Many beginning woodturners and even some experienced ones are confused on the question of sharpening their tools, specifically wondering how sharp an instrument needs to be. This is commonly further confused by the tendency for woodworkers to not restrict themselves to only one kind of woodworking. Quite simply a woodturner may find themselves at the wood lathe 1 hour and utilizing a hand plane or a wood chisel the next. Now the question becomes whether the lathe tool needs to be as sharp because the hand tool. The solution may lie in taking into consideration the kind of wood and work each will do.
Hand planes were created for removing wood leaving as smooth as surface as you possibly can. They move across boards that are progressively flatter and flatter in addition to smoother and smoother and can leave a surface only as fine as the edge on their blade. In addition, they’re propelled with the motion of arms and hands and cover a fairly 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. best dremel tool It has also been brought to a spot of relative flatness and finish prior to the planes start their work. Hand planes are actually the finish tools of the present day cabinet maker. As such they want an extremely fine edge that leaves a finished surface ready for fine sandpaper or perhaps a cabinet scraper.
Woodturning tools however will be the roughing tolls of the woodturner in addition to the finishing tools. They’ll attack a rough piece of wood that may include bark complete with grit from felling on the woodland floor, a variety of knots that add character to the finished piece or even cross grain and bark inclusions found in many burls. A fine edge can last only seconds instead of minutes in such circumstances.
Furthermore, a wood lathe moves the material so quickly that the fine edge of a wood plane would dull rapidly beneath the friction of the movement. Rather a far more robust, thicker edge is needed. 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 edge that’s sufficiently strong and sharp enough to remove a lot of wood and last well. The surface that is left behind is ready for sanding or scraping. Actually, many spindle turners use a skew chisel to leave a surface that will not need any sanding or only that of papers greater than 2 hundred grit of finer. Some bowl turners use scrapers with an excellent edge to accomplish similar results.
The solution to the question of how sharp is sharp enough is really the sharpness that works for the various tools and the work at hand. It will vary for the tool used but the final results speak for themselves.
Darrell Feltmate is a juried wood turner whose web site, Round the Woods, contains detailed information about wood turning for the novice or experienced turner in addition to a collection of turnings for your viewing pleasure. You too can figure out how to turn wood, here is the place to start. Wondering what it looks like? There are several free videos on the webpage dealing with from sharpening to creating a bowl.
For full instruction in getting the tools sharp and in particular how to make an extremely inexpensive sharpening jig, check out making and using the sharpening jig. Using only small amount of time, some shop scraps and a couple of dollars you may make a jig that may perform such as a hundred dollar tool and easily sharpen your wood lathe tools.