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
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
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
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
k work of but their wet wheels aren't
fine enough to really polish a cutting edge. One-wheel machines grind
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
of WOOD magazine and turning to page 84.
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