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CBN grit

Joined
Jul 17, 2010
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I have been grinding with the 180 grit D-way wheel for quit sometime and I have noticed a surge in finer grit wheels as of late. I am curious what you folks are using and why. Just questioning my own decision and wondering if there is a better way. Thank you
 

Roger Wiegand

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I use 180s (I have two one set up with a platform and the other with my bowl gouge jig) and hone with a 600 grit diamond teardrop hone.

When I reshape a tool I'd like to have a coarser grit wheel, it takes a long time with the 180, but I don't do it very often and I don't have anyplace to put another grinder.

Honing from the 180 grind takes only a few seconds, so I haven't had any desire to go finer. Most tools I will hone 10+ times between trips to the grinder. I find it makes me more efficient-- I keep my tools a lot sharper without the inertia of stopping for a trip to the grinder.
 
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I have two CBN wheels, a 180 and a 600--because that's what Ken Rizza of Woodturner's wonders recommended to me. If you want a more intelligent answer you can give him a call. Ken would probably be happy to talk.

I mostly use the 600 unless reshaping, or putting a burr on a scraper (I've heard low grit gives a better burr).

(By the way I also have a second small grinder with white wheels for "low class" steel and other metals).
 
Joined
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Well, as one who has to experiment, I have 80 through 1000. That being said, I use the 180 grit most of the time, and that will do 90% of what you will ever need. For a second wheel, I would also suggest a 600 grit. I do have one 80 grit and seldom use it as the 180 does an excellent job of raising a burr on scrapers and leaves a very good edge on gouges. The step up to the 320 grit is barely noticeable. The 600 grit I use on my skews, and for when I need a fine edge for some difficult woods. I seem to get a better edge with the 600 grit than I do if I sharpen with the 180 and then hone with a 600 or 1000 grit card. My skews still need to go to the leather wheel on my Tormek.

Oh, for shaping, I have a belt sander with 36 grit. I seldom do much shaping any more, having settled on most of my shapes. At least for now...

robo hippy
 
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When I converted to CBN 80/180 I gained both consistency and a definite extension in tool life - well worth the money. But now I'm adding the 600 for strength.
Before woodturning I did lots of "flat-work" - planes and chisels are the primary tools. You are the only energy source - no motor or kinetic energy on the edge nor on the wood.
The standard for a fine edge was that produced with a 6000 or 8000 water-stone - a quality edge was both "sharp" and "strong" - in other words, the edge was more durable and stayed sharper longer.
Obviously the water-stone approach is excessive for us turners. My thinking is the 600 will be a teeny bit sharper and, hopefully, a whole lot stronger.
 
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I started with a 220 because I figured a slightly finer grit would save metal while I was learning to grind well. After having it for a couple of years, I'm happy with the speed of the grind, and the edge. When I get ready to add another, will probably get a 600.
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2020
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The only CBN wheel I have is a 180 grit. I thinking about getting another 180 just because I get tired of moving the wolverine inserts from side to side. I could leave one set up for the NRS and the other for the bowl gouges. It's a lot of money to spend just because I'm lazy, but I'm thinking about it.
 
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Robert, that's not laziness, that's being efficient! And also the reason I haven't bought a 600 yet, still thinking about getting another 220 because I hate being inefficient!
 
Joined
Apr 20, 2006
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I have 80 and 180 grit on my grinder. I know folks who went with higher grits as they say the tool gets sharper but they have come back to 180 as the tool dulls faster using those higher grits. I guess it is what your personal tastes are. I'm perfectly happy with the sharpness and how long I can cut between trips to the grinder with the 180 grit CBN wheel. The extra bonus of added tool life using CBN wheels because they take off so little steel in sharpening is such a plus.
 
Joined
Jul 17, 2010
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Thanks fellas I have an 80 and 180. I have been thinking about a finer on just to help with tool life. It would seam the 600 might be the best way to go.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2006
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The only CBN wheel I have is a 180 grit. I thinking about getting another 180 just because I get tired of moving the wolverine inserts from side to side.
This was me too a few months ago. I added a second 180 CBN and have been happy with the setup. I also have a second grinder I picked up for not a lot of $$ on eBay with a white wheel and a hard felt buffing wheel.
 
