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Messages - Ken S

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Knife Sharpening / Re: Arkansas Reality ( a differnt knife jig)
« on: Yesterday at 03:54:16 pm »

I see the self centering situation as a temporary set back which we will eventually solve. We keep raising the expectations bar.

Keep up the good work!


Knife Sharpening / Re: Arkansas Reality ( a differnt knife jig)
« on: Yesterday at 12:18:03 pm »

Your design is clever. I especially like the use of the brass propane T fitting.

Wootz makes a good point about the Sorby jig not being self centering. We seem to have two issues with the Tormek knife jigs: 1) Pivoting for sharp curves and 2) self centering to compensate for different knife thicknesses. Your design (and some other designs) have made excellent progress with the pivoting issue. We are still lagging a bit with the self centering issue.

Let's all keep working.


Knife Sharpening / Re: Proper Maintenance of a Knifes Edge
« on: April 23, 2019, 12:46:44 pm »

You bring up an excellent topic. In the ten years that I have used the Tormek and, more importantly, been active on this forum, I have seen many advances in many aspects of sharpening. Tormek has led the way in some areas. The new SVD-186 gouge jig and DBS-22 drill bit jig have reset the state of the art. The TT-50, especially the 2019 version, has raised our truing expectations. I feel that the present diamond and CBN wheels are positive steps forward in the evolution of sharpening. I hope the knife jigs and stone grader will eventually catch up.

We are also seeing major advances from other sources. Originating with Dutchman's tables, we have seen advances in bevel setting on this forum from all parts of the planet. Wootz' research is bearing fruit, a trend I expect to continue growing.

The area where we have the least control is the time between when the customer picks up the newly sharpened knife and returns for resharpening. We must educate our customers (and ourselves) to develop good habits.The early cooking TV host and writer, James Beard, summed this up very well. He stated that kitchen knives deserve the same care that the best silver receives; they are at least as valuable. I think that comment is a good lead when educating our customers.

Over the years, I have practiced several of your suggestions. They have become habits. I have two veteran wooden cutting boards. One is 12” x 18”. It is a delight to use. The second, by John Boos, is 18” x 24”. It is luxurious to use. I use the smaller board for the very small amount of meat that I cut. I put a quality large cutting board in the same just as valuable category as the best silver. I use my knives and cutting boards every day; I have never used my mother's silver.

Careful hand washing, drying and storing edge up in my wooden block have become so ingrained that I cannot be comfortable until I have done them. I credit Stig for teaching me to store my knives edge up in the block.

I believe the proper use of steels is the weakest link in the sharpening chain. I am definitely still learning with steels. I suspect improper use of steels degrades edges more often than correct use improves them. The nice looking steel with file teeth which came with my Henckel set twenty nine years ago has long ago moved out of my knife block and into storage. I keep it only because the unknowing person who eventually buys my Henckel knives from my estate will want it "because it matches".

I presently use two ceramic steels. The first one was a gift from Steve Bottorff. It is a very useful, well made product from Smoky Mountain Knife Works. It is also very inexpensive. It has built in triangle guides to set a correct bevel.If I had a sharpening business, I would sell them or better yet, give them to good customers with multiple knives. I think they would generate both good will and repeat business.

My second ceramic steel is one I tested for Work Sharp. It has a clever design, with alternating quadrants of smooth surface and fine teeth. The ceramic rotates in the handle. I use only the smooth parts and only with a controlled light touch. It also has triangle guides. It is considerably more expensive, however, in my opinion, fairly priced.

I could be happy with either one.

I have thought about purchasing a smooth butcher's steel. These thoughts have advanced to having it on my Amazon wish list. My inner voices are reluctant, as they are well satisfied with my ceramic steels. I still have much to learn.

Keep educating your customers. A satisfied, knowledgeable customer is your best source of growth.


General Tormek Questions / Grit thoughts
« on: April 23, 2019, 03:28:19 am »

I find Tormek's grit designations puzzling. I have found that both 360 grit diamond wheels cut more aggressively than the 220 grit SuperGrind (SG) wheels. I suspect this is due to other factors than just grit size. Tormek recommends much lighter grinding pressure when using the diamond wheels. I think the diamond grains are sharper than the aluminum oxide of the SG.

Ionut, one of our most outstanding now inactive members, noted several years ago that the Tormek SG wheel has three grits (not two). In addition to stone grader coarse, supposedly 220, and stone grader fine, supposedly 1000, Ionut noted a third, coarser grit, the surface just after using the TT-50 truing tool.

Related to this, I have found that the stone grader is not limited to just two grits, full coarse and full fine. It has not entered into the handbook, however, there is a middle grit, often called "600". This name coincides with the 600 grit diamond wheel of the T2. With the SG, I find 600 grit an approximate number. I also find the two grit numbers assigned to the stone grader (220 and 1000) both approximate numbers. The TT-50 produces a coarser grit than the coarse side of the stone grader.

