Review: Work Sharp 3000

So, the Work Sharp 3000 has been in my workshop for a few days now. With all the snow and plummeting temperatures this past week, my time spent in the workshop has been severely limited. Still, I’ve managed to have a ‘play’ on my new tool sharpener for a certain period of each day and now, I feel ready to share my initial thoughts and experiences.

Contents of the current offer, available only at Rutlands (for the UK).

This system utilises the now-infamous ‘scary sharpening system‘, where adhesive-backed PSA abrasives are mounted to sheets of float glass and used in place of traditional sharpening  stones. These abrasives will simply out-perform aluminium oxide and others when it comes to cutting metal – this also helps to keep the steel cool as you cut. A rotating disc takes the ‘graft’ out of sharpening. It is important that you always work with the disc spinning away from you; not only to prevent the tool from catching and tearing the abrasives but, if you let go, a sharp edge would only be propelled away from you. Below the disc is an adjustable tool rest for accurately grinding edges at 90°. An innovative airflow system helps to keep the steel cool though, you should always follow the instructions and work intermittently; grinding for about a second, then withdraw the tool (and repeat until you’ve got your edge). One feature I really like is that lower port is surfaced with a sheet of fine abrasive – each time you withdraw the tool, this immediately remove any burr on the back face, which does save a lot of work when you’re working a batch of  chisels. You don’t necessarily ‘need’ to slide the guide along to hold wider blades parallel. I do find it is handy for narrow tools, where it’s very easy to slip or prevent the edge on a slight skew. Blades less than 12mm in width should be worked from the left-hand side of the rest.

Skew Chisels, gouges and wide blades can be sharpened freehand above, using the supplied tool rest.
Chisels and plane irons up to 50mm wide can be accurately sharpened below.

To give this setup a through testing, I grabbed a handful of my chisels (some old, some new) and set about regrinding the primary bevel. Before that though, you should always check that the back is flat. Being able to work on both sides of each disc [two are supplied] is a great advantage here – you can set one up with coarse abrasives, for initial grinding and another with two of the finer grits. Changing between discs is dead simple and fast (remove and re-tighten the knob), which makes this system more easily accessible than others, where you may have to re-grade the stone or remove and fit a different grit altogether. Most of my chisels were in pretty good shape and didn’t require much work at all before I had a perfectly flat back. Some of my older ones were in need of greater attention, though, with a distinct hollow along the blade’s length (which is not strictly a problem on a plane iron). This where I found that the 120g sheets supplied are not coarse enough for heavy steel removal. You can buy sheets of 80g but, this only appears to be available as part of the Coarse Abrasive Kit, at £19.95. I am looking for an alternate supply… I’m prepared to even cut my own discs from full sheets but, Workshop Heaven only stock the finer grades and I don’t know where else to look.

If anyone has any suggestions, please do get in touch. Failing that, I will consider buying AlOx self-adhesive discs from Axminster.

A tool rest is supplied for grinding/sharpening on top of the disc. I’ve found this to be fairly robust and it doesn’t appear to move under load. It is tricky (and quite important) to keep it parallel to the disc as you raise it up. Otherwise, you may find your edges are cut out of square. In addition to the two flat glass discs, the standard kit contains a ‘slotted’ wheel which, as it spins, allows you to view the edge being created from above, as the tool is ground on the underside. This is great for many turning chisels and anything that is too long or awkward to grind on either of the tool rests.

Flattening the backs of chisels and plane irons is faster, easier and safer than you may think. Just don't tilt the tool forwards!!
There is no guide for this so, a marker pen works can be used highlight material removal. The view is clear as well - can you see the tape measure?

