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We have always had high expectations for our Tormeks. And, our expectations keep getting higher.
I purchased my first T7 in 2009, the tail end of a very long Tormek history when the complete basic machine consisted of the machine, one grinding wheel (the SG-250) with stone grader, and one leather honing wheel.
Today, the "complete basic machine" would probably consist of at least six grinding wheels and two honing wheels, plus a desire for more of each. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not being critical of this trend, only noting it. Our variety of jigs, accessories and expectations has also increased.
We may be overlooking the fact that, while the Tormek excels at many sharpening tasks, in some its performance is less than excellent. For example, with flattening the backs of chisels using the outside of the grinding wheels, conventional grinding wheels could not be retrued (flattened). the ability to flatten declined with wheel wear. Admittedly, the consistent size of the diamond wheels has diminished this limitation; however, when using the SG-250, the grinding wheel designed for high carbon steel, the constraint still remains. While purchasing diamond wheels may be cost efficient for a large shop or school, I find the cost per tool excessive to purchase diamond wheels for just several chisels. I still prefer to do the entire bevel sharpening procedure with the SG-250, but do the flattening and back polishing with flat bench stones. Admittedly, some prefer to do the final sharpening steps for the bevel with bench stones. This is a perfectly valid technique, just one that I do not use. My point is that, in my opinion, the Tormek excels at sharpening bevels and is less than stellar at flattening backs. Fortunately, back flattening is a one time chore, and minimized by purchasing premium chisels. Why not use the Tormek for operations where it excels, and related tools for the other operations? We do not expect this of other tools. Even a humble home workshop probably has multiple saws, hammers, chisels, etc.
Related, is the concept of tool (and knife) size. The Tormek excels at mid range tools and knives. It does a great job with mid size chisels. With chisels 1/4" and narrower, performance can get dicey. Knives can be the same way. It excels with chef knives. Very small blades like pen knives can be dicey, even with the SVM-00.
I am not being critical of the Tormek. I am only saying that although my other sharpening gear is no longer used much in routine sharpening, I still find it useful for some operations. Sometimes I find a few quick strokes with a mill file more efficient than using my Tormek. as Engineer Scotty would say in the Star Trek movies, "The right tool for the right job".
AUS10A is a decent stainless steel. It's usually hardened to 58-61 hrc and it's considered pretty tough, so it should be able to handle a low angle. I don't have the knife you're talking about, but knowing Cold Steel, I would guess it's pretty thick behind the edge, so your choice of bevel angle may depend on your appreciation for wide versus small edge bevels. If you have a set of calipers, measure the width right behind the edge. Average for pocket knives is probably around 0.020". If it's closer to 0.030", I'd stick with 20+° or else you're going to have quite a thick edge bevel. But again, it's a matter of aesthetics. For my personal knives, I always err on the side of a lower angle for better cutting performance.
Last post by Sir Amwell - Yesterday at 08:27:30 PM
Are you using the self centring jig (kj45)? If you are then I can only assume that the problem lies with your knife or knives. Unfortunately it is quite common for folding or fixed blade bushcraft/edc knives to have asymmetric grinds before the apex. If you are using the old style jig (can't think off hand the model number) then it will only centre knives within a tolerance of 2-3mm spine thickness I think. Anything thinner you should increase the thickness with tape to aid centering and avoid wobble. Anything thicker requires altering (thinning) the jaws of the jig to accommodate the extra thickness and centre the knife. Knife Grinders has an informative video about this on the YouTube channel. For those thicker knives you would probably best get the newer KJ45 self centring jig. I tried sharpening my brother's custom made bushcraft knife and ran into the same problem. I was literally pulling my hair out trying to get even bevels but got nowhere until I realised the knife had been ground asymmetrically in the first place. Had to keep flipping and adjusting over and over til I got it right. Very frustrating!
I have been using the knife sharpening jig for a couple of fixed blade knives and a couple of pocket knives, and have been getting a bevel which appears wider on one side of the blade than the other, despite what feels like even pressure and equal number of strokes across the wheel. The jig should be holding the blade centered, and it seems physically impossible that this should be occurring, yet it is. I would appreciate any advice as to what you think the causes of this could be, and what I would need to do to eliminate it thank you very much
I would classify you in my first mentioned group, "members who are on a quest for a perfect edge". There is absolutely nothing wrong with being in that group. We have all benefitted from the quest. I consider Wootz one of the shining stars of that group. However, even Wootz recognized the value of a not quite quest level, but still very workmanlike, sharpening routine. Here is a link to one of his videos where he demonstrates this method. His sharpened knife has a BESS value of 75. While 75 won't set a quest record, it is certainly quite respectable.
Just like the stone grader is capable of more than just 220 and 1000 grit, I believe the Tormek is capable of a wider range of precision than just top level to being compared with other sharpening methods.
The way I see it, the Tormek is all about being precise.
If one is trying to achieve the best speed / quality compromise, and is a deft freehand sharpener, a belt grinder with a fine belt on a low speed setting and a separate leather honing setup will yield the best results. Of course heat must be managed buyt that's how most knives are factory sharpened anyway.
Plus it seems to me that edge leading is somewhat faster than edge-trailing...
I am also in the mixed group . I am still a beginner in the field of sharpening and I sometimes find it a challenge to grind a nice even cutting edge with the jig. Until now I also do free hand honing, but I ordered the FVB and will experiment with it soon.
Our group seems a mixture. We have members who are on a quest for the perfect edge. We have members who want to turn a reasonable business profit from sharpening. We have members who primarily want to keep their tools and knives working sharp. We have members who, like me, are a mixture of these.
In the past, I recommended learning freehand honing. I have come to believe that efficient use of an FVB has made jig controlled honing a better choice. I can see why Tormek might have favored freehand honing. The plastic knob of the SVM jigs and the plastic horizontal sleeve locking knobs do not clear the support bar legs. An FVB solves this problem. Like you, my freehand skills do not compete with a jig. The jig makes us better sharpeners.
Last post by JohnHancock - November 26, 2023, 10:49:41 PM
I have seen woodworkers who can get a board dead flat by hand. I have seen skilled sharpeners who can get a plane iron and plane blade to a precise angle and perfectly flat by eye. Similarly I have seen skilled knife sharpeners who can get a precise angle on a knife by eye. These people are on another level. But that is not me
Last post by Ken S - November 25, 2023, 07:30:05 PM
I agree. I would not want my best knives to be freehand sharpened. I would arrange a time and situation where the sharpener would not have the time constraint and be willing to pay a premium fee for the premium service.
That stated, skilled sharpeners, like my mentor, can press the average jig sharpener pretty hard. I would not lump them in with the quick and dirty crowd.
My intention in posting this topic was not to recommend freehand sharpening. I only wanted to offer an explanation for grinding into vs grinding away.