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Sharpening: need a jig? Which jig?

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Tarrquin

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Hi All, I realise that I'm about to ask a question with probably as many answers as 'which is the best beer/football team' but I'm going to try anyway :twisted:

My pre-loved lathe is now fully functional, I have a nice set of Sorby chisels that came with it and I have just turned my first box albeit with a slightly sloppy lid. I did notice that, when hollowing out the box, the gouges I used were a bit reluctant to cut wood so I suspect I am now going to have to face the prospect of sharpening them :shock: .

I have a belt sander and a decent bench grinder but reading stuff suggests that trying to sharpen by hand is not advisable (comments expected!). So probably I should invest in a sharpening jig but there seems to be a vast selection out there, ranging in price from around £33 to a hand-made one on Amazon and eBay, to many hundreds for a Sorby ProEdge sharpening system.

So, nice people, what thoughts have you on this topic? Are the cheaper ones always nasty? Is it worth importing a Woodcut Tru-Grind jig from the Land of Kiwis? I'd love to learn from your experiences!

Cheers,
Steve
 

woodbloke66

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Not the sharpening gear that you have, but I do all my gouges etc on a water cooled diamond Tormek wheel with the appropriate jig(s). To sharpen a bowl gouge takes around 20 secs which includes a quick pass over the leather honing wheels to remove any burr. The quickest way I've found to do scrapers etc is on a disc sander - Rob
 

KimG

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I bought a Sorby jig about 12 years ago, always use it, it works well with the Record 8" grinder.
 

leisurefix

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I have tried a couple jigs, but never really got on with them for most grinding. Scrapers, roughing gouges and the simple bowl gouges grinds are easier to do free hand on a decent platform on the bench grinder. I feel that by grinding by hand you are putting the angle on by hand and so when it comes to using the gouge for turning you already have that angle in muscle memory sort of thing, hope that makes some sense. I think it is worth the effort.
I would say though that the long fingernail/Irish/Ellsworth grinds are worth doing with a jig as getting the long wing ground is much more difficult.
 

CHJ

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Lonsdale73

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I'm in a similar position except I bought a 10" Wetstone system that appears to be a Tormek clone. It came with a feature length DVD detailing all the things it is capable of doing and demonstrates all the jigs available (at extra cost). Unfortunately, there are some seemingly critical points which are either not very clear or not mentioned at all. The set-up tools resemble and are as well made as something out of a xmas cracker. As it is a Tormek clone, I have wondered if a) Tormek's TTS-100 set-up tool would work with the jigs I've already bought or b) it would work but only if I bought the Tormek SVD-186 jig as well?
 

gregmcateer

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Same as wot they said.
I use an adjustable platform on a bench grinder. As and when the wheel becomes useless, I'm going to get a CBN wheel to reduce adjustments of the platform to the bevel angle only. In fact, if I could afford it, I'd have a wheel and platform set for each gouge and chisel!
In all seriousness, I spent more time trying to get the jig set, (esp for fingernail grind), than sharpening.

leisurefix":3ixjphej said:
I have tried a couple jigs, but never really got on with them for most grinding. Scrapers, roughing gouges and the simple bowl gouges grinds are easier to do free hand on a decent platform on the bench grinder. I feel that by grinding by hand you are putting the angle on by hand and so when it comes to using the gouge for turning you already have that angle in muscle memory sort of thing, hope that makes some sense. I think it is worth the effort.
I would say though that the long fingernail/Irish/Ellsworth grinds are worth doing with a jig as getting the long wing ground is much more difficult.
 

CHJ

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Lonsdale73":3otm6g12 said:
.....As it is a Tormek clone, I have wondered if a) Tormek's TTS-100 set-up tool would work with the jigs I've already bought or b) it would work but only if I bought the Tormek SVD-186 jig as well?
I do not know if the Tormek jigs will fit or are adaptable for use with your Wet Grinder but I would advise caution on excessive expenditure going down the wet grinder route for turning tools in a Hobby environment.


Some years ago I was asked to do a review of a wet grinder system specifically in relation to Turning Tools for a magazine and although the machine itself was excellent, for me and in relationship to my use of turning tools it proved a total none starter.

I did the review in the form of a Critique and it was published at the time.

Whether my observations are still relevant to current versions of the same machine in relationship to turning tools I don't know, but I suspect the same jig setting accuracy and slow touch up of cutting edges USING JIGS would be relevant whatever jigs you use with any slow speed Wet Grinder.
 

Tarrquin

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I thought I'd get comments about sharpening by hand! I guess the jig makers would want to discourage that approach #-o

I shall delve into the world of hand sharpening videos via DuckDuckGo (no googling in this house!) but any suggestions as to ones worth watching will be welcomed!

Thank you,
Steve
 

CHJ

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Hand sharpening is an art in itself, some folks master it easily, I'm not one of them, I can sharpen twist drills quite accurately freehand, I can sharpen Turning tools freehand (both engineering and wood turning) but I can't maintain a given Wood turning Bowl or Spindle gouge profile freehand for long without it changing form.

For a rapid touch and go tickle to keep exactly the same profile for weeks on end I rely on the prop of jigs, stops me from screwing things up with inattention.
 
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Start with a jig.

Get a feel for what a sharp tool should actually feel like and the type of grinds you're aiming for, and then move onto free hand sharpening (if you really must).

