Tool & Cutter Grinding (Homemade)

Basic Rig:

As the home user of a lathe and milling Machine, I have long ago identified the need to be able to sharpen my own milling cutters and properly sharpen drill bits and lathe tools. I do not have the funds to purchase a tool & cutter grinder, nor have the time to build one. I have read a lot of articles, together with my own experience in cutting my own lathe tools and my own experience on my drill bit sharpening. I decided that I agree with a lot of people who sharpen their own equipment with the proper tool rest and jigs. I decided on the basic tool rest of Mr Harold Hall.

This tool rest can be made on a lathe only. No milling machine is needed, although the making will be easier if you do have a milling machine, or access to one. This tool rest allows you to be able to present your tools to a grinder wheel at the correct angle by way of clamping with the jig. You have to purchase your own copy of the book by Harold Hall to get the plans of the rest, rigs and the adaption of the bench grinder. It can be found by doing a search on the Internet.

The book give a full plan and description with photographs on how to make it, as well as on how to use it. On Mr. Hall’s web page, the article is described, as well as a few videos are presented on how to use the rest and the various jigs. Visit Mr Hall’s article here.

My progress on the making of the rest can be seen here:

The making of the rest is straight forward. Here in South Africa, the plastic Phenol balls are only available in quantities of 10 and therefore very expensive. I purchased a ball racer and annealed it before I drilled and tapped the hole to M6 standards. It is working like a charm and was inexpensive. It will be more durable in the long run.

The Rest mounted on the pillar, showing the bottom side. I made the dial knobs from brass and the carrier as well due to the shortage of material for the carrier. I will at a later stage replace it with a proper steel one, to the longer length.

Those who made this rest, or those who studied the design in detail, will notice that I turned the table 90 degrees. I will change the design to allow more extreme movement abilities. It may be an overkill, but I have not used the design before and will only know later. If it is not an overkill, I have the ability. If an overkill, I loose nothing.

Top view of the table. The fact that the dials are brass is not changing the appearance and neither the abilities. I have drilled the M3 holes right through the table and could use a one tap set. I used longer M3 screws and therefore the tapping was easier and also stronger due to the longer thread.

The rest is nearing completion. The upright pillar is shortened and rotated 90 degrees, seen from the top. I added a few features similar than the advanced rest. The table can now be rotated, Tilted forward, backward, right and left for almost 90 degrees. As said, it may be an overkill, but I may need it in future. I must still add the handled lever studs. The cap screws are temporary.

Another view.

The finished basic rest. The fence is wider than the original plan, due to non-availability of the correct material. A wider fence will not have an influence on the rig’s performance or ability. I have also added a bearing block to the friction knob for strength.

The first use:


Set up for first use. I have set the 6mm two flute cutter in the block. It is set up that the cutting edge is parallel with the table floor, so that I can rotate the block 180 degrees so that both flutes are grounded exactly the same.

Another view. You can see the fence is locked so that the block can be pushed forward and backwards at exactly the same angle. The front knob will adjust the fence left and right for a fraction of a milimeter per turn. The single knob at the back will adjust the whole table forward and backwards.                                                                                                                                   

It can be seen that the stone will only grind one of the two flutes. I show here that an ordinary grinding stone can be used. A Cup type or CBN wheel will be nice, but is not necessary.

Sharpened. It is shown next to a Phillips screw driver.

The 10 mm four flute cutter is blunt. You can see the four cutting edges are round. Due to the COVID-19 Lockdown period I do not have access to shops and therefore I could not buy reamers. I had to use an ordinary drill bit to drill the blocks. To compensate, I shimmed the cutter with paper.

Only one flute are grounded at a time. This stone is a cheap Chinese one at R60.00 ($3.50). It works but is soft and will have to be dressed regularly. At this price it is relative economical.

Extremely sharp. It can be seen that the 60# grit stone is not too rough on the cutting edges. It works fine.

A 10mm Two flute is set up.

Another view.

The setup works fine.

The 10mm two flute is sharpened on the four facet method. Both sides sports a two angle ground. It is working excellent for a home brewed setup.


Will be added as they are completed.