Wolverine Grinder Jig Setup

Photo: Wolverine Grinder Jig Setup 1If want to sharpen your tools at home, the same way you learned in a class, then you need to have the same grinder setup at home.

If you want to match the setup in my Studio, then here is what I recommend.

Go with an 8″ Grinder with CBN Wheels

Photo: Wolverine Grinder Jig Setup 2Your grinder MUST be an 8″ grinder! Fast or slow grinder, is a don’t care. See my “Low Cost Industrial Bench Grinder” blog entry.

6″ grinders DO NOT work. The geometry does not come out right. i.e. you will not be able to sharpen your tools to the shapes you want.

I now recommend at least one CBN grinder wheel for newbies. See my “CBN Grinder Wheels” blog entry.

Go with the Wolverine System

Photo: Wolverine Grinder Jig Setup 3The “Wolverine” sharpening jig system by Oneway is the de facto standard! It is the system you find in all of the craft schools. It is the system used at all of the woodturning symposiums. If you ask some one how do you sharpen XYZ. They will tell you to use the ABC setting on the Wolverine jig. If you don’t have the Wolverine system then you will be screwed.

Photo: Wolverine Grinder Jig Setup 4Thus, I STRONGLY recommend going with the Wolverine system. Their use to be cheaper alternatives. The prices on the cheaper systems have gone up in recent years. They are now all in the same price range. Go with the de facto standard! The Wolverine system.

Note: It is all in the motion when it comes to sharpening tools. No jig does 100% of the job. YOU must use the jig correctly. i.e. move it with the correct motion. The best way to learn the correct motion is by going to a class. And/or watching the sharpening segment on David Ellsworth’s the “Ellsworth Signature Gouge” DVD.

Go with the Vari-Grind Jig

Photo: Wolverine Grinder Jig Setup 5Go with the original Wolverine “Vari-Grind” Jig. NOT the “Vari-Grind 2” Jig! Most people avoid the Vari-Grind 2 jig like the plague. It was a great idea that never really panned out.

The “2” jig restricts your motion to much. You can create one and only one nice rounded shape on the end of your gouge with the “2” jig. If it is the shape you like, then great, go with it. Otherwise you are screwed.

The “2” jig is $75. The original is $43. Need I say more?

You can NOT created the Ellsworth, Jordan, Stirt, or Hosaluk shapes that I like, with the “2” jig. You need the original Vari-Grind jig to create those shapes.

See my “Tool Sharpening Templates” blog entry and PDF file for how to set up the Vari-Grind Jig. See https://carlford.us/blog/2013/05/tool-sharpening-templates/

Mount on a MOVABLE Plywood Base

Photo: Wolverine Grinder Jig Setup 6I recommend mounting your grinder and the Wolverine Bases on a chuck of plywood that you can move around. See photo on right.

When you go to a class, learning how to sharpen is really important! If you can easily take your grinder to class then the instructor can help you get it right on YOUR setup.

If you are going to mount your grinder on a 3 leg stand then attach a SECOND piece of plywood to the stand. Use some drywall screws from the bottom to fasten the two pieces of plywood together. You can quickly and easily remove the drywall screws when you want to take your grinder on the road.

If you keep your grinder on a table or bench then the weight of the grinder will probably be all you need. No need to screw it down. You may need to add some rubber feet to bottom of plywood.

Shim the Grinder to 6-1/4″

Photo: Wolverine Grinder Jig Setup 7The directions that come with the Wolverine System say the center of the wheel on the grinder should be 6-1/4″ to 6-1/2″. Giving a range here is REALLY STUPID! It should be one and only number!

I set my grinders to 6-1/4″. See photo on right. Actually in the photo it looks like I need to shim the grinder up another 1/16 of an inch.

If one person has their grinder set to 6-1/4″ and someone else has their grinder set to 6-1/2″ then you CAN NOT use the same jig settings to get the same grind! You have to dork around with things.

Note: In some rare cases you may need to shim up the Wolverine bases if the base of your grinder is really tall.

Center the Wolverine Base

Photo: Wolverine Grinder Jig Setup 8Center the diamond in the Wolverine Base on the center of your grinder wheel. Like it says in the directions. See photo on right.

Align Front of Wolverine Base with Wheel

Photo: Wolverine Grinder Jig Setup 9This is really IMPORTANT! If you want to be able to use the same jig settings on the left or right wheel of your grinder then the front of the Wolverine Base MUST precisely line up with the front of your grinding wheel. Like it says in the directions. See photo on right.

Ellsworth Like Custom Jigs

Photo: Wolverine Grinder Jig Setup 10In my studio I have 3 custom jigs that I made. They are very similar to the Ellsworth Jig that is commercially available. The 3 jigs allow me and my students to very quickly and easily grind the 4 shapes I like. The tip extension with my jigs is always 2″.

I also have an Ellsworth style custom arm for my Wolverine bases that never moves. I use Ellsworth’s 4″ and 7″ standard for the arm.

The red jig (see photo on right) does the Ellsworth and Jordan bowl gouge shapes. You can purchase the Ellsworth Jig. If you want one of these.

The green jig does the Stirt bowl and detail gouge shapes. The blue jig does the Hosaluk detail gouge shape. If you want one of these then you have to make your own.

If you come to a class in my studio we can make these jigs if you want to use your class time for that. Otherwise I suggest you just purchase 2 extra of the Oneway Vari-Grind jigs. Semi permanently set 2 of the Vari-Grinds to the Ellsworth/Stirt and Hosaluk shapes.

The Ellsworth/Stirt setup is on page 5 of my “Sharpening Templates” PDF file. The Hosaluk setup is on page 6. See my “Tool Sharpening Templates” blog entry and PDF file for how to set up the Vari-Grind Jig. See https://carlford.us/blog/2013/05/tool-sharpening-templates/


1. If you want dedicated jigs, then purchasing 2 extra Vari-Grind is not really a crazy idea. Why? An Ellsworth Jig costs roughly $48. The price on Oneway Vari-Grind has dropped to roughly $43. If I was to make a custom jig for you, I would charge at least $50. All prices are as of 4/2/2020.

2. I have separate jigs for Ellsworth verses Stirt gouge shapes because my jigs are designed to always extend the tip 2″. You can get away with just one Vari-Grind jig for Ellsworth and Stirt gouge shapes. The shapes are very similar and I recommend extending the tip 2-1/8″ for Ellsworth and only 1-5/8″ for Stirt.

3. I use the same jig for Ellsworth and Jordan grinds. It’s all in the motion! For Ellsworth you want a rounded shape with a wing. You have to swing the handle on your gouge threw a nice arc to create this shape. The Jordan grind is straight across with a little arc at the tip. You just swing the handle over and hold it there to create the straight across shape.

2 thoughts on “Wolverine Grinder Jig Setup”

  1. Carl,
    Thank you for taking the time to create the blog and to keep adding to the imaterial in the blogs. The information about your templates was very helpful to me to understand a bit more about the process of sharpening. I finally have the Housalak grind correct and it now makes a great deal of sense to me.

    In another blog would you explain which grind you use for different tasks when turning. You know almost every teacher/professional has evolved their way of grinding for their style of work. Stuart Batty has the 40-40 grind which is a lot of fussing for not much as far as I have experienced. Mike Mahoney has the bottom feeder which is great for working on the bottom of bowls. Again, thanks for your blog. Stan Blanchard

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