Tool Restoration: Hand Cranked Grinder

In the summer months, there is a flea market near my home that opens every other Saturday.  I like go and have a poke around to see what old tools show up for sale.  I’ve had a bit of luck in the past and have found some great deals.  Of late, I have been getting more and more selective about what I buy.  I recently passed on a N0. 7 of good vintage that was being offered for only $35.  It needed a good rehab, and I just didn’t want to spend the time doing that when I already have one.   I have way more hand planes than I need and still have about 5 in the queue for restoration.  For me, buying an old tool means that I will completely restore it and this takes time.  I have limited time in the shop, so time spent restoring tools is time that I’m not building anything.  That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy restoring tools, in fact it’s a major part of why I started this blog.  I just feel that I have to strike the right balance between woodworking and tool restorations.

A couple of months ago, I went and did a little rust hunting at said flea market and stumbled upon this hand cranked grinder. The paint was almost completely gone, but all of the parts seemed to be there and it turned very smoothly. I picked it up, and saw that it had a $65 price tag on it.  I put it back down and was walking away when the seller told me that he was tired of lugging it around to flea markets as it was heavy. He said “give me $20 and it’s yours”.  That sounded like good deal to me, so I quickly handed over the 20, and beat feet before he had time to change his mind.

Here is the grinder in as-found condition.

Here is the grinder in “as-found” condition.

Looking a little rough.

Looking a little rough.

Most of the paint is gone.

Most of the paint is gone.

There were no manufacturer markings or logos.

There were no manufacturer markings or logos.

And yet, it still turned beautifully.

And yet, it still turned beautifully.

A hand cranked grinder is a tool that I have wanted to add to the collection for some time.  I’ve never put a lot of effort into acquiring one as they are heavy and shipping is usually more than the cost of the tool.  I just figured that someday, I’d come across one while poking around garage sales and flea markets.

Well, now that I have one, it’s time to completely disassemble it and restore it to its former glory.

A little PB Blaster penetrating oil on all the nuts and screws.

A little PB Blaster penetrating oil on all the nuts and screws.

Fully disassembled.

Fully disassembled.

Removing the nut that held the grinder wheel on the shaft was a nightmare.  I wrapped the toothed (geared) portion of the shaft in rubber and cardboard before using mole grips and a wrench to loosen the nut.  That didn’t work and even through the rubber and cardboard the grips chewed up the shaft a little.  I used a blow torch and penetrating oil, but that didn’t help either.  In the end, I had to clamp the assembly in a bench vise and use an impact driver to release the nut.

I buggered up the shaft a little.

I buggered up the shaft a little.

To smooth the shaft back out, I installed the threaded end of the shaft in the chuck of my drill press and used a fine-cut file to clean up the metal.

The wire well to clean up all the parts.

The wire wheel to clean up all the parts.

I won’t show you every single part before and after, but as an example, here is one of the bolts.

Before cleaning.

Before cleaning.

After cleaning with the wire wheel and polishing on the buffer.

After cleaning with the wire wheel and polishing on the buffer.

All of the cast parts that needed repainting were cleaned at the wire wheel and then sprayed with caliper cleaner.  This is a very strong solvent that removes any oils or greases and prepares the metal for priming.

After masking where needed, I primed all the metal parts.

After masking where needed, I primed all the metal parts.

The grinder originally was red all over.  I decided that I would keep the same color for the body, but that I would change the toolset, handle, and spindle to black.

The paint that I use is Dupli-Color Ceramic Engine paint.  It is heat safe up to 500°F.  Not that any of my tools will ever get that hot, but I find that the paint is incredibly durable once it has been baked on to the tools.  I sprayed three coats of paint onto all the parts and left them to dry for about 24 hours.

Top coat time.

Top coat time.

Then all the parts get put into the oven.   Before proceeding, either make sure your wife has an incredible amount of patience (or has gone out for the day).  In short, this stinks up the house pretty badly.  Here’s my baking schedule:

  • 170°F (the lowest my oven goes) for 30 minutes
  • 200°F for 20 minutes
  • 225°F for 20 minutes
  • 250°F for 20 minutes
  • 275°F for 20 minutes
  • 300°F for 1 hour
  • Turn off the oven, but leave it closed and allow it to cool slowly overnight.

I do it this way, to avoid damaging any of the cast parts or inducing them to warp.  Raise the heat slowly, and then let it cool slowly.  So far, I’ve had no problems with this method.

Time to bake them in the oven.

Time to bake them in the oven.

