Water-Cooled Sharpeners
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Wood Magazine

Water-Cooled Sharpeners

Water-Cooled Sharpeners
Choose a model that suits your needs and budget.

Pages in
this Story:
    • Water-Cooled Sharpeners      Water-Cooled Sharpener Chart
     Tool and Tool Buying Forum


It may seem obvious, but it's worth stating: Woodworking is safer with sharp tools. And it's more fun, too. Still, few of us take the time to properly hone our tools' cutting edges because that's time taken away from building projects. With a powered wet-wheel grinder, such as the eight models in our test, you may come to enjoy sharpening almost as much as building.

If you currently use a bench grinder to sharpen tools, and are dissatisfied with the results, that may be because you've softened the steel by overheating it on the grinder's fast-spinning dry wheel. You'll be happy to know that all of the sharpeners in this test employ a slow-turning wet wheel that keeps the tool cooler during sharpening, thus protecting the steel.

Things to consider before you buy

  • What do you want to sharpen? In our tests, we found that most of the sharpening systems do a good job putting a crisp edge on tools less than 2" wide, such as chisels and plane irons. But only a few could properly sharpen wide cutters, such as planer and jointer knives.
  • A good tool holder makes sharpening m ore accurate. Some woodworkers insist on hand-holding chisels and plane irons while sharpening them, but we prefer a tool rest that holds the tool at the proper angle for sharpening, yet still allows us to slide the cutting edge back and forth across the wheel to maximize tool and wheel life.
  • Wet wheels can be messy, but they don't have to be. Vertical wet wheels are typically the cleanest while in use because the water clings to the wheel surface without flying off it. By contrast, horizontal wheels tend to fling gunk around the shop, especially when sharpening wide tools, such as planer knives.
  • With some sharpeners, you'll still need to polish by hand. The small, fast wheel of the some machines makes quic k work of but their wet wheels aren't fine enough to really polish a cutting edge. One-wheel machines grind slowly, but hone nicely. Only a couple of the tested sharpeners can take your cutters from dinged to dazzling.

You can learn the results of our testing of the Delta 23-700 and 23-710, Glendo Corp. GRS Power Hone, Grizzly G1036, Makita 9820-2, Penn State SSG-ACCU, Tormek SuperGridn 2005, and Woodtek 958-371 by picking up the December 2002 issue of WOOD magazine and turning to page 84.



Wood Magazine