How to Sharpen Wood Lathe Tools

A wood lathe spins a block of wood so it can be cut, sanded, and shaped for use in furniture and other objects. Special tools are necessary to perform these tasks. In order to work safely and effectively, wood-turning tools must be kept sharp. Services exist to sharpen these tools, but it's much more convenient if the owner knows the proper way to sharpen the tools himself.

Things You'll Need

  • Tool grinder
  • 25-lbs or more of sand
  • Tool scrapers
  • Aluminum soft bond wheel
  • Star dresser
  • Diamond dresser
  • Bowel gouge
  • Gouge
  • Spindle gouge
  • Parting tools
  • Skews
  • Oland tool

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Find a good tool grinder. A 3500 RPM grinder will do the best work. Once you have purchased it and set it up where you want it to go, fill it up with 25 pounds of sand to keep it steady while you work. Most grinders have a door in the bottom where you place the sandbags. Otherwise, you can place containers of sand around the legs to stabilize the grinder.

Replace the wheel that came with the tool grinder for one that is better suited to work with wood lathe tools. The best kind is an aluminum soft bond wheel that is made from 60 bit aluminum oxide. The best place to find wood lathe tool grinder wheels is at a wood lathe supplier.

Purchase tools for cleaning and rounding the grinder wheel. This is necessary to give your tools the best sharpening job. Diamond dressers are the best tool to use for keeping the grinder wheel perfectly rounded. A star dresser will keep your grinding wheel clean.

Turn on the grinder. Sprinkle a small bit of water onto the wheel to minimize sparking. Place a gouge tool at a 4- degree angle across the grinder wheel. Move the gouge tool up and down, applying light pressure to the tool. This will quickly sharpen a dull blade.

Use the tool grinder to sharpen spindle gouges as well. Place the spindle gouge at a 60-degree angle across the grinder wheel. Sprinkle some water over the wheel. Turn on the grinder. Move the gouge up and down the wheel as before. The spindle gouge will be sharpened in no time.

Sharpen a bowel grinder by angling the blade at a 70-degree angle. Move the blade up and down across the wheel. Sharpen an oland tool in the same manner only by angling the blade at a 45-degree angle.

Purchase a 1000 grit sanding stone. Some of the more delicate wood lathe tools cannot be sharpened by machine and have to be sharpened by hand. Parting tools, scrapers, and skews all have to be sharpened by hand. Hold the sanding stone in one hand, and the tool in the other. Apply light pressure and hold the tools at a 45-degree angle. Scrape the tools back and forth across the stone.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sharpen tools one at a time to perfect the art before moving on to another type of tool.
  • Never touch the grinder with your fingers while it is running! You could quickly shave off all of the skin on your hands.
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