The Ultimate Grinding Rig
Grind more accurately with shop-made tool rests.
By Mario Rodriguez
Let's face it, the tool rests on most grinders just don’t
cut it. They may be fine for sharpening scissors or
lawnmower blades, but when it comes to woodworking
tools, forget it. They’re often too small and too hard
to adjust. In addition, they usually have to be set at an
awkward angle that’s really hard on your wrists.
You’re way better off making your own tool rests. I’ve
designed a pair that will give you accurate and consistent
results that can easily be repeated. Using these rests,
you’ll spend less time at the grinder. You’ll be able to
hone your tools and get back to work much faster.
My replacement tool rests will fit almost any grinder.
They’re fastened to a plywood base, rather than directly
to the grinder. This way, they can be positioned to
accommodate almost any machine. These rests are
designed to fit a 6" Delta grinder, but their dimensions are
easy to change for a different model or an 8" grinder.
Chisels and Plane Irons
Making a straight edge is the biggest problem most
woodworkers face when grinding chisels and plane
irons. That’s because most tools are wider than the
grinding wheel, so you have to slide the tool from side
to side to grind its whole face. That’s really hard to do
with a standard tool rest, but a cinch with this one.
The tool is securely clamped in a commercial tool
holder (see Source, below), which slides back and forth on
a long piece of electrical tubing. You can lift the holder
off the tube at any point to inspect your progress.
The second problem most woodworkers have with
a standard tool rest is fine-tuning the grinding angle.
Precisely matching an existing angle saves you lots of time
on the grinder. This tool rest is easy to adjust: To change
the grinding angle, you just move the rest in or out.
Note: Product availability and prices are subject to change.
Lee Valley Tools, leevalley.com, 800-871-8158,
Veritas Grinding Jig, #05M06.01.
Click any image to view a larger version.
The left tool rest is simply a piece of electrical tubing
mounted on a block. A Veritas tool holder fits it perfectly,
and can be slid back and forth or lifted off at any time.
To adjust the angle of the tool’s bevel, simply move
the tool rest in or out. A knob locks it in place.
Turning and Carving Gouges
Many gouges have a bevel that’s created by rotating
the tool, but making a smooth, even bevel is difficult
using a standard tool rest. Steadying the tool is
tricky. This extension arm makes the job much easier.
Just nest the end of the tool in the arm’s V-shaped
cradle, rotate the gouge, and you’re all set.
This arm accommodates gouges of all lengths.
It’s hinged in two places to give you maximum
flexibility in setting up your tool. Raising and lowering
the cradle makes major changes to the bevel angle;
to fine-tune the angle, you slide the arm in or out.
Caution: Always place the tool high up on the
wheel, as shown in the photo, and use light pressure.
The right-hand tool rest is an articulated arm. To create
a perfectly even bevel on a gouge, just rotate the tool.
The arm can be configured to handle tools of almost
Base (A) This is simply a piece of 3/4"
veneer-core plywood. The base will be
easier to pick up and move if you put
feet under its corners. Leave a margin
on either side of the base so you have
room to grip it. Use flat-head machine
screws to fasten the grinder to the
base; their heads go under the base, in
holes that are countersunk. Make sure
the grinder is square to the base, so
the tool rests will be easier to align.
Tool Rest (M) This is just a length of 3/4"
electrical metal tubing (EMT). To drill holes
for the mounting screws, first make a long,
V-shaped cradle in a 12" long block of
wood to support the tube. Drill the holes
using a drill press. Drill the smaller ones
first, all the way through the tube. Then,
drill larger holes to accommodate the
heads of the screws and your screwdriver.
Tower (B) This part supports the tool rest.
Measure your grinder to determine the
tower’s exact height. The tower should
hold the tube just above the axis of the
grinding wheel. The tower’s shape is
designed to nest as close as possible to
the grinder. You may have to alter the
shape to fit your machine. The semicircular
cutout that holds the tool rest is
actually the lower half of a hole. Make the
tower an inch or two extra tall, as shown
in the diagram. Drill the hole, then cut the
top of the tower at the indicated angle.
Sliding Platform and Guides (C &
D) Install the guides one at a time.
Bolt the grinder to the base first,
then center the sliding platform on
the grinder’s wheel. Make sure the
platform is square to the base and
clamp it in place. Fasten one guide next
to the platform, then place a piece of
notebook paper on the other side of the
platform, to use as a temporary shim,
and fasten the second guide in place.
Articulating Arm Assembly (E – L)
Maple is a good choice for these parts
because it’s hard, strong and machines
well. Glue up the articulating arm (F)
from four pieces in order to create a slot.