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Issues with Tormek T1 - knives not so sharp [Solved]

Started by tacklemcclean, February 07, 2022, 11:40:25 AM

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tacklemcclean

Hi everyone. My post is written from my skill level, which is fairly described as beginner.
I'm a home cook with decent knowledge of the kitchen knife sharpening process from reading/watching tutorials and discussing it with japanese whetstone nerdy colleagues. My previous experience however is limited to those pull through sharpeners and diamond honing rods for my kitchen.
I got the T1 to work on my own and my colleagues knives.

I've run into a few issues I need help with:

1. Honing wheel wobble.

Probably not a big issue, but I wonder if it's a defect I should worry about?
Video of the wobble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4TL6vcI8bs
You can also very clearly hear the position of a wheel rotation cycle based on this, as the sound is difference each time to passes the "bump".
For certain parts/positions of the knife when honing, I end up with the pulse of the wobble pushing/jumping the knife a bit, forcing me to lay off the pressure a lot.
What do you think, is this something that'll affect my sharpening?

2. Jig tightness

This might be user error, but depending on the knife the jig setup becomes very tight when I try to push through the knife. To get the knife down to actually touch the grinding wheel I have to push hard enough that the jig rubber itself grips the wheel to the point where it stops the grinding wheel.
I've mainly done an angle of 10 degrees so far, I guess that would increase the risk of this?

I've had this video as my guide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOkhrCjzc_4 and there it just looks so effortless in comparison.

However I've read a bit on the forum here and found a discussion about points of contact, and that maybe you're supposed to not have a wide section of the blade touching the wheel. Instead you should only have a single point of contact by angling the knife up/down accordingly. Maybe? I'm confused here, as the instructional video shows the knife somewhat straight into the jig.

3. Jig horizontal position

When the jig nut is loosened, you can move it forward/backwards and also remove it completely.
How do you decide where to position it horizontally? I thought this was the reason for the jig being too tight but depending on the position it makes it easier/harder/impossible to reach certain parts of the knife when sharpening it.

4. Knife sharpness/end result
This is the big issue for me.

The diamond sharpening wheel is 600 grit and the composite honing wheel is roughly estimated to 3500-4000 (info from Tormek on youtube comments).
Given my experience level I had hoped and assumed I would be able to repair dents/nicks in my knives and also get them super sharp.

Repairing:
I have a japanese petty knife with some dents I've been working on getting rid off. I'm still not done, and after ~20 minutes of grinding I opted to turn it off due to being very warm.
For this part I wonder if the T1 is made for this scenario and I should just keep at it, or if it's mainly meant for "just" sharpening and I'm using the wrong tool for the job?

Sharpness:
No matter how much time on the honing wheel and how much of the honing wheel I grind away (a lot of black dust is created), I can't get the knifes super sharp.
I can get them sharp, but not crazy sharp. Definitely usable for kitchen applications but not close to what I know should be possible.

I have a Yaxell Zen chefs knife. It is super sharp. I can take a printer paper, fold it in half and stand it up and cut right through it with little effort with that knife.
I can also cut through paper like shown in the T1 video here: https://youtu.be/rOkhrCjzc_4?t=273 (timestamp 4:32) - meaning I don't have to firmly grip the knife and pull through the paper, it is quite effortless.

Don't ge me wrong here, the point is not for me to cut through paper all day, cooking food is the end goal, but this is a point of measure. It also a factor of hobby interest from me and my colleagues who all want to achieve having super sharp knives, comparable to what they have been able to do with whetstones by hand so far.

I've practiced on 5 knives so far, a "regular" OBH Nordica kitchen knife and a bunch of not-super-expensive japanese knives. They're all part of a set fiancé got many years ago.
One of them, a nakiri, is almost as sharp as the Yaxell Zen and I can almost cut through paper with the same effort.

However on all the knives I've worked on, they all get sharp up to a point and quite consistently so - I can get them all to the same level of sharpness.
But this sharpness is nowhere near able to cut through paper with the same small amount of effort like the Yaxell knife, or the cheaper japanese nakiri I have. Trying to cut through paper I can end up sawing back and forth and still not getting through (would probably be better explain with a video).
In any case, 
I can not achieve what is shown in the T1 instructional video.

