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Thread: Grinding Wheels

  1. #1

    Grinding Wheels

    When I started turning I bought a cheap HF tool set. They served me well and I actually still have and use a couple of them. Ive been slowly replacing them over the years with Thompson tools. Over the weekend, I took a turning class and the instructor briefly touched on sharpening and since I had brought some Thompson tools to class, he wanted to talk specifically about sharpening "high end exotic" steel. Ive been using the original white wheels that came on my slow speed grinder. He told me those wheels don't actually cut the Thompson steel but rather break it off and that I should be using the blue Norton wheels. A little research on Doug Thompsons website and he says the same and specifically recommends the Norton 3X K Grade wheels. My issue with those wheels are that the finest grit they come in is 80. That seems pretty course to me especially when trying to clean up an edge for shear scraping, etc. Further research, I find people who say that Thompson steel shouldn't be sharpened with anything less than CBN wheels.

    I guess I said all that to say, I need an education on grinding wheels. Specifically, grinding Thompson steel. I'm having a fairly difficult time thinking of having to spend upwards of $300 on a grinding wheel but if its what I need, Ill bite the bullet. Talk to me.

  2. #2
    I have a 600 grit CBN wheel and it doesn't seem to get the Thompson gouge quite as sharp as HSS. Just a stray observation, and one that not everyone seems to agree with.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    East Tennessee
    Posts
    718
    You can purchase CBN wheels for around $150. One of the best investments I've ever made. In my experience they take away less metal, leave a sharper edge which lasts longer.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Winchester, IN
    Posts
    109
    I just bought two CBN wheels from Woodturners Wonders (220, 80) and could not be more pleased. The do a wonderful job of sharpening my Thompson tools and others. You can get two wheels for about $250. I regret putting off this purchase.

  5. I use a 180 grit CBN wheel on one side of the grinder and a white 80 grit on the other side. The 180 CBN puts an edge on my tools (Thompson and other HSS) that results in an excellent finish cut. I use the 80 grit for my scrapers, or if I want to re-shape a tool. I labored over whether I should spend $125 on the CBN; it's proven to be one of the best tool investments I've made.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Mountain Home, AR
    Posts
    515
    Haven't heard any of that yet. I've been using the OEM white wheels that came with my Rikon SS grinder. I'm sure there's a premium solution to your problem, but I'd make sure it is actually a problem that needs fixing first. If your wheels sharpen the tool as expected, what's there to fix?

    That said, I am curious how the 3x wheels would perform, but my practical side always steps in and insists I wait until these are worn out. I have yet to win that battle. Or did I?


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Posts
    4,297
    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Collier View Post
    ... I need an education on grinding wheels. Specifically, grinding Thompson steel. I'm having a fairly difficult time thinking of having to spend upwards of $300 on a grinding wheel but if its what I need, Ill bite the bullet. Talk to me.
    I like the blue Norton wheels far better than the cheap wheels. I used them for years with a Oneway balancing kit. However, I was still not happy with the fineness of the grind so I went to using a Tormek water wheel, especially for my spindle gouges. Very good edge on Thompson and other tools.

    Then I abandoned all of those wheels and went to CBN, 80 to 600 grit. They cut very well with no balancing issues and no need to ever true a wheel. I have a 600 grit wheel on my Tormak. I got all of mine from Ken Rizza at Woodturner's Wonders.

    However, even with the 600 grit CBN I still don't get the edge I got with the water wheel. I'm about to order either a 1000 grit or 1200 grit Tormek wheel to try.

    JKJ

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Wes Ramsey View Post
    Haven't heard any of that yet. I've been using the OEM white wheels that came with my Rikon SS grinder. I'm sure there's a premium solution to your problem, but I'd make sure it is actually a problem that needs fixing first. If your wheels sharpen the tool as expected, what's there to fix?

    That said, I am curious how the 3x wheels would perform, but my practical side always steps in and insists I wait until these are worn out. I have yet to win that battle. Or did I?

    Comparing my Thompson tools to my standard HSS tools, the HSS definitely gets sharper on the white wheels I currently have. They have a much finer edge where the Thompson gouges come off the grinder with a jagged toothy looking edge. If I were only sharpening HSS, this wouldn't be an issue.

  9. #9
    Looks like the vote is going toward CBN. So, what brands? Grits? Radius edge vs. non?

