Many beginning woodturners and also some experienced ones are confused on the question of sharpening their tools, specifically wondering how sharp a tool needs to be. This tends to be further confused by the tendency for woodworkers never to restrict themselves to only 1 kind of woodworking. In other words a woodturner could find themselves at the wood lathe one hour and using a hand plane or perhaps a wood chisel another. Now the question becomes whether the lathe tool must be as sharp because the hand tool. how to paint unfinished wood The solution may lie in considering the type of wood and work each can do.
Hand planes are designed for removing wood leaving as smooth as surface as possible. They move across boards that are progressively flatter and flatter as well as smoother and smoother and can leave a surface only as fine because the edge on their blade. Furthermore, they’re propelled with the motion of arms and hands and cover a fairly small area in a relatively large segment of time compared with a wood lathe.
The wood that planes work with is generally fairly clear with few knots and irregularities. It has also been brought to a spot of relative flatness and finish before the planes start their work. Hand planes are actually the finish tools of the present day cabinet maker. As such they need a very fine edge that leaves a finished surface ready for fine sandpaper or perhaps a cabinet scraper.
Woodturning tools on the other hand will be the roughing tolls of the woodturner along with the finishing tools. They will attack a rough piece of wood that could include bark complete with grit from felling on the woodland floor, all kinds of knots that add character to the finished piece as well as cross grain and bark inclusions found in many burls. A fine edge can last only seconds instead of minutes in such circumstances.
Furthermore, a wood lathe moves the material so quickly that the fine edge of a wood plane would dull very quickly under the friction of the movement. Rather a far more robust, thicker edge is needed. Instead of the edge from water stones and leather strops, the rougher edge from a grinding wheel is sufficient for the woodturner.
Grinders using eighty grit aluminum oxide wheels will leave an advantage that’s sufficiently strong and sharp enough to remove a great deal of wood and last well. The surface that is left behind is ready for sanding or scraping. In fact, many spindle turners will use a skew chisel to leave a surface that will not need any sanding or only that of papers greater than two hundred grit of finer. Some bowl turners use scrapers with a fine edge to attain similar results.
The solution to the question of how sharp is sharp enough really is the sharpness that works for the various tools and the work accessible. It will vary for the tool used but the end results speak for themselves.
Darrell Feltmate is a juried wood turner whose internet site, Around the Woods, contains detailed information about wood turning for the novice or experienced turner as well as a collection of turnings for the viewing pleasure. You too can learn to turn wood, this is actually the place to start. Wondering what it appears like? There are lots of free videos on the website dealing with from sharpening to creating a bowl.
For full instruction in getting the tools sharp and in particular how to make a very inexpensive sharpening jig, check out making and using the sharpening jig. Using only small amount of time, some shop scraps and several dollars you may make a jig which will perform such as a hundred dollar tool and easily sharpen your wood lathe tools.