My Yaxell knife is sharpened at 10 degrees so that's why I've done 10 degrees on the knives I've worked on as well. I'm thinking the angle will affect the sharpness.

At this point I'm not super happy with the purchase and wish we had gone for the T4. I get it that it takes a lot more training and skill to use than the T1 but I fear the T1 may not be able to do what we were (perhaps naively?) hoping for.

What do you think, am I doing something wrong or are my expectations misaligned for this product?

cbwx34

Quote from: tacklemcclean on February 07, 2022, 11:40:25 AM
Hi everyone. My post is written from my skill level, which is fairly described as beginner.
I'm a home cook with decent knowledge of the kitchen knife sharpening process from reading/watching tutorials and discussing it with japanese whetstone nerdy colleagues. My previous experience however is limited to those pull through sharpeners and diamond honing rods for my kitchen.
I got the T1 to work on my own and my colleagues knives.

I've run into a few issues I need help with:

1. Honing wheel wobble.

Probably not a big issue, but I wonder if it's a defect I should worry about?
Video of the wobble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4TL6vcI8bs
You can also very clearly hear the position of a wheel rotation cycle based on this, as the sound is difference each time to passes the "bump".
For certain parts/positions of the knife when honing, I end up with the pulse of the wobble pushing/jumping the knife a bit, forcing me to lay off the pressure a lot.
What do you think, is this something that'll affect my sharpening?

I would email Tormek support... to me it looks OK, but if it affects your sharpening, then it's an issue.  But I'll add, it doesn't take a lot of pressure to hone a knife, so you may be using too much?

2. Jig tightness

This might be user error, but depending on the knife the jig setup becomes very tight when I try to push through the knife. To get the knife down to actually touch the grinding wheel I have to push hard enough that the jig rubber itself grips the wheel to the point where it stops the grinding wheel.
I've mainly done an angle of 10 degrees so far, I guess that would increase the risk of this?

I've had this video as my guide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOkhrCjzc_4 and there it just looks so effortless in comparison.

However I've read a bit on the forum here and found a discussion about points of contact, and that maybe you're supposed to not have a wide section of the blade touching the wheel. Instead you should only have a single point of contact by angling the knife up/down accordingly. Maybe? I'm confused here, as the instructional video shows the knife somewhat straight into the jig.

If the guide is like the guide on the T-2, I'm not a fan.  It only accomodates a limited number of knife shapes/styles.  I don't think how much of the knife is contacting is the issue.

3. Jig horizontal position

When the jig nut is loosened, you can move it forward/backwards and also remove it completely.
How do you decide where to position it horizontally? I thought this was the reason for the jig being too tight but depending on the position it makes it easier/harder/impossible to reach certain parts of the knife when sharpening it.

Again, if it's like the T-2, it's so that if you can't slide the knife all the way in, (for example the bolster gets in the way, you can slide the guide over so the heel of the knife can reach the stone.  Then when you turn the knife around, you can slide it to the other side.

4. Knife sharpness/end result
This is the big issue for me.

The diamond sharpening wheel is 600 grit and the composite honing wheel is roughly estimated to 3500-4000 (info from Tormek on youtube comments).
Given my experience level I had hoped and assumed I would be able to repair dents/nicks in my knives and also get them super sharp.

Repairing:
I have a japanese petty knife with some dents I've been working on getting rid off. I'm still not done, and after ~20 minutes of grinding I opted to turn it off due to being very warm.
For this part I wonder if the T1 is made for this scenario and I should just keep at it, or if it's mainly meant for "just" sharpening and I'm using the wrong tool for the job?

It's really designed as a maintenance sharpener, not to repair damage or do major reprofiles.

Sharpness:
No matter how much time on the honing wheel and how much of the honing wheel I grind away (a lot of black dust is created), I can't get the knifes super sharp.
I can get them sharp, but not crazy sharp. Definitely usable for kitchen applications but not close to what I know should be possible.

Sounds like you have a large burr... try making a couple of very light alternating passes on the diamond wheel before honing.

I have a Yaxell Zen chefs knife. It is super sharp. I can take a printer paper, fold it in half and stand it up and cut right through it with little effort with that knife.
I can also cut through paper like shown in the T1 video here: https://youtu.be/rOkhrCjzc_4?t=273 (timestamp 4:32) - meaning I don't have to firmly grip the knife and pull through the paper, it is quite effortless.

