How To Sharpen Tools With A Bench Grinder: A Complete Guide
When I was organizing my home tool kit, I realized that a lot of my tools needed to be sharpened. Since this is an issue that I deal with quite frequently, I decided to find something that I could invest in to do the job for me on a regular basis.
How can you sharpen tools with a bench grinder? In order to sharpen tools with a bench grinder, you will need to prepare all of your materials and safety equipment, and make sure that your workspace is ready to go. This includes wiping off any remaining debris and moving obstructive objects from the area.
Turn on the bench grinder, and use both hands to run the blade of the tool along the edge of the grinder in a forward and backward motion. From time to time, take the tool out of the grinder and dip it into a bucket of water to prevent overheating.
For anyone who owns tools, no matter how often they use them, it is important to always keep them sharp. There is no use for a dull set of tools, and they should always be in tip top shape for the best results. So, how can this be done, and what exactly goes into it?
In this article, we will be exploring how you can sharpen tools with the use of a bench grinder. Whether you have one already or plan to purchase one, you will surely benefit from the information that will be provided throughout the next few sections. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the topic.
How To Sharpen Tools With A Bench Grinder
Whether you have an extensive tool kit that you use on a regular basis as a hobby or a business, or you just have a small toolbox hidden away for the occasional home repair, you might have run into the common issue that all tool owners do at some point: dull tools that need sharpening.
When you purchase a certain tool and it is new out of the box, it is usually shiny and sharp and works perfectly, gliding through any material that you need it to cut or shape. However, over time, any blade or point will begin to get dull and will lose some of its effectiveness.
No matter how much you use your tools or how well you take care of them when you are done, it is inevitable that all of the materials that come in contact with the sharp points will start to chip away at the precision of the tool.
As a result, you might notice that the operation of the same tool that was so easy to use a few months ago is now very physically strenuous. On the other hand, the purpose that it carries out might now be satisfactory when it used to be excellent.
Either way, you will need to find a way to sharpen your tool in order to continue using it, or there will be no point in keeping it around. After all, what is the reason for having something that really doesn’t work how it is supposed to?
There is, of course, the option of just buying a new tool to replace it, but this can get annoying and expensive, especially for those who have a whole tool kit to sharpen up.
If you have ever felt the need to sharpen your tools, you might have wondered how you could do something like this.
Luckily, there is a very simple solution, and it can all be done with just one piece of equipment: a bench grinder.
In this section, we will explore the possibilities of sharpening your tools with a bench grinder. Imagine being able to walk out to your garage or shed and run your tools through the grinder to sharpen them as needed, with no unnecessary purchases or stress.
Take a look at the organized step-by-step list down below to find out how you can achieve this in your own home.
How To Sharpen Tools With A Bench Grinder:
- Check your grinder and workspace for safety before you begin
- Make sure the grinder is secured to the work bench you are using
- Adjust the tool rest on the grinder (3 mm space between the rest and grinding wheel)
- Clean the area around the grinder and your feet, make sure there is no debris or other obstructive objects.
- Fill a small container with water and place it next to the grinder
- Prepare yourself with the proper safety equipment
- Turn on the bench grinder with the switch
- Stand directly in front of the grinder on both feet
- Hold the tools in both hands firmly, placing it on the tool rest directly
- Slowly push the tool toward the grinder until the edge is touching it (the tool should only be touching the sides of the grinder, never further.)
- Periodically dip the tools into the water pot to cool them off
Before you can begin using your bench grinder to sharpen your tools, you will need to check your grinder and workspace for safety. When it comes to using an automated machine to make your metal tools sharper, you will need to make sure that no mistakes are made and nothing is neglected in the preparation.
This key step should be completed by checking that there is nothing in the grinder that could possibly be blocking it, and that there is no mess around you. When in doubt, just clean up the whole area before you start to even turn the machine on.
Additionally, make sure that the grinder is secured to the work bench that you are using. This can be done with bolts, clamps, or anything that the grinder comes with. Either way, you will need to make sure that it will not wobble or fall over while you are operating it.
When you are sharpening tools on a bench grinder, in particular, you will need to use a component called a tool rest. Luckily, the tool rest already comes on the machine, and you will just need to adjust it to the right location for the easiest and best results.
While adjusting the tool rest, you should make sure that there is a 3 mm space between the rest and the grinder. This will be where you rest your tool or blade, and it should be able to reach the correct location of the grinder for sharpening.
In doing this, you can even check with one of the tools that you will be using by placing it on the tool rest before you turn on the machine. The area that you are trying to sharpen should be barely touching the edge of the grinder.
To finish preparing your space, do one more check to make sure that there are no obstructive objects around that you could trip on while you are working. Clean up any debris with a damp towel before you start.
Finally, fill a small container or cup with some room temperature water from the tap. This should be placed directly next to the grinder on your workspace, and will be used to dip the tools into when they begin to overheat.
