One of the things that inspired me to make a belt sander was seeing YouTube videos of the Sorby Proedge™ Sharpening system. I struggled with getting consistent edges on my lathe tools and had messed up one of my bowl gouges more than once. I knew that I would not be able to get good results on my lathe unless I got better at sharpening and if it wasn’t quick, easy and repeatable, I would wait longer than I should to freshen the edges. The Sorby Proedge™ system is crazy expensive so here is the first iteration of my version of the Sorby sharpening system. I first made this add-on indexed table for basic sharpening that allows me to quickly select pre-set angles:
I used Sketchup to draw up a template for drilling holes at specific angles and put threaded inserts into the holes for quick and accurate table angles of 90, 80, 60, 45, 35, 30, 25, 20 and 15 degrees. Note that there are actually 2 holes in the arm for the holes that would be too close to put all in the same arc. It is not visible because the bolt head is hiding it.
The table has a slot to accommodate different jigs. I still need to make one that will hold my skew chisels at the appropriate angle but his one can be used with gouges that have simple edge profiles on them and with square nose scrapers and chisels by holding the chisel flat on the table against the side of the V-block.
I need to find a way to beef up the angled bracket. The plywood flexes just enough that you have to be careful not press down on the table too much. I may have to make the table long enough so that I can put a pivot point on the other side of the sander. I think that I am also going to shave about 1/2” off the width of the table. A few of my cheaper/smaller chisels are a little short, especially when the table is at an extreme angle.
The next jig I made was for sharpening fingernail edges on bowl gouges. These were particularly difficult to do well on my grinder, even though I made a clone of the Wolverine jig. I modified the Wolverine clone jig to work with a bar and boss system that provides a much more stable way to pivot the tool from side to side.
Repeat-ability is achieved by setting how far the tip sticks from the end of the jig—in this case 2.5”. You can technically vary the angle on the holding jig as well and theoretically I could drill another hole higher on the boss to get a longer fingernail profile but that is way beyond my beginner status. While I am still working on my technique, it is super easy to sharpen a fingernail profile. It literally takes 15 seconds to freshen the edge and the results speak for themselves.
One advantage that this method of sharpening has over grinding wheels is that it does’t leave hollow edges. This bowl gouge originally had a standard profile that I had messed up pretty badly trying to put and then maintain a fingernail profile on it with my grinder jig. With this new setup, I was able to very quickly reset and bring it to this fingernail profile. This takes considerable grinding but using a belt sander, it is much easier to keep the steel from over heating than it is with a grinding wheel and the jig made it very easy for a beginner like myself to do without removing more material than necessary. The angles I used are a little arbitrary but it worked very well on this small practice piece of really hard live oak I turned to test out my new profiles:
If you want to see how the Sorby Proedge™ system works, go look for You Tube videos that demonstrate how easy it is to sharpen using their system. You will see my inspiration for this setup. I certainly wanted one, that is until I saw the price tag.
Thanks for looking.
-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.