Don't ge me wrong here, the point is not for me to cut through paper all day, cooking food is the end goal, but this is a point of measure. It also a factor of hobby interest from me and my colleagues who all want to achieve having super sharp knives, comparable to what they have been able to do with whetstones by hand so far.

I've practiced on 5 knives so far, a "regular" OBH Nordica kitchen knife and a bunch of not-super-expensive japanese knives. They're all part of a set fiancé got many years ago.
One of them, a nakiri, is almost as sharp as the Yaxell Zen and I can almost cut through paper with the same effort.

However on all the knives I've worked on, they all get sharp up to a point and quite consistently so - I can get them all to the same level of sharpness.
But this sharpness is nowhere near able to cut through paper with the same small amount of effort like the Yaxell knife, or the cheaper japanese nakiri I have. Trying to cut through paper I can end up sawing back and forth and still not getting through (would probably be better explain with a video).
In any case, 
I can not achieve what is shown in the T1 instructional video.

My Yaxell knife is sharpened at 10 degrees so that's why I've done 10 degrees on the knives I've worked on as well. I'm thinking the angle will affect the sharpness.

At this point I'm not super happy with the purchase and wish we had gone for the T4. I get it that it takes a lot more training and skill to use than the T1 but I fear the T1 may not be able to do what we were (perhaps naively?) hoping for.

What do you think, am I doing something wrong or are my expectations misaligned for this product?

Hate to say it, but I think you're right.  Like I said before, the T-1 and T-2 are more maintenance tools... from reading your post, it sounds like you need a bit more.

My .02 above...  ::)
Knife Sharpening Angle Calculators:
Calcapp Calculator-works on any platform (Just point your phone at the QR code)
or, a list of available Calculators

tacklemcclean

Thank you cbwx34 for the reply, it is valuable to me.
Regarding the large burr, that is exactly how I finish the sharpening - a couple of alternating passes.

The petty knife I mentioned is very similar to a sakai takayuki or hitohira 140mm: https://bernalcutlery.com/products/hitohira-hg-140mm-petty-tsuchime-damascus?variant=37133965525144
Not sure exactly which model it is.

In any case, I've spent 2 x 30 minute sessions on it today trying to get rid of the dents.
I can't really gauge if what I'm trying to do is considered repairing/major reprofiling, but I'm started to guess it does.

I took a picture of the dents I have on the knife:
https://imgur.com/a/6EHZFJS
The dents are quite visible on the first picture, but I don't think they are very large still. You certainly feel them with your fingernail.
After today's sessions of grinding I can't say they have diminished in size whatsoever.

I guess I'm using the wrong tool for the job.

cbwx34

#3
Quote from: tacklemcclean on February 07, 2022, 04:35:20 PM
Thank you cbwx34 for the reply, it is valuable to me.
Regarding the large burr, that is exactly how I finish the sharpening - a couple of alternating passes.

The petty knife I mentioned is very similar to a sakai takayuki or hitohira 140mm: https://bernalcutlery.com/products/hitohira-hg-140mm-petty-tsuchime-damascus?variant=37133965525144
Not sure exactly which model it is.

In any case, I've spent 2 x 30 minute sessions on it today trying to get rid of the dents.
I can't really gauge if what I'm trying to do is considered repairing/major reprofiling, but I'm started to guess it does.

I took a picture of the dents I have on the knife:
https://imgur.com/a/6EHZFJS
The dents are quite visible on the first picture, but I don't think they are very large still. You certainly feel them with your fingernail.
After today's sessions of grinding I can't say they have diminished in size whatsoever.

I guess I'm using the wrong tool for the job.

If the scratches on the side of the knife are from the T-1... it looks like you have the angle set too low to even reach the edge.  (Even if they're not, I still don't think you're reaching the edge of the knife).

Try marking the bevel of the knife with a Sharpie type marker... make a couple of passes on the T-1, and see where the wheel removes the marker. 

