I went over to the dark side a couple of years ago when the price of good CBN grinding wheels dropped down near $100.
I recently decided I should start recommending the purchase of CBN wheels for newbies. You never need to “dress” a CBN grinding wheel thus the size of the wheel never changes. This really simplifies things for newbies. Once they get their grinder and sharpening jigs set up they never need to adjust things.
There are lots of articles on the web with more reasons why you should use CBN wheels. No wobble, no heat, etc. I am not going to rehash that here.
CBN Wheels (Not Diamond)
CBN = Cubic Boron Nitrite.
CBN and Diamond wheels are NOT the same thing! Get a CBN wheel. Not a diamond wheel. CBN wheels are good for sharpening HSS (High Speed Steel) turning tools. You can also use them on old carbon steel tools.
Get Them From
I recommend you get your CBN wheels from “WoodTurnersWonders” https://woodturnerswonders.com/
I don’t get any kick backs from WoodTurnersWonders. They just have the best price on good CBN wheels. They have a booth at most woodturning shows. Most woodturners get there wheels from them. Their “Spartan” CBN wheels start at around $110 on 3/18/20. They are a good deal.
See below for “What I Recommend”.
I like 180 grit CBN wheels. The WoodTurnersWonders CBN wheels come in 60, 80, 180, 220, 350, 600 and 1000 grits. If they had 120 grit I would go with 120 rather than 180.
80 grit is too course for touching up a bevel. If I really want to grind the hell out of a tool I would go with 60 grit rather than 80 grit. However I don’t recommend getting a 60 or 80 grit wheel. See below for “What I Recommend”.
Anything finer than 180 grit is to fine for ME! I want to spend my time at the lathe turning WOOD. I don’t want to spend a lot of time at the grinder. Thus I use 180 grit and a FAST grinder!
There are definitely going to be people who disagree with me. I known someone who has a 600 grit wheel and loves it. There are also people who would love to sell you one of each grit.
Grits finer than 180 will leave the ground surface more polished looking. i.e. with smaller (finer) scratch marks from the grinder.
The scratch marks from a 180 grit CBN wheel are fine enough for ME! Finer than the ones left by my old favorite Norton 88280 8″X 1″X 1″ Gemini, 100/120 Fine, Aluminum Oxide stone wheel.
Guards are a Must!
When CBN wheels first came out there were problems with 1″ or 1.5″ wide CBN wheels not fitting with in the wheel guards on older grinders designed for 3/4″ wide wheels. Some people like WoodTurnersWonders told people to just remove the guards.
The idea was that CBN wheels can not explode like an old stone wheel. Thus you don’t need the guards. Yes, I agree. BUT you still need the guards for safety!
There is NO WAY ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH I would allow any grinder in my studio with out the wheel guards!
When you turn off a grinder it is common for the wheels to just spin down to a stop slowly. On my grinders it takes 2-3 minutes for them to come to a stop. An unguarded wheel is a HUGE accident waiting to happen during this period. If you go about your business, turn around, etc and accidentally touch that wheel with your elbow or what ever you are going to get a really bad burn. Like you can get from a belt sander. One that will hurt for weeks. I have seen it happen!
A spinning grinding wheel with out guards is almost as bad as a spinning circular saw blade with out a guard!
Now a days, 1″ wide wheels will fit on most recently manufactured grinders with the guards in place. 1.5″ wide wheels may be a problem. 1.5″ wide wheels are no problem on the Dayton 2LKR9 grinder I recommend.
Jigs Must Be Dead On!
When I first switched over to CBN wheels I often had to do a lot of “extra” grinding on my gouges. This was because my old jig set up allowed to much slop. Some times I would extend the gouge 2″ beyond the end of my sharpening jig. Other times it would be 2-1/16″ or even 2-1/8″. When I was using an old stone wheel (even a good one) the wobble in the wheel, etc made this a don’t care. I just did not notice it.
With CBN wheels there is no wobble, etc. Thus you need to be dead on 2″ (or what ever you use) every time!
I use to use a 3/4″ wide hole, that was 2″ deep to set up my sharpening jigs. If a 1/2″ gouge was skewed in the hole I could end up with 2-1/16″, etc.
I now have two holes. 1/2″ and 5/8″ holes that are 2″ deep. Each hole is just a little bit over sided. Like 1/32″ oversize.
On your Wolverine Vee Arm you can install a two piece shaft collar. So it is always extended the same amount. See my “Two Quick Oneway Improvements” blog entry. https://carlford.info/blog/2013/02/two-quick-oneway-improvements/
What I Have
I have two grinders in my studio. They are both 8″ Dayton 2LKR9 grinders. See my “Low Cost Industrial Bench Grinder” blog entry. https://carlford.info/blog/2013/01/low-cost-industrial-bench-grinder/
On my Primary Grinder.
