The venerable Makita Electric Sharpener has been enjoying something of a boom in popularity lately, which has inspired us to offer this review of an old favorite's fine performance features. The 9820-2 is a powerful waterstone sharpener. If you've ever used Japanese waterstones for sharpening by hand, you've seen how terrifically efficient they are and how sharp an edge they can create; perhaps you can imagine how easy sharpening is when the stone does all the work for you at 560 rpm.
Makita designed the 9820-2 for sharpening jointer and planer blades up to 16" in length. It does that job beautifully, and the quality of its work makes a great difference in the quality of work you can expect from your machines.
The sharpener's territory isn't limited to machine knives alone. Practically any hand tool in the shop can be ground and sharpened with ease; chisels and plane irons can be jigged and ground to a perfect bevel, while carving tools, turning tools, knives or any other tools you can think of can readily be sharpened free-hand. All your grinding and sharpening can be done with absolutely no risk of overheating an edge and drawing the tool's temper; a constant supply from a gravity-feed tank on the sharpener keeps stones from clogging or glazing and keeps a tool cool through even the most vigorous grinding.
We're proud to have developed several years ago a coarse grinding wheel for the 9820-2, a stone that vastly enhances the machine's speed and general usefullness. Makita equips the sharpener with a 1000 grit wheel, a stone which provides a very good cutting edge - sharper that you've ever seen on a planer blade - but which is too fine to quickly waste away the large amount of steel you've got to remove when an edge is badly damaged or misshapen. Our Green Wheel, a silicon carbide stone of 120 grit, will grind the hardest steels as aggressively as a coarse wheel on a conventional bench grinder. Rather than spending ten or fifteen minutes on the 1000 grit wheel, we'll get the job done in a fraction of the time on the Green Wheel, then follow up with about sixty seconds work at 1000 grit to polish the edge to perfection.
We expect to routinely turn out edges that are within a few thousandths of dead straight over twelve inches, with no bowing or distortion of the knife and absolutely minimal wastage of steel. We've been able to re-grind knives a good dozen times when they'd normally last through no more than three commercial sharpenings before having to be replaced.
MOUNTING MACHINE KNIVES
The 9820-2 comes equipped with a stout cast iron blade holder that can handle practically any known make of jointer or planer knife up to about 16" long. If you're willing to ignore reasonable limits and work a little harder, you can sharpen 18" or even 20" knives pretty well, too. Jointer knives are a snap, since you can put two or three of them end-to-end in the holder and sharpen them all at once.
The fine points of operating the tool are covered pretty clearly in one of our Highland Hardware user's guides that we provide with every sharpener we sell. The guide has worked pretty well for the last ten years or so - it's only two pages long, but it has helped thousands of people master the sharpener's capabilities with no trouble at all.
SHARPENING HAND TOOLS
Chisels and plane irons almost always get the benefit of being jigged in a simple optional aluminum fixture manufactured for the purpose. The Hand Tool Jig replaces the Makita tool holder, but rides on the tool rest in a similar fashion, allowing easy set-up for correct grinding angle. We also use the sharpener on the backs as well as the bevels of some tools. Though we're fanatic enough to insist on using a lapping plate or a diamond stone for flattening the backs of plane irons, we've found no faster or more effective way to polish the backs of chisels than the 9820-2.
Hand tools other than chisels and plane irons can be sharpened freehand far more easily than you might expect. The tool rest can be removed from the front of the sharpener, leaving the front 3/4 of the sharpening stone fully accessible. All you have to do is show the tool to the stone at whatever angle is called for, and let the stone do all the work. Knives of all sorts are simply stroked lightly across the stone at a low angle; scissors, screwdriver blades and gardening tools can be ground or sharpened with a few seconds work and very little effort.
Well, gosh. Sounds too good to pass up - guess we'd rush out and order one ourselves if the 9820-2 we've been using for years weren't perfectly sound. The Makita sharpener is one of our top two or three all time low maintenance machines; we've had no more than two or three calls for help in all these years. If bells and whistles are where you get your jollies, there's bound to be something else out there that will make you happy. But if you're willing to settle for a sharpening machine that's just simple, effective and reliable, we've got your number. Give us a call.
This article has been provided by Highland Hardware, Inc.
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