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Shiny Doesn't Mean Sharp

Randy Anderson

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I have an issue sharpening my tools that has frustrated me for quite a while and I believe is causing me to work with dull gouges more than I realize. I'm using the wolverine jig, 8" grinder, 180 grit CBN wheel, 1 7/8 projection. I don't sharpen with handles on the steel. When I sharpen I will often notice that one side will be ground to the edge while the other misses hitting the edge. Usually the left edge misses but sometimes the right. I've attempted different positions on the jig but have never isolated what I'm doing wrong. It's less common on my 5/8 U shaped flute gouge. I usually keep the heels ground down more than you see in the attached pics but was working on the edge a few times so the heel is not ground here. It's as if there is a very slight variation in how the gouge seats in the bottom of the jig when I tighten it down. A slight tilt to one side or the other perhaps? For now I'm putting sharpie marks on every time I sharpen to be sure I get the edge. It's easy to think since it's shiny it's sharp but if you look very close you could still see sharpie color just along the edge - not sharp. In the two pics you can see first pass - more blue, second pass - less blue. Third pass was not blue but then I'm not sure I really got a good edge. I've adapted by simply making multiple passes on the missed side but believe that isn't giving me a really sharp edge. I can actually tell sometimes when I grab a "sharp" gouge and know right away it's not.
  • My technique for rolling side to side is off?
  • My setup vs the curvature of the 8" wheel over time creates a curve that makes it harder to get the edge?
  • Slight tilt to one side or the other when tightening the jig?
  • Why would it be in the middle of the edge and not the entire edge?
  • Too much curve in the wing?
 

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Hmm, I am wondering if it has to do with how fast you are rolling the tool. With a V flute, you have to roll quickly through the transition area or you get a dip in the edge. With a half round flute shape, you roll at the same speed through the whole process. With a parabolic flute, you may want to roll a bit quicker through the transition area. The area that is showing the ink may need just a bit more time on that part, or a slower roll rate. One of the things I talk about when I do platform sharpening.

robo hippy
 
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I relieved the bottom of the jig leg so it had a smother pivoting action in the V pocket. I found that the jig leg would stick, then drop ever so slightly back down into the pocket, almost imperceptible, but annoying. I'm sure you've checked that the V pocket does not move when locked in place, I'm thinking along the lines of a few little things causing this one big thing. (Big being relative)
 
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I think Clifton may be onto something. The square end of jig in the pyramid shaped pocket will prevent a totally smooth roll. A little sanding or filing of the pointy end to make it round might solve that.

Another possibility is that you are positioning yourself a little to one side or the other of the wheel, as we all do, and when you roll, you are unknowingly applying a little less pressure in the center of that one wing. As Reed pointed out and John Lucas shows in his excellent video on sharpening problems, time is the other factor that can affect how much steel is removed, and you may be a little faster on one side. It's like when we roll beads--one side is rarely exactly the same shape as the other, unless you really work at it--speed of roll vs. speed of raising the handle is just a little different going one direction than the other.
 

Randy Anderson

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Thanks. A few things to try already. While I'm sure "technique" is part of my issue I think there is more to it than that. All it would take is a very very slight difference in timing or how the square end of the jig rides through the V pocket to create the problem. First step is to examine and smooth out the end of the jig leg to give it smoother ride. Then try paying closer attention to rate and pressure. Bad thing about jigs that can fool you, they don't take all of the skill requirements out of using something.

I saw in a video on the use of it, forget which one, someone say remember - all it does is set the angle, you're still responsible for the shape.
 
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Timothy Allen

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Is the gouge seating "level" in the jig, or is it twisted to one side versus the other?

Is the jig bent? (seems unlikely, but who knows....) In other words, is the tip of the gouge, the bottom of the jig's leg, and the main body of the jig (and thus the rest of the gouge) all in the same plane?

Just trying to think through some possible sources of systematic error....
 
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I have the exact same set up (except handles are on my tools when I sharpen them) and I see the same thing...sometimes the sides will sharpen unevenly. One gets shiny to the edge on one or two passes, the other takes more passes. Although in my case it's the whole side that takes more passes to sharpen, not just the center of the wing.

I haven't tried very hard to figure it out; I just make more passes on the side that needs it. But I suspect the cause is the gouge not being seated in the jig exactly the same way each time.

How are you setting the projection (1 7/8" stickout) when you put the gouge in the jig? For a while I was using a fixture from Doug Thompson that was a 3/4" diameter hole bored into a block of aluminum. You would push the gouge to the bottom of the hole, then bring the Wolverine jig up to the edge of the block and tighten it. I found that the 3/4" hole was too sloppy and couldn't get the gouge seated consistently in the jig. The stick out length and the side to side even-ness that you're talking about both varied more than I liked. I changed to a different way set the stick out that improved things, but didn't eliminate the occasional side to side variation. So I'm watching this thread with interest.