Prepare yourself with the proper safety equipment, including safety goggles and a pair of boots or shoes that protect your feet, and proceed to turn on your bench grinder by flipping the power switch.
Stand directly in front of the grinder with both feet planted on the ground. In this circumstance, posture and form is everything, in order to avoid any bodily strains or incorrect sharpening techniques.
Hold the tool that you are sharpening in both hands firmly, while maintaining a wide stance. Using the tool rest as your guide, slowly push the tool forward toward the edge of the grinder.
It is important to make sure that your tool is only touching the very edge of the grinder, not anywhere deeper inside of it. Use a forward and backward motion to sharpen the tool as needed.
From time to time, take the tool out of its position on the grinder and dip it into the bucket of water next to it. This will prevent the metal from getting too hot and overheating with potential to cause sparks while you are working.
Repeat these steps until you have reached the desired sharpness for your tool. Throughout the entire process, make sure that you are maintaining your stance and form for optimum safety.
How To Get The Sharpest Tools With A Bench Grinder
Now that you have a basic understanding of how you can use a bench grinder to sharpen your tools at home or in your shop, you might be looking for some more details on how to get the best results.
When you are trying to sharpen your tools, especially those that have blades on them, you will obviously want to get the cleanest and sharpest cut that you possibly can from your bench grinder for a variety of reasons.
There is virtually no point in making an investment in a bench grinder and putting time into learning how to properly sharpen your tools if you will not even come out with the sharpest possible tools.
When you get a crisp and precise sharpen on your tool or blade, you will be able to go longer without having to sharpen it again, in addition.
In this section, we will be going over how you can get the sharpest tools with a bench grinder with the help of a few helpful tips, instead of just sharpening them to the bare minimum.
Here are some tips you can follow to get the sharpest tools with your bench grinder:
- Angle the tool/blade up or down (slightly) while pushing it into the grinder
- Place emphasis on the point at the top/bottom of your sharpening path
- Use the front and back repetitive motion to sharpen the blade
- Only use the very edge of the grinder (avoid cutting into it)
When you use a bench grinder to sharpen tools, you will typically place them onto the tool rest and use your hands to guide it toward the edge of the grinder. This is normally done in a straight forward and backward motion in order to effectively sharpen almost any type of tool.
However, when you are trying to get the sharpest tool or blade as previously mentioned, you will need to follow a slight variation in technique. While you will still maintain the same stance and form, you will angle the tool up or down very slightly while pushing it into the grinder.
Keep the tool resting in its respective position while you continue to push it forward, with a very minimal curve. This will help you to get a sharp angled point when you reach the end of the grinder.
Place some extra emphasis on the point at the top or the bottom of your path of sharpening, depending on which way you are going with it. Either way, you will get a much sharper blade or point when you use this minimal technique.
When you are trying to achieve additional sharpness, you should still follow through with the back and forth motion against the grinder, no matter how you are angling the tool.
For an added point and shine, you should continue this for a few more repetitions before you are finished. However, you should not keep grinding your tool or blade against the metal for so long that it begins to dig into the tool or even spark up while you are working.
As previously mentioned, the proper technique of sharpening tools with a bench grinder involves using the edge of the grinder itself to do the sharpening. This rule also contributes to the sharpness of the tool that you are targeting.
By only using the tip of the grinder, you will be placing the most emphasis on the sharpened tool instead of making it more dull by pushing it further into the machine than where it is supposed to be.
Along with getting the sharpest point on your tool or blade, you will also need to make sure that you are following through with a few safety precautions in doing so.
Some of these were briefly mentioned throughout the first section of this article, but there is a need to dive deeper into the topic, which we will do once you keep reading.
Safety Tips For Sharpening Tools With a Bench Grinder
When it comes to feeding your tools through a bench grinder, you must keep in mind that there are a lot of things that can go wrong if you are not careful. There are a number of safety precautions that you should take while you are completing this task for the best, and safest, results.
Now, we will be discussing some safety tips for sharpening tools, with a bench grinder in particular. From your clothing to the shoes that you wear and your holding technique, you will walk away from this article knowing exactly how to sharpen your tools with proper technique.
Follow all of these safety tips while you are using a bench grinder to sharpen your tools:
- Wear safety goggles and gloves
- Wear the proper apparel (make sure arms and legs are covered, steel/closed toed shoes)
- Hold the tools steadily with both hands (keeping your fingers and hands away from the grinder)
- Before and during sharpening, make sure there are no obstructions
- Make good use of your cup of water during sharpening
First and foremost, always come equipped with safety goggles and gloves. These are the most important pieces of safety gear because they will protect your eyes and hands, two of the main things that you will be using to complete this task.
When any kind of mechanical grinding is taking place, there is increased risk for debris, dust, and other sharp objects to get into your eyes, blocking your vision and possibly injuring you further.
