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Rule

Does anyone out there use a Tormek to sharpen plane blades?  (Mark Heskett)

    I use their whetstone grinder to form the first bevel on all my plane blades and chisels. It is very effective, the jigs are good  and it ensures that the edge does not get burnt.  It does however slow up with use and  the stone then needs to redressed.  My device is several years old and was fitted with a rubber/abrasive honing wheel at the opposite end from the grindstone but I found this to be fairly useless.  On the whole I think it is expensive for what it is but it does the job.  (Gary Marshall)

    Go here. The leather wheel method you will see there is all you need. I set mine up several years ago and have used nothing else since. I don't think Harry has either. It's quick, cheap, and totally effective.  (Tom Smithwick)

      I'll second that Tom.

      I've been using the leather wheel in conjunction with a variable speed inexpensive Delta Grinder fitted with Veritas tool rests and pink wheels for about a year. Regrinding the bevel and polishing with the leather wheel may take 2 minutes at the most. I've tried every sort of stone and diamond plate (I've got a hell of a collection) and this technique is the way to go. Save your money.  (David Rinker)

      You're correct, I haven't sharpened any other way since.  In fact, Saturday I demoed the leather honing system I use at SRG.  For some pictures and basic information, check here.  (Harry Boyd)

      Tom is right. He sharpened my  old Stanley  blade in about 30 seconds. I'm building one now.  (Bill Tagye)

    Sears has an inexpensive wet  grinder that runs at about 80 RPMs. It costs about $20-30.00. I have one rest set to 35 degrees and  one to  65 degrees  for the  scraper blades  from Lie-Nielsen. I do a quick grind and go to a wheel based on Tom Smithwick's design to do all further sharpening.  Delta also has a new small wet grinder very similar to the Sears for $46.99 but it seems to have a couple of improvements.

    My wheel is on an arbor attached to an old furnace motor and the wheel is the cardboard sharpening wheel sold by woodcrafter. I glued the two wheels together to get some thickness and use the paste or green stick abrasive to hone the blade. I would not do it another way anymore. Seconds to resharpen.

    Save the money and built it yourself, thanks to Tom.  (Gordon Koppin)

      Where can you get the leather wheel?  (Tim Stoltz)

        Tim, The wheel is made of pieces of plywood glued together to get the width that you wish. Determine the center and drill a hole to fit the arbor used. Mount the wheel and smooth it out using a file or rasp as needed.  Be sure to make it square with the sides and smooth.  Leather is then glued to the periphery using Contact Cement. Be sure to taper the following edge smoothly into the rest of the wheel and be sure it is mounted so that that edge follows the direction the wheel turns. Smooth up the edges with a file or sandpaper and load the wheel with compound. Determine the proper mounting position for the stop blocks for the blade and go to work on your blades.  Be sure to look and the "Tips" site for both Tom's and Harry's pictures of their setups. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words.  (Dick Fuhrman)

          Hmmm...I wonder how MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) would work without the leather.  It seems to be brown paper laminated and pressed into sheets, at least that's how it looks when you drill it.  (Neil Savage)

            It works fine, but it does not last. I have sharpened wuite a few blades with MDF and diamond paste, but one knick and it gets torn up pretty fast. The leather wheel is much more rugged.  (Bob Maulucci)

              Where do you get the leather?  (Neil Savage)

                Just back from SRG and so impressed am making honing wheel.  Refrigerator motor is just right - 1000 rpm - You can get leather from Tandy, an old belt(no stitching), shoe repair shop, saddle shop.  One of those things, when you become aware you start seeing scraps all over.   (Darrol Groth)

                Try Tandy Leather , or a shoe repair shop or a saddle makers or repair shop. Tandy Leather has belt blanks up to 3" wide. Sources are all around you if you just think about it. Think creatively.  (Dick Fuhrman)

                Or you can buy the Jantz Knife sharpening system off eBay for about $14. It will not only grind the needed angle you can then place a razor sharp edge using the sharpening wheel.  (Adam Vigil)

Rule

After totaling up the time and cost to switch over to power sharpening, I decided to just go ahead and get a Tormek. It was an impulse purchase, but I liked the idea of using it for other tools. And SWMBO told me that I could buy it if I promised to get the attachment that did kitchen knives, and actually sharpen them.

It's a massive water cooled grinding wheel with a smaller leather strop. Both rotate at low RPMs. There are about 25 jigs that can be purchased for various types of tools. The basic setup that comes with the machine is the one you use for plane blades.