Edit:  I should add, that knife probably has a convex edge.
Knife Sharpening Angle Calculators:
Calcapp Calculator-works on any platform (Just point your phone at the QR code)
or, a list of available Calculators

Ken S

tacklemcclean,
Welcome to the forum. You have raised some serious points with the T1 which need to be addressed. Let me say first that I agree with CB, that you should contact Tormek support (support@tormek.se). This is especially true with the T1. It was only quite recently introduced for sale, and only in Sweden. Like all new Tormek products, it would have first spent a long time in factory testing. Tormek is a small enough company so that the support staff most probably did most of the testing. It will soon be for sale in the US; however, the overwhelming majority of the forum members have never even seen a T1. To the best of my knowledge, the T1 online class has only been posted in Swedish. We don't have specific knowledge (at this point) to respond well.

Your post seems balanced and fair minded. I detect that you are honestly seeking answers rather than having an ax to grind.. I especially appreciate that you, like me, are open to the possibility that some of the difficulties may be a result of operator inexperience.

At this point, your expectations may or may not be a good match for the T1. A T4 might or might not be a better fit. The recent introduction of the diamond wheels for the T4 have expanded the scope of the T4. If you decide to switch, I doubt you will incur much of a financial loss; the second hand market for Tormek products is very strong. Your warranty should be transferable, another reason to contact Tormek.

Let's leave the jury out until we have more information.

Ken

tacklemcclean

Good news - things have turned around!

A Tormek representative reached out to me and we talked through the process a bit and found a few key points to look at.

My problems were certainly due to user error. In hindsight some are blaringly obvious, but lack of experience stopped me from seeing it easily.
To try and summarize what went wrong:

I was having trouble getting knives sharp so I stuck myself to only sharpening at 10 degrees. Why? My Yaxell was very sharp, and it is allegedly sharpened at 10 degrees. Anything less and I'd expect "not sharp enough" in comparison.

Further, I had some instances where I managed to freeze the wheel in place by pressure in the jig. Not really sure how in hindsight, but it happened. And when it happened, I assumed I should'nt be keeping my knife in a straight angle in the jig. Instead I adopted a pattern of only grinding at the base angle and the top angle of the conically shaped diamond wheel.

So there I was using only a percentage of the wheel, sharpening at a super sharp angle and hoping to remove enough material to fix my dents in the knife. Maybe it would have, but it would've taken ages.

How my process was fixed:

- For fixing the dents in the knife, I started at 20 degrees to remove maximum amount of material. When the dents were gone I resumed at 15 degrees. This sure took some time, but it was certainly doable in a single session when I was doing it correctly. Some knife afficionado somewhere will probably have a heartbreak that I might sharpen it to something else than its original angle, but this works for me.
- Perhaps the most crucial part. When sharpening, I was making sure to put as much surface contact on the whole width of the wheel onto the knife. Obvious in hindsight, yes. And of course making sure to follow the blades curve, lifting the handle when approaching the tip.
- As cbwx34 suggested, marking the bevel with a marker to confirm I was actually hitting where I was supposed to. I guess this is super important for a beginner, it really helps.
- When honing, making sure the wheel is damped with a sponge. The wheel is slightly wobbly and it grabs and pushed my knife in pulses timed with the wheels RPM (not always, but sometimes). This problem was alleviated fully by continually wetting the honing wheel. I'm not sure that also helps with sharpness, but it certainly felt like it.

So, how are the end results on my petty knife now?
Dents gone, and the sharpness is on par with my Yaxell knife. I can cut a free standing printer paper and hairs on my arms!

Thanks Tormek for the swift and personal support.

Now I only wonder - a knife that is sharpened in this manner, how would you maximize its life before needing to hone it again on the honing wheel (or sharpen again in rougher cases)?
The scenario being for example I sharpen some knives for a family member and they are not able to visit, or I might have the machine available etc. How can they maintain it for as long as possible?
I'm thinking either ceramic honing rod or a metal honing rod? Or maybe stropping on leather? Any tips?

cbwx34

Quote from: tacklemcclean on February 08, 2022, 09:10:00 PM
Good news - things have turned around!

...

Now I only wonder - a knife that is sharpened in this manner, how would you maximize its life before needing to hone it again on the honing wheel (or sharpen again in rougher cases)?
The scenario being for example I sharpen some knives for a family member and they are not able to visit, or I might have the machine available etc. How can they maintain it for as long as possible?
I'm thinking either ceramic honing rod or a metal honing rod? Or maybe stropping on leather? Any tips?

Glad you got it to work... I'm still thinking a T-4 would've been a better fit, but sharp is sharp!

