Work Scary Sharp

A tool that is blunt is worthless.  A blunt chisel is no better than a screwdriver where it comes to slicing timber. So keeping workshop tools sharp is a critical step.  There are many different methods for achieving a sharp tool, from the Scary Sharp (using increasing sandpaper grits), water stones, oil stones, grinders, diamond etc etc etc.

There is also a lot of overlap in many of the methods.  If you take a grinder, then genetically combine it with a Japanese waterstone, you get a Tormek T7.

Take a sharpening jig (such as the Veritas), then add your choice (and any combination of) sandpaper, oil stone, waterstone, diamond.

What about if you tried combining a grinder with sandpaper, and a sharpening jig?

You’d end up with the Work Sharp.

The Work Sharp has at its primary principle the Scary Sharp technique – using abrasive paper and working through the grits to achieve a mirror finish (and that means SHARP!)

The sandpaper is mounted to a circular disk of plate glass, and that in turn is spun, so the abrasive is bought to the tool, rather than the other way around (when hand-sharpening with a jig).  The tool is held in a static jig, and with an interesting twist, this is below the disk, rather than above.

There are two disks, and each has a different grit on it, so it is quick and easy to change through the 4 grits available.

Having the disk run horizontally is quite an asset, especially where it comes to flattening the back of the chisel.  And with the wide chisel addon, you have an opportunity to marry together a hand sharpening technique with a machine one, by using a Veritas Mk II directly on the Work Sharp.

There is no need to flatten the surface – a major benefit of the system, however the downside is you are using an abrasive surface that will need more regular replacement.

I gave it a quick try with a couple of really cheap chisels I have, and without much work, and next to no setup, achieved mirror surfaces front and back.

This was only a very quick play with this unit – a brief intro – I will get into it more when I find some extra time (will try to get a video to demo the process too).

At the moment, there are still about 3 of these available at Carbatec Melbourne, on special for $499 (normally $675) (not including the wide blade jig seen in the photos above, which is the flat metal shelf to the left of the sanding disk).  Being able to use the Veritas on the Work Sharp is interesting, but certainly not critical to the tool’s primary sharpening method.  Even without it, you can still sharpen a blade up to 2″ (50mm) wide.

More to come on this tool shortly!

5 Responses

  1. If you had to have only one, Tormek or Worksharp, which would you choose?

    • It is an interesting question, as there are a number of factors involved.

      Cost, versatility/flexibility, wear, speed

      If cost was the primary consideration, the Work Sharp is 1/2 the price of the Tormek T7 (although the T3 splits the difference).

      Versatility: the T7 has it all over the Work Sharp if you want a controlled cut on many different shaped tools. If you are happy with hand-shaped sharpening of turning tools (as is typical for wood turners who haven’t converted to Tormek that is), then the Work Sharp is better, the split disk where you can actually watch the surface being sharpened is rather effective. If you prefer a jig to accurately control the process, the T7. There are a whole bunch of jigs for the T7, but again the cost becomes a factor.

      Wear – as much as it is more work, I prefer a surface that wears and continues to cut, rather than one that wears out. Of course, if there was a diamond wheel for the Work Sharp, that would be a very interesting proposition. There is an aftermarket one for the Tormek, but it isn’t cheap!

      Speed: The water cooling of the Tormek is significantly more effective than the supposed ‘air cooling’ of the Work Sharp, which means the time the tool can spend in contact with the abrasive surface leads to an overall faster cut.

      How sharp is sharp? Something to explore further, but I’d be interested in seeing if the multiple grits of the Work Sharp achieves a better finish than the single grit of the Tormek (although granted it can be regraded, and then has a hone to produce the final finish). So more work to distinguish between the two on this point.

      I have been planning a big comparison of all the common sharpening methods which will be a fascinating exercise.

      However, to answer the question: choosing between the T7 and Work Sharp.

      With both in front of me in the shed, if I had to give up one, it is easy – I’d sacrifice the Work Sharp without much regret.

      However, if I had neither, and both were sitting in front of me in the shop, and my credit card was about to be handed over (and I hadn’d recently won lotto or gotten an inheritance), then the balance would swing towards the Work Sharp. But I’d know it was a compromise for financial reasons.

      • Thanks for the info stu ive been procrastinating about buying a sharpener, looks like theres no escaping the utility of a wetstone system.
        Totally off topic Ive been watchin Mark Bergs Fishing addiction and they use one of the same tunes you do in your video openings, i keep waiting for the “g’day welcome to stus shed” 🙂

  2. I have the WS 3000 and love it… so very simple..virtually no set up… just use it…

  3. Looks like a safe power tool, not a bad price.

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