Sharpening is a skill that is learnt only through
practice and trial and error. No matter what jigs you may buy, you will
probably find that they are only a means to and end, but in saying that,
they certainly do have value of their own. Today we are looking at the
Veritas Basic Grinding Set, which is actually composed of 2 items which
are sold separately (or can be bought as a set together) and can be used
on most 6" or 8" bench grinders to provide a larger, more solid tool rest.
We received the Grinder Tool Rest (top) courtesy of Lee
Valley/Veritas and purchased the Veritas Grinding Jig (bottom left) to go
with it from a local supplier.
The set as pictured above is valued at US$67.50
Now, we must mention that there are plenty of similar
tool rests and jigs on the market and most are less expensive than our set
under review, so our aim for this review is to see whether the additional
cost is warranted in both the build and functionality of the Veritas set.
Let's take a closer look...
If you were to buy the set for US$67.50, you would
receive the 3 items pictured in the image at the top of this review, i.e.
the tool rest, the grinding jig and an angle setting guide. The angle
setting guide is made of hardened plastic and we will take a closer look
at it later. The tool rest and grinding jig are formed from hard aluminium
and these are further hardened by an anodizing process. This gives the
jigs a solid feel, with a little weight about them (perhaps a similar
weight/density to what you would expect with brass), more so than many
other cheaper, common tool rests - so points are scored there. It is up to
you to purchase the screws/washers/nuts and to drill the holes to secure
the tool rest in front of your bench grinder or sander.
The grinding jig also features brass and plastic/nylon
elements which we will get to. But let's examine each component
Grinder Tool Rest can be set up just about anywhere. You really only need
a small area of flat surface in front on your grinding wheels to mount the
tool rest. You must be able to screw the tool rest down of course in the
name of safety, and accuracy. The tool rest is suitable for almost all 6"
or 8" bench grinders. I have a Ryobi 6" grinder and I found I had to saw
off the standard tool rest holding arm on my machine as it interfered with
the Veritas tool rest. No dramas, because it really is an upgrade on the
default that's for sure!
one inch wheels on my grinder snugly fit within the housing on
the tool rest. This is the maximum wheel width you can use with
this item. Anything up to one inch in width is fine. The total width of the
tool rest table is four inches. When not in use, the pivoting 'arms' along
with the table angle adjustment ability allows you to easily tuck the tool
rest away for free-hand grinding. Since the entire tool rest can pivot
around two points, as well as slide up and down within the main arms, you
can set it to almost any angle and position imaginable, so it is no
trouble to set it up to handle all your tool sharpening needs. In
practice, you may find it takes a little time to set your exact angle,
particularly if you have not used dual pivoting tool rests before. Time
needed for setup decreases with practice so don't worry too much.
The adjustment handles are spring-loaded, so you can pull
them outwards, rotate them and then re-engage them to give yourself more
room to tighten the tool rest in your chosen position. Much like a ratchet
wrench in operation, with a touch extra work needed, however, these types
of fastening devices are used widely in many types of woodworking
Looking at the anatomy of the table
itself, we find it is grooved to accommodate sliding jigs like the Veritas
grinding jig and is also center-drilled for jigs that require rotational
movement. You could easily build your own small jigs to fit the grooved
track, customized for your needs.
The purpose of
any aftermarket tool rest for a bench grinder is to provide a large area
to lay your tools on and to be able to set angles more easily. The Veritas
model certainly meets both those criteria. You will be able to use the
tool rest by itself to some level of success, however, for more accurate
results, a grinding jig is useful. Let's take a look at Veritas version.
Veritas Grinding Jig
Grinding Jig was custom-made for the Veritas Tool Rest, however, it can be
used on almost any standard tool rest as well thanks to its design. Its
main purpose is to firmly hold your tool in the correct orientation for
grinding. For plane blades, chisels etc, this is at 90 degrees to the
wheel, which is also hopefully 90 degrees to the table (for good measure).
You can also adjust the alignment pin and clamping thumbscrews for skew
grinding at 30 degrees either direction. The grinding jig is composed of
the same material as the tool rest (hard anodized aluminium) and features
brass clamping screws, nylon washers for extra durability and high
friction pads to provide strong clamping pressure.
