Woodworkers know how important it is to use sharp hand tools, both from a quality and a safety perspective. We also know how challenging it can be to get razor-sharp tools, especially if we’re new to the intricacies of sharpening and honing. There are many approaches to sharpening plane blades, chisels and other edges, and deciding on which one to use for your workshop can be confusing.
I had a chance to check out the Work Sharp WS3000 recently. It’s a system that uses a series of abrasives to grind, sharpen and hone an edge. I’ve always been a stone user, so this approach was a bit different for me. Also new to me was the fact that my hands weren’t what was powering and moving the edge that was being sharpened.
A low-speed rotating disc helps make using this system a snap. An easily adjusted surface positions the tool at either 20°, 25°, 30° or 35° to the abrasive, and the user lightly presses the tool into the underside of the rotating disc. An adjustable metal guide gently guides the tool and keeps it perpendicular. Using this guide, the bevel of a blade is sharpened on the underside of the disc, then the tool’s back is flattened on the upper face of the disc, freehand.
It’s very easy to set up, and I was sharpening a chisel edge within a few minutes. After applying the four included grits to either side of the two supplied round glass plates, then installing the coarsest grit face up, I was ready to flatten the back of a dull chisel. After about 10 seconds I flipped the disc over to start work on the bevel. The adjusted metal guide held the chisel while the rotating abrasive ground my edge to a perfect 25° angle with virtually no effort on my part. When the bevel was ground, I moved onto the next grit. In a matter of a few minutes I had completed the process. Now the moment of truth — testing the edge by cutting end-grain spruce. Wafer-thin shavings were easy to remove and no fibres were crushed. I finally had no excuse not to have all of my chisels and plane irons razor-sharp and constantly at the ready.
Although many attachments are available so you can easily sharpen lots of other household items, I didn’t have any of them. I was still able to easily sharpen large and small pocket knives, as well as a large kitchen knife. I’m sure a jig would have made the process even faster and more accurate, but a steady hand and even approach was all I needed to be slicing through paper in no time.
The only real downside I can see to this system is the need for adhesive abrasive papers to allow for frequent, fast and efficient sharpening. This isn’t a deal breaker for me, though, as the papers supplied with the system seem to be of good quality and new ones aren’t prohibitively expensive. I would suggest having a few extra discs of each grit around. You should also use the included crepe to remove debris from the discs during use, as this will extend the life of the abrasives.
This sharpening system is easy to use, virtually foolproof, can be used to sharpen many shop and household edges, and does a great job at giving the user a keen edge. The Work Sharp WS3000 will go a long way to taking the confusion out of sharpening, and making sharp edges appear in workshops coast to coast.