I must chime in here once again and recommend my personal favorite
It works in a combination of the method that the star wheel and
dressing stick does. It leaves a very sharp, and smooth surface on the
grinding wheel. I've used nearly every other type of dressing method
and this one leaves the best surface for free hand grinding bar none.
The only drawback is the price. I must admit that the price is steep
(the only reason I've not got one at the moment). But I used one at my
former employers and will get one if I ever manage to have the extra
cash for it on a order.
Excellent choice when it has a sharp corner. They're made of boron carbide,
and far harder than silicon carbide. Problem is, just like a diamond, as
they wear, they quit cutting the wheel and start glazing it. As long as
you can keep a sharp cutting edge---they're very good.
I have serious doubts that it works as a star dresser. Indication are it is
nothing more than a revolving vitrified dressing stick, likely silicon
carbide. Star dressers work by hammering----they otherwise would be
quickly wasted. I have no quarrel with your statement about the results
of the device in question, but it's a high price to pay when a dressing
stick does the same thing.
Please correct me if I don't understand the nature of the dressing device
The wheel on the dresser normally runs at a slight angle. This
provides the sliding motion of the dressing stick. But the rotary
motion of the wheel pressing against grinding wheel causes a crushing
action similar to but much more controlled when compared to a star
dresser. For times when the grinding wheel is just dull and doesn't
need any real dressing you can turn it to run straight on with the
grinding wheel. This caused the crushing action which sharpens the
grinding wheel without taking off any more than is needed. I can say
from experience a wheel dressed this way will cut 5x faster (or more)
than one dressed with a stick but still be as smooth and easy to
control as a stick dressed wheel. My experience is that the surface
left cuts better than any other method of dressing, diamond included.
Now for my big rough welding grinder I routinely use a star dresser.
In fact I've got the largest size they sell which is so much better
made and so massive that it does a pretty good job of smoothly
dressing a wheel. I routinely sharpen my largest drill bits on that
grinder after freshly dressing it flat with my star dresser (when
sharpening a 2 1/4" drill bit it helps to have a grinding wheel wider
To give you a idea of how much I like the results of this type of
dresser I'll say that I was very seriously considering making one for
a while. At that time nobody I could find was selling them. MSC didn't
have them for a number of years. Now as you know I've got a working
shop and the time needed to make one would cost several times what
they sell for. But I wish for one so often (like today when I was
sharpening a HSS tool) that I had it on my list of things to build
till I found them in the catalog. I currently use a dressing stick on
my tool sharpening grinder and I'm definitely not satisfied with the
performance of the wheel when I use it.
So far it sounds very good. The sliding motion you speak of helps eliminate
any grooves or high spots in the wheel, but can also be the source of grain
dulling. That approaches the performance level of a stick.
You likely know that crush rolling is one of the accepted methods of
dressing profiles on grinding wheels, but it's usually accomplished at slow
speed, powering the crush form, so the grinding wheel doesn't abrade the
roll form, and the roll form doesn't dull the grain of the wheel. This
tool is a serious compromise on that method, and likely still dulls the
grain ever so slightly. Like a stick!
How much difficulty can you recall in getting a wheel rounded up when it's
bouncing? Seems to me that applied pressure, if the tool works as you
suggest, would make that task difficult. That's one of the complaints I've
always had with a star type dresser, In order for it to function, it has to
be loaded. If it's loaded on a bouncing wheel, it's a slow process getting
the high out of the wheel because it's lowering the low side at almost the
same rate as it's removing the high side. That's not true with a diamond
or a stick.
I'll take you at your word, Wayne. I've never even seen one of the devices,
and would hesitate to rush to judgment.
No need to rush to judgment here. This one is a no-brainer. A diamond
dressed wheel is about the most useless wheel there is if you're offhand
grinding. I've used more than enough diamond dressed wheels for just about
any occasion you might imagine, from internal grinding to centerless
grinding. There's nothing that equals such a wheel, but ONLY if it's run
under power conditions, and generous flood coolant. For offhand grinding,
they cut hot and poorly. A diamond dressed surface is just too smooth to be
effective for hand work.