In practice, setting and clamping your chisels, plane
blades or skews is really quick and easy. For plane blades and chisels,
you make sure your adjustment pin and one clamp screw are aligned and then
simply butt the side of your chisel up against both components to set your
tool in the correct position. Now screw down both clamps to hold it in perfect
alignment. This probably takes less than 5-6 seconds. Your chisel or blade
is now ready for grinding (assuming you have the table set correctly).
Next you simply seat the grinding jig in the slot on the tool rest, power
up your grinder and slide the jig back and forth carefully to grind your
edges. We found there was a little 'play' in the grinding jig which could
cause you to misalign it while sliding it side-to-side. Not a big deal,
however, it does require you to concentrate on keeping the edge closest to
you seated along the bottom part of the tool rest slot.
You should be concentrating anyway right? There is perhaps a little too
much play, whether this is by design or manufacturing issue I cannot say
at this stage, but I am investigating.
To set a
skew chisel at 30 degrees in the jig, all you need do is move the
alignment pin to the new position and away you go. See Veritas diagram
Angle Setting Guide
Included with the basic tool rest is an angle setting jig. This jig is
made out of hardened plastic and serves 2 purposes... Firstly, it can be
used to quickly determine the angle of any common flat-bottomed blade,
whether it be a chisel or planer blade etc. When I mention "common", I am
referring to those angles commonly found on chisels. The angle finder can
determine the blade angle only if it is either 20, 25, 30 or 35 degrees.
Due to the shape and mould of the jig, all you need to do is either lay
your chisel blade flat on a bench or surface and slide the jig up to the
blade, then decide which of its four angled surfaces match your blade's
surface and read the degree measurement from the jig for that particular
surface. Alternatively, you can slide your chisel or blade to rest in the
jig to determine the angle (see picture in right column).
The second purpose of the jig is to accurately set your
tool rest to the correct angle relative to your grinder's wheel. The
process is very simple, but relatively difficult to describe without
extensive explanation and diagrams, however, the instructions that ship
with the tool rest explain everything clearly. Let me just say that once
you have grasped the concept of using the jig to set the table angle to
the wheel, the process really is a 'no-brainer'.
I hope the above text has given you an idea of the features and
application of the Veritas basic grinding set and grinding jig.
You may recall, our quest was to determine whether the Veritas set was
worth the extra money over other generic sets that cost considerably less?
This is still a tough question to answer...
think that if you are looking for a good quality tool rest and grinding
have a mindset to buying only quality items that will last the
distance, then you can't really go wrong with this set, however, if you
believe you can find something just as good
functionality-wise elsewhere, and don't mind sacrificing a little
build/component quality for the saving in dollars that it brings, then
perhaps go for a cheaper outfit.
What you are paying extra here for is the quality of the set, the
build, the finish, the rigidity and accuracy of the item. These are
synonymous qualities that Veritas are well known for. And if you do
undertake a lot of grinding on a regular basis in your shop or woodworking
den, then you will appreciate why this item does require a little larger
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Veritas Basic Grinding Set Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior
written permission prohibited
Here is the tool rest set up in front of our bench
Thanks to the maneuverability
of the tool rest, we can slide it down and out of the way for freehand
The tool rest snugly accommodates our 1" thick
You will have to buy yourself a couple carriage bolts to
secure the tool rest to the table. these are not included in the set.
The clamping adjustment handles can be pulled out and
rotated to make your life a little easier.
The angle setting jig. Look closely and you can see the
four angle markings in the circles.
Within 5 seconds, I have determined that the angle of
this firmer chisel is 25 degrees.
Here is the grinding jig which is sold separately to the
tool rest. Nice brass fittings!
And here we are grinding a perfect 25 degree angle on
our firmer chisel. All you need to do is slide the jig side-to-side across
the wheel. Accuracy is high.
Our skew chisel needed some attention before tackling
the lathe. The Veritas grinding jig can easily be set up to hold a perfect
30 degree angle on the jig, giving us a nice 90 degree angle to the wheel.
Note the position of the brass positioning pin at the bottom.