The grinding wheel on the tool was in pretty bad condition.  For a replacement, I needed a 6-inch diameter wheel, 1-inch thick, with a 1-inch arbor.  I looked on amazon, and saw that a new wheel was going to cost me about $27 dollars.  That’s when I remembered that I bought some random grinding wheel at a garage sale about two years ago. I think I paid a dollar for it and then stuck it somewhere in the black hole that is my shop.  I couldn’t remember where I put it, but searched my shop and found it.  Lucky Day!!!  It was the exact size that I needed.

I picked this up at a garage sale a couple of years ago. Lucky me, it fits!

I picked this up at a garage sale a couple of years ago. Lucky me, it fits!

All the parts cleaned, polished, painted, and ready for reassembly.

All the parts cleaned, polished, painted, and ready for reassembly.

I lubed and reassembled the grinder, then used a wheel truing tool to clean the surface of the stone.

Truing the wheel.

Truing the wheel.

I then put some Watco Danish Oil (mahogany color) on the wooden handle.

That looks a little better.

That looks a little better.

The ceramic paint should protect the metal parts for many years to come.

The ceramic paint should protect the metal parts for many years to come.

I wish I knew who originally made this.

I wish I knew who originally made this.

Not bad for $20 and a little paint.

Not bad for $20 and a little paint.

After the danish oil on the handle had dried, I felt it needed some poly.

After the danish oil on the handle had dried, I felt it needed some poly.

The handle looked a little dull with just the oil finish.

The handle looked a little dull with just the oil finish.

Some polyurethane finished off the handle nicely.

That's better.

That’s better.

And a second coat.

And a second coat.

Well, for about $21 and the cost of some paint, I think that I have given this tool a new life.

My blog has been getting a little infrequent lately.  I seem to be having some difficulty finding the time to put these posts together.  For my next post, I hope to show my process for restoring a hand plane from start to finish.  The plane in question is an English Stanley No. 4 ½.  The project is already finished and there are about 200 photos on my camera that I need to sort through.  I might have to break it into a couple of posts.  We’ll see.

 

– Jonathan White

About Jonathan

I am a woodworker and hand tool restorer / collector. I buy too many tools and don't build enough - I need help!
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25 Responses to Tool Restoration: Hand Cranked Grinder

  1. Marvin L McConoughey says:

    You have achieved a lovely improvement of the hand grinder. I’ve never seen another that comes close in qualityl

  2. Steve says:

    That’s a really nice grinder. If you look at the two projections where shafts are, there is an empty hole in one and a screw head in the other (at the very top). Those are for oilers. You will want to put a few drops of machine oil in those bearings each time you use this to keep the bearings from wearing out. Search mcmaster.com with “oil fittings” or maybe a local hardware store. If you skip that, at least plug the open hole so abrasive grit doesn’t get inside.

    Thanks for posting this,
    Steve

    • Jonathan says:

      Hello Steve,

      Thanks for those pointers, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I checked out the mcmaster site as you suggested. I did thoroughly oil the grinder when I reassembled it and used the small oil points that you mentioned. I think I might put a small piece of masking tape over the one uncovered hole to prevent grit getting in.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  3. Gunnar says:

    Are you baking it with the wooden handle on?

    • Jonathan says:

      Hello Gunnar,

      Normally I would advise removing any wood prior to baking. In this case however, I could not. The bolt that attached the handle to the arm had been peened over and I was not able to remove it. The wood survived quite well, but it sure did soak up a prodigious quantity of danish oil afterwards.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  4. Greg Merritt says:

    Awesome job! If I attempted to use the oven for this…it would be a suicide mission. 😉

    • Jonathan says:

      Hey Greg,

      I think a quote from Nelson Mandela is apt here: “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid. But he who conquers that fear.”

      Go forth and bake you painted tools… Fear not, making your whole house smell like a chemical factory… Of course, is this backfires and you really do succeed in raising the ire of you dear lady, then a quote from Winston Churchill might also prove useful: “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

      I hope that you are well. If you are likely to get shot, perhaps you should update your will to leave me one of those fantastic new Kannas that you’ve been making. Those look very cool indeed.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  5. Gavin says:

    As always Jonathan a sterling job up to your usual high standard. Glad to hear it isn’t just me with a small pile of tools waiting to be refurbed. Also glad to see the universal usage of technical terminology such as buggered when things drift off the course we desire. Gavin

    • Jonathan says:

      Hey Gav,

      It appears that you caught me revealing my English roots a little. I agree that “Buggered up” is indeed a highly technical term and not for the use of the unenlightened.

