"What? A $600 machine that just sharpens hand tools?" That's the reaction I've heard when introducing my pals to the latest in sandpaper-sharpening technology, the Lap-Sharp LS-200. It's the brainchild of a single-minded engineer, Don Naples, who has spent years testing and refining what he considers the ultimate sharpening machine. Naples wouldn't settle for second-best in design, materials or abrasives, which accounts for the high price. So, does it measure up?
I've used this machine for a few months now and I'm a believer. It delivers an incredibly sharp edge very fast. It's virtually impossible to overheat a tool. But just as important, I can use it to flatten and bring the back side of any chisel or plane iron to a mirror polish much faster than I can by hand. That's the "Lap" in Lap-Sharp. It's a critical and often over-looked step in sharpening a hand tool, new or old, and this machine does it better than any other. I am also able to sharpen my cabinet scraper and scraper-plane irons, no matter how thick they are, in no time flat.
The Lap-Sharp works like an old-fashioned record player. Instead of LPs, you interchange coarse, medium and fine platters. Additional super-fine grits are also available. Each platter is an aluminum disc covered with an easily replaceable adhesive-backed abrasive. To start and stop the machine, you step on or off a foot switch. This allows you to keep both hands on a tool, which is essential for accurate lapping. I highly recommend using an optional tool guide bar and holding jig ($80, see photo, above). For more technical information, visit the company's Web site or request a free DVD that includes a complete demonstration.
Wood Artistry, (707) 838-1976, www.lapsharp.com
Lap-Sharp LS-200, $600. Tool guide bar and holding jig, $80.