This a review by Brendan Stemp of Australian Wood Review…
In February this year I acquired a WoodRiver 120 grit diamond grinding wheel; an 8” wheel designed to be mounted on a standard bench grinder. I agreed to review its performance but hesitated to write anything immediately because I had some initial reservations that would only be answered after a few months of use.
My first impressions were very favourable. The wheel is an 8″ aluminium disc with a 6mm layer of diamond encrusted resin on the grinding surface. I hooked it up to the bench grinder and it ran nice and true and was well balanced which meant there was no need to contemplate how to dress it at this stage.
I started by grinding a skew chisel. Wow. The finish was very impressive and very sharp. I did another skew and then a scraper with the same results. At this point my feelings were similar to those when I have discovered anything that will make a significant difference to my woodturning;. I was excited with the prospects. Next it was onto the bowl gouge. I sharpen freehand so I found this process difficult because there were no sparks to guide me. For me this was one of the down sides to this wheel because I find sharpening tools freehand quick and easy; no need for mucking around with jigs. However it became obvious to me that a sharpening jig will be essential for this wheel to be a successful addition to my sharpening regimen.
But one of the most impressive things is that I found it difficult to burn the steel. Yes, hard to believe but it is true. I had to press very hard onto the wheel with the tool to get it to burn.
One of my initial concerns centred around the issue of dressing the wheel once it started to dish in the middle and get dirty, as is the case with most wheels. Well, after 4 months of use I am surprised to see no evidence of dishing and the wheel grinds equally as well without any dressing. In fact I don’t know how I would dress the wheel if I had to and all I have done is wiped the surface with a damp rag to clean it. There has also been an undetectable amount of wear of the grinding surface.
The cost of the wheel is US$150. Worth it? To answer this question I would have to compare it to its competitors. Given the finish achieved the competitors are the water grinding wheels more so than the al oxide wheels. Water wheels are considerably more expensive than the Wood River wheel so that would suggest they are worth the price if that is the sort of finish you need on your tools. To compare the price of the Wood River wheel to an al oxide wheel is a little unfair but if this is the bottom line then it is approximately 4 times the price. However this doesn’t take into consideration the fact the al oxide wheels wear a lot quicker. Four times quicker? I’m not sure; only time will tell.
So far this review has been from a woodturners perspective but to ignore a number of other applications would be doing it an injustice. I think this wheel would be very advantageous to those sharpening chisels, plane blades, knives and carving tools especially if used for the initial grind. I have sharpened my kitchen knives on it with very good results. I also sharpened a plane bade and used it with good results without any further fine sharpening or honing.
My only criticism of the product is its distinct lack of instructions and information. The wheel arrived in a box with the product description on the outside and nothing else. While the same can be said about al.oxide wheels, being a new concept in grinding wheel technology and given its price some information would help overcome some apprehensions potential customers may have. I have had many people ask me how to dress the wheel or clean it and there is simply no information to answer these fundamental questions.
Overall, I think the Wood River diamond wheel is well worth considering and certainly is a serious contender for those not happy with the al. oxide wheels and perhaps considering the water wheel option. I would certainly recommend them for woodturning tools but only with some sort of guiding jig. Still, I have hesitations based on its performance after a far longer period of time, perhaps a year or two.
To view or purchase this product, link to:https://www.woodcraft.com/products/diamond-wheel-dressing-tool-120grit
For additional information on the work of Brendan Stemp, link to: www.brendanstemp.com.au