I mentioned in my previous blog post that one big appeal of this machine was the lack of sparking and heat build-up produced. And, on traditionally “thin” (most chisels and older/more affordable hand planes), this is very true. When I came to test the thicker O1 and A2 steels of my Clifton and Veritas irons, not only did it take longer to grind each edge but, every few seconds, I would see a spark shoot out. There’s no threat over-heating or ‘bluing‘ this steel here – they barely even feel warm – but, that does concern me a bit (hence, why I’m ever more keen to find a supply of 60g or even 40g abrasives). It’s also a possibility that these harder metals will have a great effect on the life of these abrasive sheets. Andy King (of Good Woodworking magazine) once mentioned something about noticing the odd ‘glowing ember’ as he was testing this product, a couple of years ago. This is also something I have noticed with the thicker steels. Even thin blades leave a black deposit as you grind the metal away but, I have noticed the odd bright spark flaring up beneath the spinning wheel – always work in a clear space away from any flammable liquids or materials and be cautious. But, that applies to other dry-grinding systems, particularly the cheap, high-speed machines. That’s one of the things that put me off the smaller 2000 model, where every video I could find appeared to show the tool running its own fireworks display!

Be aware that swarf can gather below the disc and around the machine. Harder steels produce more sparks, which increases the fire risk.
This On/Off switch is highly innovative. Removing the 'key' disables the machine. Ideal if you have children around. Why don't more tools have this?!

So far then, my only real gripe is that I feel we could do with a coarser abrasive supplied as standard for heavier material removal on tools that require a fair amount of work. On this occasion, I will probably have to look for an alternate solution for that. Having to grind certain tools freehand above and below the table may not appeal to all… It’s really not that difficult and this is genuinely a very safe tool to use. The abrasives and fine enough not to do you any serious harm should you accidentally make contact with your skin – unlike a belt sander of linishing machine. If you let go on top of the wheel then, the disc is rotating at a speed so steady that it barely rolls over the edge. You’re in little or no danger, here. There is an optional Wide Blade Attachment which fits to the tool rest on top of the machine. Baulking at the price though, I’m sure that we, as woodworkers, could produce something as-convenient from scraps of MDF and whatever we can salvage from elsewhere! In fact, I intend to have a go at this myself, some time. With that, I’d also like to make a purpose-built stand for this new arrival and also to store all the accessories that go with it [refer to the photo at the top of the page!] though, I will need to allow enough clearance around the machine for grinding long woodturning tools underneath.

An indicator beside the tool rest, which allows you to accurately grind bevels 20°, 25°, 30° or 35°.

As part of the current deal at Rutlands (the sole UK distributor of the Work Sharp range), a Leather Honing Kit is also included. Stropping is not something I would usually get involved with when honing by hand so, for the time being, I’ve yet to really use this to see what it can do. Working carefully and efficiently up through the grits though, I can confidently say that the Work Sharp 3000 gives excellent results and has great appeal any woodworker (hobbiest or professional) looking for a fast, clean and reliable solution. I appreciate that it may “look” cheap from the photographs (that was also one of my initial concerns) but, it’s stood up to everything I’ve thrown at it so far and does come with a two-year warranty for extra peace of mind. I would recommend this system to anyone without hesitation, even without having used a Tormek.

Thank you for reading. I sincerely hope you have found this interesting and useful. If you have any questions or thoughts, please, feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I’m sure there are other points I’ve forgotten, which I’ll suddenly remember after hitting the ‘Publish‘ button!! 😉

20 thoughts on “Review: Work Sharp 3000

  1. Hi Olly,

    thanks for the review. It pretty much confirms my own conclusions after taking the plunge at Christmas (2009) and buying the WS3000. I’m not a trained woodworker, just a lifelong DIYer, now retired and with an increasing interest in woodworking.

    I’ve tried a few ways of hand-sharpening bench tools in the past (oilstones, ‘scary sharp’ paper on glass), but was never very successful – I could never get the bevels consistent, it all took such a long time, and my tools never seemed really sharp.

    I’ve spent the first week or so of ownership bringing my chisels & plane blades (all about 30 years old, and in poor condition) up to scratch. I was prepared to be disappointed, but I wasn’t – I found the system performed pretty much as describe on the manufacturer’s website (video etc), and as described in other reviews.

    For a non-expert, like me, the most important thing is that the tool is easy and safe to use, it’s compact and portable, fairly quiet to run, and above all it gives good, consistent results quite quickly : I particularly liked the under-wheel port, which allows you to grind blades up to 2″ wide to a consistent bevel, and at an accurate 90 degrees (something I had never before been able to master).