Joined
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I've been using an 80 and 180 grit CBN wheel as well. With this combination I don't have to make as many trips to the grinder. :D
 
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Jimmy Clewes is a fabulous instructor and he has a ton of out-of-the-box thinking on many different turning aspects. Several of them has to do with sharpening. It is his thought that (with the exception of the skew) turners don't need what is recognized as "sharp tools" in the woodworking community (planes, chisels, etc.). He says that a microscopic ragged edge on a turning tool that you get from sharpening on a $20 bluestone wheel at Lowes/Home Depot produces a much more efficient/desirable turning cut than a razor-edge cut from a high-grit CBN wheel. He has another sharpening technique involving scrapers. He says that we turners need to know that we can get a much better result (burr) if we would sharpen our scrapers "upside down"...and again, on a rough $20 bluestone wheel (ragged edge). Agree or disagree...but it is a fact that Mr. Clewes sure does make you think about many many of the common norms that we have universally adopted in the turning community. Robo...we chatted about his scraper sharpening technique in the past and you said that you intended to have a discussion with him. Did you have the opportunity to do so? If so, I'd love to hear how the conversation went.
 
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As for which edge cuts best, there are two schools of thought. One is a coarser edge cuts better and lasts longer. The other is a finer edge cuts better and lasts longer. For me, I prefer the 180 grit edge for scraper burrs and for my gouges as that works for 90% of the cutting I do. For punky wood, I like the 600 grit edge as it will give a cleaner cut in some difficult woods, but seems to dull a lot faster if I am using it for heavy roughing.

I have not played much with the upside down scraper burrs. For heavy bowl roughing, I prefer the burr from the 180 grit wheel. Can't tell if it is any better than the 80 grit burr. If I want a burr for fine finish cuts, that goes on a NRS, and I prefer the burnished burr, which is sharper and lasts longer. Most of the time, I use the NRS on end grain and across the bottom of bowls. I prefer a shear scrape, using scrapers and a burnished burr on the walls of bowls.

You can get very different burrs depending on how much pressure you are putting on the grinding wheel. If you push in really hard, you get a bigger burr, and it generally is pretty durable. If you just barely kiss the grinding wheel, you get a very fine, and very sharp burr, which isn't quite as durable, but seems a tiny bit sharper. Still, neither is as sharp or as durable as a burnished burr.

robo hippy
 

hockenbery

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I have 80 & 180 CBN wheels. I use the 80 for my 5/8 diameter bowl gouges and the 180 for just about everything else.

if I’m doing lots of spindle work I pull out the tormek for the skews. It has a leather strop wheel I can charge up to hone the skews.
 
Joined
Nov 4, 2011
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Bay Settlement, WI
When I bought my CBN wheels (almost 7 years ago), I think 80 and 180 grits were about all Ken Rizza had. I'm perfectly happy with them ... most of the time, all it takes is one pass to touch up a gouge on the 180.
 
Joined
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So my delta friable wheel is starting to get noticeably smaller (~7” maybe on 8” grinder). I’ve been telling myself that I’d replace it with a CBC when it gets down a bit more. Should I just get the Cbn now instead of waiting?
 
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Ron, when you first use your CBN wheel, you will say to yourself, 'Why did I wait so long?' They are a huge improvement over the standard wheels.

robo hippy
 
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Thanks Robo, I was looking for someone to tell me “cbn’s are great, and last forever - so ditch your current wheel now instead of later and enjoy the benefits”.
 

hockenbery

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I have had my CBNs for about 6 years. I had one in my demo room at the Florida Symposium.
What impressed me was how smooth and quiet the wheel was compared to the Norton 3x I was using.
it sharpened too!
As luck would have it our club did a group but with Ken Rizzo the next month and I got an 80 and a 180.

no more dressing and I’m good at it.
Wheel diameter stays the same can’t move these wheels to my 6” grinder.

not sure they last forever under high use but I don’t expect to have to replace either wheel.
 
