For shaping and sharpening hand-tool blades quickly, nothing tops a bench grinder.

For shaping and sharpening hand-tool blades quickly, nothing tops a bench grinder. In most cases, you'll still need to hone the edge with a waterstone, diamond stone, or sandpaper, but the grinder gets the rough work done. These tools create a hollow grind on chisels and plane irons (shown above) that speeds up the honing process. Grinders are also great for sharpening turning chisels, which don't need finely honed edges.

Rikon 80-808, $220

Wheel diameter: 8"
Wheels: 60- and 120-grit aluminum oxide

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A dedicated slow-speed (1,750 rpm) grinder, the 80-808 runs powerfully and smoothly, and it won't heat up tools as quickly as faster machines. The solid tool rests adjust easily (although you'll need one wrench), and the magnifying-lens guards and LED lamp really help visibility. (It also comes with standard guards.)

Delta 23-197, $130

Wheel diameter: 8"
Wheels: 36- and 60-grit aluminum oxide


Although we'd never run this variable-speed grinder faster than its slowest speed (2,000 rpm) to avoid overheating tools, it runs smoothly without vibration. The tool rests adjust without wrenches (nice!). We'd prefer a finer-grit wheel than the 36-grit one it came with, and we found the angled drill-bit slot annoying when sharpening flat blades.

Craftsman 21154, $130

Wheel diameter: 6"
Wheels: 60-grit aluminum oxide and wire bristle


The stone wheel works great for shaping tool edges, but for finer sharpening, we'd prefer a 120-grit wheel. The wire wheel comes in handy for cleaning tools and removing a sharpening burr, but we could live without it. Like the Delta 23-197, run this variable-speed machine at its slowest speed (2,000 rpm). We like its solid tool rests, including both flat and angled drill rests for the left side.