Work Sharp WS3000 Review

 

Description
The Work Sharp WS3000 is a small, robust, horizontal "dry" sharpening system. It uses PSA (pressure sensitive adhesive) backed sandpaper adhered to either a solid glass wheel or a special "Edge Vision" slotted wheel. Both of these wheels produce a flat (as opposed to a hollow) grind. The WS3000 uses a 1/5hp motor which turns a single 6" (150mm) wheel via a belt drive. The wheel is fairly low speed at a fixed rate of 580rpm. The Work Sharp WS3000 is one of two sharpening systems produced by the Professional Tool Manufacturing co., this is the same company that makes the well known Drill Doctor line of sharpeners.

Work Sharp WS3000 Kit
There are three sharpening stations on the machine. Tools can be sharpened on the Top Side using the included Tool Rest; there is a dedicated Chisel and Plane Iron Port, and the Edge-Vision Port. These last two utilize the bottom of the wheel installed. Typically, the WS3000 is capable of sharpening blades up to 2" in width. This can be increased somewhat but the system is certainly limited in tool width. There is a top mounting accessory that will allow blades up to 3" in width for additional cost (see below).  Using the Chisel and Plane Iron Port, discrete bevels of 20, 25, 30 or 35 can be set quickly, easily, and repeatably without any tools. Wheel changes are also tool-less.

The basic system includes:
  • 2 glass wheels and paper of the following grades for these wheels:
  • 2 sheets of 120 grit
  • 4 sheets of 400 grit
  • 4 sheets of 1000 grit
  • 1 sheet of MicroMesh 3600
  • 1 Edge-Vision wheel and paper of the following grades for this wheel:
  • 1 sheet of 80 grit
  • 2 sheets of 400 grit
  • 2 sheets of 1200 grit

The system includes a "sandpaper eraser" and also comes with an instructional DVD and written manual.  There are also several additional accessories that can be purchased for the WS3000 including a leather faced wheel for honing.

In Use
The WS3000 is super simple to set up and use. There isn't much to it and virtually no assembly required. I imagine most users are like me when they get a new sharpening tool in the shop. On the first day of use, just about everything that can possibly be sharpened is sharpened. That will get a user up to speed pretty quick.

Installing paper onto the wheels is simple and straightforward. I didn't have any problem putting them on bubble free. If that were a problem, the old window tinters trick of spraying the surface with glass cleaner first would allow for a little movement and make it easier to flow out any air bubbles.

The top of the wheel is basically for free-hand sharpening and flattening the backs of blades. It can also be used to quickly address a squareness problem with the blade. There is a tool rest provided but no blade clamping or angle keeping mechanism to go onto it. For my first tests, I used a couple of old "hack" chisels and while they probably should have been prepped by a bench grinder first, I used only the Work Sharp and the included 120 grit paper to get them in order. While it did take a little extra time, these were prepped and ground quite nicely using only this paper. On tools used only for construction, you could probably just stop at 120 grit.

Going straight from 120 grit to 400 is a bit of a jump but proved to be doable. Anything that already has a decent back and edge can probably be started at 400 grit, particularly if it was done on the Work Sharp previously. On other tools, especially those not sharpened on this machine previously, you will probably discover that the bevel or grind angle (skew) is a little off and more material than you would initially think needs to be removed therefore low grit paper is needed. For most chisels and plane irons, the 4 preset angles provided at the Sharpening Port will suffice and a 5 degree micro bevel can also be easily installed if desired.
An important part of the design of this system is the ability to calibrate the skew or grind angle. The tool rest can be calibrated to the wheel easily. My unit was spot-on.  In fact I discovered that most of my chisels were a little out of square, the Work Sharp made for a Noticeably more square edge.

When using the glass plate, both sides of the wheel would have different grades of abrasive on it. If you are sharpening a bunch of tools at once, it would be more of a bother to flip the wheel over and over to change grits. Because of the quality of the tool rest at the Sharpening Port, angles are easily repeated so it's no problem to batch the 120 grit work etc then change the wheel and move on to a different grit.

Supposedly the aluminum tool test and the airflow directed across it provides some cooling effect. If that's the case, it isn't enough by itself normally. I had to have a container of water handy to periodically cool the tool being sharpened. If only re-touching edges with higher grits, the on-board cooling system alone might be adequate.

The paper used on the glass wheel is a simple 6" round with a " hole in the center. It is possible to "roll your own" by simply cutting the pattern from sheet and using common spray on adhesive to adhere it to the wheel. The slotted or "Edge Vision" wheel however requires special paper to match the multitude of slots in the wheel.
For free-hand sharpening especially, actually being able to see the sharpening grind is akin to the holy grail of sharpeners. There are few sharpeners that actually allow the operator to see the edge being worked. With the Edge Vision wheel installed, it's very easy to take only light grinds and "sneak up" on the perfect edge at the Edge-Vision Port because you can see it all taking place.

Overall, I found the abrasives to have a good life, I did use the included sandpaper eraser to keep the wheels clean. There is no dust collection on this machine and there can be some accumulation under the wheel. This is easily taken care of but it would be nice if the machine could be hooked up to a vacuum without obstructing the use of any of the sharpening ports.

Summary
There are only a couple of nits to pick with the Work Sharp, so small I won't even bother to mention because of the great value of this tool.  The Work Sharp WS3000 is a top of the line sharpener for a very reasonable price. It is fairly clean, fast, easy to use, and very precise. It's strong point is sharpening chisels and plane irons although it can be successfully used on other blades as well. There are few sharpeners one can simply walk up to and a few moments later walk away with a perfectly sharpened tool, this is perhaps the strongest features of this tool - it turns a mundane often avoided task into something quick and easy.  The machine is ready to go right out of the box but I highly recommend purchasing the leather honing wheel and perhaps an extra Edge Vision wheel with the system.

In the interest of full disclosure, Professional Tool Manufacturing co provided this product to facilitate this review.