Many beginning woodturners and even some experienced ones are confused over the question of sharpening their tools, in particular wondering how sharp a tool needs to be. This is commonly further confused by the tendency for woodworkers to not restrict themselves to only 1 kind of woodworking. In other words a woodturner could find themselves at the wood lathe one hour and utilizing a hand plane or perhaps a wood chisel the next. Now the question becomes whether the lathe tool has to be as sharp because the hand tool. The solution may lie in considering the type of wood and work each will do.
Hand planes are designed for removing wood leaving as smooth as surface as possible. They move across boards which are progressively flatter and flatter together with smoother and smoother and will leave a surface only as fine because the edge on their blade. good cheap knives Furthermore, they’re propelled with the motion of arms and hands and cover a reasonably small area in a relatively large segment of time compared with a wood lathe.
The wood that planes work with is generally fairly clear with few knots and irregularities. It has also been brought to a point of relative flatness and finish prior to the planes start their work. Hand planes are really the finish tools of the modern cabinet maker. As such they want a very fine edge that leaves a finished surface ready for fine sandpaper or perhaps a cabinet scraper.
Woodturning tools alternatively will be the roughing tolls of the woodturner as well as the finishing tools. They’ll attack a rough piece of wood which could include bark complete with grit from felling on the woodland floor, all kinds of knots that add character to the finished piece and even cross grain and bark inclusions found in many burls. An excellent edge will last only seconds rather than minutes in such circumstances.
Furthermore, a wood lathe moves the material so quickly that the fine edge of a wood plane would dull very quickly beneath the friction of the movement. Rather a more robust, thicker edge is necessary. Rather than the edge from water stones and leather strops, the rougher edge from the grinding wheel is enough for the woodturner.
Grinders using eighty grit aluminum oxide wheels will leave an advantage that’s sufficiently strong and sharp enough to eliminate lots of wood and last well. The top that is left out is ready for sanding or scraping. In fact, many spindle turners use a skew chisel to leave a surface that will not need any sanding or only that of papers higher than two hundred grit of finer. Some bowl turners use scrapers with an excellent edge to attain similar results.
The solution to the question of how sharp is sharp enough really is the sharpness that works for the tools and the work at hand. It will vary for the tool used however the final results speak for themselves.
Darrell Feltmate is really a juried wood turner whose web site, Around the Woods, contains detailed information about wood turning for the novice or experienced turner in addition to a collection of turnings for the viewing pleasure. You too can learn to turn wood, this is actually the place to start. Wondering what it looks like? There are lots of free videos on the site dealing with everything from sharpening to creating a bowl.
For full instruction in getting the tools sharp and in particular how to make a very inexpensive sharpening jig, have a look at making and using the sharpening jig. Using only short time, some shop scraps and a couple of dollars you possibly can make a jig that may perform like a hundred dollar tool and easily sharpen your wood lathe tools.