|Review by stefang||posted 07-05-2013 10:13 AM||4111 views||2 times favorited||24 comments|
A second attempt at getting this loaded. I’m not going to tell you a lot about the machine as you can find all you need to know online. I just want to give you a heads up that the Tormek is well worth looking into.
A short while ago I asked for some advice on the hand tool forum regarding some new hand planes I’d bought. Knowing how controversial sharpening is, I said that I had a hand honing method that I was satisfied with so I didn’t really want any advice on that. Well, I am now eating humble pie after buying the Tormek T7 sharpening machine.
Can’t remember what motivated me to start reading up on the Tormek, but I wound up reading dozens of reviews about it and I visited their website and also the Tormek user forum I found there. The forum is not operated by Tormek. The moderator Jeff Farris demonstrated the Tormek at woodworking shows for many years, and you will see him in many Youtube videos demonstrating the older versions of the machine.
I also watched all the videos I found on the Tormek site and Youtube, and I read a lot of reviews comparing the Tormek with just about every other machine system out there and the Tormek was always rated head and shoulders above their competitors, not just because it creates really sharp tools, but also for quality (10 year guarantee), flexibility (sharpens almost all edge tools except saws) and company support and service. Another advantage is that they have been continually making small but important improvements over the years with new components and holding jigs. Older machines can be updated with the new jigs and components as they are designed to be compatible.The only negative comments that popped up was the price, which is around $700 in the US and substantially more in Norway due to taxes. However, the reviewers and users always said at the end that it was worth the price because it performed as advertised.
After reading all that I started wanting one (badly) although I was still a little skeptical after seeing the striations on the bevels of tools that had been sharpened and honed on the Tormek. Also, I recently spent quite a bit on some new tools and marquetry supplies and equipment so I was hesitant to spend even more on a sharpening machine. I have been getting satisfactory results with hand honing, so it was difficult to justify the extra expense. I was getting tired of sore fingers and wrists from my arthritis (it’s always good to have a medical excuse to buy a tool). So I took a leap of faith and bought one.
EXPERIENCE TO DATE
Very little. I have only sharpened one old chisel and one old plane blade, but the results beat my hand honing and leave edges that I could shave my face with. To be honest I am amazed. The machine comes with two jigs, one for straight edge tools like chisels, plane blades, spokeshaves, etc. and also wheel dressing jig used to keep the stone grinding surface a perfect 90degrees to the side of the stone. In addition, I bought a scissors jig, which can even sharpen hedge clippers besides, a knife jig for the household knives and a small knife jig for my chip carving knives, pocket knives etc. These haven’t been used yet. The jigs are made out of aluminum and they are very well made and heavy.
MY WORKSHOP SETUP
I have it on top of a little chest of drawers I made for the shop and it’s placed next to my lathe, because I could’t find any other place for it. I put a small sheet of opaque plastic under the machine to make it easy to clean up any drips from the water trough. The machine has to be turned around after sharpening on the stone to use the leather honing wheel which will then revolve away from the edge instead of into the edge as for the stone. Tormek sells a small revolving base to make that a little easier, but I have wheels on the stand, so I just revolve the whole thing. So far I am using only the top drawer for the jigs and other accessories. Here’s some shots of it.
And here is the result of my chisel sharpening. This was taken with a flash and please note the absence of any candle on the edge. I shave my arm, gave it the paper cutting test and tried it on pine end grain. It passed all the tests with flying colors as did my plane blade.
THE ONE NEGATIVE
From comments on the Tormek forum, it’s my understanding that HSS planer blades with nicks take forever to sharpen. There is a special jig for them and it works well, but the stone revolves slowly in a water trough at only 90rpm and even with the stone graded to 220 grit (can be graded with a grading stone to 220 or 1000 grit), it is not aggressive enough. It will however sharpen fine just to restore bevels and hone edges that aren’t damaged. Carbon blades shouldn’t be any issue. The same goes for HSS turning tools. Reshaping is best done on your bench grinder and Tormek sells a relatively cheap accessory that allows you to use all your Tormek turning jigs for reshaping and heavy grinding on your bench grinder before final sharpening and honing on the Tormek. You don’t have to reset your jigs after heavy grinding, just put them onto your Tormek with the same settings and sharpen away.
This is one of the best investments you will ever make in a shop tool. It’s a simple machine and easy to use, but you do have to learn to use it correctly to get good results. The machine comes with a great instruction booklet and a CD showing how to use the various jigs. The handbook also shows all the edge tools it can sharpen with reference to the appropriate jigs to use.
-- Mike, an American living in Norway.