How to Use a Bench Grinder to Sharpen Tools

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What do tool owners have in common? Yes, it is the mixed feeling of frustration and concern upon knowing that their valuable tools are starting to become dull. You know it is not safe to use; otherwise, you’re putting yourself and your work at risk! Don’t let a rusty or dull sharpening tools affect your day. 

Here, we’ll tackle how to properly use a bench grinder to sharpen a drill bit, axe, and lathe tools. 

​Bench Grinder Definition and Uses

While not a quite popular tool, the bench grinder is a handyman tool used to cut, grind, clean, or shape metal. It is capable of smoothening metal and grinding down sharp blades or edges. Thanks to the variable speed bench grinders that make the entire job even more convenient. The speed control prevents the workpiece from getting burned and overheated, making it a perfect tool for jobs such as sharpening chisels. 

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Moreover, the grinder is equipped with abrasive grinding wheels. Many different types of materials can be ground down, usually metal or wood. Although the grinding wheels are already part of the set, you might want to buy with varying sizes of grit depending on how you’ll use the machine. You may be recommended to purchase bidding wooden pieces and a buffing wheel to shape blades. Generally, bench grinders serve as a good tool for home, industrial, and commercial use. 

As a hobbyist or businessperson, you want to make sure that your sharpening tools are consistently in good shape – sharp, sparkling, and works perfectly. So, here’s how to sharpen your tools with a good quality bench grinder.

How to Sharpen a Drill Bit w​​​​​ith a Bench Grinder

Is your bit having a hard time drilling a hole? Perhaps, you’re getting crumbled chips while drilling using the bit? Sharpening it might be what you essentially need! Here’s how to get started.

  1. Switch on the grinder and continue holding its cutting edge. It should be parallel to the grinder wheel’s front. Move your bit both in a gentle and slow manner until it touches the wheel. Keep it straight and take a firm grip of the bit’s original tip at sixty degrees angle. Do this without rotating or turning it. 
  2. Hold and put the bit at the right angle for around four to five seconds. Just concentrate on grinding your bit. Your bit will get sharp if the angle is sharper. 
  3. Pause grinding the bit after every four to five seconds. During this period, dip it in the container with ice-cold water. Allow the metal to cool down. 
  4. In case you’re already happy with the bit’s first side sharpness, then turn it at 180° and repeat the similar cool and grind procedure for the other side of the metal. 
  5. Test run by holding the bit directly on a piece of scrap wood. Then, twist it using your own hand. Your bit is sharpened if it is able to make a hole even though the pressure is only light. 

How to Sharpen an Axe with a Bench Grinder

In the bush craft and backpacking kits, the axe is considered as an indispensable tool. Regardless of the type of axe you’re using – a splitting axe, bush craft axe, or others – it is still highly possible to bring back its optimal performance and value. 

  1. Mount the bench grinder on an even surface. Turn it on. 
  2. Make sure that the bevel angle is matched before putting it against the wheel. 
  3. Keep checking the edge of the axe. Once the desired sharpness has achieved on one side, flip over and do the other side too. 
  4. You may want to use a wire brush to get rid of any burrs as well as achieve a smooth edge. 
  5. When the grinding process is done, get a mil file, and go to the edge. 

How to Sharpen Lathe Tools with a Bench Grinder

Well-sharpened lathe tools frequently lead to fewer operation cracks, pen perfection, and less broken pens. Hence, turning you into a much happier and satisfied woodturner. But sometimes, your lathe tools also suffer from setbacks, like making it look rusty. Here is how to go on sharpening them. 

  1. Prep the machine by dressing the wheel. Rub the outer edges of the wheel to even it out and remove any debris. 
  2. Understand the correct grinding angles. This is true especially on bowl gouges and spindle gouges. Just keep in mind that you will need a skill or more tool control for guiding the lathe tool if the sharpening angle is shallow. Hence, it is fine to start with asteeper angle, maybe around sixty degrees. Lower down the angle slowly as you’re able to control the tool better. To help you out, below are the grinding angles for lathe tools.
  • Spindle gouge – between 35° and 45°
  • Bowl gouge – between 50° and 60° 
  • Roughing gouge – best ground to 45°, though 35° works better on softwood 
  • Diamond parting tool – a 45° angle works fine 
  • Parting tool – 45° is usually a good grinding angle
  1. Put the lathe tool onits dedicated rest before you make any improvements. There should only a very little contact between the blade and the grinding wheel. 
  2. Quite push the lathe tool against the wheel. Again, limit the contact for below ten seconds. You’ll know if you’re in the right phase if you see some sparks occurring. Try to move the tool cautiously from one side to another while sharpening it. 
  3. Lastly, dip the tool in a bowl of water once the blade is sharp enough. Allow cooling. Then, do the same on the other side. 
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Safety Reminder

Before pulling off a job, make sure to wear safety gear including rubber gloves to protect your hands from sparks and to absorb vibration from the bench grinder and eye protection to prevent mental fillings from blowing in your eyes. Breathing protection may also needed. For sharpening the tools, use a sharpening pliers or vise or jig to hold them. 

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