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Sharpener for 20" Planer Blades

MrSQL's picture


I have 20", 15" and 10" planer blades to sharpen (also turning tools).  I'd like to find a system that works for both applications.  Any ideas or recommendations.  I've seen some not so good reviews on the Delta 23-710 and the Makita 9820-2 seemed to be limited to 15" baldes.



Roger <><



JeffHeath's picture

(post #101013, reply #1 of 30)


I don't know what your time is worth, but let me tell you that by the time you spend the money on a good system, you could have had lifetime sharpening included.  If you don't know of a good sharpening service in your area, call the local cabinet shops.

I used to sharpen 12" jointer and 24" planer knives myself.  It took time.  I now let my sharpening service do it. 



A distinguished graduate of the School of Hard Knocks
MrSQL's picture

(post #101013, reply #2 of 30)

Well, just with the dull blades I have now, it would cost about 1/3 the price of a decent sharpener [priced out at ~$115 to sharpen 4-20"; 3-15"; and 2 10" blades].

I'm not a pro, so time is just evenings and weekends.





JeffHeath's picture

(post #101013, reply #5 of 30)

Since time is no big deal to you, then you should build a 25° jig and sharpen them on sandpaper.  Much cheaper, and just as good as anything you'll find out there for under 1000 bucks.


A distinguished graduate of the School of Hard Knocks
MrSQL's picture

(post #101013, reply #3 of 30)

BTW, I knew a Jeff Heath, here in the Chapel Hill area (he built my house in Quailview).  Are you that Jeff Heath?



JeffHeath's picture

(post #101013, reply #4 of 30)

Nope, I'm in Northern Illinois


A distinguished graduate of the School of Hard Knocks
lwj2's picture

(post #101013, reply #6 of 30)

Jamison's in Roanoke does a decent job, one week turnaround. No too far from where you're shown to be in your profile.

You could call them, I'm sure they'll work by mail or UPS.

540-989-2744 TEL
540-989-2744 FAX



Leon Jester, Roanoke VA

MrSQL's picture

(post #101013, reply #7 of 30)

Do you move the sandpaper over the blade or blade over the sandpaper?

Can you describe the jig in a bit more detail?



Roger <><




BruceS's picture

(post #101013, reply #8 of 30)

Of all the wet/dry sharpeners on the market the Delta 23-710 is my least favorite,  the wet wheel is not much harder than chalk and wears very quickly.

Work Safe,  Count to 10 when your done for the day !!

Bruce S. 


Work Safe,  Count to 10 when your done for the day !!

Bruce S. 


frenchy's picture

(post #101013, reply #9 of 30)


 I have a 20 inch planner myself and I plane thousands of bd.ft. at a time.  I'm approaching 50,000 bd.ft. of hardwood at this point.  Early on I bought a Tormax sharpening system in order to do planner blades, what I found is that they never did get as sharp as they were originally.  New blades would plan around  2500 bd.ft before they really got dull and resharpened blades at best would get nmaybe a 1000 bd.ft. before I was forced to replace them..

   The absolute best and cheapest sharpening I found for my planner blades was at a service for printers.  You see printers use what look like planner blades in printing and get great service at a reasonable price and with very quick turn around..

 What's more I can expect over 3000 bd.ft and sometimes more before it's time to resharpen them.. Better still is the fact that they tend to use less of the blade sharpening tham I did and much less than the places I've taken them to be sharpened who speialise in wood working..

  I bought some disposable blades and when these baldes are too badly worn to use I'll put them in and try them..

WillGeorge's picture

(post #101013, reply #10 of 30)

Frenchy! HI!

Loved your post! I never thought of that! Printers sharpening service.
I have no idea if they would do a 13" blade BUT you never know!

I was a world wide service tech. in/for printing/electronics for MANY years. Yes I have changed MANY 50 and 60 inch cutter blades and some a lot longer! I did it for years and still was afraid of changing those! THEY WERE SHARP AND HEAVY! I always pictured my feet or hands on the floor below next to that blade! LOL..

Have a great day.. Life is wonderful even if you are having a bad day!

frenchy's picture

(post #101013, reply #11 of 30)


 I get them to sharpen my 20 inchers plus the 8inchers for my jointers and I go thru a ton of 6 1/4 for my hand held power planes.  at one time I rotated 22 sets thru them. I'd be there nearly every week with another ten sets.

