Anyone who has had a lathe for more than a week knows that you need to sharpen your chisels and sharpen then often. Nothing dulls tool steel like a 3000rpm spinning chunk of wood. I have recently gotten back into wood turning after a ten year break from it so I am revisiting my sharpening techniques and questioning them so what you see here is a combination of my old tradition with a few changes.
A quick google search will yield about ten million hits on jigs, techniques, systems, and machines for lathe tool sharpening. The popular questions seem to be dry grinder vs slow speed water grinder, jigs vs free hand, and whether to use tools straight from the grinder or honing them a little. It really comes down to the fact that there is no right or wrong way to sharpen your chisels and what works for a production turner might not be best for a hobbyist. I used to be a run to the grinder and then straight back to the turning, it was quick enough for most chisels and seemed to work find. The problem occurred when trying to use a jig for a fingernail grind gouge, it was just slow to change from a flat tool rest to the jigs needed for the gouge so I went searching for something else.
So what do you need.... Well you can start with sharpening stones, they are slow and you simply cannot regrind a profile on a bench stone, it is just too slow. Other options are a bench grinder or belt sander, I currently have a bench grinder which works fine but takes up a lot of room in my small shop and takes forever to change to a different grit stone. I am seriously considering getting rid of the grinder and using a small 1" X 30" belt sander but for now the grinder works fine.
My setup is:
1725 rpm 6" Baldor Grinder with 120 grit pink wheel
Wolvering Basic Grinding Jig
Two sided diamond stone (course and fine)
Step 1: Sharpening the Skew Chisel
We will start talking a little bit about the flat chisels, the skew and scrapers. These chisels will be sharpened using a flat tool rest.
Skew Chisel - The skew is used to produce a very fine finish on spindle turnings. It is also a great too for creating beads on a spindle. The skew is also a tough tool to master, it can produce some really impressive catches so be careful and spend some time practicing, it will be worth it. I have included an image with the proper angles for the skew chisel. The first step to getting a good edge is to establish your initial grind and we will do this on the grinder. I start by putting my flat platform in front of the wheel and adjust the angle with the skew on it until I get that skew on the wheel near 25 degrees. You can place marks on the platform at 70 degrees as a reference and to help you hold it straight. You want to grind at this angle until you have reached both ends of your bevel. You want the edge to meet in the middle of the tool thickness so this might take a little trial and error to get there.