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raise a burr

Started by Antony64, October 18, 2022, 12:16:38 PM

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Hello All. I am new to this forum and also new to Tormek. I recently (2 month ago) purchased a T4. I have some jigs and I am learnig how to use them

So far, I am unable to raise a burr, no matter what jig or angle or setting i use. I have a few older tools. Spingle, roughing gouges, scews and some weird and oddly shaped ones. I think the previous owner tried all angles but to no avail. as blunt as cheese.

I WATCHED a ton of YouTube vids and tried several times.... What am I missing...

My day job is in IT. am I overtinking  this? do i just set angle and go for it? I want to try and bring my old tools to life before I open and use the new tools.

Anyone, Please help...

I have SE 77, SVS -50, TT 50 jigs. and some more in the drawer from an old Tormek supergring 2000.


Ken S

Welcome to the forum, Antony.

Your frustration sharpening turning tools reminds me of the frustrations mere mortals like me frequently have using computers.

Let's start with just one tool, the simpler the better. If you happen to have one, a bench chisel would be ideal, preferably in the 1/2" to 3/4" width range. A bedan, wider parting tool, or skew would do. You want to work with something with a straight bevel.

Set your other tools aside and focus on getting one good burr.

Use your stone grader to make your grinding wheel coarse. Then grind. Keep grinding until you can feel a burr. You can use heavy pressure with the SG-200. Not fully grinding is a common difficulty. Once you get your first burr, the rest will fall into place.

I would make one learning resource recommendation. As a Special Services/Hi-Cap technician with AT&T, one of the best training classes I ever had was Advanced Signaling. This class was so ancient that the training department only had one computer equipped to handle the 105 big floppie disks. The material was marvelous. It was produced by Bell Labs. It was excellent, the King James Version of telephony training. Sadly, I suspect it was long ago discarded by some short sighted manager who saw only its vintage and not its outstanding content.

Tormek has a similar DVD. It was produced by Jeff Farris using a SuperGrind 2000. Jeff, sadly no longer with Tormek, is one of the most knowledgeable Tormek experts on the planet and a very experienced turner. The DVD is part of Tormek's turner's information box(TNT-300) which also includes an informative booklet by Tormek inventor Torgny Janssen.
The DVD is divided into sharpening and tool using parts. I consider it essential for beginning turners
I just saw it listed at half price at Hartville Hardware ($29.95). I suspect it will soon be discontinued in favor of the new online classes, which are excellent and feature Tormek's latest lineup. Here is a link:

Keep us posted.



Quote from: Antony64 on October 18, 2022, 12:16:38 PM
I think the previous owner tried all angles but to no avail. as blunt as cheese.

This statement may be part of what is causing you an issue.  If the previous owner tried a high angle, even just a little, it can be difficult to grind that high angle out.  So, I'd suggest, in addition to what Ken said, mark the edge with a Sharpie, and make sure you're grinding all the way to the edge.  (You may need to look under magnification to be sure.)

Quote from: Ken S on October 18, 2022, 02:12:25 PM
Let's start with just one tool, the simpler the better.

Definitely do this, so you'll know what to look for, and what successful results look like.
Knife Sharpening Angle Calculator:
Calcapp Calculator-works on any platform. New url!
(or Click HERE to see other calculators available)

Ken S

I agree with CB. Judicious use of the marker method can put us ahead of numerous frustrations and lessen the amount of unnecessary metal removal.




I'm not disagreeing with Ken nor CB, but want to add a few items for you to consider. 

When sharpening woodturning tools, the angle on the cutting edge does matter.  I've catalogued those at the Sharpening Handbook (

As for burrs, are you wondering if your sharpening effort is getting to the edge and leaving a burr, or wanting to leave the burr (as on a scraper)?

If it is the first, then this could be also caused if you are sharpening from the horizontal position (i.e., the wheel is spinning away from the cutting edge).  This will rarely leave a burr.  If you are sharpening from the vertical position (i.e., the wheel is rotating towards the cutting edge), then you should get some burr, though it will probably be small.  As CB mentioned, the grit of the stone will affect this:  higher grit = bigger burr; finer grit = less burr.

If it is the second, then I definitely recommend you use the vertical position.  I don't think one is able to leave a burr on the scraper's edge when sharpening from the horizontal position.

Last note, if you are looking to change the shape of the tool, consider getting the BGM-100 Bench Grinder Mounting Set.  That will allow you to use your bench grinder's fast cutting action to quickly set the shape using the same setup (USB and Grinding Jig) you will use on the Tormek.  Then you can move back to the Tormek and sharpen the new shape.  I use that approach often.  Only caveat is to be slow on the high-speed grinder if you are sharpening tools which are not high speed steel.  You don't want to remove the temper from the steel.

