Many beginning woodturners and also some experienced ones are confused on the question of sharpening their tools, in particular wondering how sharp a tool needs to be. best woodworking bar clamps This is commonly further confused by the tendency for woodworkers to not restrict themselves to only 1 kind of woodworking. Put simply a woodturner may find themselves at the wood lathe one hour and using a hand plane or perhaps a wood chisel another. Now the question becomes if the lathe tool must be as sharp because the hand tool. The solution may lie in taking into consideration the type of wood and work each can do.
Hand planes were created for removing wood leaving as smooth as surface as you possibly can. They move across boards which are progressively flatter and flatter and also smoother and smoother and will leave a surface only as fine because the edge on their blade. In addition, they are 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 use is normally fairly clear with few knots and irregularities. It has additionally 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 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 could include bark filled with grit from felling on the woodland floor, a variety of knots that add character to the finished piece and even cross grain and bark inclusions found in many burls. An excellent edge can last only seconds instead of minutes in such circumstances.
In addition, 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 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 advantage that is sufficiently strong and sharp enough to eliminate a great deal of wood and last well. The surface that is left behind is ready for sanding or scraping. In fact, many spindle turners will use a skew chisel to leave a surface that won’t 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 accomplish 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’ll vary for the tool used but the final results speak for themselves.
Darrell Feltmate is a juried wood turner whose site, Round the Woods, contains detailed information about wood turning for the novice or experienced turner as well as a collection of turnings for your viewing pleasure. You too can learn to turn wood, here is the place to start. Wondering what it appears like? There are various free videos on the site dealing with from sharpening to making 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 small amount of time, some shop scraps and several dollars you can make a jig which will perform such as a hundred dollar tool and easily sharpen your wood lathe tools.