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I've Seen The Light - Whew!

Started by MikeyD., November 10, 2006, 10:57:47 PM

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I am a happy owner of the Tormek 2000 s/n 319452.  I bought it at a wood show in Southern Cal a few years ago.  At the time I jumped in and got the entire set-up, cover and all.

I immediately started doing my wood chisels, plane irons, and carving knives.  Learned quickly how to keep the edges square and make all of them ?scary-sharp?.  LIFE WAS GOOD!

Then my Jet 15? planer and 8? jointer knives needed to be sharpened.  No problem I thought?.. Armed with the instruction guide and gobs of confidence from having ?mastered? chisels, plane irons, etc. I jumped right to the task.

Man-O-man, I got the poop kicked out of me.  After several hours and all the knives laying on the work bench, I found that none of them were very sharp, had no straight edges, and several angles along the bevels.  So, I took a rather large step back and evaluated what I thought the procedure was or should be.

I discovered so many little and large blunders on my part.  That?s right me, I messed up every step of the way.  Nothing to do with the Tormek or Planner/Jointer Jigs.  Well, I sucked it up and made some personal adjustments.

I re-read the Guide several times.  Thought things through.  Put everything into logical form and tried again?? Wow, much to my surprise and joy all the knives came out very sharp, with only one bevel angle and straight.  LIFE WAS ONCE MORE GOOD AGAIN!

Anyway, the following is a list of things that got me out of the woods and I would like to share:

- The Guide Book is good.  I did not really read it properly.  (Read it, Read it, again and again)

- Knife to grind wheel is extremely important.  Once you have made the initial set up look at the contact area from front, back, and either side.  After you are happy with the initial edge angle make sure that the Adjuster Knob (7) is contacting the arm on the Universal Support and the holder is sitting flat on the support edge (pg 43).

- I use a 0.03mm feeler gauge instead of paper to insure that the knife is in contact with the grind wheel the entire width.

- Always start with a very flat round grind wheel, this is an absolute must.  Then use the course side of the grader and do a good job with it.

- Set the initial grind depth by turning up the little wheels ? turn (0.5mm).  Be sure to push down (pg 44) when you lock the support plate.  My Support Plate has considerable ?wiggle? or ?play? between the threaded shafts and holders.  So I have to push down and slightly rearward when I tighten the two lock wheels (8).

- When grinding I sit on a shop stool, facing the blade jig (not as pictured on page 42) hold the blade clamp knobs and keep my hands directly over the grind wheel / knife contact area, not on each end of the knife holder.  Very important!  Also, try to get comfortable and relaxed.

- I apply downward pressure on the holder knobs while at the same time back pressure on the holder.  This keeps the blade holder traveling along the upper edge of the steel keyway in the Universal Support (mine has just a little slop) and the back pressure insures an even cut down to the Adjuster Knob stop (7).  KEEP HANDS OVER THE GRIND WHEEL / KNIFE AREA!  Do not worry about the picture on page 45 in the guide.  Doing it like as shown caused me to slightly ?rock? the knife holder causing a curved knife edge.

- I did not need to apply excessive force or pressure on the knife / blade holder.  I use moderate force and let the grind wheel do the work.  Re-grade the wheel as much as needed to keep it cutting.

- As I get close to the finished edge on the knife I will check it for straightness using the out feed table on my jointer.  Leave the knife in the holder.

- My last few passes over the grind wheel I use lighter pressure and check that the Adjuster Knob (7) is seated on the Universal Support arm and that the knife holder is flat on the lower edge of the Universal Support.  If in doubt, grind more because I do not think if all is set up correctly you can ?over-grind? the knife.

- When satisfied I check the back edge of the knife for a ?burr? along the entire edge of the knife.  If there, I?m done.

- To finish I just lightly hone the back edge of the knife to remove the burr.

Additional Tips:

- Sit the Tormek in a cook?s bun pan.  This will eliminate all the water mess on your bench, floor, and pants.  Any good kitchen store carry?s them.  Just ask for a 26?x18? Bun Pan.  MUST HAVE ITEM.

- For the long planer knives I fashion a water shield out of aluminum foil to cover the honing wheel.  It is easy to do and it works.  Just make sure that it does not rub the honing wheel.  (If I can figure it out anyone can.)

- Remove the ?knock pin? from the blade holder.  I can do my 15? planer knives in one pass.  (Tormek?s lawyers will not be happy, but if you are careful it works.)

- To mark the knife bevel I use machinist blue.  It is available at most auto part stores and stays on the edge better than magic marker.

- Listen to the knife and grind wheel as the cutting is happening.  Watch the water bead on the leading edge of the knife.  After a while the sounds and bead start making since and gives you an indication of what is going on.

I found that understanding the Tormek, developing a technique, finesse, and confidence made it all come together for me.  Also living in Baja (Mexico) where I can not easily get new knives helped the learning curve.

Now, if I just do not forget all this by the time my durn knives need to be sharpened again???.

Bond with your Tormek and just have fun!


I don't try to remember from one session to another.  Too many numbers to keep track of.  Every time I start a sharpening session I review Jeff's videos.  As for the planer jig, all I have to remember is re-read the instructions AGAIN!  I sharpened my 13" DeWalt planner knives and I couldn't believe how sharp they are.  I checked them against a new set and mine were sharper!


Just got going on the planer/jointer jig. I feel like I did a pretty good job. My one question is how do you know you got it sharp enough? Could it be sharper?/

My planer knives slice paper pretty good.  I can easily cut the caluses off my hands.

Is there a good test to determine?/



Hey, it sounds like you got them durn sharp...... A very important thing is that they are "straight" across the sharp edge..  Also, remember that this isn't rocket science or plastic sugrey... they are just planner or joiner blades.  They spin very fast and get dull very fast.  If the machine seems to be cutting good and NOT making an excessive amount of noise, kinda like the blades are beating the wood, then all is good!  I've found that the noise level of my planer or joiner gets louder as the blades get dull.

Have Fun


OK,OK,  I posted the long e-mail last November.  I said that by the time I had to sharpen my knives again that I'd forget what to do or the technique to do it.........

Well, today I did a friends 13" DeWalt knives......... Was nervous at the start, but reviewed the manual and my notes...... initial set-up of the knife went great..... I managed to get the knife flat on the stone, favoring the cutting edge, and followed the manual along with my notes........ whew, both blades came out very, very good, straight, and sharp.

I can do it..................