How To Sharpen Wood Lathe Tools

The wood lathe is used nowadays for turning elements in almost every type of furniture. These include handles, brackets, legs, and many other parts. Once you’ve learned to operate the wood lathe, then you’ll find it easier to know how to sharpen wood lathe tools. One of the most daunting tasks you’ve dealt with when knowing about the basics of wood lathe is finding some accurately sharpened tools.

How To Sharpen Wood Lathe Tools

Even if you’ve bought the tools fresh and new recently, you need to sharpen them before usage. Otherwise, it wouldn’t turn the piece properly and would be quite frustrating to work with. If your tools are sharpened up to the requirements then it’ll cause fewer cracks, less broken pens with more perfection. In this blog, we’ll be suggesting some ways of sharpening wood lathe tools effectively.

Whether you are pen turning or working on something else, the process of sharpening lathe tools is pretty much the same.

Prepare the equipment & components

Initially while getting into sharpening the lathe tool, it is important to make sure that you’re armed with the protective equipment before working. Put on the goggles and wear those gloves to avoid any metal scrape hitting any part of your skin. Covering everything can give you a more carefree approach delivering unimaginable results.

Prepare the equipment components

Before picking out tools to be sharpened, it should be ensured that the bench grinder isn’t moving or rotating and is completely steady. Once it is still, you can set up your tools in the correct manner with the help of clamps by keeping your hands firm.

Choose Right Sharpening Angles

After getting started with the sharpening, you must know that every tool requires a different angle in which it needs to be sharpened, as all these tools have their specific angle of cutting. Everything in this domain depends on your skill level as beginners can have uneven angle placement while experts would know the exact points of angle.

Moreover, it also relies on the type of woodturning you’re going to perform with these tools. Like for gouges, you should maintain a 45 degree-angle giving you that round finish. Another tip is to start with a steeper angle and slowly decrease the angle as you get more familiar with the tools. It should be noted that if you put more effort into sharpening the tool then you don’t have to put in any extra effort in cutting the actual masterpiece with those tools.

Start Sharpening Slowly

As you’ve completed all the preprocessing steps then you can continue with sharpening the tools. You need to drag the desired tool against the wheel without keeping much contact. Don’t keep it any longer than 10 seconds as if you have kept the right amount of contact in between the wheel and tools as well as the angle is correct then you’ll see sparks originating as a result of dragging.

Start Sharpening Slowly

While the tool is being sharpened, you should gradually move it from right to left and wait for the spark patterns to burst. If done correctly, the sparks would only be seen on the edge.

Cool off & Repeat

You have to repeat the dragging and moving step for 10 seconds quite a few times after every 20 seconds. As constant dragging metal can make it extremely hot. So to cool it off, after you observe the tool to be sharp enough, you can just put it in the bowl of water.

Now after it’s completely cold, you have to repeat the process from the opposite side but this time you can increase the wheel rotation pace. However, make sure you give pause after every 5 seconds and don’t overly sharpen the tools as it’ll make them weak.

Things Required for Sharpening Wood Lathe Tools

Do you want to turn a big piece of wood or create a hollow effect into a wooden bowl? The sharpening process of every wood lathe tool would be similar. Before diving into the sharpening method, you’ll need to have some tools for a proper outcome causing less time and energy. Some of the equipment you’ll be needing to sharpen are as follows:

Sharpening Wood Lathe Tools


The first and foremost tool without which the sharpening won’t start is the grinder. You’ll be needing a 6 to 8 inches grinder as it’ll not only easily fit in between the lathe but also sharpen the tools quickly. After then you can take down the grinder to any bench, board, or any desk on which you work.

Safety Goggles & Rubber Gloves

Goggles are protective shields for your eyes to resist any sort of wood shavings or metal filling flying around into your eyes. Another safety element is the rubber gloves as you’re dealing with sharp objects, it gives you a strong grip. Moreover, as a result of vibration in the wood lathe, it’ll be steady being a safety option for your hands.

Wheel Dresser

There are many people who think of dressing grinding wheels as an occasional thing. However, for getting the maximum result with minimum effort, you must try out the multi-diamond T-bar.

Sharpening Jigs

Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an expert in sharpening, using jigs is mandatory for getting a constant and angled cut that delivers optimum sharpening.

Not only these but there are many other items that will come in handy during sharpening wood lathe tools including water, bowl, dry cloth, and lathe tools.

As we have reached the end of the blog, the following are some of the interesting questions asked by beginner woodturners.

Frequently Asked Questions

After how many months should you sharpen the wood lathe tools?

Sharpening wood lathe tools can depend on the usage, area, and the wood’s surface texture with which you’re working. Out of all of them, the most important aspect is the material you’re choosing. On average, if tools are in continuous progress then sharpening after every 30 minutes can keep the cut stable.

What is the right again to sharpen the woodturning tools?

It is important to keep the tool perpendicular to the wheel so you need to manage the edges at a right angle when sharpening tools. Moreover, the grinding angle should be maintained at 45 degrees for proper results.

What is the correct way to know that you need to sharpen the tools?

After some time you can observe your wood lathe tools getting dull or leaving uneven marks on the wood you’re carving. This is the sign that the tools must be sharpened.


Wood lathe tools can be used for the long run only if you take good care of them and give proper maintenance. Moreover, if you’ve accurately sharpened the lathe, then it’ll make woodturning simple and efficient by giving a precise and angled cut.

Learning about the tools and sharpening procedures can increase the lifespan and reduce any sort of risks or dangers. One of the biggest advantages that can be gained by sharpening the tools yourself is cost-effectiveness. So, don’t think of it as a detailed and technical task as if you know the functionality of the tools, you will be more likely to sharpen them smoothly.

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