Is there a catch all sharpening system?

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BearTricks

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Hi,

Not sure where this thread should go as it encompasses woodwork, turning and metal working.

I’m finally kitting out the new workshop. I’m up to the point where I need to figure out my sharpening. Essentially I want something that will sharpen my woodturning gouges, chisels and planes, but I’d also like to have a bash at making some knives (for various hobbies like leatherworking and maybe a chefs knife) from blanks bought online.

I believe knife makers mostly use belt grinders for this. I’m guessing I need something more aggressive than a Tormek so I have been looking at the Robert Sorby system if I can get coarser belts for it but cost of consumables and general environmental impact is also a bit of a consideration.

Does anyone have any recommendations or am I looking at buying two machines here?
 

D_W

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You can use a belt grinder to make knives. I'd find something a little more persuasive than a sorby kit, but if you're buying just one for everything and not making many knives, the sorby kit should be fine.

The belt grinders (very high speed, high power) that are generally used for tool grinding now in place of dry grinders are a bit much for general tool sharpening (typical belt speeds between 4000 and 7200 feet per minute, and if that's variable, the cost goes up).

The other possibility is to get a cheap dry grinder and a high power belt grinding kit for heavier grinding. A cheap dry grinder does everything you need to do other than grinding knives.

CBN wheels are popular for turning tools, but not needed for day to day sharpening (a very coarse wheel does better than CBN for grinding chisels, but turning tools are loaded with vanadium, and typical abrasives are slow with it - CBN is harder than the vanadium bits). As a toolmaker, I've pretty much worn out two CBN wheels to the point that they still work, but they're very slow and the level of heat vs. cut rate is very poor vs. a 24 grit tool room wheel (which is something nobody would dream of using for a finished edge on turning tools).

I sharpen all of the things you're describing on a dry grinder, but the high speed belt and some power is necessary for toolmaking and knife making (Which will have you grinding blanks after they've been heat treated).

....

just as an aside, if you only want to make a few knives (and maybe dabble in a few kitchen knives), something like this will do all you need, and you can use it to sharpen skews, etc (turning skews, that is):

slightly better cheap grinder

This can be a minefield - this thing would be nothing for jigged grinding of bevels, but it's got a flat platen and good belt tension. Most sanders in this range do not. With ceramic belts, I can make chisels using only this sander, including grinding the side bevels after heat treat, and I'm not sure using a higher speed grinder is any faster than this one - something that I have elsewhere).

It uses cheap 4x36 belts and has OK speed, is cheap, and can be used to dimension wood stuff from time to time.

So, if you're thinking tormek budget is OK, this thing paired with a dry grinder that has good rest, one CBN wheel and one coarse toolroom wheel - that'd cover a whole lot of ground.
 

D_W

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(it looks like the above sander is also sold under the rikon brand for about the same name - the little differences make it usable whereas the over-under sanders with a belt drive are junk. Not sure what's sold in the UK under various brands. I'm giving you a long suggestion here as I've got a lot of experience with this stuff, and the 4x36 comment has more dimension than it looks like it does. A standard size means you can shop around for ceramic belts if you get further into knife making, and that could halve the cost of the belts from one retailer to another, and quarter or fifth them in terms of belt life per quid vs. something like the sorby pro edge.

When you get above the speed of a sander like this, then metal dust and combustion at the point of grind starts to be a problem and you need a lot of ventilation and tolerance of a thin layer of black dust on everything...

..the reviews for a lot of these combos describe the disc sander as being junk, but I have no idea what the use of such a thing is and haven't removed the shipping cover on mine now a year and a half later - the fact that it keeps things in the shop away from a spinning disc is even better than having access to the disc).
 

Inspector

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Most knife makers use a 2"x72" belt or the metric equivalent. They cost a lot more than the Sorby but have more attachments for knife making. A greater variety belts are available and I believe are cheaper than the Sorby. One is on my list of toys to buy/make because of the versatility and the ability to sharpen just about anything. I already have bench grinders so no hurry for me. There are ready made machines as well as kits to weld or bolt together and there is always making one from scratch with free or purchased plans. If you make/get one with variable speed you can slow it down for carbon steel blades so you don't burn them. You can also use them for some woodworking tasks.

Pete
 

RichardG

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From experience my Sorby Pro Edge is only good for primary bevels on chisels and plane irons, you still need to finish on a stone/plate. I also find that it only just about does an OK job on skew chisels.
 

TRITON

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Whatever works for you really. It kind of depends how anal you are about it. Some employ the use of an electron microscope to carefully examine the edge and then say' Think another 2 microns to go', while others give it a rub on grandads old India stone and are happy at that.

One of the best ways of looking at this issue is, do you use the chisels/planes in a professional basis, as in it is your primary job to put food on the table, or are you the type of maker who can happily spend 3 weeks lovingly creating a single mortise and tenon joint ?
 

Droogs

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I believe Jacob uses a piece of stick and an old brick.
He's tried all sorts from expensive stones to honing gauges and yet he still reverts back to his apprentice days in pre Victorian times.
I thought he nipped out and swiped the kerbstone a few times every 20 minutes
 

Shan

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Just a thought but might not what you had in mind, I'm using my 3" belt sander turned upside down in a jig I've made myself. I'm using zirconium belts and use it to sharpen my gouges as have recently purchased a second hand lathe. I've made a tool support that I can adjust the angle and if I need to get a really dull tool sharp I've got a stone on the outside of the head stock. I'm not a professional turner but the system works well for me. Easy to get belts and the tool's don't heat up. Have a speedcontrol on the sander so can adjust accordingly. I've seen the Tormek in operation and seems to be a slow process sharpening lathe tool's and I believe it isn't cheap.
 

planesleuth

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I have always used my Tormek, then a couple of years ago purchased a Sorby because I thought I could refurbish a few knives and other tools. Didn't have much luck with the Sorby, found it hard to adapt the jigs to grind the angles needed. It's just a toy really. On the whole this machine is far less user friendly that the Tormek and now I only use the Sorby for drills and turning tools. If you want a belt grinder, save up and buy a proper one.
 

TRITON

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This is just unnecessary trolling. You should both be ashamed of yourselves.
All in good fun, and im sure Jacob takes it as such.

But the truth in such quips is this is exactly how sharpening began, once we'd found something better than chipped flint. We'd rub the edge on a rock to restore the edge before bashing someone over the head with it.
 

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