Thursday, 18 August 2011

Ashley Iles sharpening system

I recently purchased this sharpening system from Ashley Iles, we use a similar system at Newstead village carving club who have very high sharpening standards for their tools. The system is only for use with carving chisels as you would struggle to sharpen a flat blade in such a way. The kit includes all the items shown barr  the bench grinder. The grinder has to be set up back to front so the movement is away from the operator. This is simply achieved by unbolting the grinder body from its metal pedestal and turning the body round 180 degrees, this also ensures that the switch remains at the front of the machine. The rubberised grind wheel and mop can then be fitted to the body.

I was fortunate to be shown how to use the machine by Colin Hickman who is a notable wood carver who is well known for his detailed carvings of dogs head walking sticks and game birds. I believe Colin used to work at Ashley Iles and he was responsible for sharpening chisels. Colin explained to me that the bevel on my chisels was too steep and as most of the carving I do is with green woods or timbers such as Lime or Sycamore a blade angle of 30 degrees would be much better to cleanly remove material from my work. The correct bevel was achieved using a linishing machine and rocking the bevel back and forth across the belt sander surface. It is important to never allow the metal to get too hot so a quick dunk in a mug of water helps to cool the blade.

Colin then showed me how to set up a spot light to one side of the sharpening system to allow the chisel to form a shadow on the grind stone.

This photo shows that the gouge is not on the wheel at the correct angle to sharpen correctly as the shadow is showing.

In the next photo there is no where the metal meets the wheel it is therefore correctly set up for sharpening. The blade is then gently rolled across the wheel until a thin metal wire is formed on the tip of the blade .

At thispoint you need to then present the gouge to the polishing mop which has been dressed with the green soap if needed. It is important to remove the burr from the inside of the tool first. The middle of the tool should touch the mop first and the tool then moved down the mop so the noise goes from a higher to a lower pitch when the tip of the tool gets presented to the mop. It is really important not to round off the edge by sticking the tool into the mop at too acute an angle. This could round off the edge making it impossible to properly sharpen the edge meaning the metal will need to be reground beyond the rounded material.

It is then just the case of turning the blade round and removing the burr on the other side. This should then give you the perfect edge to work with.

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