Wood Lathe

How To Sharpen Wood Lathe Tools – Step-By-Step Guide


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Many people love woodturning, especially the ones who love to get their hands dirty to make something explicable. However, one of the greatest challenges when starting off with woodturning is getting sharp tools.

Why are sharp lathe tools important? Because this will result in fewer broken pens, pen perfection & less operation cracks. In other words, with sharp lathe tools, you will have better woodturning experience and you will be much happier with the end result. After sharpening the tools, you will feel every single penny & every hour of extensive research on lathe are well-spent.

Some of us overlook the importance of having sharp tools in your inventory and well, without proper guidance sharpening wood lathe tools can frustrate anyone. Luckily you have landed on the right content that can help you learn how to sharpen wood lathe tools. Don’t worry, we will be straightforward!

What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial

Before we begin with how to sharpen wood lathe tools, it’s crucial to identify all tools you will need for the process. So, here’s the list of the tools & components you will require:


Well, this tool is a no-brainer if you’re really into woodturning. Because this is the most prominent tool you will require. A 6-inch or an 8-inch grinder will be perfect & will help you sharpen the tools & even re-shape them easily, quickly & efficiently. The grinder would need to be mounted on a bench, board or your preferred worktop.

Eye protection

This will help protect your eyes from accidents such as metal fillings blown into the eyes.

Rubber gloves

This is another important protective tool for sharpening lathe tools as they can absorb vibrations from the machine & can even keep your hands protected from grazes.

Wheel Dresser

A lot of grinding wheels often need dressing & even a multi-diamond T-bar.

Sharpening Jigs

Jigs are important for both experts & beginners as they can keep the tools at consistent bevel angles, resulting in a better sharpening process.

Other Items You Need

Dry cloth, lathe tools, water & bowl.

Step by Step Instruction On How To Sharpen Lathe Tools

Here’s how to sharpen wood lathe tools:

Step 1: Start With The Basic Preparations

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Before beginning any project, you gain knowledge. Similarly, before starting to sharpen your wood lathe tools, it is important to start with basic preparations.

Ensure you have the right protective gears such as eye protection (googles), and protective rubber gloves. These two protective gears will protect both your eyes (when metal fragments disperses into the air) and hands.

It is crucial to ensure that your bench grinder is correctly secured to the bench otherwise the lathe tool can get damaged & you may get injured while sharpening. To ensure this, set up the tool support correctly. And if you’re using a grinder on a workbench, secure it firmly on with clamps.

Step 2: Dress The Grinding Wheel

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Grinding wheel is probably the most important tool for sharpening wood lathe tools. If you’re a beginner learning how to sharpen wood lathe tools, or even an expert, you will need to pay proper attention to the wheel. This means, prep your grinding wheel for the process ahead.

Why is prepping important to perform? Well, the grinding wheel accumulates lots of build-up of wood & metal fragments, affecting how well it can sharpen the tools.

If you’re using a bench grinder, we advise you to utilize a diamond sharpening tool for dressing the grinding wheel. Why? Because a diamond sharpening tool can easily & effectively remove debris & even the outer edges of the wheel.

Step 3: Ensuring Proper Contact

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After accumulating all the necessary tools & protective gears and after following step 1 & step 2, you’re all set for sharpening.

To begin with, gently push the tool you want to sharpen against the grinding wheel. But ensure the tool stays in contact for a limited time – less than or equal to 10 seconds.

If you’re a beginner learning how to sharpen wood lathe tools, you will be wondering how you will know if the contact is right. Well, if the angle & level of contact is correct, you will observe a few sparks shooting off in this step.

Step 4: Grinding

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After ensuring proper contact with the wheel, it’s not time to grind it properly. To do that, gently move the lathe tool from side to side, while maintaining contact with the grinding wheel.

But how will you know if you’re doing it right? Track the pattern of the spark bursts, if everything’s okay, you will see the sparks along the edge. If not, try focusing more and ensuring proper contact and the 10-seconds rule.

Step 5: Cooling Down

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Repeat step 3 & step 4 for a couple of times, ensuring 10 seconds interval break. If you believe your lathe tool is sharp enough, dip it in the bowl of water to cool it down. Why? Because grinding the tool will make it explicitly hot due to all the friction.

Step 6: The Final Touch

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After the tool has cooled down, repeat steps 1 through 5 with the opposite side. However, don’t be in a rush, ensure the tool is completely dry before you place it back on the grinding wheel. Also ensure that you do not over-sharpen any side because it can weaken the tool & can make it susceptible to cracking.

After you’ve sharpened the second side too, you’ve got yourself a nicely sharpened wood lathe tool that is ready for some woodturning.

With sharp tools, you will love woodturning activities and can do it effectively. This is just the first step to master woodturning & make your passion, hobby and/or career more interesting & effective. Well, the above six steps along with ensuring you have the right tools & components will be your best friends for sharpening wood lathe tools.