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Thread: Do I really want a sit-down, treadle sharpening stone?

  1. #1
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    Do I really want a sit-down, treadle sharpening stone?

    I've had my eye out for a decent shape old treadle sharpening machine. I've seen some losers recently at antique malls priced between $120-$250. The $250 was in OK shape, but someone had JB-welded the stone to the axle to make it appear solid. (And I hate it the seller feels the need to lacquer over all the rust.)

    I have a Tormek, and several whet and oil stones, and several bench grinders (1725 & 3450 rpm).

    However, the idea of a treadle sharpener intrigues me.

    Do you have one and use it? Don't use it? Likes? Dislikes?

    Thanks, Todd

  2. #2
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    Mine is an old one my brother found and gave to me.

    I have not yet set it up. Maybe this winter.

    My main/only reason for it is that I do not have a wheel grinder. I have many tools that are not shop tools. These are things like shovels, axes, hatchets and other assorted items that benefit from being ground on a wheel.

    It will allow for hollow grinding that my disk grinding set up doesn't do.

    If you already have the other grinders, what benefit would a treadle wheel offer?

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
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    The upside of a treadle grinder is that it is cool.

    Your more modern solutions require a lot less space in your shop. They also offer better control of the grit size -- who knows what that flea-market stone is? And they offer a variety of grit sizes, so you can work from coarse to super-fine, and end up with a really sharp edge.

    So... cool versus practical. I know which way I'd go, but then we're talking in the Neanderthal forum...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    ... If you already have the other grinders, what benefit would a treadle wheel offer?
    Another opportunity for a fairly mindless activity where I could ponder issues of the world while being slightly productive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    The upside of a treadle grinder is that it is cool.

    Your more modern solutions require a lot less space in your shop. They also offer better control of the grit size -- who knows what that flea-market stone is? And they offer a variety of grit sizes, so you can work from coarse to super-fine, and end up with a really sharp edge.

    So... cool versus practical. I know which way I'd go, but then we're talking in the Neanderthal forum...
    I have the practical already... Now maybe the cool and excessive? I plan on having extra space in my next shop.

    I think I'll keep looking for one. Thanks!

  5. #5
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    We had to use sandstone grinding wheels in the 18th.C. shops in Williamsburg. I hated them. One day,I wanted to grind a plane iron. I got kids from the audiences to turn the wheel,and for 3 hours I ground and got NOWHERE!!!

    Maybe it was that the new quarried sandstones that the purchasing secretary managed to find(for a VERY high price) were just super fine,but I just could not get anywhere with the blasted thing. We built water troughs for them,lined with copper.

  6. #6
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    Cool factor, yes. But I wonder how well it would work. If I were seriously considering it, I'd think more along the lines of a gears and pedals.

    I've got a Pike hand grinder and have thought about some sort of treadle action to let me use both hands. Or maybe I'll just have my live in apprentice crank next time I want to experiment.
    Where did I put that tape measure...

  7. #7
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    My father grew up on a vegatable farm in CT and he has the old treadle powered grindstone that they used to sharpen the myriad knives and other edged tools for use on the farm. The stone must be 20" in diameter and at least 6" thick and will certainly put an edge on just about anything. It was modified some years ago to be motorized but the treadle system is all still there, just disconnected.

    As my father relates, the stones are not always consistant throughout, and one side may wear faster than the other, etc. They are not as fine as the stones on your Tormek but were sufficient for what they were used for. My father remembers as a boy sharpening buckets of knives every week using the grinder and a large oilstone.



    This grinder must have had a new stone added at some point as it has not been well worn and all. I have no plans to use it, but I will certainly keep it as a link to the past.
    Erik

    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. ~ Geo. Orwell

  8. #8
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    Very neat Erik - thanks for sharing. Got a pic?

    Gary and George - yes, I've seen a few hand crank versions, but I'm more interested in the foot pedal version.

  9. #9
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    I have never seen anyone using those to effect on anything substantial. The abrasive in them is going to be some type of silica. If it's friable, the wheel will be soft, if it's not friable, the wheel will glaze and silica abrasives in non-friable wheels and stones lose their aggressiveness extremely fast.

    The only time I've ever seen someone using one of those was a guy at a craft show sharpening pocket knives for onlookers for $1 each or something, I can't imagine the stone did wonders for most of those knives, but before the internet age, not a lot of people out my way knew how to sharpen anything. There is a huge difference between working a small bevel on a pocket knife and working out a chip on an iron.

    They are popular around here as yard art, though.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  10. #10
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    I am sure that 200 years ago,when these natural wheels were the available technology at the time,there was a better selection available in grit sizes,etc. But,the sandstone wheels that our purchasing secretary got made were just way too fine to grind with.

    There were also available "cutler's wheels" made of wood,wrapped with leather,to which natural corundum could be applied. I think they would have worked better than the stones we had.

    I have a wheel cut in the Civil War period sitting ,never used,in my shop. It looks a lot coarser than those newly made wheels were. These wheels,along with hand forged hardware,were discovered in the 70's,in the basement of an old wooden warehouse in Norfolk which had burned down. The guy was selling them to people to imbed upright at the ends of their driveways. I bought all he had left,kept 1,and distributed the rest to others in the museum. Still haven't used mine.
    Last edited by george wilson; 10-23-2012 at 9:15 AM.

  11. #11
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    As many as these things were produced, surely they must have been effective.

  12. #12
    I mentioned in another post that I got this baby in an antique store:
    esmeril-manija.jpg
    I recently cleaned all the metal parts, had someone weld a strip of metal to the broken axle, and made a handle for it. Although I have not made a proper tool rest for it yet, the included rest is serviceable for testing.
    The stone cuts pretty fast! It really needs to be wet to work well. I also need to make something to hang a water bottle above it, as I don't feel like filling part of the wooden trough with water and making a mess.
    Recently I visited the Spanish town of Betanzos, close to A Coruņa, and they were having a street market. Someone was selling new and old tools, and they had newly made sandstone wheels on metal frames with treadles. They seem to be pretty common and cheap there. So they are not just antiques.

  13. #13
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    With my limited space, if I was going to squeeze a big treadle powered contraption in there, I'd be looking for a treadle lathe.

    For wheels, my brain immediately starts to wonder if you could make a large, faceted wheel, and then attach pieces of coarse ceramic waterstone to it, and try and true the thing round with a diamond plate. A terrible idea, I know, but if there was some way to some form of modern abrasive into one of these things, it'd be cool.
    " Be willing to make mistakes in your basements, garages, apartments and palaces. I have made many. Your first attempts may be poor. They will not be futile. " - M.S. Bickford, Mouldings In Practice

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Federico Mena Quintero View Post
    ... Although I have not made a proper tool rest for it yet, the included rest is serviceable for testing.
    Cool! The tool rest actually looks like it is upside down!

  15. #15
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    I also need to make something to hang a water bottle above it, as I don't feel like filling part of the wooden trough with water and making a mess.
    I use water bottles for a few things. A small hole in the cap can control the amount of water that will drip out. Most of mine have to be squeezed to get any to flow. Experiment to find the size that works best for the purpose.

    One of my thoughts is to include a brush touching the wheel to limit the water spraying and regulate the amount of water on the wheel.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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