Sharpening Turning Tools

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Forum topic by Manitario posted 01-12-2018 08:23 PM 580 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2616 posts in 2815 days

01-12-2018 08:23 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sharpening turning tools

So, bought a smallish lathe and a few HSS turning tools from Lee Valley. Also bought a Wolverine sharpening jig for my 8” slow speed grinder. However….there seems to be 10000 different opinions about how to sharpen lathe tools. Several of the books I have on turning recommend just using 80 grit wheels on the grinder and then a quick buff on the inside of the gouges with 180 grit sandpaper. Stuff I’ve read online varies from a similar approach to using 180 grit on the wheels and then a honing wheel or even higher grits. I understand that sharpening turning tools is a vastly different beast from sharpening chisels or plane blades, it’d be silly and time consuming to sharpen the turning tools razor sharp.

So, what do people do to sharpen their turning tools? Also, what sort of prep work do I need to do with them b/f using them; eg. on plane blades/chisels etc. I flatten the backs before using them the first time, is there a similar equivalent with turning tools? Or can I just take them to the grinder and give them a light sharpening with the 80 grit wheel and start turning? I have a roughing gouge, a 1/2 spindle gouge, a skew chisel and a V parting tool.


-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

6 replies so far

View Wildwood's profile


2267 posts in 2067 days

#1 posted 01-12-2018 09:04 PM

I’ve never went beyond 120 grit wheels for sharpening, but only use 80 grit K- hardness wheels today. Tended to blue my tools with 100 & 120 grit wheels. Cannot tell you how long have been using just 80 grit wheels to resharpen or 46 grit wheels to change bevel angles or repair edge when dropped. I go right from the grinder most times without honing. Also use basic Wolverine system with optional V-grind jig.

Ask any ten turners about grit of their grinding wheels will get different answers so grit of the wheel kind of a personal chioce thing.

I agree with Doug Thompson (Thompson tools)when he say only people promoting CBN wheels are people selling or own them already. Having said that eventually will buy an 80 grit CBN wheel for my grinder.

If buy CBN wheels can get 120 or higher grit wheels. Included this video where man that sells CBN wheels cannot tell difference between 80 or 120 grit after turning on surface of the wood. There are other vendors selling fininer grit CBN wheels. If decide want to go with a CBN wheels have to shop around for best price.

-- Bill

View DocSavage45's profile


8475 posts in 2775 days

#2 posted 01-13-2018 05:27 AM

From what I have gathered the most important on gouges is what the angle is and how that influences the cut. The other thing I found interesting is using a round stone for the interior edge.

The rest is what you learn by choices you make. Good luck!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View LeeMills's profile


513 posts in 1233 days

#3 posted 01-14-2018 03:58 PM

I do about like Bill. I just use the white wheel though (<$20) and about 80 -100. It only takes about 2 seconds per side once your jig is set up. I do not hone my gouges at all and use them right from the grinder.
In comparison to your hand tools… a ten inch bowl at 1,000 rpm means 500 inches of wood is being cut every second.
A little faster than hand tools. :)
I do hone my straight tools (skew, parting, bedan) because I want them razor sharp and it is quick to hone for a few seconds at the lathe. The skew is the main one since with some cuts you want to place pressure toward the head/tails stock rather than perpendicular to the wood. This allows a clean cut with minimum flexing of small diameter items. These tools only go back to the grinder to deepen the hollow grind in order to hand hone less metal; this may be only a couple of time a year.

Others honed would be the small cutters such as the Sorby where you simply hone one face or for scrapers if you want to raise a smooth burr rather than use the “burr” from the grinder.

BTW mine is 6” wheel on a four position shop made sharpening station made in the 80’s.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2846 days

#4 posted 01-14-2018 04:25 PM

This is what I now use:

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View bigJohninvegas's profile


421 posts in 1394 days

#5 posted 01-14-2018 05:05 PM

As you can see from the few previous replies. There are many ways to sharpen. So sharing what I have read in the past. It seems that sharpening beyond 180 grit may create a fragile edge that will dull faster. For that reason, I chose to stay at 180. Seems to work well for me.
I too am using the wolverine jig. I started with a norton 60 grit for changing the profile when needed. typically a one time profile change if needed at all, or if you drop the tool and take a chunk out of it. And I had a norton 180 grit wheel for sharpening. Now I have switched some time ago to a 180 CBN wheel for sharpening. I so rarely use the 60 grit that I can’t justify the price of a CBN.
The norton wheels are soft, and I had to use a dressing tool frequently to keep them true.
Here is a link to a good review on CBN wheels.

Also Here is where I bought mine. Woodturners Wonders.
Its been a few years ago that I bought the radius edge wheel. It is performing like the day I got it. I do wish I had got the mega square edge wheel instead of the radius edge. I have had a bigger need for the square edge over the radius edge. But that has just been my personal needs. The radius edge handles all my turning tools just fine, but I have learned that with the square edge I could be sharpening some of my larger forstner and maybe even some router bits.

-- John

View Karda's profile


997 posts in 486 days

#6 posted 01-15-2018 04:10 AM

I feel you frustration, i am some what new at this too and had am still frustrated as you are. But one thing I learned is just because there are so many different opinions of right doesn,t mean some are wrong. It just means that there are many different ways to achieve the same goal. You will have to find out what is right for you. listen to every bodys advice, it is all good. don’t be afraid to experiment then stick with what works for you. But what ever you do make sure you do it safely. a lot of good in formation on utbe as well

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