It puts an edge on a plane blade like no other method I have used. So sharp that it feels sticky. You can shave hair, and it takes about a minute start to finish with even the most trashed blade.

Advantages: fast and it works. Instead of "just one more strip" I now stop and sharpen if I run out blades. My most recent rod was one of the best I've ever done for that reason. You can also sharpen anything. The jigs hold each tool in the perfect position without guesswork (or thought, for that matter). And in most cases a bit of honing will touch up a dull blade. You don't need to regrind. The slow speed is safe, and there are no sparks or heat buildup (Remember Harry's flying blade story?). It comes with a decent instruction book and video. And an ingenious tool for setting blade angles that takes wheel wear into account. It is compact, and takes up less bench space than a big glass sheet with sandpaper glued to it.

Disadvantages: It isn't cheap, and you will spend a thousand bucks if you get every accessory. Many accessories are designed for a particular tool (or small group of tools), so you would need to buy a lot of stuff if you work with many different types of blades.

The machine did not include any type of stop block or way to make blade angles repeatable. I made one that measures how far the blade sticks out of the jig, and put a notch in it so I can measure how far the universal support is from the grinding wheel. The otherwise excellent instruction manual was not clear on that point. If you buy one, I can send you a photo of my measuring stick/stop block.

General advice if you get one:

1. Buy an extra universal support right away. It cuts the time for sharpening blades by 90% by allowing you to move the plane jig from the grinder to the honer without any adjustment.

2. Get the stone grader right away. It allows you to put a fine slurry on the grinder for light work, and then remove it after. And it dresses the wheel after knife sharpening.

I am more than happy with it, and the results kept me happy even after I got the visa statement. It improved final planing noticeably, and I feel like it translated into better strips with less effort. And SWMBO made me some fancy holiday dinners with her "new" knives.   (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I also was fortunate enough to pickup this system over the holidays... It is an EXCELLENT way to sharpen almost anything (if you have the right jigs) quickly and accurately.  I've used water stone and diamond stones previously and they have not produced an edge like the Tormek. 

    I actually sharpened a series of plane blades on both of the previously mentioned methods, tried them (using the old arm hair or slicing through a piece of paper trick), then touched them up on the Tormek. Unfortunately, I realized that when it comes to building rods, cooking, and woodworking, I've been using dull blades for all of my life.  The edge is like glass after it is properly honed. (I am now missing almost all my arm hair from my elbow down... My girlfriend's just loving this)

    I thought about rigging up one of the ever-so-popular leather wheel/diamond paste setups that people seem to like but the idea of a high RPM wheel and a very sharp plane blade didn't excite me too much. In this system the wheels move move slowly (an adjustment at first), but after seeing the progress made in a short period of time I became OK with it.  Also, I enjoy trying different plane bevel angles.  I took an old Stanley blade (one of the good oldies) off a 9.5 and took the bevel from 20 degrees to 35 in about 2 minutes. 

    As Jeff said, there are many pluses to this system and the only minus I can come up with is the cost.  I purchased mine from www.sharptoolsusa.com.  They sell only the Tormek system and all accessories.  On the web site are also a few videos showing a various tools being sharpened step-by-step.  I believe they also have free shipping  (a good deal considering it weighs about 45 lb. packaged; and it was one of the most securely packaged items I've ever purchased), throw in the grader with the system (to take the wheel from 200 grit to 1000 grit; very necessary and usually $20 extra) for $10 over the normal price of anywhere else you can find it, and up the 3 year factory warranty to a 6 year.  Usual disclaimers apply, I'm just a very happy customer.  I picked up a knife sharpening jig and a cover also, however I am seeing how an extra support for the honing wheel can be of great value.  For rodbuilding purposes, one could set up a stop block, have two support arms (one for each wheel), and consistently go from a dull, chipped blade to a resharpened and honed blade in literally seconds, all the while maintaining very high angle accuracy.  

