The front cover. The page size is 8.5 x 11 inches, 216 x 280 mm.

Figure 2.6 which shows that provided a cutting edge doesn’t crumble in use, more abrasion is needed to bring an edge with a small sharpening angle to a given bluntness than is needed to bring an edge with a larger sharpening angle to the same bluntness. This conclusion, drawn by Leonard Lee in his book The Complete Guide to Sharpening and confirmed by testing by Steve Elliott, overturns the conventional wisdom that the larger the sharpening angle, the less often that edge needs to be resharpened. The recommended sharpening angles for carbon tool steel turning tools were until 1956 30 degrees or less. Why then with the superior high speed steels used now have recommended sharpening angles greatly increased?

Published in November 2023, Sharpening Woodturning Tools (SWT) has 121 pages including a 5-page index. There are 242 illustrations.

Many turners have trouble sharpening, in part because there is a huge pile of conflicting and vague advices to choose from. SWT explains how you can sharpen consistently accurately, quickly, and without huge cost. Were SWT only to do this, its advices would merely add to the pile. SWT therefore analyses sharpening advices given in the last 70 years, and exposes those which are suboptimal.

SWT has five chapters:

Chapter 1, Introduction. Explains basic terms, and includes a table which shows how different the sharpening advices from 33 different turning book’s published since 1881 have been.

Chapter 2, Principles of turning and of sharpening. The foundation of the book on which Mike’s recommended sharpening methods, equipment, and nose shapes are based. Unfortunately much the sharpening advice given in the last 70 years is not soundly based on these principles.

Chapter 3, Sharpening materials and equipment. Discusses grinding and honing equipment and materials, analyses the three basic jig types, and the use of templates to set them.

Chapter 4, Sharpening different tool types. Mike advocates the use of sharpening jigs, but only if they can be set quickly and with repeatable accuracy. There are essentially two types of template, both invented by Mike and introduced in Mike’s 2001 book Woodturning Techniques. Turners can readily make their own templates from the designs provided. Many will find that the 13 pages on sharpening bowl gouges challenge both the way they turn bowls and the way they sharpen their bowl gouges.

Chapter 5, Conclusion. Summarises Mike’s research and concludes that despite the introduction of new materials and equipment, turning techniques and sharpening have in some ways regressed because the principles explained in chapter 2 have been neglected.

YouTube has adversely affected the publishing of how-to books. Why buy a book when you can get the info from YouTube for nothing? However, the book is still the best way to make SWT‘s analysis and information available. But rather than publish in the usual way, Mike has chosen to publish using Amazon’s print-on-demand facility. Just go to for North America, for the United Kingdom, for Australasia, and for  mainland Europe, put in the book’s title, and place your order. The book is then individually printed and bound, and delivered to you.

Figure 2.17 which shows that the smaller an edge’s sharpening angle, the greater the amount of regrinding required to restore the correct sharpening angle for the same angular grinding error. Therefore, if you’re going to take full advantage of cutting with edges with small sharpening angles, you’ll have to resharpen accurately. Hence the book’s promotion of grinding jigs and templates to set them.