Sharpening Lathe Tools

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Forum topic by Kevin posted 06-11-2009 07:34 AM 1795 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Kevin's profile


24 posts in 2748 days

06-11-2009 07:34 AM

I just bought a new mini lathe for pen turning and am trying to find out what i need to sharpen my tools. Basically i know a slow speed grinder and that’s about it. If you could help me i would really appreciate it thanks.

9 replies so far

View Roper's profile


1370 posts in 3130 days

#1 posted 06-11-2009 07:47 AM

a gringer and a solid platform are all you need.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View LesB's profile


1228 posts in 2860 days

#2 posted 06-11-2009 07:50 AM

For my part I get by with a regular bench grinder (1750 rpm) using white or pink wheels and being careful not to let the heat build up. Once you get the and shape you want all it takes is a quick touch up when you notice the tool is not cutting well.
Next, it is nice to have the tool holders, especially for sharpening gouges. There are several good commercial ones and I have seen several home made ones. With practice and experience you can do it free hand but you may grind away a lot of tool metal learning. I do most of my pen work with a small gouge to round up the stock and a round nose scraper for the final shape and finish….plus sanding. It could also be done with a skew but that too takes some practice to learn how to use it well.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Matt's profile


181 posts in 2789 days

#3 posted 06-11-2009 08:39 PM

Woodcraft is always selling their chinese ‘slow speed grinder’ for a good price. Add a Wolverine jig or look at one and build your own. That should just about do it. Get a black marker while you’re learning. Color the bevel so you can easily see what is being ground off of your tool. If the steel turns blue, let it cool off and start over.

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 2898 days

#4 posted 06-14-2009 02:26 PM

Well, I’d say it comes down to the types of turning tools you have. I’ve found that using a bench grinder on my mini detail tools is like using a sledge hammer to drive a tack. I have a “low” speed grinder with the Oneway Wolverine sharpening system. That works great for my full size tools. I grind the the edges and then touch it up with a diamond hone while I’m turning. For my mini tools, I will free hand touch them using the Tormek water cooled grinder I have and again, use the diamond hone to get the final edge. Now, I know that both these systems are rather pricey, especially for a new comer to the trade, so if you have access to a regular bench grinder and use a gentle touch so you don’t burn the steel and then touch the edge up with a honing stone, you will get some good results.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3184 days

#5 posted 06-14-2009 02:42 PM

I use a slow speed grinder and the Wolverine sharpening system.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Dusty56's profile


11800 posts in 3105 days

#6 posted 06-20-2009 05:09 AM

A typical “slow-speed” grinder is 1725rpm . I’m not sure what LesB is referring to as a “regular bench grinder” because your average “regular” grinder runs at 3450rpm.
I recently purchased the Worksharp system and it is very nice and does a great job without overheating your tools , plus there is no water involved .

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

View Jim's profile


119 posts in 3415 days

#7 posted 06-20-2009 04:15 PM

I use a regular grinder and a psi sharpening system (basically a wolverine) and a worksharp 3000

-- Jim in Cushing Oklahoma

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 2975 days

#8 posted 06-20-2009 05:03 PM

I used a regular shop grinder, then I went to a slow speed wet grinder. Now I have the Worksharp WS-3000 and let me tell you it does a fantastic job. I have my chisels sharper now then I ever had. Would highly recommend this worksharp for $199 at most places that sell them.

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

View PatentNonsense's profile


28 posts in 2783 days

#9 posted 06-22-2009 02:58 AM

LOTS of good discussion of this topic in the AAW forums – see, and/or go to their annual meeting next weekend in Albuquerque if you can.

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