Warning: Using the Work Sharp is addictive! That's what I learned soon after I started using this ingenious sharpening system created by the same people who invented the Drill Doctor drill bit sharpeners.

My biggest complaints with all the methods for sharpening hand tools like chisels and plane irons relate to speed, convenience and repeatable precision. If only sharpening could be fast, simple and idiot-proof The Work Sharp system comes as close to that as I've seen.

How it works

The Work Sharp uses tempered glass wheels with pressure sensitive adhesive abrasive disks mounted on an air-cooled 1/5 hp induction motor. This provides a reliably dead flat surface and an inexpensive ready supply of sharpening medium (6-inch disks). With two sides to each wheel, two wheels give you a selection of four grits. I tested a range from 80 grit to 3200 Micro-Mesh.

You use the open top wheel face to flatten the backs of chisels or plane irons. There's also an adjustable tool rest for freehand sharpening on the top face. A precision sharpening port has click stops for angles from 20 to 35 degrees. Precision guides in the port ensure accurate sharpening. The port is also a heat sink, so there's no messy coolant and tools keep their temper.

What about carving tools and turning gouges? Work Sharp offers a slotted polymer wheel that uses matching slotted abrasive disks. You sharpen freehand on the underside of the wheel and can actually see through the wheel to determine exactly where you are sharpening.

Thorough testing

I put the system through its paces with some real sharpening challenges, including some ancient timber framing chisels that filled the 2-inch capacity of the sharpening port. I was frankly amazed at how well the system worked, putting hair-shaving edges and mirror finishes on even some pretty abused tools. I think my treasured Japanese water stones and hand sharpening jigs will likely get far less use in the future. At a street price of under $200, the system is also affordable. For more information, visit  www.worksharptools.com.

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