Joined
Apr 25, 2020
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Portland, OR
I started with a 180 and a 600, ended up switching out the 600 for an 80. I use the 180 75% of the time and only use the 80 if i need to reshape something or i want a quick touchup onthe tool in hand and the proper wolverine arm is in that side already.
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2012
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So my delta friable wheel is starting to get noticeably smaller (~7” maybe on 8” grinder). I’ve been telling myself that I’d replace it with a CBC when it gets down a bit more. Should I just get the Cbn now instead of waiting?
Be aware that depending on the new wheel, you may have to do some modification on your grinder. I bought a 220-grit CBN Mega-Square wheel (grinding surface on the sides as well as the face, and I love it) only to realize when I got it home that my grinder is set up for a 1" wide wheel and the CBN was wider. I had to do some shimming and futzing to get the protective cowl to fit. Luckily the arbor was long enough to accommodate the wider wheel. Just something to keep in mind as you shop. My other wheel is an 80-grit Norton stone. That one is set up for my scrapers and the CBN is set for my gouges. The 220 is just right for me and the way I work. If I need to reshape a tool it'll take of plenty of metal in a hurry (or I can switch to the 80-grit) but it's fine enough that I get a clean edge.
 
Joined
Nov 4, 2011
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Be aware that depending on the new wheel, you may have to do some modification on your grinder. I bought a 220-grit CBN Mega-Square wheel (grinding surface on the sides as well as the face, and I love it) only to realize when I got it home that my grinder is set up for a 1" wide wheel and the CBN was wider. I had to do some shimming and futzing to get the protective cowl to fit. Luckily the arbor was long enough to accommodate the wider wheel. Just something to keep in mind as you shop. My other wheel is an 80-grit Norton stone. That one is set up for my scrapers and the CBN is set for my gouges. The 220 is just right for me and the way I work. If I need to reshape a tool it'll take of plenty of metal in a hurry (or I can switch to the 80-grit) but it's fine enough that I get a clean edge.

Most just remove the 'protective cowl' from the grinder. The protective guards on a grinder are there in the event the friable wheel fractures and explodes. The CBN wheels are solid metal, and far less dangerous than the friables.
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2019
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I also modified the side guards just to have a future particle collection system (air) attached to it. Not sure how that will work though because sometimes the particle build up glows and actually burns shavings that accumulate there. I wonder if when those glowing embers get in the dust collection system, will I have to build a new barn. Maybe a separate fire proof collection system will work. As Reed says, those metal particles float all over the place, and I'm not looking to have rusty lungs.
 

john lucas

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You should not have red hot metalmshavings with a CBN wheel. If you do younare.pushing wayntoo hard.
 
Joined
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Glenn, the only time you should accept a single spark or two from your gouge is if you forgot to brush off some gunk.
With clean tool steel, not ONE spark - ever.
Hold the tool to the wheel with just the force needed to keep uninterrupted contact. Leaning heavily on a CBN wheel only creates heat and wastes steel.
Metal dust will be my next safety focus. Not all components of high alloy steels are good for your health, so why have them end in your lungs or in the garden with the shavings.
 
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Metal dust will be my next safety focus. Not all components of high alloy steels are good for your health, so why have them end in your lungs or in the garden with the shavings.

I have one of these since 1998 (Veritas Magnetic Dust Chute) - works well. I have it hooked up to a small shop vac (used $5) behind the grinder. It has 4 strong RE magnets and is easily moved under the wheel you are using. To date I don't think I've ever had to empty the shop vac. I have a power strip at the front of the grinder so I can switch on the grinder, light, and shop vac all at once.
I also have some larger older magnets in plastic zip bags placed behind the wheels to catch any other metal dust.
Paid under $20 in '98 - a little more now. ;)
https://www.leevalley.com/en-us/sho...0041-veritas-magnetic-dust-chute?item=05J2110
 
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Yep - right again - no glowing stuff. I cleaned several tools, and didn't lean on the wheel. Too used to sharpening lawn mower blades on a grit wheel I guess. Thankx.
 