I did a simple test tonight. I have no way to accurately determine grit size. My not very scientific measuring system was to feel the surface of my SG wheels prepared in different ways. The freshly ground TT-50 surface was noticeably the most coarse. I divided my second SG in half with a black Sharpie. I used the coarse side of the stone grader on one half and a 325 grit diamond card file glued on a flat piece of steel on the second half. I found these two surfaces very close, with the diamond card file perhaps the tiniest bit more coarse. Even used very slowly for a smoother surface, the TT-50 was clearly the most coarse.

The file card may help keep the grinding wheel more true than the stone grader.

I place very little importance on exacting grit numbers. The SG wheel is quite versatile with the TT-50 and stone grader. I just think in terms of more coarse and less coarse.



I am sorry to hear about your back surgery. Fortunately, as our bodies grow older, our brains fill up with experience. If you remomve the grinding wheel and universal support bar from a T4, you should be just about at the ten pound weight limit. The T4’s included EZYlock makes wheel removal quick and easy. During Jeff Farris’ extensive travels demonstrating the Tormek, he always removed the grinding wheels before transporting his Tormeks. This was a good preemptive practice to keep his shafts straight. It was also good preemptive practice for his back.  This was before the EZYlock. To the best of my knowledge, Jeff Farris has never used a T4. However, two of the other knife sharpeners I regard most highly speak highly of the T4 from personal use. Steve Bottorff, who would be a charter member of “The Million Mile Tormek Club”, if one existed, spent a day sharpening knives at a Boy Scout Jamboree where he had to hike in and out carrying his Tormek. Steve wisely chose to bring his T4. It was a real trial by fire for him and his T4. He now speaks very well of the T4.

Your point about Companion tools is well taken. (Sears used Companion and Dunlap tools as their second line, Craftsman being their top line.) My grandfather outfitted his shop with Companion power tools during the Depression of the 1930s. I inherited many of those tools. There were important differences between the brands. Two stand out for me. The Caftsman drill presses had adjustable depth stops. My Companion drill press does not. This has proved a real inconvenience. The other difference is the ball bearings in the craftsman tools. My Companion lathe has bronze bushings, which require frequent oiling. With fastidious oiling, these bushings will outlast me, however, ball bearings would be more convenient.

I eventually gave away ranp\dpop’s Companion band saw. I could never get it to cut accurately. my uncle told me that Grandpop had the same difficulties with it. During the Depression, the Companion bandsaw cost $15. A Delta bandsaw would have cost $45. The Delta bandsaw I purchased decades later cost $600. 


I appreciate the practical wisdom of your maxim. There are many situations where having more is the better choice. When I moved several years ago, i was very glad to have my full size pickup truck. It allowed me to get a good head start on moving. Mid move, my truck unexpectedly gave up the ghost and I needed to replace it. In my new life situation, most of my driving was transporting my two grandchildren back and forth to school, a fifty mile round trip on mostly rural secondary roads with a maximum speed limit of 55 mph. Being able to haul sheets of plywood was no longer a priority; my needs had changed. My present small SUV with a four cylinder engine fulfills my needs economically and easily fits in my not terribly well organized garage.

That does not negate the wisdom of your maxim. It does suggest to me that individual situation judgement needs to be introduced into decisions. With the Tormek, we should consider both quality and size. In my mind, the Tormek is the high quality, long term choice of wet grinders. Where we might differ is on the importance of having the larger, heavy duty model or not. Again, I would factor in the needs of the situation. In a heavy use, more industrial situation, I think the T8 size Tormek is a logical choice. For the lighter duty most of us require, I see either size being quite adequate. Either will get the job done. Some will prefer the larger size. At 69 years old, I favor the lighter, more compact T4.

Part of the wisdom of maxims is knowing when and how much to apply them.


Back in the 1980s, when siege mortar size macro zooms were all the rage, my single most expensive piece of camera equipment was my 50mm "normal" camera lens, which I bought as a demo. It was a Leitz f1.4 Summilux M. It cost $600 US and was (is) a marvelous lens on my M3. It was the only Lens I used on my M3 Leica. The M3 with 50mm and my old Nikon F with 85mm f2.0 gave me a stripped down to fighting weight unbeatable combination. Compact, light, and very fast.

I have never heard a Leica user complain about the cost of a Tormek.....


I must confess that I rephrased it from an old E Leitz ad. (E Leitz was the parent company for the Leica cameras, the Rolls Royce of 35mm cameras.) The original saying was, "Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten." Leica quality was legendary; so were their prices!


Interesting thought, Jeff.

Twisted Trees,

I have a RotaTrim paper cutter from my many years with a photographic darkroom. After thirty five years, it still works flawlessly. I have never sharpened it. These legendary trimmers were made in the UK. As a matter of pride in his workmanship, each cutting wheel was signed by the man who ground it. That is quality. That is tradition. Sadly, that is also becoming increasingly rare.

