View Full Version : Report on the Makita knife sharpener

Tom Jones III
03-02-2006, 12:28 PM
I recently bought the Makita 9820-2 Blade Sharpener from Amazon and I thought that I would give a report on how it works. I brief, I had to fiddle with it when I first got it but now that it is set up it sharpens quickly, consistently and sharper then I got from a professional service.

So far I've used it to sharpen 2 sets of 13" planer knives, 3 knives in each set. I have also used it to sharpen one set of 6" jointer knives, again a 3 knife set. It took about 90 minutes of fiddling with it to understand exactly how to get the knives where I wanted them, get everything adjusted and come up with a repeatable procedure. Now that I have the procedure down, it takes about 4 minutes to sharpen a single 13" knife.

To test the Makita, I took a 6" wide 1" thick piece of African mahogany and sent it through the planer on low speed (10 fpm) with knives that I just got back from a sharpening service. The result was fine and exactly what I had come to expect. I removed the knives and sharpened them on the Makita. I put the knives back onto the planer using the same method and acheiving the same accuracy of knife above cutter head as before. I turned the test board over and passed it through the planer. The result from the Makita sharpened knives was the best quality that I had ever gotten from my planer. With each test, I sent it through until I got a full cut, then turned the crank 1/8 of a turn and took 2 more passes at 1/8 turns each time. It is not a completely fool proof test, but I am confident that the Makita sharpens at least as well as a professional service and probably better.

I had several concerns with the sharpener:
* The method to setup the tool rest and mount the knives in the holder to get the correct angle is not clear, and is rather subjective. It consists mainly of eye-ball it, try it and make corrections, repeat until you think it is good enough.
* The manual consists mainly of how to assemble the machine, however, the machine is so simple you don't need a manual to assemble it. The manual is available in pdf format from the amazon site.

I have one more issue, but it is not with the Makita specifically, but with sharpening in general. I wish there was an objective measurement for sharpness. If the knife has ground the entire bevel, shaves my fingernail easily and has developed a slight burr I call it sharp.

Here is the procedure I have settled on, I would be glad to get suggestions from others who have used this tool.

Initial setup:
I set the knife in the holder roughly 0.5" above the holder. I placed the knife and holder in the sharpener and adjusted the tool rest heights as shown in the manual. I then took a permanent marker and every 1" drew a line from the back of the bevel right off the sharp edge of the knife. I began to sharpen the knife according to the manual. After 1 minute of sharpening, I looked at the pattern of ink marks and adjusted the tool rest and knife height in the holder until the entire bevel was being ground evenly. From this procedure I locked in the settings on the sharpener by tightening the lock knobs, then I measured the height of the knife from the edge of the knife holder and it was 0.43". Your values will be different because your tool rest will have slightly different settings. This process took about 90 minutes.

Standard Sharpening Procedure:
1. I set the knife in the holder with all the depth stops retracted except for the outermost stops. Using the depth gauge on my dial calipers I set the top of the knife to 0.43" from the black steel edge of the knife holder. I mark lines across the bevel as described in the initial setup because it is easy to do and provides positive feedback.

2. I place the knife assembly on the tool rest and begin the water flow if it is not already started. I adjust the flow until there is water all over the back of the knife in the area of the stone.

3. Rotate the knife up and off the stone, start the motor and lower the knife. Keep fingers spread over the entire knife to ensure constant pressure. Start sliding the knife from side to side, completing one slide in 6 seconds.

4. Sharpen for about 2 minutes and check the pen marks and feel for a burr. Repeat for 2 more minutes if necessary. When the sharpener is setup correctly and the knives do not have chips in them, I have never needed to sharpen more than 4 minutes. Typically, to mount a knife in the holder, measure, mark, sharpen, remove the knife, dry it and set it aside takes a total of 4-5 minutes for a 13" knife.

Here is the link for where I bought it

Josh Goldsmith
03-02-2006, 1:15 PM
That looks like a nice machine but i am curious how often you sharpen your blades for it to be worth spending $250. I was tossing the idea of getting a similar setup but i kept asking that question. Nice machine though!:D

Tom Jones III
03-02-2006, 3:00 PM
What decided it for me was the small bundle of knives I had to sharpen. The local place is very convenient and no shipping charges but they charge $1 per inch. 2x(3x13" + 3x6") = $114. Even if I mailed them off to a cheaper service at $0.50 an inch, that is $57 and say $10 shipping brings you to $60. I need sharpening every 3-4 months, which pays for the Makita in 1 or 1.5 years.

In addition, since I was paying for sharpening and making a trip to drop off/ship the knives I would go too long with dull knives. I hope to now change out knives before they get truely dull and get better quality furniture. I have also taken great pains to become proficient in changing knives in the planer and jointer so that I can do it as quickly and consistently as possible.

