Work sharp WS3000
Professional Tool Mfg. Work sharp WS3000

I tested the Work Sharp WS3000 in my small boat-building shop, sharpening the hand tools I use to make cedar-strip canoes, guide boats, and kayaks. I have always sharpened my tools by hand, and thought I sharpened them well until I tried the Work Sharp. This tool let me sharpen tools to a finer edge in a fraction of the time.

The company ships its products in well-protected packaging, so the Work Sharp arrived in perfect condition. The user's guide is well laid out, easy to follow, and clearly illustrated. And the accompanying DVD is as helpful as having a personal instructor in my shop to highlight the setup and system use.

The WS3000 comes with two tempered glass wheels, a slotted see-through plastic wheel, a variety of self-adhesive sandpaper disks, and a rubber disk cleaner. I also tested the leather honing wheel accessory and some optional fine- and coarse-grit disks.

The first two ways to sharpen with this machine use a rotating glass wheel with abrasive disks attached. The top surface can be used for freehand sharpening of large-edged tools with or without the tool rest, and it is especially useful for flattening chisel and plane iron backs to start the sharpening process. For guided sharpening at a controlled angle, there is a sharpening port that uses the underside of the abrasive-covered glass wheel. This guide can be set to angles of 20, 25, 30, or 35 degrees to match the primary bevel angle of your edge, and only works with flat, square-edged blades like chisels or plane irons. You adjust the side guide to hold your tool parallel to the sharpening port. This guide only allows for edges up to 2 inches wide, anything wider has to be sharpened freehand up top.

With a sliding motion, you push the edge against the underside of the abrasive-covered glass wheel and quickly pull it back. Leaving it there for longer than two seconds can overheat and ruin your edge.

As you draw it back, two things happen: the abrasive affixed to the bottom of the port removes the wire edge, or burr, just created by the wheel, and the air-intake heat sink under the port cools the tool. Swap out the glass wheels to finer and finer grits, and follow up with the leather-hone freehand on top. The entire process, start to finish, takes just a few minutes. The same sharpening by hand takes me 10 times as long and doesn't result in the same edge quality.

The third type of sharpening available is visible freehand sharpening from the underside of a slotted plastic wheel, known as the Edge Vision wheel. Matching slotted, abrasive stickers cover the solid part of the wheel, and enough area remains open so you can watch your progress through the wheel as you sharpen. Finding the correct contact angle and steadying your hand against the metal rim surrounding the wheel are the keys to accurate sharpening with this method.

The Verdict

Overall, I am extremely satisfied and would recommend the tool to anyone who uses hand planes and chisels. I like everything the Work Sharp does, but it would be even better if it adjusted to lower-angle plane irons at 15 or even 12 degrees, fit wider blades, and include a basic angle-finding gauge.

Al Sands handcrafts canoes and paddles, and teaches forestry safety in Grafton, Vt.

Professional Tool Mfg.

Work sharp WS3000 Price: $199