    I’d like to add only a couple of things (a couple of which you, Olly, already mention):

    1. I absolutely agree about the need for a coarser starting grit. My blades were badly out of true after years of neglect, so there was a lot of metal to remove to flatten the backs and true the cutting edges and bevels. This took a long time with the supplied 120 grid, and the smaller/thinner blades got hot very quickly. The ‘cooling air-flow’ thing works fine when you are putting the finishing touches to the bevel, but when removing large quantites of metal with the 120 grit the blades can easily get very hot: I was constantly dunking them in a bowl of cold water!
    [Olly – if you find a suitable coarser-grit self-adhesive disc, I would very much like to know!]

    2. The promotional material makes the point that the tool isn’t messy to use (no oil, no water, etc). And this is true once you’ve go your blades up to scratch. But when you are removing all that initial metal, don’t think for a moment this is a clean process! All that abraded metal has to go somewhere, and mostly it goes over the back of the machine and onto the workbench behind!

    3. Its a shame the under-wheel port won’t take the wider plane irons (2 5/8″) – I’m not looking forward to sharpening the iron of my No. 5 1/2 jack plane ‘freehand’ on the top surface, having experienced the ease and accuracy of the under-wheel port.

    I can’t speak for professional woodworkers, but if you are relatively inexperienced (like me), yet have understood how important well-sharpened bench tools are, and if you can stretch to the price. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this system.

    Thanks again for the review, Olly, and I hope my additional comments are useful.

    1. Hi Chris,

      Many thanks for reading and for your comments.

      Glad to hear that we are in agreement with many things! I’ve met a growing number of professional woodworkers online who also use this system.

      You mention that some of your chisels were getting hot very quickly when you needed to remove a lot of material on the backs – this is not something I’ve yet found with my tools. Although, when working on top of the wheel, I still work ‘intermittently’ (cutting and resting to) to prevent heat build-up. It sounds like you may be holding it on the disc for too long without a break? Or, it could be that your abrasives are wearing out?

      Freehand grinding really isn’t too hard. The hole bevel thing isn’t critcial – you could grind a couple of degrees off 25°, for example, and it wouldn’t affect the performance (I’ve read how some other people obsess over the accuracy of this but, it really isn’t that critical!!). If it is slightly out of square also, that shouldn’t matter on a hand plane, as you can use the Y-lever (aka. the ‘yoke’) for lateral adjustment to get it parallel to the mouth and sole of the plane.

      I will let you know if I find a solution to coarse grinding. I’m about to try a couple of other ideas in my workshop this week, which will involve sticking coarse abrasive to scraps of MDF, instead of using the Work Sharp, unfortunately. I will also e-mail Rutlands to see whether there’s anything they can suggest… The Coarse Abrasive Kit does interest me, as you get another disc but still, there are only two sheets for each grit. I’d rather find a more regular supply of abrasives 80g and less.

      Thanks again for reading and replying. Do let me know if anything else develops with your machine.


  2. Back again, with a bit more information.

    1. Abrasive discs – coarse grades
    Silveline do a line of 150 mm Self Adhesive Sanding Discs, in invarious grits, in packs of 10. You can get them for £2-99/pack from Amazon (no delivery charge if you wait a few days). Here’s a link for the 60 grit:

    I bought 3 packs, one each of 60/80/120 grit. They seem to be good quality, and they work fine on the WS3000 – all you have to do is puch/drill a central hole (12/13mm – exact size isn’t critical) to match that on the glass plate.

    I reckon they are good value, and just what I need for that initial ‘heavy-metal’ removal on blades that are badly out of true (incidentally, Olly, you were right about my overheating problem – I hadn’t noticed how worn the supplied 120 grit was getting – thanks! With the fresh, coarser grit it cuts much quicker & doesn’t need as much pressure – still gets warm, but no nearly so quickly).

    2. Additional ‘glass’ wheel
    I really wanted to have an extra wheel for the additional coarse grades, but being a cheapskate (:-)) I was reluctant to shell out the £20+ for the real thing. So I made one from some scrap 12mmm mdf. I marked it out from one of the supplied glass wheels, then cut the circle roughly a bit oversize with a jigsaw, and drilled a central 13mm hole. I then simply fitted a 10mm bolt though the central hole and clamped the rough-cut disc firmly on to the bolt between two penny washers with a nut tightened to the head of the bolt. I then put the bolt into the chuck of the drill on my old drill-stand, spun it up, and used a surform rasp to form the edge into a smooth circle of the right size.

