich »  
 
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Donald Jordan
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #9 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 3:40pm
 
Matt,

Here is "one" option for a grinder
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I would also suggest you check out  Multimedia File Viewing and Clickable Links are available for Registered Members only!!  You need to Login or Register for a tool rest.
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #10 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 3:46pm
 
Please, try to find a turning group near you so someone can give you the helping hand you'll need to get started. Smiley Smiley



Who knows, there might even be someone who has a grinder to sell.
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #11 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 4:27pm
 
Yes on the grinder ( I bought the Rikon slow speed, my older grinder was just too fast), although there are a couple of belt driven jobs that use jigs to get the angles right.
As far as the grit of the stone, 80 is ok but takes off a lot of metal.  I prefer 180 since the gouges already have an edge and it should just become honing to get the edge back ( I may try a 220 wheel if I find one).  After a litte practice, it just takes one or two passes to get the edge back to scary sharp. I built my jigs from watching youtube.
Do watch Robo's videos, he's a good teacher.
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« Last Edit: Sep 13th, 2017 at 4:48pm by David Hill »  

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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #12 - Sep 13th, 2017 at 7:12pm
 
Matthew

Based on posts and comments, it seems like at least 99% of the woodturning community sharpens with the Oneway system.  I am part of the fraction of 1%, with Reed, that sharpens freehand using his Robo Rest Platform (but he is better looking).  There is a longer learning curve with freehand than with a jig, but when turning bowls I regularly use a 1/2" bowl gouge 40 deg, 5/8" bowl gouge 50 deg, sometimes 5/8" bowl gouge 65 deg, and two or three scrapers all 70 deg.  I believe I can set the Robo Rest platform to the needed angle (takes 2-3 seconds), sharpen the tool, and get back to the bowl so efficiently, even when changing tools, that I will sharpen more frequently than if I had to adjust a jig time and again.  But each should take the approach he or she is most comfortable using.
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #13 - Sep 14th, 2017 at 8:49am
 
Another vote to get the grinder.  You will be better off with one of the slow speed grinders with the white wheels new up front. A used high speed grinder will be useless. I only use the fine wheel unless I am changing the shape of the tool.  I turn right off the grind mostly but sometimes hone or buff the edges.  I had 2 high speed grinders, a whole set of diamond hones and other stones, and a couple of belt grinders when I started turning.  But I bought the slow speed grinder from Woodcraft pretty quickly.  I Thought I knew how to sharpen.  But sharpening for turning is different than sharpening carving tools and plane blades.
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« Last Edit: Sep 14th, 2017 at 9:01am by Bill Moschler »  
 
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #14 - Sep 14th, 2017 at 9:04am
 
Bill Moschler wrote on Sep 14th, 2017 at 8:49am:
I Thought I knew how to sharpen.  But sharpening for turning is different than sharpening carving tools and plane blades.


I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard that
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #15 - Sep 14th, 2017 at 1:07pm
 
What Ed said.... Just had a couple of comments on my videos from some one who had done woodworking since he could crawl, and told me that it was dangerous to turn with dull tools, "Sharp is good, razor sharp is better." He doesn't seem to be able to grasp the concept that for most of what we turn, 180 grit is all you need, or 120 grit... You do need different edges for spindle and end grain work than you need for bowls. Having a sharpening system other than hand sharpening is a necessity. Best option is slow speed grinder (I prefer the 1 hp Rikon to the 1/2 hp model), and CBN grinding wheels. There are many variations, in part determined by how deep your pockets are....

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Matthew Gingerich
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I'm completely new to woodturning. I made my own lathe, which I'll be using until I save up for a real one.
Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #16 - Sep 14th, 2017 at 4:58pm
 
I ended up getting a secondhand slow speed 8" grinder and a sharpening jig intended for drill bits. It has a gray wheel of unknown grit, so I may have to replace that but it should work okay for getting me started. I'll adapt the jig to fit my turning tools and then I should be off to the races.

One thing I'm still wondering is whether just grinding is enough-- a jig only grinds the "outside" edge of a spindle gouge, so doesn't that leave a bur on the other side of the blade? Do I need to knock that bur off with a strop or can I just grind and then go straight to turning?
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #17 - Sep 14th, 2017 at 5:41pm
 
Matthew - Good question.  Actually depending upon the tool, the bur is a good thing to have.

I am unsure what you mean about the jig only allowing you to sharpen the outside of the gouge, but if you are worried about anything that is left inside the U or V shape of your gouge - don't.  That is fine.

Please do go and look at some reputable sharpening videos. (AKA Robo-Hippy).  I ask you to do this because one can be in a dangerous situation on a grinder if you are not familiar or are trying to sharpen a tool at too steep an angle.

Glad you got a grinder!  the wheel can be changed out later, focus on getting the tools ground correctly.
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #18 - Sep 14th, 2017 at 6:12pm
 
Matthew Gingerich wrote on Sep 14th, 2017 at 4:58pm:
One thing I'm still wondering is whether just grinding is enough-- a jig only grinds the "outside" edge of a spindle gouge, so doesn't that leave a bur on the other side of the blade? Do I need to knock that bur off with a strop or can I just grind and then go straight to turning?


You can go straight to turning, it's not necessary to remove the small burr.
Different tool steels and different grinding wheels all play a part in how much of a burr is created.
Removing the small burr is a personal choice and can be done easily with a round hone or file. (yes, I remove mine)
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #19 - Sep 17th, 2017 at 6:30pm
 
Most grinders on Craig' list will have grey - hard - wheels.  These are not suitable for use on lathe tools.  Replacing them with suitable 3M or generic white wheels will set you back about $35 each.  In addition it will most likely be a 3450 RPM machine which will remove a lot of tool in a very short time.

Buy the grinder at a store that carries a lot of woodturning stuff.  The Rikon grinder link above is a bargain.  It comes with the right wheels for woodturning tools.  That's essentially what I have used for 10 years although it has been upgraded to CBM wheels.

Now if you come across a Baldor grinder that some one is selling for $100 don't buy it, send me the link and I will help that poor soul get rid if it.
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Re: What do I need to sharpen without a grinder?
Reply #20 - Sep 18th, 2017 at 9:46pm
 
Matthew

Not sure about modifying a jig for sharpening drill bits so that it will sharpen lathe tools to recommended angles and shapes.  But with enough searching you can find descriptions where people have made their own sharpening jigs for lathe tools.
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