For the longest time, like most everyone else, I too was making do with a temporary setup of a sharpening stone on the workbench to sharpen my chisels and gouges. Most often than not, the workbench is already cluttered, and the wet stones make a even more mess of the place. You end up giving the sharpening job less time than is required because you are in a hurry to get back to the project.
Having a dedicated sharpening station is very important to get into the habit of keeping and using sharp tools. Working with a sharp (ideally, freshly sharpened) chisel is so much joy than beating at a dull one. Sharp tools improve productivity, produce a fine finish and is less stressful.
I researched for dedicated sharpening stations on the web and youtube quite a lot, and found that there is really nothing to it than a sturdy table and a flat top. There are a few important design parameters to incorporate:
- Stability: The table should not move during the sharpening process. So, its ideal not to have castors at all. If it is really important to have them, then they should have locking levers
- Convenient height: The height of the table is lesser than the usual table height of 29″. This is so that one can lean over the stone and put some amount of body weight behind it. Also, if a motorized sharpening machine is placed on the top, then the sharpening wheel is below eye level and you can see the tool’s edge as it is getting sharpened
- Top: The top needs to be absolutely flat and water resistant, especially if using water stones. Some people like to use sandpaper on a glass or granite slab to achieve the flat surface. But having a completely flat top is good for both hand sharpening and using machines with a rubber shoe to ‘grab’ the granite top
- Storage: Sharpening uses a few jigs, stones, wiping cloths etc., It is good to keep them in drawers underneath the table for easy access when needed, and stowed away when not required, so that the top is clutter free
- Lighting: It is important to have focused light on the sharpening stone / machine so that you can see when to stop sharpening
- Washing: An integrated washbasin is desirable if working with water stones
With the above objectives in mind, I set about doodling the dedicated sharpening station. I believe this design takes care of all the above parameters (the ‘lighting’ will be taken care of by clamp-on desk lamp to be fitted later)
I already had the drawers cabinet, so the dimensions of my station are built around that. And an office garbage bin will serve as a pail to catch the water from the washbasin. (I will have to find the right sized washbasin!)
I will use a water-resistant ply for the top as a sub-base before mounting the granite top