Always make sure that you have goggles before you even turn the machine on to avoid any of these problems, along with a good, sturdy pair of working gloves to stay away from sharp dust and even metal burns.
In addition to the safety gear, you should be wearing the proper apparel. Make sure that your arms and legs are covered with long sleeves, and wear some type of closed toed shoe or boot. If you have access to steel toed boots, that is even better.
The next safety precautions come with the actual sharpening procedure. Before you begin sharpening, you must make sure that there are no obstructions anywhere that could possibly cause a safety issue while you are working.
Additionally, make good use of your water cup during this process. It is not just there for decoration.
When you frequently stop to dip your tools in the water in order to cool them down, you will have much better, and safer, results. This will prevent any sparks, overheating, or burns from occurring while you are sharpening.
Why Do Tools Need To Be Sharpened?
After all of this discussion about sharpening tools with a bench grinder, you might be wondering why tools really need to be sharpened anyways. What is the importance of this task, if any?
While most people would result to buying an entirely new tool before they go through the trouble of learning how to sharpen it, sharpening your tools can actually prove to be very beneficial and cost efficient in the long run, especially if you use your tools on a regular basis.
The importance of sharpening tools was touched on earlier in this article, but we will go more into detail on this topic here. Take a look at the list below to find out some of the reasons why tools need to be sharpened for the best results.
Some Reasons Why Tools Need To Be Sharpened:
- Ease of use
- Precision in tasks
The first reason why tools need to be sharpened is to improve the ease of use. The entire purpose of a tool is to make a task easier for the user, especially for the automated tools.
When you turn to the use of some kind of machine or other piece of equipment, you are wanting to get the task done quickly and with minimal effort. When tools and blades become dull, they require a lot more force and work on your part.
The excessive force that you must use while operating dull tools can also become a safety hazard. Pushing very hard with a tool can result in slip-ups, flying debris, or a lot of push-back when you are using it.
Another one of the main purposes of tools is to complete tasks with as much precision as possible. For example, if you are cutting on a thin, dotted line with a sharp blade, you want to be able to glide across the material and make the line exactly as drawn.
However, if your blade is no longer sharp, it will be thicker, and you will have to push down very hard to the point where your thin line will probably be a few times thicker.
How To Care For Your Bench Grinder
So, now that you have learned almost everything there is to know about sharpening tools with a bench grinder safely and effectively, you might be seriously considering the purchase or rental of one of these helpful machines.
Before you go forth with making this kind of investment, it is important to be sure that you will take care of it properly so that it lasts as long as possible. After all, you would not want to spend money on something just to neglect it and let it break a few months later.
When you purchase a bench grinder, you want it to last you for years, or even decades. Pay attention to the tips that are outlined in the rest of this section to find out how to properly care for your new bench grinder and ensure that you will be able to sharpen hundreds of tools throughout its lifetime.
How To Care For Your Bench Grinder:
- Inspect your equipment every day to catch any needed repairs or cleaning
- Pay attention to what your machine is telling you while you use it (pay attention to noises and strange vibrations)
- Always store it in a safe and dry place
- Use the right components with your grinder (power cords, wheels, etc.)
- Remove all dust and debris after each use
To start, you should inspect your equipment every day to catch any needed repairs or cleaning tasks that need to be done, whether you are using it or not. When tools sit for long periods of time, they can develop rust or collections of debris that can cause more long-term damage when you are finally ready to use them again.
Additionally, you should pay attention to what your machine is telling you when you use it. This can b anything from noises to strange vibrations. When you catch these things, you will be able to quickly and effectively address the problem.
Always store your bench grinder in a safe and dry place, where no water or sunlight can damage it. Make sure that you keep the area around it clean, and nothing has the potential to destroy it.
The components of your grinder should be properly fitting, from power cords to wheels and more. If these pieces are the wrong size or they are taking up too much power, they can possibly shorten the life span of your machine.
Finally, you should remove all dust and debris from on and around your machine after each use. Along with checking it every day, you must make sure that you are keeping it clean after you put your tools through it.
This can leave a lot of dust and metal shavings around, which can collect and become bad news for the next time that you use it, especially if you leave it in your garage for months before you ever touch it again.
All in all, in order to properly maintain your bench grinder, you must always be in tune with what is needed as far as repairs, and make sure that everything is being kept sparkling clean for the best possible performance and an extended lifetime.
As you can see, bench grinders offer a very simple solution to those who need to sharpen their tools quickly and efficiently. With just one single machine, you can feed your tools into the spinning grinder wheel using a convenient resting guide, sharpening them in minutes.
With the proper safety precautions and sharpening techniques that you have learned from this article, you should be an expert at not only making your tools sharper with this machine, but also doing so safely and making sure that your investment stays around for a long time.