Honestly though, I really don't think free hand sharpening is *that* much quicker. It takes me about 30s to sharpen my bowl gouge on the Robert Sorby Pro Edge, I assume it would be similar with a grinder. If you're a professional turner, then I can see that you'd want to be as efficient as possible, but for the hobby turner, I don't see the need. Unless it is a grind the jig just can't do well.
 

selectortone

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I bought an inexpensive basic sharpening jig similar to this one when I started turning. With a bit of instruction from one of the guys at my club it allowed me to keep a decent edge on my tools while I decided if turning was for me. I now have a Sorby system I was lucky enough to pick up when one of the members retired, but I still use that basic jig for my bowl gouges. It works fine.

Bear in mind that unlike tools like standard woodworking chisels, etc., where you are addressing a stationary lump of timber, on a lathe the blank is whizzing around at several hundred rpm. This means that taking great care with honing and stropping to get the sharpest edge possible (as I was taught at guitar building school) is a bit academic as that super-fine edge will be dulled very quickly.

Like the pros that come and demo at the club, I keep a credit card sized diamond plate in my pocket for touching up my tools for the bulk of the job and then resort to my sharpening jigs for final cuts.

edit to add:

Here's my sharpening corner. I have four stations set up so that there is the minimum of adjustment necessary. Sharpening time is wasted turning time!

 

Lonsdale73

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CHJ":nm8w9zpr said:
Lonsdale73":nm8w9zpr said:
.....As it is a Tormek clone, I have wondered if a) Tormek's TTS-100 set-up tool would work with the jigs I've already bought or b) it would work but only if I bought the Tormek SVD-186 jig as well?
I do not know if the Tormek jigs will fit or are adaptable for use with your Wet Grinder but I would advise caution on excessive expenditure going down the wet grinder route for turning tools in a Hobby environment.


Some years ago I was asked to do a review of a wet grinder system specifically in relation to Turning Tools for a magazine and although the machine itself was excellent, for me and in relationship to my use of turning tools it proved a total none starter.

I did the review in the form of a Critique and it was published at the time.

Whether my observations are still relevant to current versions of the same machine in relationship to turning tools I don't know, but I suspect the same jig setting accuracy and slow touch up of cutting edges USING JIGS would be relevant whatever jigs you use with any slow speed Wet Grinder.
The DVD makes a point that the fixture bar is 12mm therefore 'may work with accessories and jigs from other manufacturers', no names mentioned. Tormek, on their home page point out they cannot guarantee that their jigs and accessories will work with any systems or set-ups other than Tormek's own! I found - only yesterday - someone using A.N Other's Tormek clone with the TTS-100 and an SVD-186. He did at least give me a reply which Tormek haven't, which was that he didn't think the TTS-100 would necessarily work with the clones jigs. Not sure I understand the logic of cloning the machine but not the jigs. That said, the woodturner's package cost a lot less than Tormek's! In fact, it's less than the lowest price I can find foe the SVD-186, which ranges from £66 to £967 - and no, that's not a typo, I really have seen it advertised for nine-hundred and sixty-seven pounds plus some pence!

So far, I've spent more on the sharpening side than the lathe (a s/h RP DML250) and the turning tools (a set of seven Sorby, also s/h) cost together. I don't really want to be spending any more on the sharpening side just for the sake of it, I'd rather see that money go in to an upgrade to the lathe. Not that the one I have doesn't offer greater potential than I'm curently capable of, but I live in hope.

I've only used the system twice so far. First time, I found the roughing gouge quite straight forward to use and that had no problem cutting through anything. The bowl/spindle gouges ended up with more faces than a politician and didn't cut at all well. The 'best' - for which you can read 'only' - guidance I got was to watch youtube. So I did and tried again. I think I got a better profile this time but I've not tried using them yet, been too busy with other things. If they're still not right, I think my options are

a) Forget the TTS/SVD and buy some carbide tip tools instead

b) Sell the wetstone set-up and buy some carbide tools instead

c) Sell the Sorby's and buy some carbide tools instead

d) Sell both and buy some carbide tools instead or

e) persevere!

Although I am enjoying many aspects of the lockdown I am looking forward to a return to what passes for normality if only to resume attending club meeting to gain advice and guidance.
 

Lonsdale73

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Update: Received a reply from Tormek (along with an apology for the delay) and they say no reason why their TTS shouldn't work with clones, albeit still no guarantee that it will.
 

Lazurus

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Creusen slow speed grinder combined with the Sorby jig gives me fast repeatable grinds for the past 20 years, a friend recently got a Pro edge, whilst a nice bit of kit does nothing mine will not. I want to spend my time turning not sharpening, a few seconds for anything from a swept back bowl gouge to a parting tool. Simples. I did try a water cooled grinder but it was sooooo slow I sold it on. You will get as many answers as there are turners so take your pick.
 

Tarrquin

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Thank you for all your advice and suggestions! I have decided to go along with selectortone's suggestion and buy the jig set he linked. It does seem to be well reviewed and not too expensive so hopefully will help me get nicely sharpened tools :)
Cheers,
Steve
 

Lazurus

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You will be fine, it is a tried and trusted design, just take your time and be prepared for a learning curve.
 

Phil Pascoe

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selectortone":tmfy36jj said:
I have four stations set up so that there is the minimum of adjustment necessary. Sharpening time is wasted turning time!
Minimum adjustment also prolongs the life expectancy of the tool - you remove less each time you sharpen, as you use exactly the same angle.
 

CHJ

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Despite the whole raft of profiles it is possible to achieve with the jigs of the Tormek pattern once you have mastered the 'operator' aspect of the process, I've personally found that having two or three profiles that I'm comfortable with (i.e. suit my turning style/ability) on different gouges is all I ever use.
Consequently have fixed jig configurations for each.

I've tried profile variations but I always come back to the same settings, the only variation being the 'operator' input on dwell time to influence the wing profile from time to time as the wood in vogue dictates.
 
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