Power Sharpeners West Warwick RI
East Greenwich, RI
North Kingstown, RI
M-SA 6 am - 10 pm
SU 8 am - 8 pm
West Kingston, RI
3 sandpaper-based machines make sharpening easier than ever
If you haven't heard the word, there's been a quiet revolution in sharpening: abrasive discs. The idea is very simple. You take a round piece of PSA sandpaper, stick it onto a flat disc, and spin the disc with an electric motor. Hold a tool against the disc and suddenly you're removing metal at a pretty good clip– much faster than by hand. From set-up to keen edge, sharpening a dull tool usually takes less than 5 minutes. Coarse abrasive discs are a good substitute for a grinder–you can take out a nick or renew an old bevel very fast. Fine abrasive discs can produce an edge equivalent to one made on a 4000 grit or higher waterstone, which is sharp enough for just about anybody. Three machines employ this technology: the Work Sharp WS3000 ($199), the Veritas Mk.II ($359), and the Lap-Sharp LS-200 ($595). Each one is easy to set up and operate. If you've been confounded by all the details of using stones and a honing jig, these machines are a welcome relief. You'll be sharpening like a pro in just a few minutes. I tested these machines with a top-of-the-line Lie-Nielsen smoothing plane, and found that each one is capable of producing a very fine edge, one that can make .002-in. thick shavings in the toughest woods, such as birdseye maple, quartersawn white oak and crotch walnut. The only downside to this method of sharpening is that the discs wear out. How much sandpaper will you need? Sharpening tasks vary so much that it's impossible to say, but each disc should see you through at least six sharpening sessions, and probably many more. Price and versatility vary widely among these machines. As detailed in the next pages, the more expensive the unit, the greater variety of tools it can sharpen. For more money, you also get a higher level of precision and a wider range of sharpening angles. Read on for a closer look at each model.
Work Sharp WS3000 $199
The Work Sharp WS3000 delivers the goods for the lowest price. It's a clever piece of engineering: on this machine, you can lap, grind, and hone most chisels, plane irons and carving tools. There is a width limit, however. The built-in tool rest (Photo 2) only accommodates blades up to 2 in. wide (the size of a No. 4 or No. 5 plane blade). It's possible to freehand grind and hone wider blades on top of the machine, but this requires skill and practice. The Work Sharp spins its 6-in. dia. discs at 580 rpm. That's much slower than a grinder, but you must still guard against overheating an edge.