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Messages - Ken S

General Tormek Questions / initial dressing
March 07, 2013, 05:26:55 PM
With our "quick start guide" in mind, I am wondering whether or not to include a recommendation to use the diamond dresser before initial grinding.  My unsupported dry grinding memory would indicate this would be a good practice to true the stone with the grinder.

I find no mention of this in the Tormek handbook.  Early in the book, it states that "A grindstone can, after a period of use, become uneven on its sruface and run out of true."  it then suggests using the TT-50 diamond dresser.

The TT-50 itself doesn't appear in my copy until page 139.

I recall carefully using the TT-50 to initially true the wheel on my first Tormek. I don't recall doing so with my second unit.  (both were purchased new).  I don't recall any difference in the performance.  (Except less operator with the second unit)

My question is, should a recommendation for initial truing of the stone be included in our guide, or omitted? If it serves no practical value, i would like to keep things simple.  Comments?

I'm glad you are enjoying this, Rob.

I have read several posts recommending using cheap tools for learning.  Although I see the logic of this advice, I disagree. 

While the paper cutting test an thumbnail test are certainly good indicators of sharpness, I believe the final test comes at the workbench or cutting board.  A wise cooking dictum states that one should never use a wine for cooking one would not drink.  I believe that should apply to using a Tormek, right from the start.  I'm not saying one should necessarily start with  the very best tools, however, the initial tools should at least be tools one would use in good work. 

The initial knife used with the Tormek should be the knife you use on a regular basis on your cutting board.  I was pleased to read the recent comment that "I do a lot of cooking".  That is so important; the feedback on your knives should come from you actually using them on a regular basis.

The same applies with chisels and other tools.  Whether your chisels are used for rough work of hand cutting dovetails, you should learn to use your Tormek using the actual field tools.  In theory this could shorten the tool life. In actual practice I believe we would learn more carefully and thoroughly using our good tools.

I was delighted to feel the results of finally becoming proficient with my knife jig.  My knives make easy work of tomatoes and onions.  (One also made a very sharp incision on one of my finger tips, not so good, but very sharp.)

Good point, Rob.  I've never lived in a high production framing environment like Herman has.  One of the things I value in this forum is being able to share our different backgrounds. 

General Tormek Questions / Re: cold chisels
March 07, 2013, 12:13:27 AM
My gut reaction is that a cold chisel should be sharp (and have the mushroomed head ground off for safety).  I wanted to find a source to document this.  From Fundamental Shop Training by Shuman, Monroe and Wright (1945):

"To cut well, chisels must be sharp.  Hence, they should be ground at once when they become dull."  (p 25, discussing cold chisels)  They also suggest a 70 degree angle for cutting cast iron and about 60 degrees for mild steel and wrought iron.

I would respectfully disagree.  Too many people I respect teach polishing the back.

Ron Hock's book is handy:  "Proper honing of a chisel relies on properly flattening the back.  As with plane irons, a flat, polished back is essential to a sharp edge." (p 125)

Ernie Conover always teaches that a sharp edge depends on both planes, the bevel and the back.  He takes both to 8000 grit.

My forty year old Stanley butt chisels have done the heavy work for me.  They frequently have received nicks.  I can always see myself looking at the backs.  Is this overkill or just good sharpening technique?  (Actually the mirror backs go back to when they were my only chisels and did dovetails as well as rough work.  I would still polish rough chisel backs.)

Welcome back, Ionut.

Rob, I think it's premature to start losing faith.  I probably lob as many ideas into the ether as anyone.  I would not call the process willy nilly.

I don't see the process as being all that difficult.  Each portion of the forum has a locked message from Jeff.  The messages state that they were originated by Jeff.  I assume you can edit, delete of add, Jeff?

A second locked message might be entitled "quick start guide" or something similar.  I would suggest keeping it locked so that it always appears in the top of the first page.  No need for frustrating searches.  And, being locked, but editable by the forum moderator, would keep it manageable.

Speaking only for myself, I would be quite comfortable turning control over to Jeff.  I don't believe it would impose a large work burden for him.  With copy-paste from the pool of ideas, editing should be minor. Personally, I don't care whether I would receive any name notation or not for what I contribute.

I would not expect the "first draft" to be the end all.  That's the beauty of future editing.  For the record, if I should happen to notice any fumble fingered typos, I would send the editor a private email through the forum.

I consider this a work in progress.  While I don't think we should procrastinate a lot, I see no need for immediate speed..

Jeff, any thoughts?

Good point, Herman.

I've noticed more products coming with "'quick start guides".  I think that's a great idea.  Naturally I want to commit the 437 safety possibilities to memory,  but only (sometime) after I use the machine.

I believe if a new user can consistently sharpen a chisel and a kitchen knife well, that can form the basis for sharpening anything else within the range of the Tormek.  All of the basic skills are present with these two tools.  Preparing the stone; setting the bevel, including checking it with the Sharpie; knowing when to use the coarse or fine grading setting; and honing with the leather strop.  other posts have correctly noted the importance of listening to the cutting action; feeling the stone; and watching the water flow over the tool.  All of these are part of successfully sharpening a chisel and a kitchen knife.