    It is a bit thicker than the glass wheel, but it clamps on the WS spindle OK and it seems to work fine. I don’t suppose its quite as flat as the real thing, so it might not be good enough for honing & the finer grits, but for the initial coarse work I believe it’s perfectly adequate. That’s another £20 saved!

    One drawback would be if you have the wide-blade attachment, since the extra thickness of the mdf wheel means you can have the table aligned to the plane of both thicknesses of wheel.

    3. Wide-blade attachment
    Speaking of which … now I wondering if I can’t avoid shelling out £60 for the wide-blade attachment. I mean … how hard can it be to make a flat platform that can be aligned with the plane of the spinning wheel?? I’ve already got a cheap honing guide. Hmmm …

    1. Hi Chris,

      Good to hear from you and also to hear that you have found your own solution!

      I once bought some abrasives rolls made by Silverline and didn’t like them at all. If you say the discs are good enough for rough grinding though, I’ll take your word for it. I was looking at buying some from CSM Abrasives but, at that price, it’s hard to resist!

      How easy are they to remove, when you want to change to a different grit?

      I never would’ve thought of making another disc from MDF or ply – another great idea! I also agree; this will be flat enough for removing the high spots and doing the donkey work. Last year, I used a sheet of 18mm MDF to flatten my no.6 plane because – it did the job fine and was much cheaper than buying a large sheet of float glass.

      Look forward to seeing how your own wide-blade attachment turns out. It can’t be that hard to make your own. I think the biggest challenge is in mounting it to the tool rest?


  3. Hi Olly,

    a quick update (I delayed replying to give adequate time to do some proper tests):

    a) Removing Silverline Self Adhesive Sanding Discs

    You must be prescient :). Yes – there are indeed some problems. The 120 grit, which I adhered to a glass plate, came away fairly cleanly (but not completely) after a couple of weeks use. A few small patches of paper left behind, but they cleaned off fairly easily. Not nearly as cleanly as the proprietary discs, but not too bad considering the price of the disc.

    However, the coarser grits, which I adhered to the MDF plate, made a fair old mess on removal – lots of bits of paper substrate left behind, and it even made a few pits in the MDF – all this in spite of having put a couple of coats of varnish on the MDF before applying the discs. It took a fair bit of cleaning off & repair (10-15 mins, maybe?. Nonetheless, the grit itself was still in good condition, despite a quite a bit of use – I actually removed the disc well before it was exhausted, just to test the adherance problem. I’m now trying out another solution – leaving the backing paper in place, on the disc, and adhering the whole thing to the MDF with a repositionable spray adhesive (the sort that’s used in craftwork – Bostick spray, or 3M repositionable, or similar).

    I think there is probably a solution here somewhere – still, if you come across a reasonably-priced SA disc which detaches easily, I’d be very glad to consider it :).

    b) Wide-blade attachment
    The solution (to grinding/honing a wide plan blade) turns out to be rather simpler than building a table – I used the supplied tool rest together with my existing, cheapo honing guide. You start with the blade inserted & clamped in the guide, with the require projection, as if to use on a flat table. The bottom of the projecting blade and the front of the guide make an angle which sits nicely on the top of the round tool rest, around which it can be securely rotated to lay the bevel of the blade onto the abrasive disc.
    The trick, of course, is to raise the toolrest to the correct height for the required bevel angle, and to level it so the blade grinds at right angles or nearly). I discovered that, by laying a 2″ plan blade flat on the disc, projecting between the two clamps of the toolrest, then letting the toolrest settle onto the projecting blade, I got the top of the toolrest pretty much at the right height and pretty much parallel to the plane of the disc.

    It might not satisfy a purist, but it certainly gave a consistent, good edge to my wide plane blade, not competely square but near enough to adjust with the ‘Y-lever’. And it’s easy to adjust the toolrest height when you switch from the (thicker) MDF disc to the (thinner) glass one.


