T7 the big kid on the block? Not any more.

Tormek have released the T8 grinder for the ultimate in sharpening.  Available in Australia in July 2016.

While the changes over the T7 are probably not enough to make all T7 owners want to run out to get one, if you are in the market for a new grinder, the T8 is definitely worth considering.

They are currently available on pre-order from Ideal Tools.

The changes include a repositionable water trough, useful for the changing dimensions as the grinding wheel wears (of course, you have to do a fair bit of grinding to wear the wheel away!  Mine is still pretty close to original dimensions.  There again, if I used it more, I’d have sharper tools too.  Doh!)

The body is now cast zinc, and the drive wheel is also zinc.

The body is enclosed, and there is better splash and run-off management (and that is a good thing – I get quite a river happening after a long sharpening session!)

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While many still struggle with the whole concept of a wet stone grinder costing north of a $1000, for those who have been able to justify the expenditure, there is no question about just how good the machine is in achieving its purpose in life.  Ultimate sharpness.

More detail can be found on the Tormek website

One Sharpening Station to Rule Them All

Dropped past Carbatec today, and on the front counter was a solution to end all solutions for the sharpening station

The Tormek TS-740 Sharpening Station

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Drool.  Seriously.

The website spiel covers the basics:

Height 750-830mm, width 578mm, depth 390 mm

Moisture proof composite worktop
Centralised key locking
Scratch resistant metallic surface
Drawers to fit Tormek kits
Auto-return soft close drawer function
Aluminium handles
Fully extendable drawers
Holes for hooks
Adjustable legs for comfortable working height
Rubber feet to protect the floor

But what a way to keep all the accessories organised, protected, easily to hand (and looking cool!)

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To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season……

You are deep into a sharpening session on your water-cooled sharpener, and the next job would be best done with the wheel turning towards the edge, rather than away from it. What do you do? What DO you do? I know what I do – compromise! I know the T7 (in my case) weights 14kg, plus around 3kg in water (the wheel soaks up about 2kg, and there is an additional in the waterbath). I could pick it up and spin it around, then back again for each job, but I don’t.

And I am not the only one. In fact, it must be rather common as Tormek have come up with the RB-180. A rotating base for their sharpeners.

RB-180 from Tormek

It is specifically designed for the Tormek footprint, and has rubber feet so the complete unit doesn’t start slipping around on the bench. I have found there can be a little movement between the sharpener and the rotating base. I may put down something a bit more anti-slip, but I didn’t notice it causing me a problem during my first sharpening session since putting the new base under my sharpener.

The rotating base has a very low profile – particularly important for those people who have already taken the time to ensure their sharpeners are set at the optimum height.

Underside

Looking at the underside for a sec, and you see those rubber feet, and the lock for the rotation. Also the cross reinforcing to provide stiffness.

Fitting Simplicity

Fitting the base is just a bit easy – pick up sharpener, put down the RB-180 (with the lock facing the front), place the sharpener on top. Done deed.

Simple push down on the locking lever, and spin the Tormek around.

Turning

Turning…

Done

So a useful addition, particularly for the 17kg (wet weight) Tormek T7. It has been a while since I’ve seen this side of the sharpener – looks like it is due for some dusting!

I took the splash guard off for this, as where I have the T7 there isn’t a lot of room, and therefore even more reason for the new base. Check out http://www.promac.com.au for more information and to find an authorised dealer near you.

Sharpen for life

Ever looked at a Tormek Sharpening system (T7) and thought that it may be awesome, but if you plan on being a heavy user, the cost of the replacement wheels was a bit more than you could afford?

Then perhaps the current Tormek offer (as promoted by the Tormek Shop) will be of interest. Buy a T7 and get free replacement wheels for life. At over $300/wheel, that is nothing to be sneezed at!

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However, they no longer offer you a 7 year warranty on the machine. Who offers 7 years of guaranteed operation these days anyway?

10 years sounds better!

SSYTC032 Tormek T7

I’ve Discovered a New Obsession

I can’t say hobby – nothing I do gets done at a level that the term hobby seems to fit!

My new obsession is sharpness.  Not just sharp, but incredibly sharp, scarily sharp (not to be confused with “Scary Sharp” – the technique of using sandpaper to sharpen tools), dangerously sharp.

And yes, there has been blood – not a lot, but just enough to know that these tools have absolutely no problem piercing skin, and wood fibres.

I could say I’m not sure what has bought this on, but it is simple – the pleasure in using a machine with real quality is inspiring.  The Tormek T7 is a muse.  The wheel is true, without runout.  It cuts smoothly, more smoothly than you’d credit a 220 grit wheel.