Another thing to check is the part of the Wolverine jig that attaches to the base. (The part with the handle to lock down the vee arm.) Makes sure it is screwed down tight to the base. The screws came loose once for me and that made the whole thing shift slightly when I swung the gouge. And made sharpening a wild ride until I figured it out.
When I sharpen I will often notice that one side will be ground to the edge while the other misses hitting the edge. Usually the left edge misses but sometimes the right.
 

Randy Anderson

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Mark, I'll double check my setup alignment from the jig platform to the wheel. That said, if it wasn't square I would think I would get the "miss" consistently on one side. Maybe not.

Dave, first I'm glad to see (not for you) that someone else sees the same thing. With the thousands of people using this thing I was wondering if I was alone. I have a suspicion that it's more common than folks realize. If you start using the sharpie mark on it before sharpening it's easy to see the faint ink mark left sometimes on the edge which means - still dull. Easy to miss that one edge just isn't quite being sharpened right. I have a block of hardwood screwed down 1 7/8" from the edge of my bench. Put the steel in the jig, lay it down on the side of the bench and press in till it touches the block then tighten. I did start tightening the knob on the jig a bit tighter thinking it wasn't pressing firm enough on the steel. All it would take is a very very slight tilt in the gouge not being perfectly centered in the groove in the jig to cause it. Checked for grooves or dents in the plastic block on the knob - seems OK. I did notice an improvement when I stopped sharpening with handles on which leads me to suspect some of it is technique.
 
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I agree with Clifton, the pivot point of the jig needs to be rounded/domed such that it truly pivots and doesnt slightly shift. The tool/jig being in a different orientation to the wheel, side to side, as it is rotated is a factor, along with time and force applied.

one thing you might try for telling whether you have ground to the edge is to feel the burr on the inside of the flute. That’s what I use to tell me if I have ground enough around the edge.
 

hockenbery

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You know the problem - sharpening one side more than the other.
I like @Clifton C suggestion. The sharp corners on a new varigrind can cause the pivot point to rotate off center.

removing the edge with sandpaper or the grinder will let it roll side to side in one spot in the vee pocket.
you should be able to test it without a tool. If it feels real smooth it is good. If it sort of clicks it needs more work.

the other thing is not clamping the tool straight and square. The clamping mechanism should center the tool straight.
however if you are holing the tool off line while clamping it you can get it to clamp out of true.
if you clamp it out of true exactly the same everything it would grind fine but slightly a symetrically which you wouldn’t notice.
 
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I think Dave might might be onto something. So, here is what I did. Put gouge in jig normal way. Ground till nice little burr inside edge. Colored bevel w/ sharpie, then, without taking gouge out of jig, as lightly as I could, made one pass over the wheel. and, as might be expected, all traces of sharpie were gone.
Next, removed gouge from jig, recolored Bevel, placed gouge back in jig but set stick out with a piece of card stock (measured at .011") between jig face and depth hole. With this setting, made another light pass over the wheel and here are the results... I had to try it again just to be sure... same results. Not saying that this is the problem, but it might be part of the problem.
And a pic of rounded end of arm...
 

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Roger Wiegand

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With ceramic wheels the trick is to watch the trail of sparks, it goes under the tool until you get to the edge, and at that instant it starts coming over the top you stop because you're just wasting tool after that. (One of the few advantages of stone wheels!) You can do the same thing with a CBN wheel, but it is much more subtle. If you look closely with a good light you will see a trail of black particles and the occasional spark coming around the wheel. When that trail starts coming over the top of the edge you are sharpening you've reached the edge. Then hold the tool up to a strong light and look for "glints" along the edge. If you see any bright spots the edge isn't fuly sharp yet.

The large area you have strongly suggests you aren't exactly re-creating the sharpening angle when putting the tool back into the jig. I'd look into the various mechanical stops that allow you to precisely reposition the V-arm and the tool extension. And check the rotation in the tool holder. Filing small flats on the top of the gouge wings to help it register in the tool holder might help, they won't affect future sharpening) Plus what the folks above have already advised.
 
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Interesting.. I never knew there were such problems with the vari-grind jig.. Because I am cheap, I made a home-made version of the vari-grind (and the wolverine base) out of wood.. and Mine works beautifully, consistent grinds every time.. I figured it would "do the job" well enough until I had extra "toy money" to buy the wolverine system.. now I wonder if I should even bother (although I do want to get a "real" grinder.. I just adapted my configuration to use my old Oregon lawnmower blade grinder with the "ruby" wheel .. it's very coarse so I don't get the grind I am happy with, end up honing quite a bit when I need a keener edge) but it works great for me...
 
