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Importance of Sharpening and Grinding Woodworking Tools

Posted by on August 7, 2012

Just as you regularly (or should!) sharpen your favorite kitchen knife, your woodworking tools require and deserve their own proper and regular maintenance. The wear and tear on woodworking tools and their heavy use leave woodworking tools, especially cutting tools, dull, and sometimes “grooved” or chipped, and lower their functionality as tools.


Cutting a piece of wood with a dull saw takes far more time and makes a less sharp and even cut, compared to what a sharp tool can do. Drilling using a dull bit to bore holes on a piece of wood would also be a much more difficult and time consuming job, compared to using a sharp bit, and probably not as professional a looking job.


How you use your woodworking tools is important and keeping these tools sharp and in optimal working shape is just as important. The value of maintenance cannot be overstressed. It goes beyond the realm of woodworking itself.


There are such a large number of sharpening and grinding tools now in existence as well as a large variety of woodworking methods. It would follow, then, that there is also a great quantity and selection of types of woodworking tools for sharpening and grinding also in existence that run congruent with them. Determining the type of sharpening device and method required for any project is influenced in part by the tool that is in need of sharpening. Of course, there is also the factor of personal choice.


Some of the most common of sharpening and grinding tools are:


Sharpening Stones


For sharpening and grinding tools, sharpening stones exactly fit the bill and have for centuries. Knives, scissors, plane blades and chisels are some of the most common woodworking implements sharpened by stones for sharpening and grinding. Sharpening Stones come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, and are often made from quarried stone or some man-made material.


Although they are not automatically powered, and are available in various grades—measured through the grit size particles of the stone itself—the finer the grit, the finer the finish will be of the sharpening and grinding operation. Also, the finer finish required, the longer it will be to complete the sharpening or grinding, as finer grits remove less material, as compared to a rougher grit.


There are more defined examples of sharpening and grinding stones such as whetstones, oilstones and Japanese waterstones.




Files play a large part in shaping a material through abrasion. The sharp parallel ridges of the file cover a hardened steel bar and make it a file. It is basically a hand tool, for grinding, and not as useful for shaping materials, but with artistic creativity any tools can do things it is not necessarily specifically designed for.


Bench Grinder


A bench grinder is a machine tool which is used primarily in making fine finishes on a surface. Depending on the type of wheel which is mounted on the motor, a bench grinder can be used as a polisher, a buffer or a sharpening and grinding tool.


Bench grinders are stationary and also fast sharpeners for woodworking tools. They are commonly found in a woodworker’s woodshop, because they are dynamic, and capable of multiple functions, from sanding to tool sharpening.


For sharpening and grinding, they work like magic. They’re fast, easy to use and accurate—just like the woodworking tools they are set up to sharpen.


Now these three sharpening and grinding tools mentioned above aren’t the only ones available. They are mentioned here because they are the most commonly used, and they are also multifunctional. Obviously multi-functional or multi-purposed tools save on perhaps acquiring other tools.


Still, woodworking tools are only as effective as their maintenance and usage. Regularly keeping tools sharp and clean precludes a far more effective and professional project, enhancing, not compromising, work quality and efficiency.


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