    I'm VERY excited to plane out my next series of blanks.  I spent about an hour last night sharpening up 8 blades, touching up a few and rebeveling others completely.  Tried a few on some scrap strips I had laying around the shop and it was effortless.  Had to lay the blades out next to each other because the mirror like (and I mean mirror like) beveled edges were too damn pretty to hide.  If you can justify the expense, there’s no doubt this tool will improve your building and in my case, my sanity (definitely less time time sharpening and hopefully fewer node problems to sort out).  A+ Highly Recommended.  (Matthew Leiderman)

    I must add my name to the list of Tormek users. To me it is a priceless tool and would be worth it at twice the price just do to its ability to make your blades as sharp as they need to be with the minimum amount of effort and time. If you use a Tormek I highly recommend that you also make sure, that the sole on you planes is milled. If it is not and you are not real careful your irons will be so sharp that they will cut your forms like butter, speaking from a bad experience on this one.  (Jeff Hatton)

      How bad are we talking as far as the forms go?  I haven't planed out a rod yet since acquiring the Tormek but I can see where you are coming from.  Can you go to a machine shop or is there someone on this list that is capable of accurately milling the groove on the bottom of planes?  I've been building for years without a groove but I keep thinking it may be a good idea.  I know Lie-Nielsen sells their planes and scrapers w/ the groove, and I will likely pickup the  plane eventually (also got a 212 for Christmas, my gift to me) but I have a number of Stanley’s and Hock blades that I would like to convert to this method if I decided to make the switch.  (Matthew Leiderman)

        I had a local machine shop mill a groove down a Stanley plane, like Lie-Nielsen, and I am very pleased.  I use it after the normal Stanley plane becomes, for me, uncomfortably close to the form.  I just don’t like the idea of cutting into the form.  Then for final cuts, I use a Lie-Nielsen scraper plane with groove.  This gets me very close to desired dimension.  (Doug Alexander)

        Get some 5 mil stainless shim stock & glue it to the bottom of your plane, it'll give you an instant groove.

        I did this with my LN 212.  (Ron Larsen)

        McMaster-Carr sells a variety of self-adhesive tape. I have used a .004 UHMW tape and a .0025 Kapton tape on planes/scrapers. Works like a charm, cheap, reversible and easily replaceable. As a plus, if your forms are fairly smooth,  that UHMW is so slick it reduces friction.  (Larry Blan)

    I looked at the web site. Which Tool Package did you purchase. Is the basic tool package good enough?  I am very interested in this tool. (Frank Paul)

      The system comes with the correct jig for sharpening plane irons and chisels.  For rodbuilding purposes, this is all you should need. Another nice aspect of this is that the grinding wheel is machined square on the outside so that you can very easily flatten the backs of all your irons before sharpening.  Make sure you also get the Grader.  It magically transforms the single grinding wheel from 200 to 1000 grit and back again.  As Jeff said, a second support arm is nice but not necessary. That, I believe, is not offered in any of the tool packages.  Eventually you will need the diamond wheel dressing tool to true the grinding wheel.  I haven’t purchased one but I figure I'll pick that up when its necessary.  Non-rodbuilding wise, I recommend the kitchen knife sharpening jig.  It'll make you very popular among friends and family.  (Matthew Leiderman)

    I'll also echo everyone's observations with the Tormek.  I have been using one for just over a year now and long ago it settled in as one of my most invaluable tools.

    I purchased the standard super grind kit and did as Jeff suggests and got a 2nd universal support.  Once both supports are setup, one on the water stone and one on the strop, the transition from one wheel to the other takes seconds and makes a perfectly reproducible edge every time.

    I have both the grading stone and the diamond dressing wheel but haven't used either in a long time.  I found that I can get a better and more consistent surface on the stone using the DMT diamond stones that I previously used for sharpening.  Just hold it on the wheel for a couple revolutions and its done.  They also allow me to get different surfaces on the stone from 100 grit to 600 grit.

    To check if the support is true to  the wheel I put in a plane blade, lightly dress the stone with the DMT then touch the blade to the stone for a few seconds and check the ground spot on the plane blade for consistency, then adjust the pressure/angle on the stone accordingly and let the diamond stones true up the wheel.

    One other upgrade that made the Tormek into an even better system is the Japanese waterstone wheels available from Woodcraft.  I purchased one of the 800 grit stones for mine and it makes an even better edge faster (really!) and is well worth the $109 they're charging for them.  Seems silly to replace a perfectly good wheel, but I'd do it again in a second at twice the price as they are that good.

    When grinding a plane blade I quickly touch up the stone with the DMT, mount the blade in the holder and simply set the plane blade on the rotating stone and let it sharpen itself.  I don't even have to be there!  After a minute or two on the stone it is ready to move to the strop for polishing.  I figure that I spend about 30 seconds to 1 minute of actual hands-on attention to take a blade from trashed to a perfect edge.

