by Kent Lewis
I spent a few years looking at some pretty crusty plane irons and chisels, tried sharpening them with conventional stones and old-school methods, but I was not satisfied with the dubious results that I was getting. So, I did some research on sharpening systems and came across Work Sharp’s WS-3000 Woodworking Tool Sharpener. It promised consistent and accurate sharpening of the tools that I use in boat building and restoration, so I bought it to give it a trial run.
The Work Sharp WS-3000 is a dry sharpening system that uses air cooling while sharpening, avoiding the mess of a wet system. The high-torque 1/5-hp motor turns the wheel at just 580 rpm, which keeps tool heat down during sharpening. The WS-3000 has a cast-aluminum top and a sheet-metal housing, yet it has substantial weight to minimize vibration. It has four tabs for mounting the machine on a benchtop, but the machine doesn’t vibrate enough to walk across the bench, so it’s not necessary to bolt it down.
Chisels and plane irons up to 2″ wide rest beneath the wheel on an adjustable guide that incorporates fan-forced airflow to take heat away from the tool being sharpened. This sharpening rest allows precise, repeatable bevel selections of 20, 25, 30, and 35 degrees for chisels and plane irons up to 2″ wide. Another feature of this “plunge-pull” sharpening port is a 2″-square pressure-sensitive-adhesive (PSA) P400 ceramic oxide abrasive patch on the port’s tool rest that removes the burr that curls away from the tool’s bevel. It hones both sides of the tool in a single operation, speeding up the process.
The WS-3000 works quickly and is easy to use. The face of the horizontal sharpening wheel provides more sharpening surface than that of a vertical wheel system. The kit comes with two tempered glass wheels with flat and true surfaces on which to attach various PSA abrasive discs. Different grits of PSA abrasive discs are included; we set our wheels up with 120, 400, 1,000, and micro-mesh 3,600. Finer grits and a leather strop wheel are also available. A crepe-rubber stick is included to clean the abrasive discs. The glass wheels are changed out with the twist of one knob, which makes it easy to start with a coarse grit to remove nicks in a blade and then put a fine edge on it.
The kit also comes with an “Edge-Vision See-Through Slotted Wheel”. The slots, when matched with the same pattern of slots on the abrasive disks, allow observation while sharpening so I don’t have to remove the tool repeatedly to check progress. That makes the job not only faster and easier but lets you know when to stop.
On top of the WS-3000 there is an adjustable tool rest for sharpening blades wider than 2″ and the curved blades of gouges.
I like using hand planes and chisels, but I’ve never acquired the skill and patience required to get good results with sharpening stones. The WS-3000 helps me keep my woodworking tools at a respectable level of sharpness with minimum effort.
Kent Lewis and his wife Audrey have a small fleet of boats in Florida, having built a Penobscot 14 and restored many other wooden boats. They blog about their adventures in their blog .
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