      What tools are you restoring? I hope you are well.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

      • Gav says:

        Currently a no. 6 Stanley Sweetheart , mostly lightly corroded and reasonably well used in the past then left probably to the next of kin with next to no interest in it hence why I came across it. A Tyzack dovetail saw which I need to do bit more work to after a quick tidy up and using for a while. Stanley no. 3 which shouldn’t take to much as it is in fair shape. Stanley no.81 scraper, new sole plate, light clean. The list goes on, mostly because of how random stuff comes up and how I purchase it. I am slowly working my way through the saws I have (wide and varied in type and quality) as I become more appreciative of different configurations and my proficiency in sharpening improves. Saws here are so often discarded or considered useless that I have found them amongst rubbish, been given them or bought them for a few dollars. My biggest holdup is the usual waiting until the need for a particular tool to facilitate a job outweighs the inconvenience of stopping the job and starting the refurb. I could do with finishing the shop to put it all in too, a familiar lament I know. Going alright, hope same goes for you.

        Regards,
        Gav

  6. erikhinkston says:

    I too have been looking for one of these, your post has been very helpful. Well done!

    • Jonathan says:

      Hey Erik,

      Thanks. I have wanted one for several years, but never actively pursued obtaining one. I think that they generally have a fairly low value, but shipping something this heavy isn’t cheap. I guess if you could get it in a flat rate USPS box it wouldn’t be too bad, but I figured that I’d eventually stumble across one and didn’t bother to comb eBay for once. Good luck with your hunt.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  7. Matt McGrane says:

    That’s fantastic, Jonathan. Great resto. I’ve been looking for a hand crank grinder for some time. I currently have no grinder of any kind. Always get outbid on eBay (can’t stand eBay), so keep looking elsewhere. I’m surprised yours can handle a 6″ wheel – I thought they were all for either 3″, 4″ or 5″ wheels.

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Matt,

      Your either going to thank me or curse me for this, but… You’ve got to check out Gixen.com. It is a great tool for winning eBay auctions. Set the top price that you are wiling to pay, and walk away. No stress, no emotional reaction causing you to bid higher, you either get it or you don’t. I love it. Of course, you’ll find your tool budget quickly spent, but….

      Thanks for your comments. Good luck with the tool hunting.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  8. Stefan says:

    Hi Jonathan,
    great refurbishing job. I was searching for one of these too. Luckily I was patient enough until I found one (or two) on the flea market. But as often I had other distractions than rehabbing them.
    Your post should give me that extra push.

    Cheers,
    Stefan

    • Jonathan says:

      Hey Stephan,

      As a project goes, this was a fairly small one. A little bit of time here and there over a few days, waiting for paint/primer to dry, and then baking. My time in the shop lately has been reduced to tinkering, so rehab projects that I can start and stop whenever I have some spare time to spend in the shop are great right now. Go for it!

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  9. jenesaisquoiwoodworking says:

    Hey Jonathan

    Super job there, I really like the bright red colour. I have never even thought of paint that gets baked to harden it. Your post got me thinking that I should see if anything similar might be available here.
    How often do you need to crank the handle while using it? I can imagine it would depend on the force that is applied to the wheel, but this tool must surely be kinder to one’s tools in terms of head generation??

    Have a wonderful day.
    Gerhard

    • Jonathan says:

      Hey Gerhard,

      How are you? The paint that I used is from the auto parts store and is designed for engine blocks. Here’s a link to the paint in question: http://duplicolor.com/product/engine-enamel-with-ceramic

      You have to turn the handle continuously while using the grinder (or enlist the services of a diminutive shop assistant). My only complaint about this particular grinder, and it may be a fault of all of them (I just don’t know) is that it doesn’t freewheel. By this I mean that the stone is geared directly to the handle and for one to turn the other also has to. You can’t turn the handle, get the stone up to speed, and then stop the handle, without also stopping the stone.

      I don’t know about “head generation”, but using this grinder at a slow speed should be very good at preventing heat generation in the tools. 🙂 🙂 🙂 (Sorry I couldn’t resist.)

      I hope you are all well,

      Jonathan

  10. Good to hear from you Jonathan
    As usual another of your great restoration job. I have a growing pile of stuff that await my turn at it… 🙂 Inspired by your results, I bought a few wheels for my grinders, will give it a shot soon.

    Bob and Rudy back home

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks, that sounds good. I look forward to seeing them on your blog. It’s a shame that you haven’t been able to train Rudy to restore the tools for you. That way, you could get on with the woodworking.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

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