Ray Lanham
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Here are some pictures of a sharpening system by Ray Lanham, adapting an inexpensive wet/dry grinder from Harbor Freight.  Text to follow.

)   This photograph shows my “Tormek-esk” sharpening setup from the front. The basis for this unit is a wet/dry grinding setup from Harbor Freight Tools. They sell tools made almost exclusively in China, at very good prices ($59.95 but purchased on sale for $39.95).

The unit comes with an 8”-120 grit, 160 RPM wet wheel and a 6”-60 grit 3500 RPM dry wheel. I replaced the dry wheel with a good 80 grit wheel. The wet wheel has no jigs or platform upon which to grind and the dry wheel has a useless little platform that needs to be cut off and thrown away.
The 8” honing wheel was made from MDF after David Reed Smith’s design concept as featured in American Woodturner magazine. It is 1 ½” wide (two ¾” pieces glued together and sanded on my 12” sanding disk). Honing compound has yet to be applied but has been ordered from Lee Valley Tools.


I next turned my attention to the grinding platform for the wet wheel. The $400 Tormek uses an “ F” shaped bar which is adjustable vertically on one side of the grinding wheel (wheel turns toward the tool being ground) and the same bar in another fitting with horizontal adjustment on the other side of the grinding wheel (wheel turns away from the tool being ground). This seems an awkward set up to me and I can only mount my bar on one side of the wheel (wheel turns away from the tool being ground).

Therefore, I created a 12” long x 5/8” dia. grinding bar (Home Depot $3.50) that mounts on a plywood fixture that moves 1 ½” vertically and horizontally in both directions.


The first addition to my system was a OneWay look-a-like “V” arm and platform for the 6” wheel. I used ¾” square tube from Home Depot ($7.50) and with a minimum of welding with  a friend’s help, the 3/8 bolt was in place, the angle was formed and the platform was built out of ¼” clear Plexiglas.

I laminated (2) 3”x5” pieces of the plex with instant acrylic solvent, laminated the tang of the platform and reinforced the tang so that it would withstand downward pressure from the grinding process. The 3/8” bolt hole was drilled before laminating the tang into a mortise in the platform.

A piece of sandpaper glued to the side of the tubing support, around the bolt, adjacent to the tang minimizes slipping. A 1” dowel spacer was drilled 3/8” and a knob was created out of  ½” plywood, cutting out three circular shapes on the band saw so as to form a three star shaped knob. A 3/8” T-nut was fitted to the inside of the knob into a  ¾” counter-bore 1/8” deep.

The housing for the adjustable grinding platform tube  and “V” arm tube was made out of  ¾” plywood and ¾” poplar. The knob to secure the tubing was made as before but with a ¼” T-nut mounted inside the ¾” hole before the pieces were clued together.


The 1” belt sander will be fitted with a 120 grit blue Zirconium belt (used for grinding stainless steel) and used to “hone” the lathe tools in between grindings. It is available from Lee Valley Tools. This “honing concept is inspired by Herm de Vries and is explained in great detail on his website.
I also created two  “Tormek-esk” jigs, one to sharpen chisels (laminated Plexiglas) and one for gouges (David Reed Smith’s design found on his website), plus a “Vari-grind” jig (Plexiglas).

All together, not counting the scrap wood, scrap Plexiglas T-nuts and 5 bolts, I have about $55.00 in the system. It is mounted on a spare piece of MDF and sits on top of a cabinet that can be moved from place to place.  

     Tormek system & jigs: $450

                   OneWay jigs & fixtures: $150

                                        Doing it myself: Priceless!