 I believe I have planned more wood in the last six years than the whole magazine readership combined have.. less than 10,000 bd.ft left soI'll start to be a real piker for a while..  

Zolton's picture

(post #101013, reply #12 of 30)

I don't know of anyone who has one - yet - but I'd be inclined to look into something like the 20 inch Universal Knife Grinder at Grizzly;

It's only about $210.00, which is about twice what you said you'd spend on just one sharpening job on your various planer knives. Sharpen them twice and you've just paid for the machine.

I've been thinking of buying one in conjunction with another woodworker in my area. We've bought seldom-used tools like this together before, and it worked out just fine. Sharing tools lowers the cost, plus we get to know one another a bit better.

I'd also like to point out that having an in-shop sharpening device can save a lot of time and hassle. If you're sending out blades, unless someone picks them up at your shop, you're either packing them up to be sent somewhere or driving them to drop them off at a local sharpener. It would seem that being able to just remove them and walk them over to a grinder like this for a quick touch-up would save a lot of trouble and time...

Anyone with any experience with this particular grinder?   Zolton


* Some people say I have a problem because I drink hydraulic brake fluid. But I can stop any time I want.

If you see a possum running around in here, kill it. It's not a pet. - Jackie Moon

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #101013, reply #13 of 30)


Heck at the rate frenchy planes wood and has his blades sharpened, you could have a sideline business just sharpening blades with that rig. 

Charge him ½ price and of course the blades should be road tested so you wouldn't have to sharpen your own!

I think I fell into a puddle of brake fluid. :-)


Bob @ Kidderville Acres


A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

frenchy's picture

(post #101013, reply #14 of 30)


  I have the Tormex version of what you are speaking about, that's what I posted when I said sharpening them myself yielded blades that aren't as sharp as original.

  The printers service that I used  produced sharper than orginal blades..

  Saving time? 

 Well, The service is downtown so it's a goood 40 minutes away during non rush hour times.  Forget rush hour!

   so is 80 minutes round trip worth while?    Well I usuallly combine trips so it's really not fair  but let's see. I have six sets of planner blades 22 sets of hand held planner blades, and 9 sets of jointer blades..

 Assuming slightly less than 1/2 go in at a time I can take sixteen or so sets with me per trip.. now compare 80 minutes  worth of travel time for the amount of time it would take to sharpen them myself times about three (they last less than a third as long as the sharpening service does, plus the pro's use up less blade per sharpening)

  No time saving there..

philip's picture

(post #101013, reply #28 of 30)

That there thing is the very sort of item that can give Grizzily a fatally bad name.
I don't have enough bad words to describe it- it is rubbish, but what can you expect for 200bucks?
The wheel is next to useless, even on ordinary high carbon steel-just glazes over in seconds-needs dressing every other pass almost.Absolutetly no good for HSS blades.
The means for setting angles is highly inaccurate.
The rise and fall is a disaster-when you clamp it alters setting. When you want to raise or lower it goes off vertical.Impossible to make anything near the fine adjustment needed.
All the grit from the wheel goes straight into the bearing for the raise/lower shaft.
The cast bed for the sliding table is not true, and not protected from grinding grits....
Terrible thing-should never see the light of day.

Philip Marcou

Philip Marcou
Metod's picture

(post #101013, reply #29 of 30)

Yours is a great analysis of Grizzly knife grinder. It would be nice if one could cull this sort of information just from studying the graphics. I am curious, how did you find its shortcomings - first hand experience or sharp (experienced) eyes. I would like to become better at reading the graphics, so any pointers would be much appreciated. Maybe this could be a good topic for its own tread?
Best wishes,

philip's picture

(post #101013, reply #30 of 30)

Hi Metod,
I once saw one of those in a shop in South Africa, and after an examination there decided not to buy it.
Some time later a friend in Zimbabwe who has a factory gave me the one he had saying he could not get it to work, and would I like it ? (Free).
I still have it, and it is next to useless. It could be improved with a suitable wheel, but that leaves the rest of it.There is no way one could grind 20 inch HSS blades on that, properly. The whole thing should go into the "Stuff for Free , Might Use One Day Drawer", but it can't even fit in there (;).
From the pictures it looks promising, but we know better.

