Turning Tool Sharpening Jig

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Project by Bill Akins posted 05-11-2009 02:53 PM 15482 views 27 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Since I started turning last year, I have had a hard time sharpening my gouges. I was thinking of ordering one of those nice jigs. After studying them a bit I came up with this, for under $10. I used some scrap poplar and screwed it into my workbench. I picked up a toggle clamp at Woodcraft. The center piece that holds the tool can be slid into place and clamped down. It can then be slid out and stored out of the way.

Making your own jigs can be fun and also save money.

-- Bill from Lithia Springs, GA I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

13 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117232 posts in 3720 days

#1 posted 05-11-2009 04:54 PM

well done and so useful

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3831 days

#2 posted 05-11-2009 05:44 PM

You just saved me $100.00 ! Thank you very much : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View oaktree's profile


9 posts in 3502 days

#3 posted 05-12-2009 12:52 AM

I’m glad you showed this .I need to make one and your’s is great.Thank’s for sharing it.

-- Roger,N.Y.

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 3701 days

#4 posted 05-12-2009 01:22 AM

I made me one like that and it worked great until I got my Worksharp WS3000. No I sharpen them all with it. And I mean it gets them sharp…......................

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4220 days

#5 posted 05-12-2009 01:42 AM

looks good bill!!!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View bigwoodturner's profile


231 posts in 3488 days

#6 posted 05-12-2009 03:03 AM

Ok, sorry to put a damper on this but here it goes. The jig will only work for tools that do not require a side grind. Let me explain, a shallow fluted tools such as a spindle gouge are able to be sharpened on this jig as you only cut with the tip in the area 1/3 to the left or right of center. These tools are designed to cut on the outside of a piece only. A bowl gouge requires what is sometimes called a side grind or the Ellsworth Signature grind. These are really the Celtic and Irish Grinds. To achieve this the tool has to be placed 90 degrees to the wheel and brought to center then the other side of the flute is brought from side to center and finally the tip is blended together. In order to do this with a jig you have to have a side grind jig to put the tool in and then mount that jig in the jig you created. The best one on the market as far as I am concerned is the One Way System.

-- Dale

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3866 days

#7 posted 05-12-2009 03:21 AM

Bill, you saved me a bundle! Thanks for the post and the help.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View griff's profile


1207 posts in 3905 days

#8 posted 05-12-2009 04:16 AM

Looks good Bill and if it works for you Good build.

-- Mike, Bruce Mississippi = Jack of many trades master of none

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4082 days

#9 posted 05-12-2009 12:41 PM

As a new turner, sharpening is an undeveloped skill, and a jig like this will be quite useful for me. Someday I may even make one.

Dale, I was wondering about tools like a bowl gouge or scraper so I’m glad you addressed that. For me, though, that’s a future concern. For now I’m really happy to get things round.

Thanks for the jig Bill.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Chris Cunanan's profile

Chris Cunanan

339 posts in 3623 days

#10 posted 05-12-2009 08:41 PM

for the longest time i was so hesitant to sharpen thinking I didn’t have a setup to do it right…eventually my tools got so dull when i started turning again i said forget it, i’m gonna try just freehanding it. my grinds are no where near perfect, but at least i can cut and shape easily again…and haven’t felt a difference in snagging either so far. When I saw you sharpening the bowl gouge on that i thought what Dale said, not cuz I am versed in sharpening techniques at all but just from watching youtube videos ‘n stuff. Maybe you can just freehand the side grind really carefully? I’m sure it wouldn’t be perfect, but like I said it worked for me and I’m glad to be turning chips again =)

View stefang's profile


15944 posts in 3477 days

#11 posted 05-12-2009 10:04 PM

The jig is great and I have been tempted in the past to buy one like it. I do use a Veritas jig for my bench chisels and plane irons. However, since you have to grind more often when turning, it really pays to develop your hand skills as it leaves your wheel free to fingernail grind your inside bowl gouges. Bigwoodturner is giving very good advice about the Irish (or fingernail grind as it’s know to me). This is a grind profile that will make your turning sessions a whole lot more pleasurable and allow you to do things which you cannot do with a conventional grind, and you will get a much better result. I’m sure some of these turning tool jigs are real good but they are kind of expensive and if you can do it by hand they might not be quite as even, but they will get the job done. Don’t be afraid you’ll grind away your gouges, believe me, it’s worth it! I have ground off quite a bit myself, but have been using the same gouges for the last 13 years. I hope you don’t mind getting this unasked for advice, and I apologize if I have overstepped the bounds.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jon3's profile


497 posts in 4248 days

#12 posted 05-13-2009 07:53 PM

I’ve seen people do copies of the oneway like this before. I asked a pretty experienced turner about it, and his response was that you’re going to invite a little bit of chatter on the grind due to a lack of ridgidity, compared to the steel tubing version.

Probably better than grinding by hand though!

View neilk's profile


6 posts in 3938 days

#13 posted 07-19-2009 01:18 AM

Just found this topic as a result of starting to fool around with the old lathe and tools somebody donated to me. I put together a similar jig following the directions by Darrell Feltmate here. The basic jig is indeed for “straight” grinds as bigwoodturner has mentioned. However he adds an additional step for tools needing side grinds, and that is worth taking a look I think. Basically you construct a series of hardwood cubes with little swingarms inserted at particular angles. You insert say a bowl gouge into its corresponding cube, put the swingarm into the base of the jig, and it allows you to uh, swing (!) the tool around on the pivot point, resulting in a side-to-side grind. It’s somewhat extra work but does seem to address the problem, and is economical.

After making my little sliding jig I realized I wasn’t exactly sure what I could sharpen on it, without creating the extra cube/swingarms. The set I have includes a parting tool (can’t use the jig) two skews (ditto) two spindle gouges (not sure!) and a rounding tool (also not sure). I tried sharpening the rounding tool with the jig anyway and it sure made a nice single bevel, but I’m not sure that’s what a rounding tool is supposed to have! I don’t own any bowl gouges yet.

-- Neil (so I don't have to remember to sign my name)

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