Didn't realize the size of work you did, but I fully agree here. The only
reservation I'd have is that the wheel, unless well undersized, is very
poorly matched to the work at hand. Doesn't mean it wouldn't work, just
means it's too hard for good grinding of HSS
I can't help but think that part of your less than equal satisfaction is how
you're using the stick, Wayne. I've been using one for well over 40 years,
and I can get any wheel to cut well (I admit I don't have one of those trick
dressing tools so I can compare), but I've used a star dresser and can come
very close to the same performance they yield. Difference is that the
stick always dulls the grain ever so slightly---but if you present sharp
edges, that's almost not detectable.
One thing you have to learn to avoid is letting a flat side of a stick to
rub on a wheel in the hopes of achieving a flat surface. If you're doing
that, I have no doubt, you're not going to like the wheel when you're
finished. That's not an acceptable technique----it dulls the wheel too
Thanks for the great report. Always a pleasure to read your posts.
OK but... wont the dressing stick quickly wear out the sharp corner?
You say that a stick will last a hobbyist a lifetime.
How do we get a sharp corner to last?
I do not have one of those $2.90 sticks, was too dumb to pay $10 for a
diamond but I am going to get one as soon as figure how to use it properly.
The stick does slowly degrade, but keep in mind it's a vitrified product, so
it not only wears, it also allows dull particles to dislodge. That exposes
new, sharp grain, just like a grinding wheel. Understand that you won't
have a *sharp* corner in the sense of a new stick, but you have projections
that are not large in area, and act effectively on the wheel, very unlike a
broad, flat surface. They work, and very well, but you have to develop
the technique. That includes choosing the right places on the stick to apply
to the wheel. It makes a lot of sense when you use it---but it may not
sound logical unless you've "been there, done that".
Same way you keep a diamond sharp. Diamonds that aren't mounted in an
offset holder, and are used only in one position, or are used free hand,
eventually are dulled to the point they are useless. By mounting in an
offset holder, as the diamond establishes a flat, you rotate it slightly,
presenting the edge of the flat. Think like that when you use the stick.
You're constantly creating new edges, the just aren't 90°, but they don't
have to be.
To be best served, you should have a diamond and a dressing stick, and know
when to use each one. That comes into focus quite readily when you start
using them. Dressing stick is almost impossible to not
have------particularly for those of us that have a background in grinding.
I have heard the same tale. Short of the aluminum bonding to the
wheel and then expanding from the temperature increase as someone
tries to force the wheel wheel to work and fracturing, I don't see how
this would happen.
As far as first best method overspeeding seems like the ticket other
than jamming something into the wheel, dropping a wheel and later
Not from the position of authority.
The theory, as I understand it, is that the spaces in the wheel that
determine its ability to deal with swarf, get compacted, fracturing the
wheel. I can see how it could be, but I've never read anything to
substantiate the claim.
Aluminum should be ground with a silicon carbide wheel, not an aluminum
oxide wheel. Proper structure helps in keeping the wheel from loading, but
it's always a PITA to grind aluminum. I had to run it through a
centerless on rare occasion. Never did achieve a level of success the way
you could with ferrous alloys.
The angle is slight so the sliding is minimized.
I'm sure it does compared to a full fledged crush rolling.
It's the best method I've used bar using a guided diamond (one
that's on a slide). I know what you're talking about on the star
dresser. With the average star dresser it's hard to impossible to get
a wheel really round. I have pretty good luck with my large one (which
by the way would cost as much as the Crackerjack if bought new, mine
came from a auction in like new condition for cheap). I've used star
dressers that where so worn that it was totally impossible to really
true a wheel.
Of course I'm sure you know that the proper use of a star dresser
calls for the backing away of the rest and hooking the bottom of the
dresser on the rest so you can lever it into the wheel. Not that I do
it that way myself (to much time involved). I do set the dresser on
top of the rest and press down pretty hard to prevent the jumping of
the dresser .
When I first started using grinding wheels I was pretty young. I
started working my dads old barn when I was around 8. My dad didn't
have much of a shop out there. I was forced to gather up what tools I
used. My first grinders where all just surplus motors with grinding
arbors installed. The motors where invariably 1750 so where way to
slow for proper wheel speed. My rests where always cobbled (when there
was one). That was where I learned to grind with a wheel that was to
soft and not get the wheel out of round (it's definitely a skill). I
slowly improved my grinding setup through my teen years but never did
have a really good setup till after I got out of the military and
started my own shop. Even then in the early years the grinder I had
didn't have as good a motor as it should have (It was a belt drive
that I welded up and was a decent grinder if I'd put a better motor on
My current grinding setup is far superior. I've got a really old
very well built 10" grinder that runs on 3 phase. It will coast for 15
minutes after turning it off (to give a idea of how smooth it runs).