    I also only need to use the waterstone maybe 1 out of 20 times the blade needs sharpening.  Most of the time a 30 second touch up on the strop gets the edge back to perfect. (Chris Carlin)

Rule

After the demonstration of the Tormek sharpening system last summer at Grayrock,  I was thinking about buying one later this fall.  On checking on the Woodcraft.com, I noted that they also sell a very similar looking machine marketed by Jet as the" Slow Speed Wet Sharpener".  Supposedly, Tormek accessories can be used on the Jet machine.  The main difference is that the Jet machine is $100 less.

Have any of you purchased the Jet machine and if so, what do you think of it?  (Mark Lenarz)

    I think if the 100 dollar difference was between 50 bucks and 150 that is a bigger issue. Between 300 and 400 I would pick the one you thought would  do the best  job.  (Timothy Troester)

    I work at Highland Hardware now and we carry the Tormek We were sent the Jet to look over.  There are some differences.  The water container on the Jet is wider and comes up higher on the side.  One of the big problems we saw was that the type of motor used on the Jet takes a major "hit" when you first start the grind.  It takes a few revolutions to go back to full speed.  The reality is that Jet is doing a knockoff of the Tormek product.  I know that is not always a negative.  I will say that the Jet is the best of others we have seen that are modeling themselves after the Tormek.  There were several Tormeks on eBay recently but they were five years old and the buy it now price was high enough that you could have bought new.  (Doug Hall)

Rule

Who's using a "Tormek" or should I say a "Torment" sharpener?  (Mike Shay)

    I have one, and it works great. Plus, if you purchase a couple option attachments, you can sharpen the wife's knives, and she'll let you slide about spending the big bucks on one!   (Mike Valla)

    My problem after using this machine for a month is that I can't get an iron as sharp as I can by hand. Oh sure! It beats the repetitive motion of sharpening by hand but what's the point if it isn't as sharp? I have written to the supplier and posted on the Tormek bulletin board and keep getting the same stock answers.

    "...make sure the wheel is flat and clean, dress the stone with the coarse grader, grind to desired angle, dress the stone with the fine grader, dress the iron again, polish on the honing wheel" How simple can it get?

    Well...I'll say this for the machine, at least the front of the iron is square again and at a nice angle! It just ain't sharp! LOL Anyone going back to hand sharpening after they dress the iron on the machine? Just to touch up the edge?

    Chris Carlin suggested using a waterstone finer in gr*t. I'm pretty sure that's where I'm going with this in the end. I looked at the waterstones from Woodworker's about a month ago. Pricey but after spending this much money on the machine and attachments it seem the thing to do. Or will it be good money after bad?

    The supplied honing compound is supposed to be in the realm of 6000 grit. I have my doubts. Thanks Harry for sharing what compound you're using...appreciated!

    One of the main reasons for buying this toy was to cut down time in resharpening. I don't understand why it doesn't work as well as I hoped other than the supplied stone is too coarse.

    Not looking for shiny irons...just sharp ones!  (Mike Shay)

      I still like hand sharpening.  If you don't wait until the blade is dull it only takes a few strokes.  I'm using this set from Grizzly.  It includes an extra fine diamond hone.  I finish on a piece of an old belt which I have charged with oil and jeweler's rouge.  I've still never found a mechanical method that's any faster or sharper for me.  (Neil Savage)

      I am using a set up similar to this

      I actually use a paper wheel and sharpening compound and jewelers rouge. Takes a few seconds to shave hair from dull. If that is not sharp enough I put it on the buffing wheel. I do have the wheel spinning in reverse though.

      I recommend this to everyone who want to sharpen quickly and on a budget.  (Adam Vigil)

Rule

As a new rod maker I had to be cost effective when I set up my shop for the task. I also knew that to get the desired result for most jobs that you are most times better off buying quality tools and equipment. So when it came time to buy the equipment for sharpening plane irons I had a problem because I had used the Tormek grinder and was very taken to it. But the cost was more than my budget would allow so I started looking elsewhere for a system that would do the job but not brake the bank. The Grizzly 10 inch 90 rpm wet grinder kit has more than fulfilled the task for less than half the cost of the Tormek 3000. I am completely satisfied with the ease of use and the quality of the machine itself. Made in Germany it is very straight forward in design and sharpens plane irons to a razor edge in minutes. Setting to the correct angles is a breeze and it comes with the proper jig standard. So if your needing a grinder I say you might want to take a good look at this one. (Jeff Volner)

Rule

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