I'm considering buying a new sharpening system, either the Axminster Ultimate Edge Reverse or a Sorby Pro-Edge.

And I'm wondering about sharpening jigs, I've got chisels and woodturning tools, but I'd also like to put whichever system I buy to use on knives and possibly an axe. Some of that I could do free hand, but there seems to be jigs available for sharpening every type of edged tool and I wondered if anybody knows whether the different jigs are compatible between different systems?

For example, would an Axminster knife jig work on the sorby? Would a Tormek axe jig work on either? I've little experience with any sharpening equipment before, I just know I find doing it by hand laborious and challenging!

  • Something to consider: I sharpen chisels using Japanese water stones. I start with a 800 grit and then advance to 1200 and up to 3000 or even 6000 stones. The finished edges are sharp enough to shave hair off my arm (the classic test of a blade). Clearly you cannot get to this level with sanding belts.
    – Ashlar
    Aug 22 '19 at 23:04
  • If you want specific knowledge from users of both or either I think you'll be out of luck here. You'd be better off asking on one of the UK woodworking forums, there are at least a couple and they're very good and have much larger active memberships than here. My guess is that it's very unlikely jigs will be cross-compatible across all systems, and Tormek for one might go out of their way to make theirs not fit other systems. Tormek are like that, they have form for wanting to lock users into their already expensive kit and its associated (hugely overpriced) jigs and additions.
    – Graphus
    Aug 23 '19 at 7:05
  • Woodturning tools are one thing, everyone power-sharpens those. But were you planning on using the grinder for routine touchups of your bench chisels? This would be unusual and most would consider it preferable for a number of reasons to hone by hand (using a jig or completely freehand, doesn't matter either way).
    – Graphus
    Aug 23 '19 at 7:10
  • @Ashlar, in terms of edge refinement leather stropping belts are available for belt grinders. Also paper wheels are available, or MDF wheels can be made, that can be loaded with polish/compound for producing a shave-ready edge in seconds.
    – Graphus
    Aug 23 '19 at 7:13
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's really too broad to Answer concisely or definitively.
    – Graphus
    Mar 1 '20 at 14:11

Great question. There are in my mind about as many sharpener brands as there are any other class of tool out there. I agree that hand alignment (for me) is a pain, and I've got more fun things to do.

I'm a fan of Tormek and Wolverine as a Turner. Those jigs don't translate well. Other sharpeners are great too, but these seem to work a bit better for speed and accuracy without a lot of hand work.

I've found that most of the jigs haven't historically translated directly, but more recently manufacturers are creating options to use for example a Tormek jig on a Wolverine setup. So, keep an eye out and you may find nirvana.

You mention the Sorby which I see a lot of value. It seems to me, to run a bit hot especially compared to a Tormek which is water cooled. You pay for the water cooled in terms of mess and cleanup, but I would challenge anyone to beat its quickness and edge ability.

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    That's literally the first time I've seen someone describe a Tormek as quick :-D
    – Graphus
    Aug 30 '19 at 6:54
  • @Graphus, Sorry to hear that it's your first time. With Tormek's jigs, and I use a dry CBN wheel, I'm removing no more than hundredths of an inch unless it's a regrind situation. Still regrind on a slow speed (1750), then Tormek is faster than one would expect. The most important part is I don't have to let my tool sit for ten minutes to cool enough to handle safely. Sep 11 '19 at 18:16
  • "The most important part is I don't have to let my tool sit for ten minutes to cool enough to handle safely." But that's not a concern even with standard wheels and a normal grinder, you can just dunk the chisel in water periodically to cool IF necessary. (Before you say that's not advised, it cracks the steel etc. I'm aware of the theory.)
    – Graphus
    Sep 12 '19 at 6:12
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    Gah, there's no abusing of the steel going on, that's the point. Cooling in water has been standard workshop practice since before either of us were born. If dunking caused microcracking like some theorise thousands of woodworkers and machinists would have noticed it. And I submit that every source would caution against it, not just a scant one or two.
    – Graphus
    Sep 20 '19 at 7:46
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    There is literally no evidence for reasonable heat during grinding affecting overall tool steel strength or durability. Entire industries are built on tool steel behaviour that has to balance tool edge maintenance and removing waste material. The tiny amount of stress a home shop can put on an edge isn't even close to that. Other than actually burning an edge and wrecking the temper, moderate heat and quenching is just not proven to show any sort of measurable edge failure.
    – jdv
    Feb 29 '20 at 19:18

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