Turning Archive 2007

Sorby ProEdge Sharpening System-Review

Ron McKinley
>Iíve had the machine for a little over two weeks and have put it through its paces. The ProEdge is a robust, precise sharpening system. The fit and finish is superb and this machine exudes quality.

First a few CONS: This is a $500 machine and Sorby included a 25 cent instruction manual. Well, maybe a little more since itís printed on glossy paper, in full color and a convenient size. But, it left out the most important information the user needs. More about that later.

When sharpening skews the table gets in the way of the handle when you flip the tool to the left side of the triangle. Sorby is aware of this and may be working on a redesign of the table. They suggested in an e-mail that some users build a wood table to go over the present table to lift the tool up so the handle of the skew wonít interfere. I found a good workaround is to use just the right side of the triangle jig and flip it over each time and thereís no interference.

The belt tilts from the vertical to probably 45 degreesódidnít measure it but thatís approximate. This is a handy feature, especially when sharpening skews. Other tools work better at more vertical angles. The weakness here is getting to the back screw to loosen or unloosen so it can be tilted. In the more extreme angles there is a hole in the belt guard to reach through with the hex wrench but the only way I can reliably find it with the wrench is with a flashlight pointing through the right side of the belt. Understandably, with an all-in-one machine there are a few compromises. This isnít a major problem.

To sharpen a fingernail gouge you must remove the table or the jig will hit the table on both sides. The manual doesnít tell you this and the photos donít show the table removed when using the fingernail profiler jig so I removed the table in the obvious wayóby removing two hex screws that can easily get lost-- the correct size wrench isnít included. Still the bracket that supports the table is still in the way. After a few e-mails to Sorby I was told the correct way to remove the table which is simple and easy and takes about 10 seconds! Strangely, this information isnít included in the manual.

Now for the PROS: This machine puts the finest edge on my tools of any system I have ever used. Now itís pleasure instead of drudgery to sharpen! For the first time ever, every tool in my shop is sharp.

The machine comes with three belts--60, 120 and 240 grits. First off, since all my tools had a hollow grind, I changed to the 60 grit carbide belt and removed the hollow grind. I then finished up with the 120 grit belt but I really didnít need to as the 60 grit left a fine edge. I checked the grind with a magnifying glass and it looks smoother than a babyís bottom!

The Turnerís version of the ProEdge doesnít come with a jig for sharpening flat chisels. No matter, the Standard Profile Edge jig for sharpening spindle roughing gouges and conventional bowl gouges works just as well. Just use the right or left side to keep the chisel flat and perpendicular to the belt.

Other Comments: Three accessories are available at extra cost for turners. The honing wheel and the buffing mop require you to remove the belt guard and the belt before you can attach them. I doubt if any turner would be interested in these since theyíre not convenient to use and require re-configuring the machine for both operations. The other is the Cutter Holder that looks like it will sharpen every type of cutter available. None of these accessories are available in the U. S. as of now but they soon will be.

Summary: This is a fine machine and I recommend it. Would I buy it again? Absolutely. Is it a good value? When you consider the price of a Tormek with all the needed accessories--yes. When you consider a good grinder with Norton SG wheels and a sharpening jig like the Wolverine--yes.

Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in the Sorby Company but I do own several of their turning toolsÖÖRon

For more details go here: http://www.robert-sorby.co.uk/ then click on Latest Products, then ProEdge Sharpening System

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