Sharpening woodturning tools - equipment you will need

Woodturning tools work hard - ploughing through hard wood at 30 miles per hour or more - so they need sharpening frequently. Cutting time between sharpenings is measured in minutes even with the finest high speed steel tools. A good grinder setup is essential for every woodturner and it is vital to learn the skill of sharpening before you can enjoy turning wood...

Typical 6 inch bench grinder

(1) First you need a Grinder

A 6" or 8" double ended engineers grinder is fine and will sharpen or re-shape your tools quickly and efficiently.
Page 2- Grinder information page, choosing a suitable grinder You will need to fit the grinder down to a bench or board of some kind. A piece of kitchen worktop is ideal. Then you can mount a suitable jig to replace the small bent metal non-adjustable grinding rests, which come with the grinder, but which are no help in getting the correct bevel angle on your tools.
Adjustable grinding table

(2) Fit a jig for getting the bevel angles consistent

Jigs are essential and even an expert will get better results and longer tool life using one

The jigs information page
blue and pink grinding wheels cubic boron nitride CBN wheel

(3) Upgrade at least one wheel to a Woodturner's grindstone

The grey wheels which come with the grinder are made from unrefined hard aluminium oxide grit. They are designed for grinding carbon steel but they are not good enough for your expensive high speed steel turning tools.
You need to upgrade with a superior white or pink aluminium oxide wheel. Blue ceramic or microcrystalline wheels are even better than pink and CBN (cubic boron nitride) metal plated wheels are the best of all.

About grinding wheels and choosing the right one

About grinding wheels (technical info)

Blue Microcrystal wheels

CBN wheels

Diamond grindstone dresser

(4) Wheel dresser

Every grinding wheel (except CBN wheels) needs dressing periodically and a multi diamond T bar dresser does the best job with the least effort.
Wheel dresser more info
flip up face visor

(5) Don't forget eye protection!

This flip-up helmet protects your face and eyes and is very comfortable to wear.

(6) Honing

It is a good idea to hone the tool edge after grinding but many woodturners do not bother and the edge from the cbn or microcrystalline wheels is excellent anyway. However, skew chisels benefit from being razor sharp and the safest way to hone them is on a conventional bench oilstone. Scrapers work particularly well if you bring up a small burr on the edge using a diamond file or hone. It is handy to keep a diamond credit card hone in your pocket for the odd touch up - saves switching on the grinder. You can buy honing products from Turners Retreat