My trimmer was expensive, although I have long since forgotten the price and am still enjoying its quality.


Knife Sharpening / Re: Tormek SG & leather wheel - razor sharp
« on: April 19, 2019, 11:26:19 am »

Speaking of knife sharpening, there are 2 major milestones in mastering Tormek: first you learn how to put a shaving edge on your knives, and then how to put a lasting shaving edge by removing the wire edge from the apex. Where time per knife is not a restriction, everything can be done by means of Tormek.

There is much wisdom in this quote from Wootz. The second part reminds me of a question I asked Steve Bottorff several years ago. Steve had retired from teaching at the time, but had very graciously invited me to spend a day with him at his home. He shared the essence of his sharpening class with me. It was both a very pleasant day and a rare learning opportunity. Steve´s method of using the Tormek to set the bevel and finishing with either paper wheels or an F Dick sharpening machine is well known. Sharpening a hundred knives on a Saturday morning requires speed. I asked Steve if it would be possible to do the entire procedure with the Tormek if speed was not so paramount. He told me that the Tormek was quite capable of doing the entire procedure if speed was not a priority. For me, as a low volume sharpener, not having the expense for the extra equipment easily outweighed the time saving.

When two outstanding sharpeners on opposite parts of the planet reach the same conclusion, I am convinced.



Your post resonates. Most of us, myself included, sharpen things for pleasure. All too often, we go through life at a breakneck pace, thinking only of getting from point A to point B, not enjoying the little roadside pleasures along the way. While the Tormek can be used efficiently for volume sharpening, it is ideally suited for enjoying the sharpening journey. There is no worry about overheating our tools. There is no grinding dust or sparks. Compared to most power tools, the Tormek is almost silent. The slower speed of the grinding wheel is very safe and the grinding is very controlled. Using the Tormek reminds me of watching the image appear in the developer tray in my photographic darkroom using fiber paper. The image revealed itself over a couple minutes, an experience far more satisfying than the almost ¨pop¨of resin coated plastic paper.

I wrote the tips and techniques topic at the top of Tormek General to allow new users the opportunity of getting to know the Tormek with controlled trial and error. There is no substitute for just doing it. A mid width bench chisel is probably the most stripped down tool we sharpen. There is only one bevel. The standard 25 degrees is easy and consistent to set up. The bevel is large enough to be observed easily and not so large as to be strenuous to sharpen. unlike knives and carving tools, the large flat chisel back makes using the Anglemaster pleasant, rather than arduous. The humble bench chisel reduces the anxiety of having so many variables to learn at once. It allows the user to concentrate on enjoying the sensual parts of sharpening, getting to know the sound and feel of grinding.

It took me a long time to really learn how to use the stone grader and truing tool. I prefer to use the phrase ¨to become fluent¨with these operations. Like many of us, I had to get past the ¨precious grinding wheel¨hurdle. Sharpening is so much more pleasant with a properly trued, dressed and graded grinding wheel. I believe that many of us never reach that fluency. That is unfortunate. The ¨learning curve¨is not really that steep or long.

I have about a dozen 3-4¨Irwin (formerly Marples) Blue Chip chisels. These are my practice and learning tools. They are ideally suited for these purposes. They are a good width and length to fit the square edge jig easily. They are economical. I would guess my average cost is around $8 US for each chisel. They are neither premium tools nor junk.Having three or four is quite adequate. They allow the user to compare different stages of sharpening or different grinding wheels. How does the 4000 grit SJ wheel compare with good technique with the SG and leather honing wheel? What is the effect of spending more time with the leather honing wheel or using different honing compounds? These questions are asily answered be comparing different chisels-

I will get off of my soap box. I m pleased that you have found the joy of using the Tormek. Please continue to share your obseervations.


My only intention in posting this was to warn our forum members and guests. I did not mean  to impune the Chinese or comment on the general used market.


« on: April 18, 2019, 04:14:44 pm »
I just noticed four new listings from China with no reviews and unbelievable prices, like $69.95 for a new T4. Buyer beware!


I have already communicated to Mike my desire to be included with the purchasers list. With Rick
 and Mike we have quite a team!


Knife Sharpening / Re: Question for FVB users
« on: April 16, 2019, 05:21:26 pm »
One of the things I like about the FVB is that it combines the repeatable accuracy of the kenjig with the flexibility inherent in Wootz' technique. As such, should a minor recalculation become necessary in order for the arms to clear the housing, adjusting for the thickness of a spacer is a one time fix. Just like the kenjig, once the FVB is calibrated, with a consistent wheel diameter and bevel angle, there is no need to recalibrate. Should either variable become necessary to be changed, returning to the original setting should be simple and require no further math.

The Tormek has always been the premier sharpening system. I believe that Wootz' dedicated work in software, hardware, technique, and intensive practical research has raised the bar considerably.


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