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Versatile, Affordable Sharpening System

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Review by TheDane posted 08-29-2011 06:25 PM 7733 views 3 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Versatile, Affordable Sharpening System Versatile, Affordable Sharpening System Versatile, Affordable Sharpening System Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’m new to turning, and it didn’t take long to figure out I needed a way to sharpen tools.

I picked up a slow-speed (1725 rpm) grinder when Woodcraft had them on sale a few weeks ago.

I’ve been watching YouTube videos posted by Eddie Castelin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdchP8ZYUCc), and decided to try a sharpening system he builds … the Blawkhawk Sharpening System. It sells for a fraction of the price of other systems, and delivers excellent results.

With this rig, you can sharpen Bowl, Fingernail, Roughing and Deep Fluted bowl gouges (Ellsworth type). The rig fits under the grinder, and is supplied with a jig that holds the tool. There actually are two variants … one is the full rig with tubular steel bars, the other (‘International’) is the hardware you need using your own shop-made bars. I bought both so I could have different setups for each side of the grinder … I used 3/4” red oak stock I had in the scrap bin for the bar on the left side of my grinder.

The jig sits in a ‘basket’ on the bar … the baskets are 3/8” couplers on threaded rods, which makes it easy to adjust to suit whatever angle grind you want. Castelin provides a template you can use to make an adjustable setup gauge so can quickly place the pocket of your rig in the same place each time.

I have about $210 invested in this setup including the grinder and Blawkhawk components.

I am a pretty happy camper. I have used both the Wolverine and Sharp Fast systems, and while they are a bit more refined and have some options the Blawkhawk does not (e.g. flat tool rest, skew sharpening jig, etc.), the Blawkhawk system is easy to setup and use, and costs less than others. The Blackhawk comes with easy to follow directions, and if you have questions or need help, Eddie Castelin answers emails promptly. If you call the number he has posted on his website, he answers the phone.

A feature worth noting is the ‘Accu-Set’ devices. They slide over the bar and tighten with a thumb screw so you can quickly set the rig/jig without having to measure or fiddle with the setup … it helps avoid over-grinding and wasting turning tool material every time you sharpen. Each version of the Blawkhawk includes two Accu-Set devices. They are also available separately for other sharpening systems at $12 a pair.

More info: http://www.eddiecastelin.com/products_and_services

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"




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TheDane

3980 posts in 2411 days



22 comments so far

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5387 posts in 1980 days


#1 posted 08-29-2011 08:18 PM

Thanks for the review…

I am curious. Will that work with skews as well?

You’ve got your rig set up for around the same $$ I have in my Ryobi 8” grinder, good wheels, and the Wolverine system. I got my Wolverine second hand though. And I had to add another $30.00 in bushings to get it to stop trying to dance off my bench…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

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TheDane

3980 posts in 2411 days


#2 posted 08-29-2011 08:48 PM

dbhost—I don’t see a way to use it with a skew and get decent results. One Way (Wolverine) makes a separate skew attachment that retails at about $30. I have a DMT diamond plate that I use to sharpen the skew.

I priced out Wolverine … to get what I’ve got (2 bases, 2 V-arms, 2 arms with elevated baskets, and 2 tool holders) would have cost me just about double what I spent on the Blackhawk.

I would like to have a flat tool rest … for now, I just bolt one of the ones that came with the grinder back in place.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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dbhost

5387 posts in 1980 days


#3 posted 08-29-2011 09:13 PM

Like I mentioned, I got my Wolverine second hand… I know they are spendy new…

I am really liking the Accu Set device idea. I wonder if they fit the Wolverine jig…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

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TheDane

3980 posts in 2411 days


#4 posted 08-29-2011 09:21 PM

I have a hunch they would … I believe the Wolverine systems (check me if I’m wrong here), use a 3/4” bar, which is what Blackhawk uses.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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TheDane

3980 posts in 2411 days


#5 posted 08-29-2011 09:41 PM

dbhost—Here’s the deal … I’ll drop one of the Accu-Sets in my bag, take it to class with me tonight, and try it on one of the Wolverines. I’ll post a followup Tuesday 30Aug11.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Greg In Maryland's profile

Greg In Maryland

422 posts in 1746 days


#6 posted 08-30-2011 12:00 AM

How do you like the grinder? I picked up one last week, but haven’t had a chance to use it yet.

Greg

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TheDane

3980 posts in 2411 days


#7 posted 08-30-2011 12:30 AM

Grinder is terrific! Had a great out-of-the-box experience with it.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

15304 posts in 1936 days


#8 posted 08-30-2011 11:14 AM

Nice review and congrats to getting into turning as well.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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TheDane

3980 posts in 2411 days


#9 posted 08-30-2011 01:57 PM

Quick followup to dbhost’s question on the Accu-Set devices … they do, in fact, fit the arms on the Wolverine sharpening rigs. I tested them last night in the shop at Western Technical College in La Crosse.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View SSMDad's profile

SSMDad

395 posts in 1344 days


#10 posted 08-30-2011 02:31 PM

Same here Greg. Mine should arrive tomorrow. I have the Grizzly wet grinder which is ok but wanted something specifically for turning tools and thought this might be a good option.

Gerry, thanks for posting. This seems to be considerably less than the Wolverine so if it does as well, why not! Though $20 for shipping and handling seems pretty high. I’d rather he just charge more for the jig instead of trying to make money on the shipping.

-- Chris ~~Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

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TheDane

3980 posts in 2411 days


#11 posted 08-30-2011 03:27 PM

Chris—You ought to see how he packs it! It comes in a heavy cardboard tube with turned wood plugs screwed/glued in the ends (mine had rosettes). To open the tube, I needed a hacksaw.

I can’t criticize him too much for the shipping costs. My company charges a flat $21.95 to ship a box in the lower 48 that weights less than 8 ounces (contains a CD)! There is a method to our madness … we try to push our customers to take electronic delivery of our software. We would like to be out of the printing/packaging end of the software business.

I tried to download Eddie’s sharpening jig, but my hard drive just wouldn’t allow it (LOL).

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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SSMDad

395 posts in 1344 days


#12 posted 08-30-2011 04:09 PM

haha :)

In that case I guess I should give it a shot. I’d still rather pay someone a bit more for their own work vs. something made by cheap labor for a company somewhere in the world.

-- Chris ~~Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

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TheDane

3980 posts in 2411 days


#13 posted 08-30-2011 04:17 PM

I think as I get further/deeper into turning, I may try some of his carbide cutters as well.

SWMBO informs me that my allowance is temporarily tapped out, but I’m saving pop cans here at the office and expect to cash in big on all of the Mountain Dew that the programming department goes through.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Marty Eargle's profile

Marty Eargle

14 posts in 1441 days


#14 posted 09-01-2011 04:59 AM

You’ve got to love Captain Eddie! His Youtube channel is one of my absolute favorites.

I’ve been considering buying one of these rigs since I’m too lazy to build one myself…this review may just seal the deal.

-- Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it. -Mark Twain

View cajunpen's profile

cajunpen

14429 posts in 2813 days


#15 posted 02-05-2012 09:12 PM

Just ran across your review. Eddie is a friend of mine – in fact I saw him yesterday. I’m also a big fan of his videos, he shares a ton of information and is truly a great guy. If you check out is site http://eddiecastelin.com/ you can find some nice bargains on your turning needs.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased." http://www.cajunpen.com/

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