Rikon 8" Wet Sharpener Review

A quick and easy way to sharpen and hone all your cutting tools so you can get back to work sooner. 

Rikon 8" Wet Sharpener

Rikon 8" Wet Sharpening System



Wet sharpening systems offer some distinct advantages over dry sharpeners (aka bench grinders). They're very easy to use, quiet in operation, make it almost impossible to over-grind and compromise the temper of a tools' cutting edge, the fine grit aluminum oxide grindstone produces a super sharp cutting edges, and they can handle just about any cutting tool, from garden tools to plane blades and chisels, to small carving tools and knives. A leather honing wheel means you can complete your entire sharpening and honing on a single machine, and get back to work in fairly short order.

The newest entry into the wet grinding line-up is the  Rikon 82-100, which I've had the opportunity of using over the past four weeks.

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The Rikon 82-100

There are five main components to the 82-100:

  • 1-5/8" x 8" grindstone (a.k.a. water stone or grinding wheel) for shaping and sharpening;
  • 1-1/8" x 8" leather wheel for honing (final polishing);
  • 1/4 HP motor that rotates the grindstone at 115 RPM;
  • Universal "F" Support ; and,
  • Tool Holder Jig that presents chisels, plane blades and other cutting tools square to the grindstone.
Additionally, there is an Angle Guide that enables you to set the proper grinding angle, a Water Trough, and a tube of Honing Compound that is used on the leather wheel.

The power switch is a rocker type – pressing the switch upwards starts the wheels running in the forward rotation; pressing it down runs the wheels in reverse rotation; and moving the switch to the center position turns the grinder off. I don't particularly like this switch, as it's quite easy to inadvertently change grinding direction by pressing the switch a bit too forcefully. Still, doing so won't damage the motor.

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Plated steel main shaft and flanges

The body of the 82-100 is made of a durable, impact resistant ABS plastic while the cover is made of die-cast aluminum. A sturdy handle makes it easy to move the grinder about. Four rubber feet help dampen vibration, and keep the grinder from skidding around the work surface. There are four holes in the base should you wish to bolt the grinder permanently onto a work surface.

The main shaft and flanges (that go on either side of the grindstone) are made of plated steel and should last for years, if not decades, before they begin to show any signs of rust.

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Worm gear

Underneath the small plate on the top cover is the worm gear, that steps down the motor speed from 1750 RPM to the more suitable 115 RPM wheel speed. You'll never have to lubricate the gear, though should it become damaged or overly worn, it's easy to replace.

When the 82-100 is switched on it makes an audible rumbling noise, which I think is made by the meshing of the metal toothed wheel and the plastic revolving cylinder. If you place your anywhere hand on the housing you can feel the vibration. However, as soon as you apply pressure on the grindstone, the vibration stops, and the rumbling noise decreases substantially. While this might be initially un-nerving, I found that it doesn't have any impact on the operation of the grindstone.

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Square and parallel

Because the 82-100 doesn't come with a wheel dresser, I was very glad to see that the face of the grindstone was about as square to the sides as it could be. Just as important, the wheel is parallel to the universal 'F' support, so that the tool holder jig will present the cutting edge of your tools square to the surface of the grindstone.

The grindstone does require regular flattening to keep it in top performance. The frequency will, of course, depend on how much sharpening you do. The best tool for doing this is the Tormek Truing Tool, which will fit the 82-100 universal 'F' support. With the Truing Tool it's really impossible to dress the wheel out of square, and you can remove precise amounts, as little as 1/16" at a time, which is usually all you need to remove in order to get a clean, square surface.

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Universal 'F' support (left); Tool holder (right)

The universal 'F' support is attached to the mounting blocks on the top of the grinder. The bar can be installed vertically or horizontally to the grindstone, depending on the tool you are grinding or honing. While you cannot use the Tormek universal support bar on the 82-100, you can mount just about all the Tormek accessories on the 82-100 support bar. 

The tool holder fits snugly onto, and glides very smoothly across, the universal support bar. The two nylon sleeves (insert in the photo above) are fairly narrow (9/64" wide). However, it looks as though they can be replaced should they become damaged or worn.

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Slightly out of square

It's crucial that the tool holder positions the tool to be ground exactly square to the grindstone. The tool holder I tested was out by 0.013" (just under 1/64") – a fairly small amount that I found didn't affect the sharpening process on the plane blades and chisels I sharpened. The spring loaded tension bar was quick and easy to adjust, and holds tools firmly in place. With a maximum width capacity of 2-3/4" and depth of 3/8", the tool holder can handle any size chisel or plane blade.

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Bevel setting is quick and easy

The 82-100 comes with an angle gauge that enables you to set the tool at the correct bevel angle (from 20° to 40° in 5° increments, and at 60°). The steps to follow are clearly laid out in the operator's manual.

There is no micro-adjust feature on the universal support, so it takes a bit of fiddling around – raising and lowering the universal support while holding the angle gauge and tool holder – to set it at the right angle. Fortunately, the universal support fits very snugly in the mounting blocks – without the locking knobs tightened it tends to remain exactly where positioned – making it a bit easier to nudge it up and down.