    1. Hi Chris,

      I’m surprised you’re still having trouble removing the adhesive-backed discs after varnishing the MDF. Another thought occurred to me earlier, for when you’ve depleted your current supply of abrasive discs – I’m sure you can buy the hook and loop backing used to hold velcro discs on sanders. This would further increase the overall thickness of the disc but, it would make removal so much easier. These backing discs are generally self-adhesive. Or, you could use spray mount or similar.

      If I remember where I saw them, I’ll let you know… It might have been Tilgear or CSM? In the mean time, I bought my own self-adhesive discs (after your link) last week and will see how I get on with them (hopefully, this weekend).

      Not long before Christmas, I sold my cheap honing guide because I never used it – how I wish I had held on to it, now!! 😀 Oh well, I bet they pop up frequently on eBay.

      Have you found an easy way to set the tool rest parallel to the disc? I reckon it only requires a simple heigh-setting gauge but, I never quite get it right first-time by eye.



    2. Hi again Chris,

      I’ve been out today and made a couple of 12mm MDF discs. I gave each one a coat of sanding sealer (shellac but, any kind would do) and then a coat of wax (beeswax or similar should be fine). For me, this works very well. The discs seem to stick well and I can peel them off reassuringly without any tearing or chunks being left behind.

      Saying that, I’ve only been using them for a couple of hours today… The true test will be for once they’ve been there for days or even weeks on end.

      12mm MDF is certainly flat and sturdy enough but, for the sake of thickness, I’d have been better off with 9mm… The thread on the securing knob is not long enough to pass through a 12mm disc with AlOx sheets on both sides. It’s fine if I only work on one side and flip it over.

      It does look as though the knob may come apart some how… Failing that, I may try and make one out of wood with a longer thread or, drill a larger, shallow hole are the existing one in the abrasive disc, about 1mm deep. Not too large a diameter, otherwise the disc may not sit on the flange washer correctly below. The problem is still cutting a hole of this size without a bearing point for the centre of a forstner bit.


  4. Hi again Olly,

    a) adhering the abrasive discs

    waxing it – of course!! Why didn’t I think of that?
    The solution I intended trying out (in my last post – by leaving the backing paper on, and adhering the disc with repositionable spray) has worked fine – perhaps because I gave the repaired MDF surface several spray-coats of gloss acrylic lacquer (which gave a much smoother glossier, harder surface than the brushed varnish) before adhering the disc. Anyway, I’ve been using that abrasive disc on-and-off since I last wrote, and I’ve just peeled it off (backing paper still attached) & re-attached it with no problem at all.

    I shall try your sealer + wax solution when it comes time to change the reverse side (still stuck firm on the original varnished surface). Let me know the result when you’ve had time to give it a good trial.

    [PS: are you using the Silverline discs, or have you found something better?]

    b) MDF thickness

    I know what you mean about the securing knob. On my machine, with abrasive on both sides of the 12mm disc, the thread *just* bites with a little downward pressure (I can tighten it, by hand, maybe half a turn). So far, this seems to be sufficient to secure the disc, particularly as I think there is a self-tightening action when it spins up. It’s very marginal, though – maybe the thread projects just that bit more on my securing knob? Or my 12mm MDF is a tad thinner than yours?

    Luckily, I have a tin full of old bolts (never throw anything away, is my moto!) – some going back to the year dot – among which I found one long enough and with the right diameter and thread (goodness knows what it that is – not metric, obviously – 1/4″? Some old imperial thread type?). I’ve set it aside as a back-up in case, like you, I need to make a knob. Personally, I’d be reluctant to fiddle with the supplied knob in case I screwed [:-)] it up beyond repair, and had to get an expensive replacement from the manufacturer.

    Re your problem of drilling a wider, shallow hole, centered on an existing hole: the only time I’ve done something like this, I was able to glue a dowel of the correct size into the existing hole, giving a bearing point for the wider bit centre. After making the larger, shallow hole, you can then re-drill the dowel out with the original size drill. What a pain, though! – and it assumes you’ve got some dowel of the correct diameter. I guess that’s not an option for you – probably easier to make new discs from scratch with the thinner central section.


