Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

A Sharpening Solution

It was almost two-years-ago the day when I purchased my first bench grinder from Yandles in Martock (Somerset).  Like many others on the market, it was a simple high-speed machine with  one wheel on either end (one coarse, one fine). Despite buying a couple of excellent Veritas jigs, I never really got on with this set up. I’m paranoid about sparks so, each time I need to regrinding a plane iron or chisel, I had to set this up on my Workmate outside – much to the bemusement of those passing by! It would vibrate [truing the wheels would possibly have cured that] and, if you weren’t patient enough to let the edge cool then, you’d end up over-heating and burning your tool, which basically means the steel loses it’s temper (not long before I lost mine, as well! ).

You may already know this but, you can of course look at replacing one of the wheels with what’s commonly known as a 3X Blue Ceramic Wheel. But, when I started looking at the costs – £40 for the grinder; another £40 for the wheel, plus the £25 dressing stick; both Veritas jigs would be around £50… – I decided it would be cheaper to just buy a ‘better‘ grinder! So, I started looking at other options…

Now, Axminster offer the full range of Creusen grinders, which basically run at a lower speed than the cheaper models and reduce the risk of overheating your tools (I wasn’t convinced that these wouldn’t create sparks. Plus, the wheels would need truing, etc.). Then, of course, there’s the Tormek range which, I’m sure you’ve all heard of! The idea of water in a cold, uninsulated garage/workshop in the winter put me right off. Not to mention the mess they can create and the thought of rust attacking any tools left out. They do offer an excellent range of never-ending accessories though, I don’t do a lot of woodturning and I’m happy to have my planer knives reground professionally.

There is one machine I’ve yet to mention… It’s relatively new to the UK market although, it has become quite successfully in the US already. That is, of course, the Work Sharp 3000 (yes, I might have mentioned it before…). As an overdue Christmas present to myself, from me, the packaged arrived this morning, with many thanks due to Rutlands – there was a slight issue with the processing of my order and I also wanted to add to it but, to the credit of Luke, this was resolved efficiently and they even waived the carriage charge (including the additional item I am yet to receive). I know there are few on the forums with many good words to say about Rutlands but, after five-years of nothing but first-class service, I can confidently say that I am one of those people!

More money I shouldn't have spent!

I’ve also bought a couple of Titebond glues. Not only were they on special offer but I’m curious to see how the ‘original’ brand compares with bog standard PVA. Does anyone have anything to add? Also, the Cold Press adhesive is possibly the only one you won’t find in the Axminster catalogue. If I can get things sorted, I should have at least one small veneering job to do this year.

Why did I choose the Work Sharp?

It looks plastic and it does look cheap yet, all the reviews I’ve read in the British magazines since it’s launch suggest that it is up to competing with the established names on the market.  All the videos I’ve watched contest that it does not produce an array of sparks and, as this is another dry-grinding system, there should be less mess. Plus, it’s currently on special offer and they’re throwing in the leather honing wheel along with the starter pack of abrasives – if I didn’t buy it now (regardless of what is right or wrong at the moment!), I would be looking at the new RRP, which also happens to be £30 dearer than what it was for in 2009.

For the last twelve-months, I’ve felt that this is the grinder for me and, despite the odd flake of snow, I’ve been outside getting to know it all afternoon and immediately, I am very impressed – a full report/review will follow soon!

Choosing a grinder that best suits you is, as with any other tool or machine, a personal choice. I can’t say what will or will work for you but, I do hope my comments give you some things to consider.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping that the Bench Cookies I ordered in addition will also arrive – yes, at long last, we have a UK supplier of a product that’s become quite popular ‘across the pond’! No mug for us but, at £10.95 for a pack of four, I think that’s quite reasonable, considering what it would otherwise cost to import them from Rockler. I look forward to seeing what these can do and will report back in time – I hope I’m not just buying in to the hype…

On a final note for today, I’ve just noticed that Record Power will soon be introducing a new bandsaw to their range – the BS400, which might be comparing with the Axminster model I’m also looking at, both sharing the same name…

Thank you for reading.

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One response to “A Sharpening Solution

  1. Chems 08/01/2010 at 01:38

    I look forward to seeing how you get on with it. I for one have been very happy with my Tormek, only thing is I need more shiny things to sharpen to make the cost worthwhile 🙂

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