How Often to Sharpen Wood Turning Tools

How Often to Sharpen Wood Turning Tools: A Guide to Sharpening Frequency


Woodturning is a craft that relies heavily on the quality and condition of your tools. The most common woodturning tools include gouges, chisels, parting tools, skew chisels, and scrapers. Keeping these tools sharp is crucial for achieving precise cuts and a smooth finish. This article aims to guide you through the recommended frequency for sharpening your woodturning tools and tips for maintaining them in top condition.

Why Sharpening Matters

Sharp tools are not just a convenience; they’re a necessity. Working with dull tools can lead to rough cuts, increased tear-out, and even accidents. Moreover, you’ll exert more effort and face greater difficulty in controlling the tool, which can be exhausting and frustrating.

When to Sharpen

Signs Your Tools Need Sharpening

  1. Rough Cuts: The tool no longer produces a smooth surface.
  2. Increased Effort: You need to apply more force than usual.
  3. Visual Inspection: The edge appears rounded or has nicks.

Frequency Guidelines

  • Frequent Use: If you use your tools daily, consider sharpening them at least once a week.
  • Occasional Use: For less frequent use, sharpening them every two to three weeks should suffice.
  • Rare Use: If you only use your tools sporadically, a monthly sharpening might be adequate.

How to Sharpen

Tools Needed

  • Bench grinder or sharpening stones
  • Honing guide
  • Ruler or angle gauge


  1. Safety First: Always wear eye protection and a dust mask.
  2. Prepare the Tool: Clean the tool to remove any rust or debris.
  3. Set the Angle: Use a ruler or angle gauge to set the correct angle for sharpening.
  4. Sharpen: Use the bench grinder or sharpening stones to sharpen the tool.
  5. Hone the Edge: Use a honing guide for a razor-sharp edge.

Maintenance Tips

  • Regular Inspection: Always inspect your tools before use.
  • Clean After Use: Remove any wood residue to prevent rust.
  • Store Properly: Keep your tools in a dry, clean place.


Keeping your woodturning tools sharp is essential for both the quality of your work and your safety. The frequency of sharpening will depend on how often you use your tools, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Regular maintenance, including cleaning and proper storage, will also extend the life of your tools.