Saturday, February 12, 2011

Granite Tile Sharpening Station

I think I've mentioned a couple of times that I am setting up a hand tool woodworking shop at my new school. So far, making our workbenches has been the dominant project. My students have been learning how to saw and glue up the bench tops. We're about ready to start planing the tops flat and smooth, so it's time to sharpen up some planes!

We'll be using the Scary Sharp system, but since space is at a premium in the school shop, I decided not to make a dedicated bench station like I have at home. I also didn't want to use glass plates. What I needed was a movable station, that could temporarily sit on a bench, with granite tiles to hold the abrasive sheets.

Here's what I came up with, as well as the tool kit used to make it:

So far it has worked great! The tiles might not be as flat as glass, but I haven't noticed a difference in the results. I'm also experimenting with a non-toxic spray adhesive for bonding the abrasive sheets to the granite. I've always used, and hated, the standard spray adhesives, which work very well, but are extremely nasty. I'm hoping this new product works out (it bonds well, my only concern at this point is how long it will last).


  1. At my first look at this I thought this is awesome. I might try to incorporate this setup in my workshop. Kudos for teaching hand tool woodworking to kids.

  2. What is the non-toxic spray you're trying?

  3. Looks great! I would love to have a dedicated sharpening station. What brand sand paper are you using? I haven't found a brand that holds up very well.

  4. RJB - Thanks! If you rigged up a way to trap the tiles, such as rabbets in the dividers, you could even hinge it and have it fold down from the wall. Hmm.

    Jim B - It's called Sulky KK 2000, which is just a silly name! It's really a temporary adhesive for fabric, but so far it is lasting just fine under the abrasive sheets. I think it breaks down due to air contact, which doesn't really happen under the sheets.

    It's on the expensive side, something like $17 for a little can, but is completely non-toxic and has virtually no odor.

    I'll post an updated comment on longevity after a few more weeks.

    Adam - The coarse grits always give out in my experience, but I only use them for heavy reshaping.

    I'll have to check, but I'm pretty sure it is mostly 3M Wet/Dry, with the exception of the high end grits (1000 - 2000). Those are some brand I found at NAPA with Richard Petty on it! Scary Sharp NASCAR style! Son of a Gun!

  5. Non-toxic adhesives: This may sound silly -- but (as the father of twin 3-year-olds) how about imitation maple syrup? Or a concentrated mix of Kool-Aid and water?


  6. Gye - I love it! They would have to be sprayable though, at least I think that is required for a perfectly smooth application. Now you've got me thinking!

  7. Heh! :)

    Pragmatically, would the variations in thickness of an application of honey, corn syrup, or etc. be enough to disrupt a blade being sharpened correctly? Esp. if, immediately upon applying the sandpaper to the sticky granite, you roll a broomstick-diameter dowel across it a few times (like a rolling pin).


  8. Great idea, Dan! All your Hancock pics look great too.

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