Richard Niemiec
03-02-2006, 3:10 PM
Tom: I have one as well and its a dreamboat of a sharpener for jointer and planer blades. Do yourself a favor and go to the Highland Hardware web site, search the Makita sharpener, and they have available for download some very good instructions on how to use the machine that you will certainly enjoy reading and using.


Bill White
03-02-2006, 4:08 PM
I too have the Makita. Love it. Do you also flatten the back of the blade (as in plane irons or chisels), and do you gring a micro-bevel after the initial angle is groundTIA, and thanks for your post.

Tom Jones III
03-02-2006, 4:33 PM
I too have the Makita. Love it. Do you also flatten the back of the blade (as in plane irons or chisels), and do you gring a micro-bevel after the initial angle is groundTIA, and thanks for your post.

I have not tried either. The blades were so much sharper than what I got from a sharpening service that I didn't see the need to go further with it.

Keith Outten
03-02-2006, 9:04 PM

I bought my Makita sharpener so long ago I can't remember. Don't forget that when you get toward the end of a knife increase the speed...add a little zip to keep the knife end from being overground. It's a technique that requires a bit of time to master. You can use a caliper to check the width of your knives to make sure that each knife in a set are wearing equally. The Makita knife holders do a good job of keeping knives pretty even but it is a good idea to check them periodically.

The odds are your knives may develope a transverse crack long before they are worn down. Adjust the water flow so that you have about a quarter inch rising up onto the knife edge and watch carefully while grinding. The metal filings will attract to a crack, if you see this use a dye penetrant kit to test the knife or have it checked by a local inspection company.

My 2cents

CPeter James
03-02-2006, 10:51 PM
While you are at the Highland Hardware site, order up one on the Green wheels for you Makita. It will make it much easier to sharpen a knife with nick or a very dull one. Actually, for planer and jointer knives, it is all I use. just run the slide back and forth a little faster as you finish up ( as mention earlier) and th finish is still better than most sharpening services.


Jeff Horton
03-03-2006, 12:13 AM
Amazing timing. I was looking at the Grizzly and giving it serious thought. I was about to look and see what else is out there. I appreciate the info!

As for me, there is a guy that does great work in my area but he does it on the side. It 45 mintues (rural driving) away and always have to make two trips. Just a royal pain. Was having a tough time with the price but I think the convinence is worth a lot to me.

OH yea. Will the Makita hold chisels too?

Bill Fields
03-03-2006, 1:14 AM
Try USPS Priority Mail both ways. With gas prices and your time costs, it could be cheaper.

Of course, you would miss the opportunity to converse with the guy on the state of the world. That could take some time as well.

I'm from Alabama, and sometimes I miss it.


Tom Jones III
03-03-2006, 3:53 AM
OH yea. Will the Makita hold chisels too?

When I checked out the Highlands Hardware site I noticed that they had a chisel holding jig, but I have never tried it.

Keith Outten
03-03-2006, 7:18 AM
I own the chisel holding jig for the Makita. Works Great.

Bob Levy
03-03-2006, 8:20 AM
I've had Makita sharpener for a few years but didn't like the "mess" factor with the water and switched to the Tormek system. I probably wasn't doing something right but felt that the Tormek was easier to use.

Both sharpeners give outstanding razor sharp results. Since I don't use the Makita anymore, I'd be glad to sell it for a good price if anyone is interested. I also have the extra fine white wheel. If you're interested, I can be reached at bobl@pawsinc.com.

John D Watson
03-03-2006, 10:39 AM
Great post Tom, Thanks for all the info. Makita has another customer now.

Barry Bruner
08-17-2006, 7:19 PM
I bought one after reading Tom`s orignal post ,also got the green wheel. You can easly get your money back in a hurry with it. Does fine. BARRY BRUNER

Paul Simmel
04-07-2007, 12:39 AM
Hi guys,

I’d like to resurrect the thread.

Anything else to report? I haven’t used mine yet.

Just ordered the green wheel.


Does anyone have a concern for keeping the knives “balanced”? I do not have a scale.

Any issues with keeping the stone dressed? (flat) I own a truing-stone for use on my other water stones… will work? I’m thinking hand-planer irons and chisels would reek havoc on the wheel and will likely remain honing them by hand.

Any other setup info?


Keith Outten
04-07-2007, 6:54 AM

Balance is based on the knives being sharpened the same from end to end and knife to knife. As I mentioned before I use a dial caliper to measure the width of each knife at the ends and middle of each knife. As all three knives are sharpened with the same setting in the holder they will generally remain identical.