    PS: regarding your question “Have you found an easy way to set the tool rest parallel to the disc? I reckon it only requires a simple height-setting gauge but, I never quite get it right first-time by eye.”
    So far I’ve just used the method I described in my previous post – setting the *bottom* of the tool-rest parallel with the *top* of the disc, by projecting a piece of flat iron (a 2″ No5 plane blade, in my case – luckily of about the right thickness) from the top of the disc, and setting the tool-rest on it. It’s a reasonable way of getting the tool-rest parallel with the disc : the fact that it’s about the right resulting height to use with my low-tec honing guide was pure luck – I’ve not tried anything more sophisticated.

    1. Hi Chris,

      Yep, I’m using the cheap Silverline discs as you suggested. They seem to last long enough with ordinary steel but modern O1 or A2 (thicker plane irons) really takes the edge of the grit. I may try buying some silicon carbide (from CSA Abrasives) discs just for these, as that material is supposed to last longer than the red aluminium oxide. I also hope they may produce less sparks (like the standard Work Sharp discs).

      That’s a great tip on drilling a larger hole and I have an idea as to how I can put that in to practice! 😉 My MDF is actually the green, moisture-resistant grade and measures 13mm thick. I’ll give it a try though.

      I’ve still got to try and build my own jig for the tool rest – I’ll let you know how that goes!



  5. Hi Olly,
    I’ve just ordered one of these myself and was wondering if you have come up with an alternative for the wide blade attachment?
    Thanks in anticipation, and great review and website.

    1. Hi James,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Not so long ago, I ended up buying the wide blade attachment from Rutlands, while they had one of their 10% sales on… 🙄 To be perfectly honest, I wish I hadn’t bothered. 😛

      Don’t get me wrong; it is well made and all. But, if you already have a decent honing guide and a setting gauge for the standard bevel angles then you’re paying a lot of money for the same again, plus a platform to sit it on. What I’m getting at is that anyone could easily replicate this with a scrap bit of ply or MDF. The only crucial factor is that the top of the platform is flush with the top of the abrasive disc and your honing guide of choice can sit on top. If you could also make it so it was adjustable for height then, you’ve essentially got the same thing and saved yourself a wad of cash in the process.

      It is expensive for what it is. Even if you don’t already have a decent honing guide (take the Veritas MkII as an example – one I own and highly recommend), you shouldn’t have to pay much more than £30-40 for one of those alone. The WorkSharp guide is only design for accurately grinding 90° edges where as, other systems may allow you to hone and grind skew chisels.

      One thing going in their favour is that they may possibly have other accessories in mind for the future, looking at the way this platform is designed – I’ll see if I can photograph and do a brief post on it all shortly.

      Thanks again,


  6. I was thinking about getting one of these for shapening straight razors. I was wondering if there was like a reverse button on the thing that allowed you to make the abrasive spin in the opposite direction.

    1. Hi,

      Sorry, but there is no ‘reverse’ function in this machine. The disc only rotates in the one direction, and that’s anti-clockwise.

      My positive opinions from the original posting still remain today – excellent machine for sharpening that couldn’t be simpler to use. 🙂

      Thanks for your message,


      1. Hi Olly ,

        How’s the worksharp still going strong ? I’m thinking of buying one would you still recommend them ?

        Chris (chippy1970 on ukworkshop)

      2. Hi Chris,

        Yes, nothing’s really changed in my opinion. I still wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the 3000 model to anyone. It’s the kind of purchase you won’t regret, once you realise how simple to use, quick and effective it can be.

        Thanks for your message. Elu drill is still going strong, by the way. 😉

  7. HI chris, great review on the 3000, been looking at this for a while, what about the power do you just use a transformer thanks dave K

    1. David (I assume you were asking me? 🙂 ),

      My Work Sharp 3000 came from Rutlands, with a standard 3-pin UK plug for 230v 13amp sockets.

      When you ask about using a 110v transformer, I assume you’re referring to units imported direct from the US? That should also work.

      Thanks for your question,


  8. I bought a worksharp 3000 this week just used it tonight on a couple of chisels and its amazing so easy to use. The chisels have an almost mirror finish to them thanks for the review Olly and glad to hear my old drill is still going .

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