Sharpening On The Road – Portable Tool Sharpening Station

Sharpening On The Road

When I use my portable mini lathe “On Location” I sharpen my lathe tools before I leave. The problem is that all these tools get dull as I use them. My grinder is nice but not portable.

So what can I do? Keep using dull tools? Use my diamond hone more? Try some way to use a flat wetstone.

While at a workshop, I brainstormed this problem with Kirk DeHeer.

Plan A was to mount a 6 inch grinding wheel (80 grit) on a 5/8″ bolt that is mounted to a four jaw chuck. This worked except that there was a lot of runout.

Plan B was to mount the grinding wheel with the bolt to a wooden faceplate. A hole was bored to the size of the bolt. The bolt then is epoxied into the hole. There is still a little runout but usable at slow speed.

So I’m searching for a Plan C to eliminate the run out.

What is your idea?

17 Responses to “Sharpening On The Road – Portable Tool Sharpening Station”

  1. Jarrid says:

    I used some nylon partition material to make a disc sander. Why not use a something of that nature to sharpen? You’re basically touching up your tools and not establishing a new edge or grind so a few of these with progressive grits(and a little practice) should provide a simple solution for touch up sharpening while on the road. I also have a YouTube video where I show the details of the build if it would be helpful.

  2. Lou Jacobs says:

    First, let me say how much I enjoy your videos adn look forward to them every week. Thank you for them!

    If the run-out seems to be because the grinding wheel is not a tight fit on the bolt (or the bolt may not be perfectly aligned with the axis of rotation), I have a possible solution. How about making a similar faceplate, but keep it solid rather than drilling it for a bolt. Instead of a bolt, turn an integral spindle on the end of it, sized to make a tight fit with the hole in the grinding wheel. Make the spindle just a hair shorter than the thickness of the wheel. Then pre-drill a hole in the end of the spindle to accept a long screw you can use with a large wooden washer to tighten down and secure the wheel to the faceplate.

    • Alan says:

      I think you’re right – much of the run out is coming from the bolt being slightly off axis.
      Thanks for a well thought out suggestion.
      Alan Stratton

  3. Lou Jacobs says:

    I’m sorry, I said Don. I meant Alan! (I know a Don Stratton and it came out automatically!)

  4. Lou Jacobs says:

    PS – not sure I want to know, but how did you lacerate your arm?

  5. Les Barrett says:

    To get the wheel to run true, get rid of the bolt. Create a flat disc about an inch less in diameter than the wheel. Use the chuck to hold it so that it can be mounted the same way each time. Then use a cone on the tailstock to hold the wheel centered on the disc. A hardwood cone would be best.

    • Alan says:

      I think you’re right – get rid of the bolt. I could not get it true to the rotational axis.
      Thank you
      Alan Stratton

  6. Keith says:

    Hi Alan
    An interesting item, but one I have yet had to wrestle with, so I’m keen to see what others suggest. One question when you talk about run out what exactly are you referring to? Are you talking about the grinding wheel not running perfectly in the vertical plane,(so it appears to wobble vertically) or is it not running in a true circle rotation?

    • Alan says:

      The runout I’m seeing is from the bolt not being aligned to the rotational axis.
      It is evident as the grinding wheel get closer then further from the tool rest when spinning.
      I’m receiving a lot a great ideas. I’ll put them in an update video.
      Thanks for commenting.

  7. John Shaw says:

    I have been using my lathes as a grinder/buffer for about 40 years. At first a Craftsman with MT1 and more recently a Delta with MT2. Originally my motivation was to save buying a grinder. It was handy so when I got my new lathe I found one on Amazon – but it shipped from sears. Rather than describe it I found this link to the product.

    Thanks for all your videos – I really enjoy them and always learn something.

    Lathe Arbor, #2MT

    Our solid steel precision lathe arbor allows you to mount 1/2″ bore grinding wheels, buffing wheels, wire brush wheels, sanding wheels and discs, etc. to your #2 Morse taper lathe spindle. It also works as a holding device for making toy wheels. Maximum thickness is 1-1/4″. The tapered end is is drilled & tapped for a 1/4″-20 draw bolt.

  8. Jon Murphy says:

    I was about to describe the 2MT lathe arbor I have and say I don’t remember where I got it – then I read Highland’s description of theirs and I think that is it. I haven’t used it for some time as I got it when I was using a 10″ slow wet as my basic grinder and needed something faster for basic shaping (I now use an 8″ dry for all my grinding). My home lathe is a 12″ midi and I had no trouble with an 8″ 80 grit wheel on it. Highland doesn’t mention that their arbor is pre-drilled with a small hole for the tail stock.

    I think the runout problem is likely the wheel as much as the mount, following Don Geiger’s advice I balance my wheels with stick on “paper dots” from Staples. It was using them, and Don’s True-n-Dress that allowed me to get the same fine cut on my dry grinder (at 80 grit) as I was getting from my slow wet. It also helps to use a steel bushing instead of the supplied plastic ones to size the arbor hole.

    Like you I prefer home made jigs, but I think this arbor, in combination with balancing the “wobble” of the wheel with paper shims, is worth it.

    Best, Jon

  9. Jon Murphy says:


    I just looked at the Highland site, the arbor they show is a lot less substantial than the one I have. I retract my comments on that one. Mine has a 5/8″ arbor on the 2MT. The washers are the same size as those on my 8″ grinder, and the arbor is solid to 1″ then the threading starts (it can handle a 3/4″ wheel, but no less – a 1 1/4″ would ride mainly on the solid arbor).

    I’ll try to find out where I got it and pass it on.

    Best, Jon

    • Alan says:

      The highland arbor looks good. I’ve ordered one to inspect it more closely.
      The dot balancing is a great tip.

      • Jon Murphy says:

        The Highland might be fine if your wheel has a 1/2″ arbor hole, but most are much larger. I’ll send a photo of the one I have (unknown vendor) by email.

        Details on dot balancing. Mount the wheel, spin it with a pencil on one side to mark the wobble. Spin again with pencil the other side. Hopefully the marks will be 180 apart – but often they aren’t. Loosen wheel, insert dots on each side 180 opposite each other. Repeat as needed. Long tweezers are convenient for the operation.