I have been wanting to buy a Work Sharp Tool Sharpener for quite some time now. I love working with sharp tools but a hate sharpening them. Because of that, I tend to use chisels and planes that are duller than they should be, at my own peril, but at $200, I have been finding it difficult to justify the cost of the Work Sharp.
I was looking through some of my past issues of ShopNotes and when I saw the cover of Vol 18 Issue 107, I remembered that I wanted to build that some day. The tag line for the cover project was Razor Sharp in Record Time – Low Cost Sharpening Machine.
I took the magazine to the shop and began an inventory of wood and required parts. Much to my joy, I had almost everything I needed for the entire project. The construction is straight forward and a lot of fun. I did make some modifications…it wouldn’t be a DaveTPilot project if I didn’t make some mods :)
First, the project was designed for a full size drill press. Currently, I only own a small Harbor Freight drill press with a 4” throat. It amazes me that I have not yet acquired a full size drill press. I am constantly cursing my drill press for being too small and too anemic in the power department. A real drill press is definitely next on my wish list, but I digress. For now, I needed to modify the base slightly to fit the shallow throat of my diminutive drill press. This was as simple as drilling a half circle with my 2-1/8” Forstner bit. It was a perfect fit as you can see here:
Next, the author of the project recommended a drill press speed of 250 RPM. The lowest speed on my drill press is 650 RPM. Fearing that it might me a little too fast, I decided to use pulleys of different sizes to slow down the sharpening machine a bit more. Pulleys of the sizes I wanted were not readily available at the local hardware store so I figured I could just make some out of wood…and that’s what I did.
It was really quite easy to do. First, I glued up two blocks of plywood, (3/4” and 1/2”), then cut out circles on the band saw using a shop made circle cutting jig. Then I made a jig to hold the circle over my dado blade and making several light passes, I cut the groove for the pulleys.
The last modifications I made was in the bearings. I used a 6” Lazy Susan bearing, instead of the thrust bearing called for in the plans, which is in essence a large thrust bearing. I also used flanged ball bearings for the bottom bearings under each pulley and flanged sleeve bearings for the tops.
I used Red Krylon Fusion Spray Paint that I had for making table saw inserts. That paint is fantastic! You can use it on wood or plastic, it dries extremely fast and you do not need primer. Great for some shop projects.
The system work great! There are 8 disks but I only have 6 different grits of sandpaper right now. I have 80, 150, 220, 320, 400 and 600 grit. I sharpened a chisel and a plane blade today and the results were fantastic. They are literally razor sharp, I can slice paper with them, and I cut shavings thin enough to read through with my $20 Harbor Freight bench plane! The sharpening is very fast as well. It took only a few minutes to sharpening each tool. You can watch a demonstration video.