Confident with basic Tormek skill, the new user can more intelligently benefit from studying nontormek specific material such as Leonard Lee's and Ron Hocks's books.  (Herman, you will find that Leonard Lee recommends a certain "toothiness" for a kitchen knife edge.  He doesn't want the edge polished super sharp.  He prefers a little grabbiness to catch things like tomato skin.  He recommends using a 1000 grit stone and no further.) That kind of related information, as well as Ron Hock's discussion of bolster thinning and the general discussion of steel and edges in both books is certainly useful in a Tormek education.

The forum can be a great source of information for things like how to put a specific grind on a turning tool.  No one loses anything by sharing experience, good or bad.

My thought for the forum "quick start guide" would be as an aid to help the new user achieve the skill and confidence with the Tormek, chisel and knife.  That could easily be the difference between a Tormek user and  one who has a Tormek in a box on a high shelf while using dull tools.

The guide should be readily available.  (That's why I suggest making it like the welcome messages.)  It should not involve having to use the search function.  (often another frustration).  It should be available to anyone who finds the forum, regardless of whether one purchases a Tormek, a competitor's product, or no product.  An interested person should realize that a Tormek is a very versatile tool, which also happens to have a modest learning curve. (Anyone who is able to access the information online should know about learning curves from the computer.)

It should also not be too long.  I had best end here.

I happened to visit my former local Tormek dealer last weekend.  (I moved out of the area last summer.)

The dealer now has a new huge store facility (six or seven acres of store).  For the first time I saw a T3 in their small Tormek display.  The T3 was still in the box on a lower shelf, but at least it has made it to the shelf.

Chief, I'm glad your boat finally righted.  I would suggest you write Tormek AB and nicely, but firmly grumble.  They should make things right. 

Keep us posted whether they respond or not, and good turning.

I found this in our archives, and thought it might be interesting and relevant for those who want to flatten their backs:

Hand Tool Woodworking / Re:Not just for TORMEK -- LET'S TALK HANDTOOLS!
« on: December 23, 2003, 10:16:57 pm »
Just to clarify my approach to sharpening.  I use the Tormek for grinding only, despite having had an excellent half morning's session with Torgny Yansson!

My sharpening is done on 800 and 8000grit waterstones.

Many people who come on my courses have done irrepairable damage to the flat side/back of their blades before arrival.  Please beware of rounding the flat side on hollow waterstones, or even the scary sharp method.
David Charlesworth.
The T bar could probably be held in the small tool holder.  With care, it might give a reasonable parallel surface.

What surprises me is that I don't recall seeing prior posts with this problem.  If the problem was indeed Tormek related, I would expect it to manifest itself with a number of users.

Have you sharpened these turning tools before using other methods?  Related, do you know another turner who would sharpen them with either another Tormek or a dry grinder?  If the problem is in the steel of your turning tools, I would expect the trouble to follow.

The other possibility which comes to mind is how much pressure you are putting on the tool against the wheel.  My turning tools are stored away, however, I have not noticed this glazing with carbon chisels, plane blades or high speed drill bits.

A late thought, what kind of steel are your turning tools? Today's powder technology is producing some exotic steel, which may or may not play nicely with the SG Tormek wheel.

Keep us posted.

Back to my first post:

When I first acquired my Tormek, I had a lot of difficulty using the angle master.  Being the inventive type, I devised an improved version.  I knew it would work much better.

Before I had a chance to build a prototype, I had another sharpening session.  At the time, my improvised shop was also my unheated garage.  That day happened to be very pleasant, so I set up my Tormek on my Work-mate outside.  That's a very nice way to work. The light was great. To my great surprise, the angle master worked quite well.  The problem was not the anglemaster.  The problem was trying to use it in poor light.  I had ignored the instruction book directive to work in good light.

I often read posts by new users who are having difficulties similar to mine.  It is easy to overlook the fact that all over the planet thousands of Tormeks are functioning as designed.  We overlook the obvious problem, operator error.  The problem with untreated operator error is that it all too often becomes operator frustration and soon the operator gives up in disgust.

One of the many nice things about this forum is that there are no hot shots.  None of us are child geniuses.  The Tormek is not a difficult machine to learn.  My Dad had a favorite saying, "We can be bold in doing something if we are first humble in learning it."

Let's all keep learning and sharing that journey, both the successes and the oopses.


ps My modification for the angle master would have been to lengthen the bearing surface along the blade.  (The surface at the bottom of the keystone which sits on the blade)  I would have removed the keystone on the side away from the sharp edge of the blade and made it square.  It would no longer be symmetrical; I don't think the Swedish engineers would have liked that.  I still think it would work better that way.  My real problem was trying to work in poor light.  Old eyes didn't help, either.

Herman, good thoughts.