Philip Marcou

Philip Marcou
Drew1house's picture

(post #101013, reply #24 of 30)

What in the world do you use an electeric hand plane for where you go through this many blades?


frenchy's picture

(post #101013, reply #25 of 30)


 I'm building a double timberframe home.. timbers on the inside and timbers on the outside.  In an attempt to minimize checking I dried the timbers for three years before I started to work them.. while that dramatically reduced checking it also wears out blades extremely quickly..  I used a set of planner blades per timber. Sometimes two sets.   (for comparison a green timber can be worked in about an hour while  dried timbers easily takes  8 to 10 hours..  I didn't have that many green timbers but I suspect I could use one set of blades for as many as 10 green timbers..)

   It's so bad that I actually bought two of the large 6 1/4 inch  power planes so I could use one in the morning and switch to the sharp one that afternoon.  It takes a while to switch blades so I would work until dark and then change blades at night.

 If you'd like to see pictures of my home in the advanced search go to 34543.3

kelvin's picture

(post #101013, reply #26 of 30)

I have had the grizzly dry grind 20" planer blade sharpener, and have a few comments. First it turns at 3600 rpms and is a dry grinder with an oxide stone. What comes to mind? If you are real, real careful you can very slowly take off metal without burning, but this brings us to problem number 2, the thing is made with terrible adjustments on the machine. Very hard to adjust, and keep there. I would advise against it for the long run, and i sold mine on ebay after i switched to a byrd head (thank god! 200,000 bd ft per edge x 4)

The real biggie that almost everyone passes up, and doesn't utilize to the maximum, is honing the blades in the machine. WHen i had straight knives they were cheap steel ones that came from china on the shop fox planer i bought. Grizzly's help line told me their replacement ones wear much longer than the ones on the machine, so first get good steel on your blades! Second, the honing. Simply pop the top on the machine and use a diamond stone to lightly dress the blades. In 15 mins i could do 4 20" blades and they would be quite sharp again. THis way you keep the blades in top shape, don't wait till they are dull, and you get the least amount of tear out, and machine wear. People who are afraid of changing their knives run them way too long. You need to get used to taking them apart and resetting them, but honing them in place can be done about 4x's before you need to take them out. I run a small sawmill and we surface a lot of wood. I've learned what works the best by planing all day long.

It helps to put a block of wood under the cutter head and lower it back down on it lightly to hold it solid while honing, making sure the bevel will be correct in the knife that is exposed on top. I simply laid a small diamond stone on top the chip breaker to establish the support to keep the hone level. I usually set a slightly different bevel each time making a micro bevel that was easy to make as your are removing less metal. You can see where you are hitting the knife as you move the hone back and forth. The same process is used on my jointer.

I really believe this is a much overlooked step that everyone should be doing before they bother to pull the knives. Proof is in the pudding. Once you hone the knives, the planer should be much quieter, and leave a nice surface. Shift any blades that get knicked at the same time. There you have it. I just saved you tons of money and time. What else could you dream of? Good luck! (unplug of course!)

Zolton's picture

(post #101013, reply #27 of 30)


That sounds like great advice, and I'm going to try it next time my planer blades need a touch- up. Really, the time taken in sharpening the blades is very little compared to removing them and then resetting them back in the machine after a grinding job. This will shorten the process by quite a bit.

I can't do it on my jointer though, because on the Makita 2030, the outfeed table is fixed and cannot be adjusted up and down. That means honing the blades would reduce the diameter of the cutting arc to below the outfeed table, leading to problems. But I'm going to try it once. It might not be that bad; after all, I'd only be removing a small bit of steel.

Thanks also for the input on the Grizzly knife grinder. It looked like a good deal, but I had had no hands-on experience with it. After your comments, it looks like it wasn't a well thought-out design. Too bad, as I'm sure a lot of shops could use something like that...



* Some people say I have a problem because I drink hydraulic brake fluid. But I can stop any time I want.

If you see a possum running around in here, kill it. It's not a pet. - Jackie Moon

frenchy's picture

(post #101013, reply #15 of 30)


 I confess, you got me!

 However only six years after I started the house is just about finished on the outside and only a couple of years before the inside will be complete!