The stones will not remain flat, they will wear at an angle and you should not dress it to keep it perpendicular to the bottom of the stone. In fact it will produce a better edge faster when the stone wears in and gets thinner toward the outside edge. Your chisels and plane irons will be a snap to get razor sharp. Provided you have your technique down pat they will not damage the stones at all as very little pressure needs to be applied.

There is a bit of a technique you develop over time that will improve the speed and quality of your sharpening and as the stone wears in there is more contact which makes it easier to keep the cutting edge perfectly straight. Once you learn to adjust the knife holder the job of sharpening gets to be second nature and only takes a very few minutes to produce an edge you have to see to believe.

Make sure you soak your sharpening stones in a bucket of water before using them, they should be totally saturated.


John Miliunas
04-07-2007, 10:33 AM
I'm glad to see this thread come back to life! I've got a chance to buy one from a friend I work with for pretty cheap. My dream is to get a Shelix for my planer but, until such point where I have enough available funds, the Makita looks like a good alternative. I do quite a bit with figured woods and was told that a back-bevel on the planer knives can go a long way in helping prevent some of the tear-out. Any of you guys know if the Makita can handle that task and, if so, how much of a hassle is it??? :) :cool:

Paul Simmel
04-07-2007, 2:44 PM
Thanks, Keith,

As John asked… do you do the back-bevel? The manual says to do grind the heel out a bit first, and re-set to 40-degrees for the final edge. This makes sense, but I was going to start out just getting the blades evenly ground straight across first with the brown stone. I think my knives currently have a 45-degree, straight grind on them now. After my green stone arrives, then maybe.

Great advice on whether or not to dress the stone!!! Thank you… I was worried about that!

Can you just hold the chisel/planer irons on the stone by hand? I’d think so.

BTW, Keith… as Moderator… can you tell me why posts on some threads are buried under what is normally viewable in my browser (Firefox)? I have to click on the top window to expand to full contents. Easy to miss posts altogether.

PS - My Posy Quick Reply has never worked… it’s just dead.


Keith Outten
04-07-2007, 9:08 PM
I have never used a back bevel on planer blades, when the blades are sharp tear out is just about non-existant. I use Grizzly HSS knives and they will stay sharp for a long time.

You could hand hold chisels and plane irons but I doubt you would get the same quality job that the jig can provide. I never knew how perfectly flat and how sharp my chisels could be until I used the Makita. Once sharp pore the water to the brown stone full speed to get a mirror finish. I hang a five gallon bucket above the Makita with a valve and piece of tubing to supply water to the stone.

Paul, I have no idea what your problem is with Firefox, I use it as well without any problems. Possibly John or Aaron Koehl may know.


Highland Woodworking
01-03-2011, 12:50 AM
The Makita 9820-2 has been one of our favorite tools for almost as long as we've been in business (30+ years). Until the days of Amazon (circa 1996), we used to buy them from Makita by the hundred and shipped thousands of them all around the country. Early on we persuaded Makita to modify the tool rest casting to allow narrow planer knives (such as Delta's 1/2" wide knives) to be sharpened on the machine. We also adapted a jig for chisels and plane irons to work on the machine, and for many years my Dad manufactured the jigs for us in his shop in Toccoa, GA. (We called it the Highland Jig. After my Dad died in 1992, we started sourcing the chisel jig from Taiwan.)

The 120-grit silicon carbide Green Wheel was another brainstorm that our former product manager had decades ago, and a Japanese manufacturer made them for us for many years, but stopped a few years ago. In mid 2010 we found another Japanese company to make them for us, and they are once again a stock item: http://www.highlandwoodworking.com/makita120gritgreenwheel.aspx . We find they work great grinding out nicks on jointer and planer knives, as well as reshaping bevels on chisels and plane irons. They cut much faster, and don't tend to load up and glaze over like Makita's 60-grit coarse wheel does.

Because the instructions that came with the Makita 9820-2 were indeed sketchy, we wrote our own owner's manual, which you can still download as a PDF for free from our website at http://www.highlandwoodworking.com/library/9820-2.pdf . There are some quirks to using the machine to get really fine results, and that's mainly what our owner's manual is about.

And yes, we do still sell the Makita 9820-2 sharpener: http://www.highlandwoodworking.com/makita9820-2sharpener-1.aspx

Chris Bagby, owner
Highland Hardware
dba Highland Woodworking

Mike Wilkins
01-03-2011, 9:56 AM
Another happy and satisfied owner of this machine since the early 90's. Got mine from Highland Hardware also with the chisel jig. No need to worry about burning the steel with the lubricating and cooling water feature, and the results of this machine was enough to send me to the emergency room in Sept. '09 with a really clean chisel cut to my left middle finger. I use mine for both jointer knives, chisels, and if you are creative, knife blades.