Good luck,
Rich Colvin - a reference guide for sharpening

You are born weak & frail, and you die weak & frail.  What you do between those is up to you.


Thank you all, and thank you for the welcome message.

@Ken. I did try with one of my normal wood working chisels, also about 30 years old. I could sharpen using the customary 25 degree angle. the I honed it on the wheel with compound.
Sadly, I was never able to raise, or fell, a burr. It was sharp but not in the "cut Paper" realm.

@cbwx34. yes, I did use the sharpie method. I was able to get the angle almost perfect on the normal chisel. I sharpend and got fair results.  but not great.

I will try to concentrate on one scew chisel this weekend and try to get it perfect. I will also use the SVS 50 jig, where I used the SE 77 previously.

Forgive the late reply. I am based in South Africa (GMT +2) and it is now 21.26 late evening. normally when wife is off to bed and I can pick up some free time for my PC work.
As I stated, I am in IT and deal with clients all day.

thank you all. I will report back to you...


Hey Antony.

It's probably just a misunderstanding from my part but just in case :

Quotethe I honed it on the wheel with compound. Sadly, I was never able to raise, or fell, a burr.

You should feel the burr *before* you hone... The whole point of honing is to remove said burr, so there is no real point in honing a burrless edge.

I also have a small disagreement with respect to a single point of what Rich said : I can clearly feel a burr when grinding edge-trailing. It does not have the "bite" of the burr created when grinding against the rotation, but still, it is clearly there. I sharpen edge trailing on high-angle tools to avoid catching. The microscope clearly shows a burr as well.

I couldn't agree more with the sharpie method, and making sure it goes to the very edge : if there is a microbevel of some sort, you can think you're grinding up to the edge and stop actually a few microns short of it.

Ken S


You mention having "a few older tools". Many older turning tools are made of carbon steel, as opposed to high speed steel. (My original set of turning tools were inherited from my grandfather. They are Sears Craftsman from the 1930s, "the garden variety".)

I would present another opinion to the BGM-100 and dry grinder. While that is the fastest method, it can involve the expense of a dry grinder and BGM-100, at least a couple hundred US dollars. My main reservation is that the higher speed dry grinding produces head and dust. This is counter to the water cooled, dustless Tormek philosophy. Until around 2010, all Tormek sharpening was done with the SG grinding wheel with water. Reshaping will take longer; however, after initial reshaping, you should only need quick resharpening.

My suggestion is to work on one tool at a time. You can go far using just a single sharp spindle gouge learning the craft by practicing coves and beads with 2x4s. If you spread out reshaping it won't seem like such a chore. A good tip is if you want to do major reshaping, do it is several stages.



Thank you all again. I have bben really busy with client business. Yes Ken. I think you may infect be correct. my older tools might be carbon steel. I have some free time tomorrow and i am planning to go through the tools and select the once i feel is better quality. i have about 20 old chisels. this is of random origin, no idea where i got them all. Like most of you here, i collected then here, there and everywhere. I have 4 good used once (maple) one or two record scrapers... mostly a mic and match. I want to sort that out and get the facts.

I want to sharpen these to a crisp and use them to learn. I also own a full set of midi carbyte tools from Black-line tools. Nice tools. most recently I got some Robert Sorby spindle and bowl gouges. in 3 or 4 different sizes. they are still in the plastic sleeves. will use them once i have the skill to do better work. I mostly turn wood/resin blanks. it dulls the tools in no time flat.

@ tgbto.

yes, thank you. I am not able to raise a burr, meaning my sharpening techique is not correct to raise a burr. its feels sharp, but is not really. I then hone just to create a smoothe glyde surface.
I am leaning, I am trying, i will succeed (one day) and then I will do the dance of joy...

thank you all. good night from South Africa.


I'm sure you will manage to get a burr on most tools : once the wheel sharpens up to the edge, there is nowhere else to go for the steel apart from the burr. It's just a matter of trusting you'll get there, and gauging your progress with the sharpie method, or eyeballing it with experience. You can visit and in particular this article on burrs for interesting info, and very nice SEM images of burrs.

A quick word on high-speed steel, which you'll have a hard time sharpening with the SG stone (SB or diamond stones necessary), and carbide tools which you'll only be able to abrade with diamond stones. And even with those, your results will vary a lot depending on the bonding material, size and composition of carbides, etc. Here again, has a few articles on carbides that explain the challenge.