  Plus since my city isn't going to take me to court I won't have to go into the stocks to be pelted with over ripe tomatos and whatever other horrors   they may have,, I'm glad I avoided the dunking chair as well.  

Willie's picture

(post #101013, reply #16 of 30)

Sharpening your own jointer and planer blades depends on your shop and the kind of work you do. For the normal run of the mill operation, it is probably a lot easier to change to disposable blades, or use a sharpening service.

For me personally, sharpening my own has been very rewarding, however for special reasons. First, I do not run a mass production shop, but rather focus on one of a kind pieces, with around 14 days going in to each individual piece.

The reasons I sharpen my own are:

1.) I try not to use sandpaper, or sanding in my work, so finishing is either directly from the jointer, planer, hand plane, or scraper.

2.) I purchase all lumber in the rough, so to provide a FINAL FINISH directly from the planer, or the jointer takes a lot more than ordinary blade sharpening angles. I use different blade angles for different lumber species, most with a front and back bevel. The front bevel is the only way to change the blade angle. Sometimes this can take a bit of experimentation, which would be very difficult if I cannot sharpen my own blades.

3.) On most species, with the planers we buy nowadays, the only effective way to break chips on a planer and make sure they do not pass under the knife is to grind a very short 1/32 inch front bevel.

The Grizzly blade sharpener looks tempting, however I do not have one. I use an old surface grinder, picked up at an auction for $450, with a blade holding jig.

The two links below give some good information about this subject.

frenchy's picture

(post #101013, reply #17 of 30)


 You gave an excellant example of where sharpening your own blades is to your advantage..  I hopefully gave an example of where it isn't..   Thus we are left with two valid choices and neither of them wrong..

  That's the same position people can take on any equipment.. hand tools versis, power tools, table saw brands, Grizzly vs other brands etc..

Zolton's picture

(post #101013, reply #18 of 30)


I sharpen my own planer and jointer blades as well - but in a very different fashion than you're able to do with your surface grinder. I do mine on the tablesaw.

I mount a 6 inch, 60 grit grinding wheel on the arbor and face it off with a star wheel dresser. Then I tilt it to 45 degrees.

After removing the planer and jointer blades from my Makita 2030 12 inch planer/6 inch jointer combination machine, I mount them one at a time on a 20 inch long, maybe 7 inch wide, piece of 3/4 inch plywood - a "sled." The sled has a shallow dado along one edge, into which the blades nestle and butt up against a solid edge. Wood screws and washers hold the blades in place, screwed through the holes in the blades and into the plywood.

There is a 45 degree bevel ripped on the underside of the plywood to accommodate the tilted grinding wheel. The blades hang over the edge of the 45 degree rip by a quarter inch or so.

After aligning and affixing a scrap plywood fence to the tablsaw's table on the left side of the blade, I place the sled with blade attached between the plywood fence and the grinding wheel. With the motor off, I raise the arbor so the grinding wheel is just below the blade's edge. Removing the sled, I turn on the motor.

Then, I move the sled back and forth between the fence and grinding wheel, raising the grinding wheel on the arbor a little each time. The aim is to raise the arbor just a fraction of an inch until the grinding wheel starts to cut into the blade. When it does, I move the sled back and forth a few times against the wheel until it stops cutting. At that point the blade is sharp. I remove that blade and mount the next.

Once the blades are ground, I hone them on the back with a small India slipstone and kerosene. They're razor sharp. Total setup and sharpening time is about 15 minutes, start to finish, for four blades. I've been doing this for more than 20 years on this machine and have only sent the blades out once for sharpening.


* Some people say I have a problem because I drink hydraulic brake fluid. But I can stop any time I want.

If you see a possum running around in here, kill it. It's not a pet. - Jackie Moon

frenchy's picture

(post #101013, reply #19 of 30)


  You have a novel way of sharpening and an interesting technique.. I cannot say that it is wrong because you are happy with it..

  These are just my coments and I'm not saying that you are wrong simply my comments about your technique..

   If you remember a while back when Fine Wood Working did an article on sharpening they commented about technique and how important it is to start with a relatively coarse stone like your 60 grit and work progressively down to much finer grits..

 That's the basis for the success of the scary sharp method of sharpening.  they start out with say 120 grit and work towards 4000 grit.. 