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I think Dave might might be onto something. So, here is what I did. Put gouge in jig normal way. Ground till nice little burr inside edge. Colored bevel w/ sharpie, then, without taking gouge out of jig, as lightly as I could, made one pass over the wheel. and, as might be expected, all traces of sharpie were gone.
Next, removed gouge from jig, recolored Bevel, placed gouge back in jig but set stick out with a piece of card stock (measured at .011") between jig face and depth hole. With this setting, made another light pass over the wheel and here are the results... I had to try it again just to be sure... same results. Not saying that this is the problem, but it might be part of the problem.
And a pic of rounded end of arm...
I must be extra dense because I'm not getting what you did with the card stock. Can you clarify how you set the stick out that reproduced the issue?
 
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I noticed the same problem with my varigrind when I started sharpening on a 320 CBN wheel. I figured it was the plastic on the varigrind clamp was grooved for previous use so the gouge would sit at slightly different angles of rotation based on how it was sitting in the “bumpy” white plastic pad. I never noticed before because the AO wheels removed more metal whereas the new CBN removed only a little metal so the variance showed.

I solved the problem by putting a mark on the plastic pad in the varigrind jig so now then placing the gouge in the jig I make sure the mark is always visible in the same spot. Now my gouge sits in the grooved pad the same way each time and usually one or two passes does the trick nice and even.

see if it works for you, as I thought I was the only one to have this problem and was too embarrassed to post the question.
 

Dennis J Gooding

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Frankly, I would be surprised for several reasons if both sides of the gouge came to the same sharpness if it is sharpened in a series of full passes from wing to wing. First of all, the gouge probably was dulled on one wing more than the other in any given turning session and thus needs more grinding to attain sharpness. Second, the operator probably cannot apply exactly the same pressure over the full swing. Third, depending on the jig and the care used in tightening the gouge in the jig, there may be a slight rotational error between the flute and the jig.

The obvious solution, it seems to me, is to not swing the gouge wing to wing when sharpening, but to treat each wing separately, and to true up the nose if necessary. At least it works for me.
 
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Before I would look at anything else I would remove the bottom of the gouge so that you are sharpening only about an 1/8" or less.
 
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Dean, I was using the card stock as a "constant" shim stock, in case I wanted to recreate the experiment. Dave Bunge post #8 set me on this path. I was showing what the results would be if the tool stick out length was off by a little bit, in this case the thickness of the card stock, replicating what might happen if the vari-grind jig wasn't square to the depth gauge. Some bad pics. The first showing the setup, the second with the card, simulating what would happen if the gouge was not seated properly. In this case, off by an extra .011 of an inch.
The results seem to match what Randy shows in his first post.
 

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Dave Landers

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I get the same thing, sometimes. Generally one wing and not the other. But not always the same wing. I can see it as a "shadow" of un-fresh cut, don't do the sharpie thing.

I have modified my wolverine so that I don't use the V, but have a delrin block with a countersink hole for the end of the varigrind. The V arm that's on never changes position. And when I initially set the gouge in the veri-grind, I then loosen and re-tighten it just to get it seated better.

I sort of assume, since it shows up on one wing it is something about how the gouge sits in the vari-grind. The rotation of the gouge in the jig is only controlled by that plastic disk on the edges of the flute. Could easily be some uneven surface there that lets the gouge rotate slightly each time. Could also be me - differences in pressure or timing.

The interesting thing about any of the reasons is that it is not necessarily the "current" setup - could have been the previous sharpening that was "wrong", and the current sharpening is "fixing it".

I don't worry about it too much. Just sharpen till it's done.

IMG_5091.jpeg
 

Randy Anderson

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Thanks all. There is comfort in not being alone with a problem. Seeing your pics looking just like what I see helps. This morning I took a file and slightly rounded the tip of the jig to make sure no corners were causing slight bumps in the rotation. Not sure they were but seemed logical they could. For now I'm going to pay closer attention to my hands when rotating and keep the sharpie nearby. It's 90% of the time on the left of the gouge so I have no doubt that my hand pressure and grip play a role since I'm right handed. I think it's too easy to get complacent in thinking the jig does it, just hang on to it. Even with a jig you have to pay attention to the outcome and adjust. I have other jigs for my bandsaw, table saw and router and even those require you to pay attention and work with them. Can't just hang on and push.

If all else fails I could just learn to freehand sharpen.
 
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Glad to see this post, as I've run into same issue, with a white wheel, not CBN. The delrin washer trick mentioned above is one I'll try as a countermeasure.
 
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Like others I have seen that problem. However any slight change in any of the settings will affect the end result. It is a matter of the material remove being enough to overcome an inexact setup. When I used the OneWay Vari-grind it seem to happen a lot. When I switched to the Vector grind it is seldom, but still happens. With the Vari-grind it didn’t help that I was using a wood set block for the extrusion. The Vector grind has a metal set block and pivots in a dimpled hole like Dave’s modified Delrin block, only metal.
 
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