If you are like me, you have several chisels in a rack, hanging on your wall ready to use at a moments notice, except for one problem. They are as dull as a piece of spaghetti. Also if you are like me, then sharpening those chisels is far from your favorite activity.I am so bad I would almost prefer to buy new ones rather then sharpening the old ones. The thought of trying to hold them against the grinder at the right angle and then not letting them get overheated is daunting to say the least. Then smoothing them out with a stone or file until they are sharp is just more then I like to do. For those woodworkers who are like me then the Precision Sharpening System (PSS1) from M-Power and DMT is a gift from above. Machined from solid aluminum, the PSS1 is impressive in its exacting quality.
After reading the instructions and selecting a fairly dull chisel I was ready to give it a go. The instructions are fairly easy, The diamond stones are locked into place with the help of a strong magnet and an alignment post to keep it immobile after applying a couple drops of the machine oil to the base, then placing the chisel along a recessed channel on the base, I turned the carriage to the side with the correct angle. With my clumsy fingers I found it a little difficult to align the carriage into the base, this is my defect not the sharpening system. Once together all you do is push the chisel against the stone hold it in place and glide the handle in smooth even strokes. This motion ttook a little while to get used to and I kept sliding the carriage out to far and disengaging it from the base. But once I got used to the motion it is wasn’t a problem. I will mark this down to operator error and not a design problem.
To keep the base from moving, there is a set of rubber feat on the bottom of the base. The unit kept moving as I moved the carriage across the base. Fortunately M-Power has placed a recessed screw hole in the base so you can lock it down to your workbench, I recommend you take the time to either screw it down to your workbench or possibly a piece of wood to help keep it in place. Again, this may be trouble with the operator and not a problem with their design. Once you have ground down the blade with the rough stone you can switch to a smoother one for a beautiful shine. Finishing the 30 degree angle you just swap sides on the carriage and start over with the courser stone and place a 25 degree angle at the tip of your chisel following the same steps as with the first angle. When you are finished you have a razor sharp (literally) tool to work with. With occasional maintenance you can keep your chisels in fine working shape.
There are other sharpening systems out there but I have yet to find one that is this well designed and easy to use. Around $100.00 the kit includes:The base, the stone holding carriage, a set of 2 diamond sharpening stones and the instruction sheet. The only other things you need are a little light machine oil and of course a dull chisel. 3 other grades of sharpening stones are available for around $16.00 each
My over all impression of the PSS1 is good, it is something we feel would make a worth while addition to your shop. Just visit the M-Power website for a list of retailers who carry the system.
The Old Dwarf
Lance in our California test shop had this to say:
“The PSS1 from M-Power is a unique tool that allows the user to put an accurate 25° bevel and 30° micro bevel on their woodworking chisel. The system is quite ingenious using a dovetail to hold the carriage in place and in perfect alignment with the chisel or planer knife. I used the tool to restore several severely damaged chisels by scribing the correct bevel with the course diamond stone to mark the 25 degree so I could then turn to my regular grinder to rough grind the bevel so I could then turn to PSS to finish out the sharpening. Your chisels with most likely not need to be ground to a rough angle but mine were that bad. I started by putting the course stone to work, then I worked the rest of the stones step-by-step through the five stones. This allowed me to restore a very damaged chisel to a brand-new condition.
Turning to four brand-new chisels from footprint tools, I removed the factory grind with a coarse stone so I could create the correct angle. Then I went through the same steps of using all five stones. Putting a polished, well honed edge on all four chisels.
I was very impressed with the accuracy and ease-of-use of the PSS1. This tool performed just like M-Power promised it would. Now instead of breaking out the $350 Tormek (for those who own one) you can quickly re-hone a chisel in just a few minutes without the hassle of setting up a complex tool. Going through the five diamond stones you can put a polished edge on your chisels just as easily as I did mine. This is clearly the best sharpening system we have found for chisels and planer blades under $100. You will not be disappointed even if you are a novice I have been recommending this tool in all of the woodworking forums that I am a member of. I feel this tool is a necessity if you do not have a better system for accurately grinding your chisels.”
Lance (The Dude)