    You bypass all those steps in between..

  That's the weakness of sharpening on the Tormek system that I own. I have the one stone they offer and go directly to the honing process. If you look at the photo's they show of the edge you see the curl under that even a fine grit stone like the Tormex uses causing burrs.    Honing does nothing to eliminate those burrs..  

  I don't know the diameter of the stone you are using so I can't do the calculations to tell you what sort of surface speed you are working with but looking at my table saw I know that is way to fast to prevent the metal from over heating.. maybe you have some way to greatly slow down the speed of your table saw..

 And finally a 45 degree edge is far from ideal with regard the the proper bevel on planer blades.

 As you said it works for you so clearly there are things you haven't told us. But I would love to see the edge of your blade under a electron microscope and see for myself what's happening..

QCInspector's picture

(post #101013, reply #20 of 30)

You mentioned the Grizzly sharpener. My friend has the Busy Bee version sold here in Canada, and I don't recommend it unless the wheel is changed. As supplied it had a hard bond, 120 grit or finer wheel and even right after dressing with a diamond dresser it burned the blades. When he gave it to me to use he also gave me some coarse blue wheels that he got from work. I don't know what brand or grit numbers they are, except that they are soft / friable and the burning is nonexistent with them.

The other thing about that kind of grinder is that because the holder can only hold one, 12" or longer blade at a time, you need to be extremely careful to sharpen them equally to preserve the balance. I find it easier to keep them even and balanced when done in pairs.

If I were going to use your table saw method, I would make the sled long enough to hold both blades (or three if it's a triple bladed head) at the same time for the same reason.

I have the Hitachi equivalent and my friend the same as your Makita and unless I'm wrong the blade angles for both are 40 degrees. How did you come to use 45 degrees on yours? Excuse the question if I have you mixed up with a different poster.

Zolton's picture

(post #101013, reply #21 of 30)

I just looked at the sled I built for sharpening jointer and planer blades on my tablesaw, and realized the dado I put into it is milled at a 5 degree angle. So, by tilting the grinding wheel in the arbor over to 45 degrees, I actually get a 40 degree bevel on the blades. It's been so long since I built it I forgot that detail... 

And Frenchy, thanks for your comments. Yeah, I don't know why it works so well but, as I said, I've been doing it for 20 years like this and I'm more than satisfied with the finish I get from the home-sharpened blades. The Makita machine spins the cutterheads quite fast, though there are only 2 blades. Yet that combination yields a near glass-like finish on both soft and hardwoods. I only need to do a bit of 150 grit random orbit sanding on cherry to get rid of the mill marks. 

I've never looked at the edges with an electron microscopic. Do you have one? I really don't get that deeply into all that. What I do works for my purposes. And I've made part of a (paltry) living working in wood for all these years. 


* Some people say I have a problem because I drink hydraulic brake fluid. But I can stop any time I want.

Edited 9/16/2007 7:48 pm ET by Zolton

If you see a possum running around in here, kill it. It's not a pet. - Jackie Moon

frenchy's picture

(post #101013, reply #22 of 30)


  The reason I like to see stuff under an electron microscope is because what you see is vastly superior to any of the ways we have of checking such as shaving hair off etc..

 That article they did on sharpening caused me to go over to my nephew who can take pictures with the electron microscope at work. (he works for a defence contractor) 

 Edges that I thought were so sharp turned out to have burrs just like they show in the article on sharpening.. which is why I could only get a 1000bd.ft with my Tormex, new blades I could get 2500 bd.ft. and  sharpened by a printing service got me 3000 bd.ft.

 The article pointed out that nearly any sharpening yielded an improvement.   The real test was end grain and difficult wood such as fiddleback maple or burls..

  I deliberately pick wood with a lot of character rather than nice straight grained wood. (It's the artist in me <G>) and for that reason sharpness is hyper critical to me.. If you select wood for straight grain and  few or no knots then the degree of sharpness I seek is simply wasted..

 Interesting how we all differ, isn't it? 

Zolton's picture

(post #101013, reply #23 of 30)


You said a mouthful here..."Interesting how we all differ, isn't it?"



* After buying all these woodworking tools, I'm so broke I can't even pay attention.

If you see a possum running around in here, kill it. It's not a pet. - Jackie Moon