The one I use while I am turning.
On the left, I have a $170 WoodTurnersWonders “4-in-1″ CBN Wheel, 8″ diameter, 1.25″ wide, 5/8″ arbor, 180 grit.
This wheel is 1.25″ wide with a 1/4″ radius on each side. Thus the face is roughly 3/4” wide.
I use this wheel to sharpen Stirt style shear scrapers and to sharpen Ellsworth style hollowing tools. You need a wheel with a round edge (i.e. radius edge) to sharpen Ellsworth, Jordan, Bosch, etc style hollowing tools.
I leave a Wolverine Platform mounted in a Oneway Wolverine Jig Base in front of this wheel 99% of the time. i.e. it is almost always set up to sharpen shear scrapers or hollowing tools.
On the right, I have a $170 WoodTurnersWonders “Mega Square” CBN Wheel, 8″ diameter, 1.5″ wide, 5/8″ arbor, 180 grit.
I use this wheel to sharpen all of my spindle and bowl gouges. I like the nice 1.5″ wide face. It’s hard to slip off the side while sharpening a gouge. It gives me more surface area to wear out. It’s good for teaching students how to sharpen. Less trouble with students slipping off the side.
I leave a custom Ellsworth 4×7 Arm in a Oneway Wolverine Jig Base in front of this wheel 99% of the time. i.e. it is almost always set up to sharpen gouges.
I am LEFT handed. Thus standing to the right of the grinder and using the right hand wheel to sharpen gouges works best for me.
I almost never used the sides on this wheel. I just wanted a 1.5″ wide face wheel. If they sold a “Spartan” wheel that was 1.5″ wide, I would go with that to save money. Unfortunately, Spartan wheels only come in a 1″ wide version.
Yea, I have the SAME grit on both sides. I like 180 grit. See “What Grit” section above. I sharpen shear scrappers on one side and gouges on the other. I could not do this if there was a course grit on one side. Most people, only need a course grit wheel once in a blue moon when they reshape a new tool.
On my Secondary Grinder.
The one that my students use.
On the left, I have a $110 WoodTurnersWonders “Spartan” CBN Wheel, 8″ diameter, 1″ wide, 5/8″ arbor, 180 grit.
I don’t use this wheel. My RIGHT handed students use it to sharpen their gouges. They stand to the left of the grinder and use the left hand wheel.
On the right, I have a $110 WoodTurnersWonders “Spartan” “Spartan” CBN Wheel, 8″ diameter, 1″ wide, 5/8″ arbor, 60 grit.
I use this wheel to rough out the shape I want, when I am sharpening new tools or to correcting students tools. I do a lot of this. Thus I decided to get a 60 grit wheel to make things go faster.
What I Recommend
Get a reasonably good 8″ grinder. It MUST be 8″. See my “Low Cost Industrial Bench Grinder” blog entry. https://carlford.info/blog/2013/01/low-cost-industrial-bench-grinder/
If you are RIGHT Handed then put this on the left side of your grinder. So you can stand to the left of the grinder and use the left wheel when sharpening gouges.
If you are LEFT Handed then put this on the right side of your grinder.
Use this wheel for everything. Sharpening gouges, scrapers, etc. You may have to switch back and forth between the Wolverine Vee Arm and Wolverine Platform from time to time. Maybe not all that often.
Now a days, 1″ wide wheels will fit on most recently manufactured grinders with the guards in place.
On the other side of the grinder. I don’t care what you put here. Don’t waste a lot of money. If a reasonably good course grit stone wheel came with the grinder then go with it.
You are only going to use this wheel once in a blue moon when you get a new tool and decide you want to change the shape of it.
Over time you may decided you would like to have a 180 grit wheel on both sides. This will allow you to semi permanent leave the Wolverine Vee Arm on one side of the grinder and the Wolverine Platform on the other side.
You can go with another square edged $110 WoodTurnersWonders “Spartan” CBN Wheel, 8″ diameter, 1″ wide, 5/8″ arbor, 180 grit.
Or, you can get a radius edge one if you want to sharpen Ellsworth style hollowing tools. I would go with a $170 WoodTurnersWonders “4-in-1″ CBN Wheel, 8″ diameter, 1.25″ wide, 5/8” arbor, 180 grit. Rather than $150 “Radius Edge” wheel because the “4-in-1” is only $30 more for a better wheel.
Yes, I would put the same 180 grit wheel on both sides! When you get a new tool you need to change the shape of either grin and bear it on a 180 grit or change to a course grit stone wheel.
Washers for Wheels
If you go with my recommended Dayton 2LKR9 grinder then you don’t need the “Self-Aligning Spherical Washer Sets” sold by WoodTurnersWonders.
If you go with any other grinder then you are on your own. You probably should order a set to be on the safe side and only pay shipping once.