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@Tom:
The cheap shop vac is already there under the grinder. Just need to find a way to place the mouth of the system where it works well but doesn't get in the way.
I have had small neodym magnets placed near the grinding point but to little use. May go for a much stronger magnet, thanks for the inspiration.
BTW: I have i small shelf placed about 2½ feet above the grinder and I'm amazed to find just how much black metal dust ends up there.
Lars
 
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I have long thought that one of those air scrubber things on an automatic type vibration sensor switch would work fine. The air scrubbers are a bit bulky though.

robo hippy
 
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Ron, when you first use your CBN wheel, you will say to yourself, 'Why did I wait so long?' They are a huge improvement over the standard wheels.

robo hippy

cbn’s are great, and last forever - so ditch your current wheel now instead of later and enjoy the benefits

THANKS GUYS!

Put the new Woodturners Wonders 180grit CBN on this afternoon and love it already. Way easier sharpening, no more bouncing nor dressing (had a little bounce even after dressing before), doesn't heat the tool when sharpening, and don't have all the friable dust.

Now I'm thinking about getting one for my Tormek too. That has sat mostly unused because of the mess for years. Eliminating the water hassle will bring that back into use too.

More toys, fun :)
 

Bill Boehme

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Now I'm thinking about getting one for my Tormek too.

I've had the Woodturners Wonders Tornado 1000 grit CBN wheel on my Tormek for several years and I like it, but there some operations where you need the regular Tormek grindstone ... mostly if you do flat woodworking and need to sharpen plane irons, jointer blades, and planer blades because the grindstone surface needs to be trued to the universal support ... obviously the CBN wheel can't be trued. While the CBN wheel is very close to being true to the universal support it's not quite perfect (close is only good enough for horseshoes and hand grenades).

There is a design problem with the CBN wheel from Woodturners Wonders that apparently still hasn't been corrected. The Tormek grindstones are flat on the side that goes against the body of the Tormek, but the hub of the CBN wheel is recessed about ¼" from the rim. The result is that there is an interference fit where the wheel drags against the frame of the Tormek. I fixed the problem by putting two ⅛" thick machined flat washers on the wheel shaft before installing the CBN wheel. This works, but the quick lock nut just barely has enough threads to hold. I need to have the thickness of one of the washers machined down a bit more.

The thing that really surprised me about the CBN wheel when it was new was the aggressive metal removal ... even though it is 1000 grit I could remove metal about as fast as an 80 grit wheel on a dry grinder. Initially the wheel had a lot of excess CBN crystals so it was shedding lots of CBN for a while before settling down to the slow metal removal that I would expect from 1000 grit. One small complaint is that the 1000 grit CBN wheel doesn't give as smooth an edge as the standard Tormek gray stone.

I sometimes use the CBN wheel dry, but I much prefer running it in water with Honerite Gold anti-corrosion additive. When I am done with using the CBN wheel wet, I remove it, rinse it clean, and then dry it with a towel. Not everybody wants to go through all this effort ... if that's you then use it dry. I don't like the mess of metal dust and CBN grit all around and on the Tormek when I run it dry.

CBN wheels do wear out so don't believe any claims that you'll never need to buy another CBN wheel. I would estimate that the life of a CBN wheel is roughly the same as the regular gray stone wheel ... maybe a tad longer.

I won't be replacing my CBN wheel with another one from Woodturners Wonders, but I will probably give the Tormek diamond wheels a try. The nice thing about the diamond wheels is that they can be used to sharpen tungsten carbide cutters. The price of the diamond wheels is essentially the same as the CBN wheels.

I haven't found my Tormek to be messy. Could it be that you are overfilling the water tray? I don't keep the Tormek close to the lathe because shavings and dust in the water would be messy, but that is a self-created mess and not inherent in the machine.
 
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