Fair Woodworking

April 30, 2012

My favorite power tool

Filed under: Favorite tools,Picture issues,Power tools,Skill development — fairwoodworking @ 1:57 pm

EDITORS NOTE *** This post is experiencing 3rd party photo hosting “issues”, that will be addressed as time allows. ***


My interest in power tools these days has diminished to nearly zero, but there is one power tool that I will never give up. I’m a real tool snob, and I usually would rather do without if I can’t use a good respectable, and more importantly reliable tool. At work I have a cordless tool set made by Ryobi that I hate. It’s almost faster to drive screws with a screwdriver than the drill, and I find myself reaching for my $10 hand saw before wasting my time with the cordless circular saw.

I like me a well made tool.

So how is it my favorite Power tool could be considered cheap? Well because, even a cheap Bench grinder will do the job I need it to do.

The grinder is not a finesse tool. It’s a workhorse.

The tool rest I’m pointing at is the crappy one it was supplied with. It’s a total piece of junk, and I love it. There are many that sing the praises of big ticket after market tool rests, but I can’t see how they would work better that this flimsy piece of, one molecule short of plastic fo-metal. Those fancy tool rests are super sturdy, and ultra rigid, but I like the loosey goosey feel of my tool rest. Grinding is super simple. A little flex means I can shape the blade a little. If I find I’m removing material faster on one side of the blade than the other, I can lean into one side a little to straighten it out again.

The other thing I like about Mr. Flimsy is that the knob that holds it in place does not have enough holding pressure to lock it firmly. I can easily micro adjust the angle with a light tap from the back of the chisel. I can do this on the fly with the grinder running.

I’ve mentioned before that the one truly worthless part of a grinder is the factory wheels. These stones are 100% useless for hand tools. DON’T USE THEM!!! If you need to grind off a tab to retrofit a Pontiac part to use on your Chevy, the factory stone is fine, but you will need to upgrade if you don’t want to burn your blades. I recommend the Norton Cool grinding stones, or those sweet Blue ones. Either way, you want as course a stone as you can get.

So what of burning your blades? My understanding is that they heat up when you are getting more friction than cutting action. Friction happens when the cutting material in the stones wears down or if there is excessive pressure applied, or if you are grinding at too high an RPM. I think most times the stone stops cutting so we push harder, and then when that stops helping, we speed up the grinder.

A softer stone wears faster allowing new cutting material to come to the surface. If it keeps cutting there is no reason to push harder, and the blade stays cool longer.

In my opinion, if you feel you need to quench a blade, you need to re think your grinding process.

So let’s say you buy a new stone. When I did, I first thought something was wrong with it. When I mounted it, the grinder wobbled so bad I couldn’t use it. I discovered I had to true the stone first. I don’t know if this is common, it’s really not a big deal, but…

Here is what I did.

I took my Wheel Dresser and held it square to the wheel. The Wheel was slightly oval shaped not round. I want the wheel dresser to only make contact on the high spots. If you are doing it correctly, you should hear a faint tic, tic, tic. If the wheel dresser is moving at all you are pressing too hard and the dresser is just following the shape of the wheel. It’s a bit of a slow process, and the more you rush it, the less effective it is. I’m showing this one handed, but that is just because there’s a tripod in the way. This is a very precise two handed procedure. It’s not hard if you take your time.

From there, you need to true the sides.

Through the whole process I could feel the grinder start to settle down. It’s encouraging to see the progress, and I decided to go after the left wheel. That side was a little more tricky, because it didn’t come with a tool rest for that side. For that side, I just used the edge of the guard. Actually it wasn’t any harder, you just need something stable to rest the tool on. In the end, with the wheels trued, this tool just hums along. It’s fairly quiet, and the rubber feet are all it needs to stay in place. You can take my miter saw, and you can take my table saw, but make a move to snatch my grinder, and you may just find a 1/4″ chisel sticking out of your forehead…


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