Sharpening on a Variable Speed Lathe

While sharpening some bench chisels yesterday, I noted that our slow speed grinder operates at 1725 RPM. That’s way too fast for the fine stones we use. But while contemplating the purchase of a bench-top machine with a vertical wheel, it occurred to me that we already owned one. The woodshop’s variable speed lathe can spin at speeds all the way down to about 40 RPM, and can be sped up a little if needed. So, we turned a couple of large MDF washers and mounted a white 1000 grit wheel between them. One of the washers is attached to a spare faceplate, so the stone can be quickly installed or removed. We happened to have an adjustable tool rest on hand – these are quite inexpensive, and widely available. Here’s one from Peachtree (scroll down to the bottom of their page if you go there). The tool rest is attached to an L-shaped poplar jig that has a cleat on the bottom that sits between the ways on the lathe. A single knob and bolt holds it in place. so It takes about three minutes to install the wheel and rest, or remove it. If you decide to explore this idea, please do so at your own risk. We will build a safety housing around our stone, just in case. And we will bear in mind the stone manufacturer’s maximum speed recommendations. A metal wheel with a diamond coating may be a better option, and if you follow that link you can help support the blog, as WoodEzine is an Amazon affiliate.