sharpening tools... how often? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 Old 11-30-2010, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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sharpening tools... how often?

So someone mentioned sharpening your tools frequently and properly in another thread.

I have watched a couple videos on turning and they included sections on sharpening tools. I've sharpened my tools once or twice now and I haven't really turned very much. One or two small pieces of ebony and paduak and one or two small pieces of what I think was poplar.

So, what are some good ways for us newbs to know when it's time to sharpen our tools? I know to do it when the tools start catching while turning, but that's obviously too late. One or two I can tell with a trivial visual inspection, such as the skew and the parting tool, but it's not so obvious for me looking at the gouges. So far I just do it "by feel" but I still think I could be sharpening more often.

What do the experts do? How do you know when it's time to move over to the grinder? Is it worth it to "touch up" before every bowl, for instance or every two or three? (I guess that would depend upon green versus dry, soft versus hard etc.) Any rules of thumb other than "You'll know with more experience"?
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post #2 of 15 Old 11-30-2010, 01:29 PM
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Hey Frank, good question. I think I'll wait for some answers myself.
I use the carbide scarper for pens but I have a brand new set of tools I expect to start using and this info will help me out when I get started.
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post #3 of 15 Old 11-30-2010, 02:13 PM
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I don't do much turning (unfortunately), but I'll say you'll know when to sharpen. You'll know if you started with a good edge. It would also hold for all edged tools like chisels, and carving knives. A so so edge will offer a drag, or won't cut freely.

I find that the "touch ups" are better than waiting for the tool to get dull, and have to be dressed completely. So, if you get the answers "you'll know", that may come with the "feel".










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post #4 of 15 Old 11-30-2010, 02:14 PM
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I read somewhere to sharpen before each session at the lathe, so I've started doing that. Of course, if I didn't use a tool the last time I turned, I don't sharpen that one.

I guess it also depends on how much you've used a tool. If you made one pen yesterday, you probably don't to sharpen that tool today.

I've only been turning for less than two years, but I've learned to feel for the burr on gouges and scrapers, as well as sharpening before a session.

In summary, you might want to keep waiting for an expert to pipe up!
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post #5 of 15 Old 11-30-2010, 02:14 PM
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One way to know is if you are producing sawdust at the lathe instead of shavings. Lots of tear out, sharpen. I'm sure there are more signals to come along.

Tim
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post #6 of 15 Old 11-30-2010, 05:35 PM
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It's easy to tell when your tools get dull. Sharp tools will cut with hardly any pressure on the tool. If you let the tool ride on the bevel without doing any cutting, then slowly raise the handle till it just starts to cut. You should get fine shavings of wood like angel hair again with no pressure on the tool. If you have to press the tool on the wood to get it to cut, it is way too dull. You can also lightly run your finger across the cutting edge perpendicular to the direction of the edge, like you would feel a pocket knife blade. The blade should fell sharp. One other way is with the lathe off, put the cutting edge of the tool against the wood and turn the blank by hand slowly and you should get a continuous shaving of wood. The more you turn, the easier it is to recognize when it's time to sharpen.
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post #7 of 15 Old 11-30-2010, 06:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firehawkmph View Post
It's easy to tell when your tools get dull. Sharp tools will cut with hardly any pressure on the tool. If you let the tool ride on the bevel without doing any cutting, then slowly raise the handle till it just starts to cut. You should get fine shavings of wood like angel hair again with no pressure on the tool. If you have to press the tool on the wood to get it to cut, it is way too dull. You can also lightly run your finger across the cutting edge perpendicular to the direction of the edge, like you would feel a pocket knife blade. The blade should fell sharp. One other way is with the lathe off, put the cutting edge of the tool against the wood and turn the blank by hand slowly and you should get a continuous shaving of wood. The more you turn, the easier it is to recognize when it's time to sharpen.
Mike Hawkins
Yep, the "angel hair" test is what I use. I sometimes WILL continue to use a tool for a while after it's not doing the angel hair, but ONLY if I'm roughing.

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post #8 of 15 Old 11-30-2010, 07:44 PM
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I'm new at this, but I've noticed the difference to touch up my bowl gouge about three times per bowl - before starting, after roughing the outside, and once more after hollowing out the inside before final touch ups on shape.
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post #9 of 15 Old 11-30-2010, 08:51 PM
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soorry about the hyjack....

Interesting to read. Lots of input for me too. Right now, I'm using a little babbitt-bearing benchtop lathe borrowed from a friend (along with his carving tools). I semi-afraid to try sharpening his tools, but I'm also under the impression I'm not getting good results because of the tools. Can't win as it seems. Maybe I'll have to try to sharpen 1 or 2 and see if I've botched the sharpening....

