New at Woodturning, Terrible at Sharpening

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Forum topic by Keith Kelly posted 07-24-2015 04:43 AM 2142 views 0 times favorited 39 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Keith Kelly

279 posts in 1902 days

07-24-2015 04:43 AM

Personally, I’m humorously sick of watching woodturning videos where streams of shavings effortlessly fly off the stock.

Online, it seems that everyone is pointing to either: 1) expensive stuff, or 2) long processes. But, when asking a relative who’s a hobbyist woodturner, he recommended just freehanding it on the bench grinder.

Obviously, freehand isn’t working for me. (see pic below)

I’m eyeballing a jig on Amazon for about $95. Are there any jigs you guys would recommend in the $100 range or lower? Or, advice in general about sharpening lathe tools?

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, ...

39 replies so far

View ForestGrl's profile


450 posts in 1325 days

#1 posted 07-24-2015 06:20 AM

I feel your pain, Keith! I am re-learning turning and sharpening, and it`s been tough. What has been essential is the right equipment and tons of advice and videos. (I had some in-person mentoring years ago too). My sharpening set-up is an 8” slow-speed grinder with very good wheels, and the Wolverine set-up including Verigrind (not the VG2, the original). I’ll message you tomorrow with some names and links, too hard to do that on this tablet. Sharpening is EVERYTHING but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

-- My mother said that anyone learning to cook needed a large dog to eat the mistakes. As a sculptor of wood I have always tried to keep a fireplace. (Norman Ridenour)

View MrUnix's profile


7107 posts in 2438 days

#2 posted 07-24-2015 06:24 AM

I sharpen using a standard run of the mill bench grinder and/or belt sander… no jigs or fixtures needed. You will get a feel for it pretty quickly, and it doesn’t have to look pretty to cut great :)


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Wildwood's profile


2529 posts in 2373 days

#3 posted 07-24-2015 10:17 AM

Lot of sharpening systems available and recommend them because will give you repeatability when sharpening your tools.

I use and recommend basic Wolverine system and getting option Vari-grind jig too. Most vendors catering to turners carry the basic & optional stuff.



Pen State industries sells a Wolverine clone not sure of price.

Lot of turners also like this system.

-- Bill

View Bruyet's profile


44 posts in 1381 days

#4 posted 07-24-2015 11:51 AM

I just bought both of the One Way systems you listed, but have not had the chance to try them yet. Looking forward to it this weekend. I am impressed at the quality of their tools.

I have pretty good luck sharpening by hand. Some gouges better than others. I need the repeatability and consistency these systems offer.

View Mark's profile


984 posts in 2213 days

#5 posted 07-24-2015 05:30 PM

Try this site. Go to the ” make wood turning accessories” link, follow that to “sharpening jig.”. Pretty easy to make and it works well.

-- Mark

View Rich63's profile


6 posts in 1276 days

#6 posted 07-24-2015 05:33 PM

I have been turning about 2 years. I had the same problem when I started. Practice, practice, practice and get some help from local woodturners.

View HokieKen's profile


7570 posts in 1377 days

#7 posted 07-24-2015 05:46 PM

I made the jig Mark pointed you to^^. It doesn’t make it effortless but it definitely helps me to keep a consistent angle. The jig is simple and can be made from scraps in under 5 minutes. I simply clamp it to the table in front of the grinder. I also bought a cheap set of HF turning tools for the sole purpose of learning the ins and outs of sharpening. The Wolverine jigs have a lot of fans and seem to be worth the price but for me, it made more sense to make a simple jig and just practice on tools I wasn’t concerned about.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Underdog's profile


1248 posts in 2274 days

#8 posted 07-24-2015 06:09 PM

Plus one on the Wolverine Jig.
I (sorta) learned to grind freehand, but the jig made it so much easier, that it’s just not worth it. Get your tools sharp and keep em sharp. Makes learning to turn so much easier.

I’d also highly recommend finding an experienced turner to get you started down the cutting/slicing path, rather than just “sticking the pointy end in first” path. (I started with the latter.) There’s a world of difference between being able to slice through the wood and just dragging a dull edge across it.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View mpax356's profile


75 posts in 2731 days

#9 posted 07-24-2015 07:14 PM

Plus One on UnderDog’s comment. I was in the same class he was in and learned to freehand from a world class turner but after acquiring the skill, opted to go back to using a Wolverine. If it is almost sharp it will almost cut.

-- MPax, Atlanta

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5149 posts in 4199 days

#10 posted 07-24-2015 08:21 PM

Check out Cap’n Eddie Castelin’s site. Look at the ”$2.00 Sharpening Jig”. It works.
He’s on You Tube.


View Keith Kelly's profile

Keith Kelly

279 posts in 1902 days

#11 posted 07-24-2015 08:29 PM

My bench grinder is a 3450rpm 6” Skil. Is that something I can get by with, or should I really eventually get something slower?

-- Keith - Bolivar, Missouri, ...

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 1575 days

#12 posted 07-24-2015 08:35 PM

Hi Keith, a 6” bench grinder with a nice wheel is fine in my opinion. I have an 8” 3450 RPM and because of the increase in the wheel diameter it’s very fast but with patience and a good wheel it works just fine. For awhile I coveted a slow speed grinder but over time I developed a good feel (as in my finger tip is burning!!!) for the regular speed grinder even an 8” grinder. What is key is a decent wheel. And even with the usual grey wheel I can grind just fine but again with a lot of patience.

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View 53rdcard's profile


21 posts in 3105 days

#13 posted 07-24-2015 11:40 PM

i got a slow speed grinder with the 120 grit wheels included from woodcraft a while ago, not sure if they still have them or not. but if you are not hung up on the tools, you can also look into easy wood tools, i got one of the roughers and sold every one of my roughing gouges right after, then bought a couple of the other specialty tools from easy wood tools, they are good, but the detailer and whatever the other one is called, one is round one is a diamond shaped, i can get good results with them but they are not as good as a small spindle or bowl gouge to me at least.

View TheDane's profile


5575 posts in 3902 days

#14 posted 07-25-2015 11:52 AM

FWIW … WoodCraft has the Rikon 8” slow-speed grinder on sale for $99.99. Comes with 60-grit and 120-grit friable wheels.

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

View ForestGrl's profile


450 posts in 1325 days

#15 posted 07-25-2015 04:33 PM

Plus 1 on getting an 8” slow-speed grinder and quality wheels . Small wheels and high speed just add to the challenges and frustrations of learning to shape and sharpen. Also, an extremely light touch to the wheel is essential.

-- My mother said that anyone learning to cook needed a large dog to eat the mistakes. As a sculptor of wood I have always tried to keep a fireplace. (Norman Ridenour)

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