The Toolbox: Issue 4

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This article is from Issue 4 of Woodcraft Magazine.

DMT’s DuoSharp Plus comes in two models, with differing grits on each side.

DMT DuoSharp Plus diamond stones

When most woodworkers think of manual sharpening, we think of relatively delicate ceramic stones that require careful maintenance, special lubricants and seemingly (to the uninitiated) magic spells to maintain that elusive razor-sharp edge on a tool. The result? Many of us don’t use hand planes even when they’re clearly the right choice for the job. And my chisels still seem to cut okay with those little nicks on the blade.

The DMT DuoSharp Plus diamond sharpener and the accessory DuoSharp base eliminate many of the complications of ceramic sharpening stones. Together, they give weekend woodworkers a legitimate shot at keeping chisels sharp and maybe even pulling that dusty plane from the back of the cabinet.

The DuoSharp Plus comes well-packaged with a one-page instruction sheet and a nonskid mat. The 8" x 21/2" “stone” is made mostly of high-density plastic. The diamond abrasive is bonded in nickel to steel sheets which sandwich the plastic base. The WM8EF reviewed here has fine 600-grit on one side and extra fine 1200-grit on the other. A coarse/fine (325/600 grit) model, the WM8CF, is also available. The pattern of holes in the abrasive allows waste to clear more easily and helps speed up sharpening. The DuoSharp Plus has an area of continuous abrasive at one end to allow sharpening of smaller items.

I tested the DuoSharp plus with a nicked chisel first. Working on the supplied nonskid mat, I put a little water on the fine-grit side and lapped the back of the chisel. 

The diamond cuts quite aggressively so the chisel was reasonably flat in a matter of minutes. I then went to work on the bevel. The instruction sheet recommends a bevel guide and I can see why. I had a few false starts before I figured how to hold the chisel at the proper angle. Once I did, though, I quickly evened out the bevel and removed the nick from the edge. I then flipped the DuoSharp to the extra-fine side and finished the bevel. With a couple of quick strokes on the back, I was ready to test the edge.

After wiping the chisel dry, I marked a hinge mortise on a piece of fir. The chisel cut the mortise quickly and cleanly. It was very sharp, and I suspect with just a little practice (and a bevel guide) I can make it even sharper.

The dusty hand plane was next, and this time I wanted to try out the DuoSharp base. The only assembly the hard, black plastic base required was placing 12 rubber feet in their appropriate locations. The DuoSharp mounts snugly on top of four of those feet, and is retained by sturdy plastic clips at each end. The base rests on the other eight feet which keep it firmly anchored to the work surface.

THE DMT STONES snap securely into the bench-top accessory DuoSharp base, which is particularly convenient when using a bevel guide.

The plane iron sharpening went even more smoothly than the chisel. The base made the sharpener feel more stable and gave my hands more room to work. The blade was sharp in a matter of minutes. After reassembling the plane, I took it to a piece of red oak. With a couple of quick adjustments, I was removing feathery, translucent shavings.

Cleanup was a breeze: Rinse the DuoSharp thoroughly and dry it with a towel. Storage is straightforward as well; you just toss it into a drawer. Unlike some stones, it stores dry. It’s not delicate. It’s not going to chip. You never need to dress it. When you need to sharpen, it’s ready. Pull it out, put it on the base or the nonskid pad, add a little water and go.

Priced at about $90, the DMT DuoSharp is a great choice for the woodworker who is looking for a simple – and inexpensive – sharpening system for occasional use. The matching base is worth its $20 price tag, giving you added stability and room to work. Add a good bevel guide and you may never even covet that pricey power sharpener again.

– Dave Eames-Harlan lives in Moscow, Idaho.

Carter electronic tension gauge

Blade tension is one of the most critical aspects of maintaining cutting accuracy and consistent performance from your bandsaw. Proper tension not only means greater accuracy, but longer blade and machine-component life. Until now there was no way to quickly and accurately monitor and maintain optimum tension.

The Carter ETG1000 Electronic Tension Gauge – they call it the ETG for short – solves that. With this gauge, you can set the exact blade tension you want for any size blade, and accurately measure the tension without touching the blade itself. The large digital readout is easy to see and monitors blade tension at all times, even while the saw is running because the unit mounts on the saw frame and is not in direct contact with the blade.

The electronic tension gauge provides a way to judge the relative tension placed on the bandsaw blade, allowing consistent setup from job to job. It also provides you with the ability to return to the same tension for future jobs involving similar sawing conditions. Once you find the optimum tension for your saw with a certain blade you can quickly return to that tension anytime you use that blade, or one similar.

The ETG has a big brother in the ETG1000D Deluxe Electronic Tension Gauge. In addition to determining and setting blade tension, the ETG Deluxe incorporates a protective circuit that will cut the power to the saw motor when blade tension falls below a preset level, such as when a blade suddenly breaks. This model also prevents the saw from starting up if minimum tension has not been applied, for those of us who can’t remember if we backed the tension off last time we used our bandsaws. For safety reasons, the saw will not automatically restart if tension is reapplied after the circuit has been tripped. Once tension has been reapplied, it is necessary to cycle the bandsaw power switch to the off position and then back on before the saw will run.

Both models of the Carter ETG fit the 14" Jet and Delta bandsaws (as well as similar models) regardless of blade length or riser block configuration and come with complete installation instructions for fast and easy mounting on your saw. The ETG1000 retails for $199.99, while the ETG1000D with automatic shutoff is $299.99.

– Tim Rinehart is contributing editor to Woodcraft Magazine.


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