Monthly Archives: December 2009

A Question for Woodworkers

A few weeks ago I worked at the Northwest Woodworking Studio booth at The Woodworking Show in Portland, OR.   We decided to use “idle” time to hone some of the student tools the Studio keeps on hand for class work.  Gary Rogowski brought along one of the electric grinders from the Studio.  I brought a hand-cranked grinder from my shop.  To my surprise, it drew a crowd.  If I needed to rustle up a group of woodworkers, it seemed that a few sparks from the grinder were all it took.  A lot of the show attendees wondered about efficiency and results.  In an exhibit hall dominated by new woodworking gadgets, many of them with thick cords, my modest little grinder must have looked awfully out of place.

I can’t (and don’t) claim to be original in my use of this tool.  A lot of students who’ve attended the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking program, started by James Krenov, have settled on the hand grinder as a useful tool.  So much so, in fact, that the few suppliers who used to carry a small inventory of grinders are all out of stock.  Mine came from eBay.

In any event, all of the interest at the Woodworker’s Show made me think that publishing information on this setup might be useful to folks just starting down the road to sharper tools, or those who are looking for a different path than one littered with tangled cords.  I pitched the article to Fine Woodworking, and after due deliberation, they said “No Thanks”.  I suspect an idea like this might offend one of their many fine advertisers.

Now, Popular Woodworking is mulling it over and I expect to hear something from them in a few weeks.

In the meantime, I’ll just throw the question out and see what happens:  Does the idea of grinding tools quietly, by hand, still have any appeal?


Jeff Zens owns and operates Custom Built Furniture in Salem, Oregon.  He is a frequent woodworking instructor at the Northwest Woodworking Studio in Portland, Oregon.

Categories: Woodworking | 3 Comments

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