I tried to stall the wheel tonight.  I read it couldn’t be done, and so I thought I’d try.  With the wheel turning away from the tool, and a full 50mm width blade, I applied pressure – real pressure, to the point it hurt my hands, and although I could hear the motor working harder, I didn’t see any significant drop in speed.  That was impressive.

But back to the obsession itself.  I did a basic sharpening of one plane blade (not even taking the wheel up to 1000 grit), then jumped across to a quick hone to achieve a mirror finish.  Mirror finish, and that was without really trying.  What is going to happen when I take some care??

But what then happened was I found myself moving onto another tool, then another, and then wanting to test each out with their new-found sharpness.  And I still haven’t actually sat down for a serious sharpening session.  My large 1 1/4″ roughing gouge is now sharp enough to use as a carving chisel!

Sharpness is an obsession.

Tormek Sharpening

A few years ago, I watched a master turner demonstrating his craft, and if you know the name Ian “Robbo” Robinson, or have heard of his monster lathe you will know who I mean. At the time he would touch his tools up freehand on a high speed grinder and continue turning.  When turning powerpoles (he literally can turn powerpoles on his lathe), or bollards, he apparently employs a couple of workers with shovels to try to keep up with the amount of sawdust he generates.  That’d be a sight!  He also can turn a very fine goblet (one I have in my cabinet at home), so that really covers either end of the spectrum.

It bothered me that I was interested in slowly rotating water cooled sharpeners as a way of achieving a fine edge, and yet it didn’t appeal to professional turners.  After all, copying those more experienced than you are is a great mentoring method of learning.

However more recently it turns out that even Robbo has been sold on a Tormek T7, and now swears by it, and considers it to be no slower than his old technique, yet with the advantage that the shape of the tip is duplicatable time and time again.  This is especially important when hosting a class – you don’t want good steel being sparked away, or burnt blue.  This was a real revelation for me.  Not only does the whole concept of watercooled, slow speed wetstone sharpening appeal to me where I don’t have time to learn the finesse required to produce a perfect edge, but it is also being used by the experts in the field.  Who am I to contradict that?!

Square Edge Jig

When using the folded steel standard jig on the Triton, I found it very easy to end up with a skew chisel without meaning to, caused by an uneven tightening, and because the reference edge was at the bottom, which for a chisel is the narrow face, and thus makes it easier to cause the chisel to rotate slightly in the mount.  Tormek have had this problem as well, and so developed this new Square Edge Jig, with the reference being the top edge, and it is tightened against this face instead.  To the right side in the photo, you can also see the corner which is the edge that the tool is mounted against, keeping it perpendicular to the stone.

The discolouring of the stone should be ignored btw – I didn’t want to redress the stone just because of the colour – wasting good stone!  I imagine it is some steel that has become embedded in the surface that has rusted.

Plane Blade

A mounted blade with an edge being formed.

Using the Reference Material

The T7 comes with a full reference manual, and this is worth a lot when you are learning how to set up each tool, including who would use the specific profile choices and that is a real relief not having to guess.  It lists all the variables, and so setup is quick and accurate.

Turning Tool Setter

The support arm is set the required distance from the wheel and locked down.

Setting the angle

The angle of the gouge jig is set – in this case to the #2 position.

Setting tool extension

Next, the amount of extension is set and locked in, so sharpening is ready to go.  Once experienced with these steps, they are very straight-forward.

Recording the settings for repeatability

Finally, the settings used are recorded on a slip which is wrapped around the tool, so there is no guesswork involved in maintaining the tool profile.

Ready, Set, Sharpen

The gouge jig set, ready to go.

Perfect Shape

Rolling the angles

Rolling the tool from side to side, and moving it over the surface of the sharpener to get the perfect edge.

If it looks really simple, and hard to get wrong, you’d be right.  It is a great system, and completely repeatable which is important for speedy retouching the tip to maintain the edge once the tool has been shaped to the desired profile.

The combination of the large, wide wheel that is very smooth during operation and that is very hard to stall, the superb collection of jigs results in a top-shelf tool that is a pleasure to use, and delivers results.  It may be an expensive wetstone grinder, but you can absolutely tell where your money has gone, and like many other purchases, that becomes a distant memory long before the tool itself needs to be retired.

If you’ve never used a Tormek, be careful.  Once you use one (especially if you’ve experienced other grinders/sharpeners), you will find it very hard to walk away from it!  Check them out at Carrolls Woodcraft Supplies, either at their Drysdale store, or at one of the wood shows.

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