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Flatten the back

If you've laboured over benchstones trying to flatten the backs of plane blades and chisels, you'll love how quickly you can do the job on the 82-100. The process goes very quickly, so check your progress every 30 or 40 seconds. You really only need to flatten about 1" back from the cutting edge.

The key is to keep the tool flat against the grindstone, and apply even, constant, light pressure. Let the grindstone do the work. You don't want to tilt the tip towards the stone, otherwise you'll round the back of the cutting edge. If this happens you'll find it quicker to regrind a new bevel rather than continuing to flatten the back. Fortunately, getting the knack of this is not all that hard. If you're a bit nervous, make a few practice runs with an old chisel. 

If you were to do this on a high speed dry grinder you'd run the risk of damaging the wheel. Because the wheel on a wet grinder is so thick and runs at a much slower speed, there isn't much chance of damaging the wheel.


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Ink before grinding

I find it useful to use a magic marker to colour the bevel before I begin sharpening. This makes it easier to monitor the sharpening process – after the ink is gone, the tool is sharpened. I confirm this by running my thumb across the back of the tool – if I feel a consistent burr, then I'm ready to hone. If not, I continue to grind a tad longer.

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Firm pressure and constant side-to-side movement

The 220-grit wheel on the 82-100, coupled with the slower rotational speed, cuts considerably slower than a conventional dry grinder. The upside is that there is virtually no chance of overheating the tool and compromising its temper.

As you apply firm, even pressure downward on the tool, glide the too holder back and forth across the surface of the grindstone. The length of time you spend sharpening will depend on how much metal needs to be removed. 

You can grind with the wheel rotating towards or away from the universal support. With the wheel rotating towards the support you'll find that a lot of water ends up running off the sides of the wheel, up onto the top of the grinder, and down the outside of the water trough. It's much less messier with the wheel rotating in the opposite direction.


Note that you can use the universal support without the tool holder for sharpening adzes, hatchets, and very short carving chisels. I sharpen my knives freehand, with the universal support removed.

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No safety stops on the universal support

There are no stops on either side of the universal support to keep the tool holder from sliding off either end of the grindstone. This can damage the edge of the grindstone, the edge of your tool, or result in a nasty flesh cut on a finger. You can reduce the risk of falling off the edge by moving the tool holder at a slow, steady pace, paying careful attention to what you're doing. To give you an idea, for a 1" wide chisel it takes me a count of 5 to move the chisel from one side of the wheel to the other.
 
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Freehand honing tool backs

Once the back of the tool is flat you then hone it on the leather honing wheel. I hone the back of blades and chisels freehand, keeping tool as flat as possible, paying particular attention to the tip. I find that resting my left hand on the universal support helps to steady the tool. 

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Using the tool holder for honing bevels

Because the bevels are so narrow I use the tool holder when honing. You need to mount the universal support in the horizontal position, and as for all honing, ensure the wheel is rotating away from the the universal support. Unlike sharpening, honing is very quick. I typically spend about a minute on each bevel.

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Quick and easy sharpening with great results

The results that I got with the 82-100 were very good. After honing, they're sharp enough to go straight to work. If you're looking for a razor sharp edge, simply follow the honing with a few dozen strokes on am 8,000 or higher grit benchstone, or, my choice, a 3M micro-abrasive adhesive backed film (.5 micron) attached to a plate glass backer. Because the bevels are hollow ground there are only two contact points to hone, rather than the full surface of the bevel, so achieving that razor sharp edge can be done in no time flat.

I used the Rikon 82-100 to sharpen and hone plane blades, chisels, and my favourite shop knives. Overall, I'm very pleased with this grinder. The fit and finish are quite good. Tools are easy to mount in the tool holder, and the holder slides smoothly across the universal support. I like that I can use most of the Tormek accessories with the 82-100, but, best of all, it does a great job of putting a smooth, sharp edge on cutting tools. A micro-adjust feature on the universal support would be nice, as would safety stops to prevent tools from inadvertently falling off the edges of the grindstone, but these aren't, in my view, deal breakers.

If you're looking for a sharpening system that is pretty simple to use, provides consistently great results, and enables you to get back to what counts – working wood – then you'll want to give the Rikon 82-100 a spin.
 

KEY FEATURES:

  • Motor: 1/4 HP, 1.6 Amp, forward/reverse rotation
  • Wheel speed: 115 RPM
  • Abrasive wheel: 1-5/8" x 8", 220 grit vitrified aluminum oxide 
  • Leather strop wheel: 1-1/4” x 8”
  • Tool rest capacity: 2-3/4" wide
  • Waterproof power switch
  • Dimensions: 12" H x 16-1/2" L x 10" W
  • Weight: 23 pounds
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Includes: Universal 'F' Support, Tool Holding Jig, Angle Measuring Tool, Water Trough, Honing Compound, Operator's Manual


COMPANY:Rikon Power Tools
MODEL:82-100
PRICE:$249 US
MADE IN:China
SOURCE:Where to Buy
 
Author: 
Carl Duguay
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