Based on favorable comments and reviews in this group and others, I recently
purchased a Veritas Power Sharpening System. After having used it for a
couple of weeks and sharpening every tool I could find with a cutting edge
(it's so easy), I'm convinced that I made the right choice. It produces an
edge that cuts as well or better than any I've been able to obtain with my
oil, or water stones, in a fraction of the time. I also like the fact
that's it's a dry system, so I don't have to contend with the oil / water
mess, which in my small shop is a huge plus!
That said I'm having trouble obtaining a micro-bevel that's exactly parallel
to the primary bevel. This in no way affects the sharpness of the edge, but
when it comes time to re-sharpen, I'm forced to remove more metal than would
otherwise be necessary to get back to the primary bevel.
As an example, on a 1 5/8” wide plane blade, the micro bevel on one end is
nearly 1/16” wide while the bevel on the opposite end is barely perceptible.
One thing that I find very interesting is that the bevel is always heavier
on the left side of the blade. This occurs even if I run the tool holder
and blade on the opposite side of the platter.
I'm wondering if anyone else has had a similar problem and found a solution.
I've talked to the folks at Lee Valley and they've been more than
cooperative and helpful. They've even gone so far as to ship me new
platters and media, in case mine were out of spec. Unfortunately, that
didn't solve the problem. I'm starting to wonder if maybe my technique is
at fault, or my expectations are too high.
Here are a few additional details:
- Both 3mm and 4mm platters are flat within .001 inches (when running there
is slight wobble (~.003) but this is consistent between platters.
- The tool bar is parallel to the platters - I have checked this several
- There are no air bubbles between the media and platter (LV suggested
applying the PSA disks under water and even though this sounds
strange, it works great - zero air bubbles)
Try using pinpoint finger pressure to apply more pressure at the right front
corner of the blade to make the micro bevel parallel.
Also check the blade when clamped in the carrier with a square to make sure
it remains squared.
The blade is absolutely square to the holder and the final edge is square to
the side of the blade. I have tried to apply pinpoint pressure to the right
side of the blade as you suggest and although this helps, it's kind of hit
or miss. It most often results in a MB that's kind of barrel shaped, with
the right and left sides being deeper than the center. I'm starting to
wonder if the tool holder may somehow be out of alignment, even though I
don't have super accurate way to measure this.
I think you're concentrating on something the wood doesn't know or care
about just because you can see it. It's cosmetic, not functional. The
difference in edge deflection, if you buy something from Ed to measure it,
would be in the tens of thousandths if that, and well within the elasticity
of the wood you're planing. If it works, don't look.
If you don't get an answer to your problem here, you might want to contact
Lee Valley customer service. It's unusual for them not to be able to suggest
proper procedures for the use of their products.
I don't see how the system could not have assymetric sharpening. I
claim that with even pressure on each side, you will get a different
amount of metal removal. Here's my thughts:
The edge fartherest from the center of the disc, has more sandpaper go
under it. I assume Veritas/Lee Valley engineers have shown the
difference is neglible. Let me see if I can rough out a calculation:
Assume the width of the blade in an inch and a half.
Assume the inner edge of the blade is 3 inches from the center (r = 3).
The outer edge is then 4.5 inches from the center (r + 1.5).
Assume the disk is rotating at 600 RPM.
The inner part of the blade passes over 2 * pi * r * 600 inches = 11310
inches per minute.
The outer part passes over 2 * pi * (r + 1.5) * 600 = 16965 inches per
Thus the outer edge experiences 16965/11310 * 100 = 50% more!
Am I wrong? If so, how?
On Dec 2, 11:37 pm, email@example.com wrote:
You are quite correct though, in this case, it really doesn't matter as it
happens the same way no matter what side of the wheel he sharpens on. The
real question is, why put the micro bevel on in the first place? The only
reason for a micro bevel is to save time when resharpening. During the
initial edge formation, there is no need for it. If it were me, after
initial sharpening on the machine, I would do any touch ups by hand. Only
when the micro bevel got to large would I go back to the machine. Of course,
I wouldn't use the machine in the first place but that's up to him.
You are exactly right. I initially wrote very favorable reviews about
the system on this forum, but after several years, have become
I found that over time, the right side of all of my blades were ground
down much more than the left. (The instructions suggest using the
right side of the disk, which is why the right was always worn down
more.) I suggest putting a square up to each blade. I found that
every blade -- plane, chisel, etc. was shorter on the right than the
left. They all had a consistent arc.
After spending a bunch of time trying to adjust things to get it right,
I finally just gave up. The courser the paper on the disk, the worse
the blade gets out of square. The 80x blue disks is the worst
offender. I am convinced this is a design problem and not a setup
problem because I checked that the disk (with paper applied) was flat
and found that if I move the blade to the other side of the disk, the
left side will be ground more than the right.
It seemed to me that the problem gets worse as the paper dulls. That
may be because the outermost grit is not used as much as the inner. It
seems counterintuitive, but as I use the machine, I move the blade back
and forth, so the outermost edge of the disk gets hit very
infrequently. If you see sparks on the 80x on the outside, but not the
inside, then you know for sure the outer is sharper than the inner.
The sharper grit on the outside exacerbates the problem because that
part of the disk is sharper *and* traveling faster. I think the system
works much better with sharp paper and that's why at first the system
seems great, but it gets worse and worse. It doesn't take long for the
paper to be dull enough to achieve this effect.
On a chisel that is 1" or less, it usually isn't a big deal, but with a
2" plane blade, the difference is pretty significant and you end up
using up a lot of the 9 micron paper trying to get the edge all the way
across. You may be able to work around this problem by switching the
blade back and forth between the left and the right sides. Of course
the blade will be crowned, but many people see that as an advantage.