That is what I use for tool sharpening. I've also got a home made
heavy duty grinder that came from my former employer. It's really old
and heavy built. It can take up to a 16" grinding wheel but only at 1
1/2" wide which is nearly impossible to find now days so 14" wheels is
what gets used on it.
There's also a really really old 18" flat face grinder. It's totally
impossible to get wheels for it and the one that's on it is way to
soft. I don't use it much but it's pretty handy for flat surfaces. I
plan to one day make a platen to go on it so that I can use 20"
sanding discs on it.
For a pic with the above in the background see here.
Then there's the 1" wide belt sander (really handy for deburring)
and the Baldor tool grinder with the diamond wheel for my carbide
They seem to work similar to a brake controlled dresser like used on
surface grinders (but I've never used one of those so can't say for
Agreed. I have a hand held diamond dresser which I used for shaping
grinding wheels when I was sharpening saw blades. It has it's uses but
is dismal for bench grinder. It does do a decent job of truing a out
of round wheel up but you'd better have something else to finish the
I know what you're saying but the wheels I have currently are really
to soft for most of my work. But they where cheap so I'm using them
up. I'm not real fond of a super hard wheel for large stock removal
anyway. I do use a rest for this type work and years of off hand
grinding experience allows me to keep a wheel running reasonably true.
I do have problems when some of my help uses it though.
Based on what you've wrote in other posts I feel that I'm using the
stick in the manner you describe. I figured out early on that
presenting the flat surface to the wheel doesn't cut it. My original
dressing stick that I got with my saw sharpening setup 20 years ago
disappeared a while back and I got another which performs in the same
way so I don't think it's the stick itself.
Thanks. I've not had much free time in the last year to do much
I've used a carbide-tipped masonry drill to remove accumulations of soft
metals from aluminum oxide wheels, where the doof that owned the grinder
thought grinding wheels were high speed sandpaper. Soft metals, plastics,
wood, rubber and anything else that needed "just a little more off".
The carbide tip will clear away the chunks of metal, but won't effectively
clean the surface of the wheel. One needs to be prepared for and protected
against flying bits of metal.
A follow-up treatment with a mounted diamond and a dressing stick is
required to get the wheel to cut properly.
I usually use one of those wheel dressing sticks. I call them a
carborundum, but that probably a trade name. You know the look like a
lava rock. I've used the soft white ones for cleaning diamond and CBN
wheels. The star dressers....well I've got em but rarely use them. The
norbide is great with fine wheels and for a little touch up. You can
grind AL with aluminum oxide wheels but I always load them first with
Beeswax, If I don't have any, I'll use crisco. I've even used bar soap
if thats all I got. Some of the best cutting fluid for Aluminum is
kerosine, but I rarely use it a mess and stinks. Mineral spirits works
well also. Don't use the Kool tool stuff unless it's made for aluminum.
I fully agree that you can grind aluminum with an aluminum oxide
wheel-----it just grinds better with silicon carbide.
Wheel loading was a serious problem for me when I ran aluminum through the
centerless, which wouldn't have been fun trying to load with anything. We
just struggled through the job----secure in the knowledge that it wasn't an
every day occurrence. Had it been, we'd have changed wheels on the grinder.
If I don't have any, I'll use crisco. I've even used bar soap
I was at the local tool store and happened to see this:
. I think I gave $9,
thinking it was going to be one of life's bad purchases. That was
over 5 years ago, and I still use it regularly. I would recommend
to anyone that likes a fresh, true surface for sharpening bits,
This may not help in getting out aluminum. I think I would use a
star wheel for that, and finish dressing with the diamond.
A live Singing Valentine quartet,
a sophisticated and elegant way to say I LOVE YOU!
Cluster diamonds dressing tools. Not exactly a new innovation, and not the
best solution to preparing a wheel for grinding offhand. Diamonds simply
leave the wheel too smooth for effective hand grinding----although they are
the very best for truing the wheel. For offhand grinding, a wheel dressed
with a cluster, that is then slightly roughed with the proper dressing
stick, will outperform a diamond dressed wheel. ALWAYS!