My .02 to your question, I like to use a ceramic rod to maintain kitchen knives... properly used it can maintain sharpness for a long time.  So, that's my vote.  (Specifically, I like the rods from Idahone).
Knife Sharpening Angle Calculators:
Calcapp Calculator-works on any platform (Just point your phone at the QR code)
or, a list of available Calculators

Ken S

Good news indeed!

There will be a learning curve with the T1 for all of us. We are accostumed to multiple grits with our grinding wheels, honing compound, and entirely different jigs. I am very pleased that you have experienced the excellent Tormek service and that you have the tenacity to stay the course.

Keep us posted!

Ken

PS Like CB, I like gentle ceramic hones. I happen to use a Worksharp ceramic hone. I like the triangular guides. If I was looking for a ceramic hone, the Truhones look like definite contenders. I prefer placing the tip on my cutting board and using very controlled light strokes.Keep the ceramic clean with scotch brite and bar keeper's friend powder or soft scrub.

cbwx34

Quote from: Ken S on February 09, 2022, 02:14:21 AM
...
I like gentle ceramic hones. I happen to use a Worksharp ceramic hone. I like the triangular guides. If I was looking for a ceramic hone, the Truhones look like definite contenders. I prefer placing the tip on my cutting board and using very controlled light strokes.Keep the ceramic clean with scotch brite and bar keeper's friend powder or soft scrub.

WorkSharp's ceramic is a good one too.  (Never tried Truhone).  And that's how I use one... with the tip on a surface, and usually a couple of light alternating strokes will get a knife up to speed.

The Nanohone Strop is also a contender... I have one in ceramic, but he's since switched to a diamond surface.  Not only can you use it for touchups, you can do some decent sharpening on it... and the flat surface is better than the round surface of a standard rod, not to mention diamond if you're using higher end steels.  (Not sure why it slipped my mind before, I use it now more than the Idahone rod).   :o
Knife Sharpening Angle Calculators:
Calcapp Calculator-works on any platform (Just point your phone at the QR code)
or, a list of available Calculators

John_B

I bought 2 ceramic honing rods. One is 1000 and 2000 grit and the other is 2000 and 3000 grit.

I can keep knives very sharp using these periodically. Before each use I steel the knife edge with a smooth steel.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MXN546R/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Sharpen the knife blade
Hone edge until perfection
Cut with joy and ease

aggieland22

Quote from: cbwx34 on February 09, 2022, 12:28:00 AM
Quote from: tacklemcclean on February 08, 2022, 09:10:00 PM
Good news - things have turned around!

...

Now I only wonder - a knife that is sharpened in this manner, how would you maximize its life before needing to hone it again on the honing wheel (or sharpen again in rougher cases)?
The scenario being for example I sharpen some knives for a family member and they are not able to visit, or I might have the machine available etc. How can they maintain it for as long as possible?
I'm thinking either ceramic honing rod or a metal honing rod? Or maybe stropping on leather? Any tips?

Glad you got it to work... I'm still thinking a T-4 would've been a better fit, but sharp is sharp!

My .02 to your question, I like to use a ceramic rod to maintain kitchen knives... properly used it can maintain sharpness for a long time.  So, that's my vote.  (Specifically, I like the rods from Idahone).

I'm pretty certain that edgepro sells the same rods for ~$10 less. There arent many places in the US that make the ceramic and Edgepro sources them from the coorstek or coors brewery, I don't exactly remember but Ben at EP did not know of another place that makes it. I know the Spyderco ceramics are at least the same as EP, i would be surprised if Idahone is any different.

cbwx34

Quote from: aggieland22 on March 30, 2022, 01:05:42 AM
I'm pretty certain that edgepro sells the same rods for ~$10 less. There arent many places in the US that make the ceramic and Edgepro sources them from the coorstek or coors brewery, I don't exactly remember but Ben at EP did not know of another place that makes it. I know the Spyderco ceramics are at least the same as EP, i would be surprised if Idahone is any different.

I think you are correct!
Knife Sharpening Angle Calculators:
Calcapp Calculator-works on any platform (Just point your phone at the QR code)
or, a list of available Calculators

John_B

Sharpen the knife blade
Hone edge until perfection
Cut with joy and ease

tgbto

Wow John, thank you!

I didn't know of this site, it seems to be a treasure trove of sharpening information. The article you linked to is incredibilty detailed, clear and informational...