Ask any woodturner how often his or her tools should be sharpened, and you’ll probably hear “they can’t be sharpened often enough.” For that reason, a bench grinder is a requirement in the woodturner’s tool collection.
That said, may of us (myself included) are working with limited space in our workshops, and every inch of bench space is worth its weight in gold – if we have benches at all. There are bench grinder stands on the market, but none of them account for the addition of a sharpening jig for sharpening turning tools, such as ONEWAY‘s excellent WOLVERINE grinding jig. These factors lead to a little creative thinking when I purchased my grinder (a JET JBG-8A, which I highly recommend if you’re looking for a quality, no-frills grinder), and I came up with the perfect solution on how to mount a bench grinder for the space-challenged: mount it on a tool chest.
Mounting the grinder on a tool chest has a couple of big benefits for smaller shops (and even larger ones): the tool chest has a small footprint, and because it’s on casters, it can be positioned as needed. The tool chest can also provide additional storage that a work bench may not accommodate.
The chest I chose to mount my grinder to is a Craftsman 26″ 4-drawer rollaway chest. The chest is one of Sears’ more affordable models, and can often be found on sale (I purchased mine on sale for less than 50% of the MSRP). Whichever chest you choose, make sure the casters feature some sort of locking mechanism, as you’ll want to make sure the wheels are locked while using the grinder.
Because each grinder and chest will vary in size, I’ve excluded the measurements from this guide.
What you’ll need:
4/4 Laminated Pine
3/8″, 3″ long bolts + washers & nuts (x2, for mounting the grinder to the base)
3/8″, 1.5″ long bolts + washers & nuts (x4, for mounting the base to the chest)
3/8″, 1″ long bolts + washers & nuts (x4, for mounting the platform to the base)
You may be tempted to mount the grinder directly to the chest instead of using the wooden base. I recommend against doing so for a few reasons. First, if your grinder is as heavy as mine is, the top of the chest is likely to bow under the weight. Using a base will distribute the weight across a surface that is more stout than the top of the chest, preventing bowing and dampening vibration (that second item is important). If you’re using a grinding jig system, it’s also easier to install on a board than the metal top. Finally, the base can help raise the grinder up a bit so that you’re not hunched over it while sharpening your tools.
To get started, take measurements of the top of your chest in order to determine the size of your base. If your chest has a lip at the top like mine does, make sure to measure from the inside of those lips. Once done, mark out your board and cut it down to size.
After cutting your base out, you should have plenty of wood left to create your platform for the grinder. Why do you need a platform? Most grinders must be lifted slightly to accommodate for the grinding jig. If you don’t intend on using a grinding jig, you can likely omit the platform, but you may find it beneficial to raise the grinder a little higher. Measure out the size of your platform by measuring the base of your grinder; I added 1/2″ to the length and width measurements to account for any unexpected design changes. Once measured, mark your board and cut your piece.
If you’re as lucky as I am, your grinder will have a removable plate at the bottom. Use this plate to mark the holes you’ll need to drill for the mounting bolts. If you don’t have a removable plate to use, carefully measure where your holes will be. Once measured, drill two holes through the platform for your mounting bolts.
With your holes drilled, it’s time to position the platform on the base. I centered my platform width-wise, and then backed the platform slightly away from the front of the base (no more than 1/2″). You want to keep the grinder as close to the edge of the base/chest in order to give yourself the most room possible for sharpening long-handled tools. When you’re happy with the position of your platform, mark your two holes on the base. Using a 1″ forstner bit, drill two holes about 1/2″ deep to counter-sink your mounting bolts (note that you’ll be counter-sinking from the bottom of the base), then drill through the remaining thickness of the board with your regular drill bit.
Now that your mounting holes are drilled, you can drill the holes for your bolts to secure the platform to the base. I used 4 bolts here, though admittedly that may be a little overkill; you can likely do just fine with two. Once your positions are measured, you’ll want to drill 1/2″ deep counter-sink holes with your 1″ forstner bit; a pilot hole drilled through both pieces using a small drill bit may help you align your forstner bit properly. Once your counter-sink holes are drilled, drill through the rest of your stock using your regular drill bit.
With your platform preparation complete, it’s time to move onto measuring and drilling holes in the base, which you’ll use to mount the base to the chest. I measured my mounting bolts 2″ in from the edges on all four corners. Before you commit to this measurement, make sure it will not cause any clearance issues on your tool chest. Once you’re happy with your measurements, drill counter-sink holes in the top of your base, and then drill through with your regular bit.
After all your holes are drilled, it’s assembly time! Apply some glue to the bottom of the platform, place the platform on the base, and run the 1″ long bolts through your wood. Tighten all your bolts & nuts up, then clamp the edges of the platform down to create a uniform seal. Once your glue is dry, run your 3″ bolts through the base, platform and grinder base, securing with bolts up top. With your base/platform/grinder assembled, place the assembly on the tool chest, then drill through the chest to accommodate the chest mounting bolts. Be aware that you’ll create lots of little metal shavings at this point, so do this with an empty chest or with all of the drawers removed. With the holes drilled, you can now mount the assembly to the chest using the 1.5″ bolts. If you have one, install your grinding jig to complete your grinding station.