Sharpening Woodturning Tools
Time to look over your sharpening equipment?
The Tormek system delivers a superior edge faster and easier than any method available today. You never remove more steel than necessary. The finer edge lasts longer so you spend less time sharpening and more time turning.
Sharpen Less Turn More
Tormek sharpening differs from other methods like high-speed grinders and belt sanders. Tormek makes a clear distinction between shaping and sharpening. Once the tool is shaped, when re-sharpening you remove a minimal amount of steel, you just touch up the edge. An important benefit of the minimal steel removal is that your precious tools will last 8 to 10 times longer. You may never need to replace them as long as you live!
The patented Turning Tool Setter TTS-100 makes every aspect of the set-up simple and gives you the exact same geometry every time, regardless of changes in the stone diameter over the years. We have designed the TTS-100 with assistance from some of the top turners in the world. It will give you the tool shapes shown below in three easy steps.
Many of our new customers report that they have become a better turner. The tools now create the most delicate details and leave the cleanest cuts possible with little or no need for sanding. The tools will behave in exactly the same, predictable way all the time at the lathe. The finer edge obtained with the Tormek method and the water cooling, which eliminates overheating, make the edge stay sharp longer. You sharpen less and turn more!
Instruction Box TNT-300
The Tormek Instruction box, which contains a 1 hour 20 minutes DVD film and a handbook shows you how to shape and sharpen all your turning tools. The film is made by Jeff Farris, a highly experienced American woodturning instructor and the handbook is written by Torgny Jansson, the inventor of the Tormek Sharpening System.
In the film Jeff puts focus on the most important tools – which also are the most difficult to sharpen – the spindle gouge, the bowl gouge and the skew. You can watch him shape an edge to his favourite profile and see how quickly it is re-sharpened once the setting is done.
The hand book clearly describes the whole system and its possibilities. Numerous line drawings show step by step how to shape and sharpen your tools. Repeatability is the core word and the book explains three efficient methods for how to best replicate an edge profile.
The Instruction Box comes with the Woodturner’s Kit TNT-708 and can also be purchased separately.
Questions and Answers
Why does a Tormek edge cut more easily?
Sharpening on the Tormek stone and honing on the leather honing wheel creates a very fine surface on the edge. A finer edge surface means a sharper edge, which cuts more easily.
Why does a Tormek sharpened edge leave a smoother cut?
As the Tormek edge is sharper, it cuts the wood fibers more cleanly and leaves a smoother surface on the wood and there is less need for sanding.
Why does a Tormek edge stay sharp longer?
There are two reasons. An edge obtained from a high-speed dry grinder is rough whilst the Tormek sharpened edge is much finer. A finer edge is more resistant to wear. In addition, the Tormek edge can never be overheated and lose its hardness.
Why is the Tormek method fast?
The answer is the fast setting of the jigs and the exact repeatability. You just touch up the existing shape of the edge. Only a small fraction of the steel is removed, so with the right sharpening equipment you can save a lot of time. It is a myth that the Tormek System is slow. It has arisen because turners have not made a clear distinction between shaping and sharpening. Once you have ground the right shape on your tool, which you normally only need to do once, it is a quick job to touch up and hone the edge.
How can the Tormek stone last so long?
Since you just touch up the edge at each sharpening, the wear on the stone is limited. And since the sharpness stays longer, you sharpen less frequently on the Tormek. Furthermore the large diameter, 250 mm (10") and the generous width, 50 mm (2") lasts longer than a smaller and narrower grinding wheel or stone.
Shall I colour the bevel when using the TTS-setter?
No. The Tormek TTS-100 Setter will automatically replicate the edge angle.
Shall I use slip stones after the sharpening?
No. The fine grindstone and the leather honing wheel give you a superior sharpness without slip stones. The flute on gouges is honed and polished on the Profiled Leather Honing Wheel, LA-120.
Is the technique when shaping on the Tormek the same as on a bench grinder?
No. You need to press harder on the Tormek. Press with your fingers close to the edge for the best effect. There is no risk to your fingers since the stone runs so slowly at 90 rpm.
How long does it take to shape a gouge and a skew?
Shaping takes between 10 and 20 minutes depending on the original shape of the tool and on how much steel you need to remove. The extra minutes you might spend on the Tormek is a good investment to ensure the best performance of your expensive tool; you are sure that the edge will not have been softened due to overheating and that the durability of the sharpness will not be affected. Bear in mind that you normally shape the tool only once.
Can an HSS edge be affected with high speed dry grinding?
Yes. It is well known that carbon steel is easily affected when overheated. This is also the case for HSS steel, but the critical temperature is much higher. The extreme end of the tip, which is very thin, can easily reach the temperature which will affect the temper. You can limit the heating up by cooling the tool in water, but then there is a risk of micro cracks, which are invisible to the naked eye.
Do I need a bench grinder?
Not necessarily. If you already own one, you can use it to save grinding time at the initial rough shaping. Important is that you grind gently so the edge does not get burned. Do the final shaping and the tip of the edge on the Tormek water cooled stone. Thanks to the newly developed Bench Grinder Mounting Set BGM-100, you can now also use the Tormek woodturning jigs SVD-186, SVS-50 and SVD-110 on your bench grinder for the initial shaping. Since the patented Turning Tool Setter TTS-100 works on all stone diameters, the shape and edge angle is exactly replicated even when you go from a smaller bench grinder wheel to the large Tormek grindstone.
Will a low speed (4-pole) bench grinder eliminate the risk of overheating the edge?
No. This grinder works without water cooling and the speed is still too high even it being half of the rpm of a conventional 2-pole grinder.
Extract from an article in Woodturning
In an earlier issue (No 70) of the UK magazine Woodturning, there was an article comparing the sharpening of turning tools on a slow running, water cooled grindstone with high speed grinding on a bench grinder.
“I have switched to the Tormek after years of using a conventional dry grinding system to sharpen my turning tools.
I find that I get a sharper edge in less time, all the while removing less metal each time I sharpen.
With the edge being sharper, it lasts longer for any given tool. The edge cuts wood faster and easier, and leaves a smoother surface on the wood. As a bonus, I no longer have to deal with sparks or grinding dust in the shop.”
Professional Woodturner, USA
“I use the Tormek system for all my tools. I usually sharpen them in the morning and hone them a couple of times during the day on the leather honing wheel.
My jigs are set permanently and the sharpening only takes about a minute.
As a production turner I value the short period of time I need to spend on sharpening, which gives me more time for turning. The edges also last much longer than when I was using a bench grinder and slip stones.”
Professional Woodturner, Sweden