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Thread: revisiting sharpening wheel grit debate

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas

    revisiting sharpening wheel grit debate

    The subject of what is the best wheel grit for sharpening turning tools comes up fairly often, both here and other forums.
    My input has always been the same. When I first started turning, we had a professional turner as a member of our club. He advised me to go with 80 grit. His reasoning was that 100 was too fine and would not sharpen well. And 60 was too coarse and removed too much steel and left a ragged edge. So, I bought an Israeli made blue 80 grit and have been using that for more than six years.
    Today, I finally installed my new Delta slow grinder with my Wolverine rig. It has a white 60 grit and a white 120 grit. I wasn't real happy about this selection. But on testing, I got a big surprise. The 120 sharpens just fine. I'm real pleased with what it does and how it does it. I tested the 60 on an old Buck skew made with 'cast steel'. It also did a quite nice job and, IMHO, did not remove so much metal as to risk disaster.
    The only puzzlement is that while sharpening with the 120, I could see white dust coming off.
    A while back I sorta chided someone (Stu, wuz it you?) who mentioned that his sharpening wheels had gotten smaller. Seemed a near impossibility to me.
    Of course, I know that sharpening/grinding wheels do have to get smaller with use. But, my grinder, that I use for real grinding, is about 40 years old and the wheels are not notably smaller than when new. In fact, I have measured and they are still 8". (mebbe a bit less)
    But, these new white wheels do seem to be of a more friable material than the stuff the grinders are made from. So, I expect, I can look forward to shrinking wheels.
    So, what is the best grit for sharpening turning tools?
    Actually, is there a best?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Frank having just recently set up my wolverine and done a fair bit of sharpening on my Delta 8 inch grinder i found i had the same experience you have. I have an 80 grit Norton white wheel from LV. It does seem very friable and very suseptable to changing shape. That was one of my reasons for posting a question recently about the wheel trimmers. This white stone seems very loose.

    Cannot comment on your main question though i am still too inexperience in the field of sharpening. I could look up what Mr. Leonard Lee says in his book which i have. But that would be another mans opinion albeit a real pro in my opinion.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    We did thrash this out less than a year ago:

    Left with as many questions as answers.
    No doubt though, 80 is most popular.
    But, my limited experience with the 120 has changed my thinking.
    Now...wats this bizness with white and blue wheels?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    ...So, what is the best grit for sharpening turning tools?
    Actually, is there a best?
    IMHO, the 1000 grit wheel on the Tormek.

    Seriously, if I'm only re-sharpening an existing profile, and not trying the come up with a new shape for the tool, I prefer the finer grade stone. When I was using my Woodcraft 1750 RPM grinder on my gouges, I liked the results from the 120 grit wheel better than the 80 grit wheel. (I do still sharpen my scrapers on the 80 grit, though. I still haven't tried the Tormek method of raising a burr on a scraper yet.)

    Everybody will have a different preference. I'd say try a few a one will stand out as your favorite.

    Your mention of your 40 year old non-wearing grinding wheels sounds a lot like the wheels my granddad had on his grinder. It must have had some type of Kryptonite wheels, because you could grind a car into dust with no discernible wear on the wheel. It had never been dressed, so it was also so loaded with grinding residue that the wheel itself would set off an airport metal detector.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Outside the beltway
    I've tried everything over the years and 5 years ago I bought a Tormek, don't ask me what grit the wheel is what ever is the standard wheel that comes with it. All I know is I can make my chisels razor sharp with the follow up use of the leather strop. I had thought about getting a Japaneses wet stone for it but why, I already make edges sharp enough to draw blood just looking at the tools.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
    Here's another vote for the Tormek. Like Vaughn, unless I'm changing a profile I like the Tormek.
    Why has common sense
    become so uncommon?

    My Woodwork Site

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