Sharpening With Power

In the Woodcarving Illustrated Summer 2012, Mac Proffitt demonstrated how to sharpen using power tools.

The goal in power sharpening is the same as hand sharpening—a sharp tool. But many people find power sharpening quicker and easier.


When you sharpen tools with power, you generate heat, sparks, and noise.

Always wear hearing and eye protection. Keep water handy to cool the tools; just dip the tool in water if it starts to get warm.

Sharpening with a Belt Sander

All you need to get started power sharpening is an inexpensive 1″ (25mm)-wide belt sander with an 80-grit belt. Many people are afraid to use a coarse belt, fearing that it will burn the tools. Actually, the 80-grit belt reduces the heat generated by the grinding process because the extra air space around the abrasive particles helps pull the heat away from the tool and keeps it cooler. The downside is that a coarse belt leaves scratches in the tool, which may require the use of a finer-grit belt or a coarse buffing compound to remove. A few light passes with the fine-grit belt usually remove the scratches. Use a light touch and let the belt do the work.

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