Sharpening, woodturning and carving tools tested

John Adams
Monday, 1st February 2010

The Sheppach Tiger 2000s grinder, a Robert Sorby Spindlemaster attachment for a woodturning lathe, and a nifty carving kit get put through their paces

Most of us that own woodworking tools have at some time or another bought a carbide bench grinder, while knowing full well that what we should have bought was a wetstone grinder - but they were too expensive and difficult to source.

Sheppach GrinderScheppach, who supply professional wetstone systems have released the Tiger 2000s Grinder which is made affordable by having a plastic body instead of a metal one. The body is the only difference between this grinder aimed at DIYers, and the professional models. The stone, honing wheels and accessories fit across the range.

It comes with a top-quality grind stone, a leather honing wheel, honing compound, knife jig, a universal jig for plane blades, chisels, etc. and an angle guide. Easy to set up and use, it put a hitherto unheard of edge on all my kitchen knives, which are now razor sharp and straight edged. Previously they had been sharpened with carbide, which being too course had left a ragged edge. I also put a new edge on some of my older chisels and found I could restore the fine edge on my woodturning chisels by honing alone. I think it's an excellent piece of kit no woodworker should be without.

woodturning lathe with spindlemasterWhile I had the DMT450 Woodturning Lathe out (reviewed in PM62) I thought I'd give a Robert Sorby Spindlemaster a try. I had previously used one but that was on a pole lathe, so I was interested to see how well it worked on the high speed type of lathe it was designed for. It didn't disappoint, producing a whole range of designs on the spindle with just a simple twist of the blade. I only did a large test piece as I am not that experienced, but I know it is capable of producing fine small work as well. If you are into spindle work this is an invaluable tool which will pay for itself in its speed of use and sheer versatility.

Mary Lewis, centre manager here at the Sustainability Centre and sometime spoon carver, has been trying out a Flexcut Carvin Jack:

Flexcut Carvin Jack knife"I have to confess that I was initially sceptical of a 'complete carving kit in your pocket' and my first impression of the 'Carving Jack' was that it looked uncomfortable to hold for any period of time. I was pleasantly surprised, however, and I was impressed at its usability. I mostly carve spoons and both the hook knife and gouge scorp were nice little tools with a very sharp edge. I was less comfortable with the detail knife, which can be used as a whittling knife, but I think that is because I am very attached to my old trusty knife. The other tools were easy and satisfying to use. If, like me, you are a campfire whittler, this is a very handy knife to have in your pocket and will help to while away many a peaceful hour. Take heed of the safety instructions however, these knives really are very sharp".

Meanwhile I was having a look at the Flexcut 21-Piece Carving Set. A complete carving set all in one box. It has everything you need for palm and knife carving. The SlipStrop and Gold compound will keep them all sharp and it comes with an instructional DVD. The chisel blades can also be used in a reciprocating power carver. An amazingly comprehensive starter set for any woodcarver.