by PLANofMAN at 8:00 PM
(102 Views / 4 Likes)
There is remarkably very little information on the internet about the hand cranked grinders of yesteryear.

Photo credit:

I've spent a great deal of time lately scouring the internet for details and clues, all with the eventual end goal of finding the "best" of these mechanical marvels, and putting it or them to the test.

Of course there were dozens of manufacturers, with dozens of grades and sizes per manufacturer, and also different designs for different jobs. This has made the task very difficult, near impossible. Add to this, they were made for about 100 years, with both the mechanical improvements and decline in quality that time brings to all tool manufacturing.

The final obstacle is that these were often heavily used, abused, and in many cases, when found, are just worn out.

I will be focusing on specifically the bench type grinders. There were usually three different grades each manufacturer made, each with a name unique to the manufacturer. For the sake of simplicity, I will call those grades "Home use," "Shop use," and "Industrial use." In general, the size dictated the use, and the manufacturer recommended the various sizes for different jobs, which I will paraphrase here.

4": Home workshop
5": Mechanic
6": Small workshop or private garage
7": Factories, machine shops, lumber camps, ranches, and plantations
8": Shipyards, rail and construction, machine shops, garages, industrial training schools.

As you can see, there's a bit of overlap on the 7" and 8" sizes with both being put to the same type of use, but the 8" size is designed for constant heavy use. The 4" and 5" sizes were designed to be readily portable.

At any given time, the vast majority of hand crank grinders you will find on eBay or Etsy will be of the "home use" variety. Cheap when new, and basically almost disposable. The vast majority took 4" or 5" stones, a size almost not made anymore, which renders them virtually useless for the modern day enthusiast. The largest size took 6" stones. Most of these had straight cut gears and cheap pressed in, babbitt style bearings. This covers about 90% of the hand crank grinders on eBay. These weigh perhaps 3.5 to 4 lbs each. (I'm told that harbor freight carries a 3" stone that works well on the smaller grinders).

The next grade of grinder is the "shop use" variety. More or less the same thing as the home use grinders, but designed to be used hard and long. The cases were stronger and bigger, the gears were better made, often helical cut, and two or three times wider than the home use gears, and the bearings were made of bronze, or gray iron, or in some cases, even ran on ball bearings as we passed from the 1920's and '30's into the age of electricity. They also tended to use bigger wheels, up to 7" in size. It is these 'diamonds in the rough' that the user hopes to find in his hunt through rusty piles of tools. The remaining 10% of the grinders on the market are these, with perhaps 10% of those being the size capable of using 7" stones. Those few weigh almost 20 lbs.

The industrial grade hand crank bench grinders are very few and far between, with a searcher lucky if he finds but one in his lifetime. These exclusively took 7" or 8" stones, and were of the very highest quality. They were also monsters, weighing between 30 and 50 pounds.

The final group of machines, which I have not spoken of yet, are the "high speed" bench grinders. Whereas a regular hand crank grinder has between a 7:1 to 12:1 ratio, meaning the grind stone makes 7 to 12 revolutions per 1 crank of the handle; high speed grinders make between 22 to 30 revolutions per crank. Indeed, the fastest of these can spin faster than a modern grinder, provided the 'crank monkey' turns the crank as fast as he or she can. A relatively sedate speed of one crank per second will get the wheel on a 30:1 grinder spinning at 1,800 rpms, which is faster than the 1,750 rpms the average woodturner's electric "low" speed grinder operates at. A regular electric bench grinder runs at over 3,000 rpm, which is much faster than needed or wanted for sharpening tools. These grinders tend to have a distinctive boxy shape, similar to a squat tombstone, and are much wider than a typical hand crank grinder.

Unfortunately, they share the limitations of their less weighty cousins. Namely, that they take small stones. The bigger sizes; 7" and 8," are all but impossible to find, and the small 4" and 5" sizes are almost as elusive. For safety reasons, I cannot recommend regular stones on high speed grinders. These machines lack the guards and shields of modern grinders, that are designed to protect you in the event that your stone detonates (fragments apart during use). Keep reading... there are alternative wheels.

Note: hand crank grinders differ in one major way from modern grinders. The user faces the crank and generally observes the grinding process...
by Queen of Blades at 1:33 AM
(2,825 Views / 9 Likes)
Here's your chance to help support TSD, and feed your ADs!

Unfortunately, due to shipping expenses, this raffle is not open to members outside the US, unless otherwise noted by the prize donor.

To enter:
1. Go to the TSD Donations Paypal page here.
2. Enter $5 for each ticket you'd like to purchase.
*Please include your username.
3. Then pay!

Simple as that. $5.00 to enter this raffle!

"May I enter more than once?" Of course! Just send $5.00 per entry! So if you want to buy 2 raffle "tickets", then change the quantity to $10 and pay! Want 3 raffle "tickets"? Change the quantity to $15 and pay! And so on...

The deadline for entries is midnight EST Tuesday, June 15th, 2021.

Winners choose which prize they want, in the order their number is drawn. Yes, this may take several days. Patience is appreciated.

Prize must be claimed within 24 hours. If you don't claim your prize within 24 hours, you will still receive a prize. You'll just lose your place in picking your prize.

Winners will need to private message the prize donor their full shipping info, including name.


1. $50 Amazon Gift Card

prize donor; The Shave Den @Queen of Blades
2. $30 ShaveNation Gift Certificate
prize donor; @Edison Carter
3. Vintage (tallow) Williams Shave Soap
prize donor; @John Beeman

4. Gillette Long Handle Black Beauty W3
good condition
prize donor; @John Beeman

5. Schick Black & Chrome L Injector
excellent condition
prize donor; @John Beeman

6. Burma Shave Coffee Mug
prize donor; @John Beeman

7. AutoStrop B2 Single Edge Razor
prize donor; @BBS

8. AutoStrop VC2 Single Edge Razor

w/ 8 or 9 Feather FHS-10 blades
prize donor; @BBS

9. Ever Ready Featherweight Single Edge Razor
prize donor; @BBS

10. Gem Featherweight Single Edge Razor

prize donor; @BBS

11. 6/8 Japanese Western Grind Straight Razor
scales by Glen Mercurio
12. $30.00 Mystic Waters Gift Certificate
prize donor; @Primotenore

-US Only
1us. 200 Voskhod DE Blades and a NOS tube of European Palmolive Classic shaving cream

prize donor; @IAmTheJody
2us. Yaqi DLC Head
prize donor; @Jorvaljr

3us. West Coast Shaving OC Head
prize donor; @Jorvaljr

4us. Valet Autostrop w/ Modified Gem Blades
prize donor; @Jorvaljr

5us. Lather & Wood Badger Brush
prize donor; @Jorvaljr

6us. Grooming Travel Kit
prize donor; @Jorvaljr

7us. Avon Aftershave - fragrance unknown
prize donor; @Jorvaljr
8us. Gillette Slim Adjustable
very nice condition, date code I-1
prize donor; @DaltonGang
9us. Diamondine No7
M.E. Reppenhagen, 11/16+ inch, Germany
Restored, and Shave Ready. Excellent Shaver.
prize donor; @DaltonGang
10us. Avon Wild Country Aftershave in milk glass
Van der Hagen Shave Soap
4th quarter 1956 Gillette Flare
Restored 1940's Ever Ready with Maseto Synthetic Knot

prize donor; @Enrico
11us. Pair of Avon Wild Country Dueling Pistols
prize donor; @Enrico

12us. Atlas Hair Clipper and Box
with spare spring...​