Turning good wood into designer firewood on a daily basis.....

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post #10 of 15 Old 12-02-2010, 07:10 AM
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At first it's difficult to know. I remember trying to learn to sharpen. I would sharpen my tool and then try to cut and it would fight me at some point. I wasn't sure if it was my tool technique or my sharpening. I didn't use a jig back then so my tools felt sharp but usually had lot of facets in the face. When I had trouble I would stop and sharpen again. I was always worried about grinding away my tool. One day I decided that tools were like sandpaper. They were consumables. Consequently I sharpened more. This did use up that tool but my skills at sharpening improved to the point that now I remove almost no metal at all. Now I'm not afraid to sharpen so I do it everytime I feel like the tools isn't working as well as it should.
How to know if a tool is dull is a little hard to learn because it's coupled to tool control. When I try to take a very light cut if I have trouble keeping the tool in the cut then it's dull. The dust instead of curls is a pretty good test except that some woods just won't give curls.
If your having to force the tool to cut then it's dull or the tool presentation is incorrect. You should be relaxed when your cutting with a light grip on the tool. If your having to work harder than that then the tool is probably dull.
I will sharpen once or twice when shaping a bowl and if in doubt will sharpen again when I make the final pass. I use Thompson lathe tools which hold an edge a lot longer than other tools so when doing bowl demos I will often turn the whole bowl without sharpening. At home I will touch it up just to make the last cut that much cleaner.
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post #11 of 15 Old 12-02-2010, 09:22 AM
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Keep your eyes open for a demo by representatives from Sorby. They make the rounds at various woodworking stores. I think there are some vids on Youtube. Their sharpening techniques are about as basic as it gets. A simple diamond file and a couple strokes. With most edge tools, you only have to look at the edge. A dull edge will reflect light, sharp edges won't.
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post #12 of 15 Old 12-02-2010, 02:31 PM
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OK, out of my ignorance I've got to ask, what do you mean by sharpening? Or I guess more clearly stated how sharp do you get your tools? This has probably been asked, so point me in the right direction (threads).
I have a Delta clone? of the Tormek grinder. And right now I'm only talking bowl gouges. I lightly touch up the bevel on the wet (white-not sure of grit) wheel when I think the tool is getting dull and then use one of those business card diamond hones (45 micron) to hone the edge. I remove the burr on the inside with a diamond honing cone (25 micron). Is this enough, or is there more I should be doing. As you can tell I haven't done much turning; I got a little side tracked.
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post #13 of 15 Old 12-04-2010, 07:44 AM
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I also meant to ask, do I need to hit a gouge on the wet grinding wheel when sharpening during a turning session? I figure I would if the tool got really dull, but I don't want my tools to get that bad. But then again, I don't want to waste metal and grind off too much when I don't need too. That is if a honing is only needed.
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post #14 of 15 Old 12-04-2010, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djg View Post
OK, out of my ignorance I've got to ask, what do you mean by sharpening? Or I guess more clearly stated how sharp do you get your tools? This has probably been asked, so point me in the right direction (threads).
I have a Delta clone? of the Tormek grinder. And right now I'm only talking bowl gouges. I lightly touch up the bevel on the wet (white-not sure of grit) wheel when I think the tool is getting dull and then use one of those business card diamond hones (45 micron) to hone the edge. I remove the burr on the inside with a diamond honing cone (25 micron). Is this enough, or is there more I should be doing. As you can tell I haven't done much turning; I got a little side tracked.

Just Google lathe tool grinding/sharpening. Plenty of videos on Youtube. Sharpening is one of those thing I could show you in just a few minutes...but it takes too long to type it all out.

Harrison, at your service!
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post #15 of 15 Old 12-05-2010, 02:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djg View Post
OK, out of my ignorance I've got to ask, what do you mean by sharpening? Or I guess more clearly stated how sharp do you get your tools? This has probably been asked, so point me in the right direction (threads).
I have a Delta clone? of the Tormek grinder. And right now I'm only talking bowl gouges. I lightly touch up the bevel on the wet (white-not sure of grit) wheel when I think the tool is getting dull and then use one of those business card diamond hones (45 micron) to hone the edge. I remove the burr on the inside with a diamond honing cone (25 micron). Is this enough, or is there more I should be doing. As you can tell I haven't done much turning; I got a little side tracked.

Once you have the tool's angle set "grinding" means just touching it up.Like you say, light passes.

Tim
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