As I mentioned before, I finally just gave up. Lately I have been
doing the bulk of the "grinding" with 60 grit Norton 3x paper on glass
and then finish up with 3M abrasives, each at a higher microbevel. I
made very simple sharpening jigs based on the designs on Brent Beach's
website and everything seems to be going well. When I started on the
60 grit, I was amazed at how much metal I had to remove to get the
bevel square again.
We'll see what I say in a few years...
In your experience with the machine, did you also have problems with the
primary and micro bevels not being parallel, or simply the fact that your
blades were being ground out of square?
After reading your comments, I'm inclined to think that my problem may be
due to the different rates of abrasive wear between the coarse disks and the
9 micron disk used to apply the micro bevel. If the relative rate of
abrasive wear at the disk circumference was slightly greater on the coarse
disks than on the 9 micron disk, the effect would be exactly as I've
observed. As I think about it, the problem gets worse as the abrasives
wear. This would be consistent with your observations. The only problem is
that it doesn't explain why the micro bevel seems to always be greater on
the left side of the blade, no matter which side of the platter I run it on.
I'm going to recheck that tomorrow; my observations may have been in error.
Sorry, yes, the primary and micro bevels were not parallel. The course
abrasives take off material faster than the fine abrasives, so more of
the right side of the blade is taken off by the course. When you move
to the fine abrasive, it is trying to "catch up" and remove material
from the left to make the blade even. At least that's what I think is
There is also another factor here. The jig that holds the blade
registers against the back of the blade. (That is correct because
otherwise they would have to account for the blade thickness to set the
angle properly.) If you tighten the jig too much, you can deform the
jig and make the bevels not parallel, even with sharp abrasives. There
is an extensive discussion of that in the instructions.
Here is an experiment I would try: On either the 80x or the 100 micron
abrasive, grind on the left and the right side of the disk. You can
clearly see the scratches made by each because they will be at
different angles. Make the scratches meet roughly in the middle of the
blade. Then move to the 9 micron and do the same thing. Using this
technique, you may be able to get a micro-bevel all the way across. If
that method works, then it would seem that this is an issue with the
abrasives. If it doesn't, then it might be the jig.
I read with much interest your analysis below. Though I'm not sure I
I got the Veritas power sharpener several months ago and have been
wrestling with this problem since day one: the cutting edge is simply
not square to the side edge of a blade. (To the original poster,
Woodworker1, I do not put micro bevels on my blades.)
I have determined that the problem is that the tool/blade holder flexes
and therefore the blade just does not contact the platter flat. If you
register the blade against one shoulder of the holder versus the other
shoulder, the un-squareness also shifts to the other side of the blade.
Try this: mount a blade (say 1.5 inches wide) in the tool holder and
set the entire thing on a flat surface so that the blade cutting edge
and the holder legs contact the table. Then tighten up the clamp nuts:
you can see one blade corner lift up off the tabletop. If you shift
the blade to square it against the opposite shoulder on the holder and
tighten the clamp up, then the other side of the blade lifts up off the
table. So, even though the blade is exactly square to the tool holder,
the entire holder is flexing.
It is true that the outboard part of the blade (nearer the outside of
the platter) is seeing higher tangential velocities. However, as long
as the blade contacts the platter flat, this is not an issue.
I went back and forth with Veritas customer service about this and they
kept saying that I was over tightening the clamp bar. I said that I
was only tightening as much as necessary so that the blade does not
shift during the sharpening process. Ultimately they could not help
me. I am really not happy with either the sharpener or Lee Valley's
response. Though I 'm not sure what I expected from them. If what I
say is true, then the entire tool holder needs to be re-designed. If
not actually re-designed, then at least seriously beefed up,
Mark Wells wrote:
Even if the holder is perfect, how could you ever overcome the problem
I mentioned in my earlier post on this topic? The outer edge sees a lot
more paper than the inner edge so you'll always have asymmetry...
Unless somehow the pressure on the outer edge is lightened up to
perfectly compensate for the extra papaer it sees (that'd be difficult,
I don't think that this is true. As long as the blade holder holds the
blade perfectly flat to the abrasive platter, how can the blade be
ground out of square ?
Yes the outboard side of the blade does see a greater platter
velocitiy, or as you put it: the blade sees extra paper. Agreed. But as
long as the blade is held rigid, flat and in its original geometry
relative to the platter, the entire length along the bevel must be
Maybe, one way maybe to think of it is: even though the outer edge of
the blade wants to be ground at a faster rate, the opposite end of the
blade, the inner end (where grinding is going slower) is holding up the
rest of the blade, up off the paper. So the entire bevel eventually
gets ground down to the same level.
Now if the blade holder deforms, as I maintain, then you get crap.
Never Enough Money wrote:
It sounds logical, but as I picture it, the one corner wears faster,
and to hold it rigid you have to do so without the edge near the
center. This seem unstable like a 4-legged chair with one leg shorter
than the others.
Sending unsolicited commercial e-mail to this account incurs a fee of
$500 per message, and acknowledges the legality of this contract.
Yes, exactly. As long as someone or something (the tool/blade holder)
firmly holds the chair in its original orientation with the 3 longer
legs in contact with the ground, the one shorter leg cannot contact the
ground until the 3 longer legs are all equally shortened or ground down.
No, the tool holder must be a constant distance across the highest point of
the paper or stone. The Makita directions I mentioned refer to it when they
say take the edge off the stone and cut uphill by tilting the rest. Where
you've ground already needn't be a drag on the stone or grit, you're done
with it, and would rather it grabbed air.
The obsession with flat abrasives and holders is nice, but if you pass the
blade across a 1/16 wide jeweler's blade at a consistent distance, you'd get
a straight edge. Don't take the work away from the holder by pressing into
the stone, that's honing. This is still grinding.
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