  10. #10
    Wood turning wonders. 180 (scrapers) & 350. (Gouges)

  11. Woodturning wonders sells them for $125. I use one with a radius edge.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Posts
    4,297
    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Collier View Post
    Looks like the vote is going toward CBN. So, what brands? Grits? Radius edge vs. non?
    A lot of people like the radiused wheels. They have grit on the top and around a 1/4" radius on both sides. These are used to sharpen hollowing bits fastened to long tools without have to swing the handle around in a big arc.

    I don't like the radiused wheels for several reasons, one big: it subtracts 1/2" from the flat part of the wheel. Also, I don't often sharpen that type of tool that way. It's a great idea if you do. I bought one and then sold it.

    All my CBN wheels, including the one on the Tormek, are straight across the full width AND with 1" of grit down the flat side. I like the sharp corner for sharpening various special scrapers and other tools. I like the flat on the side for certain things. I really like the full flat width. These wheels do cost a bit more but that's ok, I just bring my wife breakfast in bed and she's so happy she gives me her charge card.

    Everyone has different needs, but this is what I ended up with after a few iterations: two 1/2 speed grinders, one with a polishing wheel for carving gouges and an 80 grit CBN wheel. The second with a 220 grit and a 600 grit. And the Tormek. I use the 80 grit rarely, but it is handy for initial shaping of big scrapers. The 220 grit is quite aggressive and is great for typical reshaping and sometimes for sharpening scrapers. I use the 600 grit for bowl gouges, skews, and small negative rake scrapers. I use the Tormek for spindle gouges which I also hone and polish with the leather wheel.

    If I had just two wheels they would probably be the 220 and 600. If I had just one it might be the 350 grit.

    HOWEVER..... Much depends on how you sharpen, what you like to turn, and what you want your edges to be like. A turner who mostly turns green bowls might want far different edges than I do. I like to turn smaller things out of sometimes very hard woods. A polished razor edge can leave a surface on a small turning that only needs touched with 600 or 800 grit paper. A big green bowl can but cut fine with a rougher edge, sawtoothed even under the microscope. Cuts fine and is a lot quicker to sharpen.

    I'm sure you will get lots of advice from people who recommend what they bought.

    JKJ

  13. #13
    First, CBN, you pay more, but get far more. Which grits? If you get one, then 180 grit. I sharpen my scrapers on both 180 and 80, and there is almost no difference in the performance of the burrs, which are far better than what you get with standard grinding wheels. 2 wheels, then 180 for sure, then 350 or 400 or in that range, possibly, rather then 80. Mostly the 80 does not do a better job, other than for some shaping of tools, but if you need to do serious shaping, then a 40 grit belt... I have 600 and 1000 grit wheels. They produce a much finer edge for finish cuts in punky or stringy wood, but their edges don't hold up to heavy roughing. I never did care for the radius edged wheels. Main reason to have them would be for the hollowing tips as they do a better job on the sides of the hollowing bits than a straight wheel will, but you can 'relieve' the sides by hand if you need to. Get the 1 1/2 inch wide wheels. I have never run off the edge of one of the wide wheels. As for which brand, well, 2 as far as I am concerned, D Way, which are steel hubs, and Ken Rizza, which are aluminum hubs, and lighter if you have a underpowered grinder. Optigrind is another option, and Cindy Drozda carries them. I had one and it was high quality, but don't know what they are doing any more.

    robo hippy

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Erie, PA
    Posts
    464
    I have been using Thompson tools since Doug began making them and there was no info on CBN wheels then. I used the white wheels that came with the grinder and never had a problem sharpening with them. I never had a jagged edge off the stones and they were plenty sharp. Once I tried CBN though there was no going back as they take off so much less steel that the Thompson tools I own will take many years till they need replaced. I do like the 1 1/2" wide wheels better than the 1" ones and I do have one of the radius-ed ones but don't use it very often. Recently found http://buffalowoodturningproducts.com/ where you can get 1 1 1/2" wheel for $150 or 2 1 1/2" wheels for $250. I still have one grinder with stones to rough in shapes or if something needs grinding that isn't high speed steel.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    Chicago or SW Wisconsin
    Posts
    104
    If you are not sharpening the small 1/4" tools used for hollowing, I would advise staying away from the radiused edge wheels. A 1 1/2" wide radiused wheel only has a usable flat grinding surface of 1", and that can be deceiving as you look at the whole spinning wheel and you may tend to fall off the rounded edge.

    D-way makes the best-- solid steel wheel with no adhesive.

    Ken Rizza's (Woodturning Wonders) are good and he will special order non-rounded wheels for you. His are aluminum with an adhesive bonded grit.

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