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A Poor Retired Plumbers Second Attempt at Sharpening Chisels

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Hi There Forum Fraternity

This post is just an update on my previous post on how not to convince my good wife I required a state of art machine thingy to sharpen my tools.

As you will know if you perused said post I had little success, in fact if I had gone ahead with the purchase of the Tormek T8 my wife informed me that parts of my anatomy would be removed that would certainly impact on my status as an Alpha male. So, the manual Trend system was adopted, and I still retain the deeper voice.

Now I had not given up entirely on my quest, but after watching two thousand uploads on Tormek’s on U Tube I tempered my ambitions to acquiring the lesser T4. There are many sites comparing the pros and cons of the T4 against the T8 and eventually I reasoned my own requirement, which allowed me to made a judgement call.

Firstly, I am posting in the hope that any member thinking of such a purchase may gleam some info that assists their own purchase. So here goes. Firstly, Tormek is the Rolls Royce. There are a plethora of knock offs from about £100 upwards. Some terrible, some acceptable, but where almost all fall down is build quality and longevity. Most of the complaints regarding these machines was the inability to true the stone, which as you will know seriously affects the sharpening process. The failings are mainly due the drive spindle manufacture, and its bearings. Tormek had the same problem with earlier models, but addressed it by producing replacement high quality spindles for sale. Other advantages are the warranty which for the T4 is eight years, plus you can have your machine serviced. Try asking a knock off for service.

So, what next, well although not the most important consideration, it is a stumbling block and that is cost. Does a diy’er like myself want to or have $700 for a top of the range machine. Can you justify it, and in my case justify it to my wife. I have always believed that when I buy a tool, buy the best you cannot afford, which is why I don’t have any money. But although I longed for the T8 I could not in reality come up with any reason for possessing the beast apart from just wanting it.

To make a decision I fell back on a very interesting upload where the presenter attempted to advise on which machine to purchase. Firstly, cost with the T4 being approximately half the price of the T8, which in itself is somewhat a justification for the T4. But his reasoning was all down to application.

For the average guy/girl who is not mega rich the T8 must be justified within a workshop. For instance, within a commercial workshop, with tools requiring constant honing, or a very enthusiastic wood turner where the chisels require constant sharpening, yes. But for myself who has four planes and about a dozen chisels, absolutely no. It would sit on a shelf ten months of the year, if that.

So, what’s the alternative, yes, the T4. Admittedly. It’s smaller i.e., 8-inch wheel instead of the 10-inch wheel, which can cause a slight hollowing. But all tools and jigs are interchangeable with both models. All the design faults on the previous T3 were rectified on the T4. So, mind made up.

There are down sides to purchasing the T4 in that unlike the T8 which comes with all the toys, the T4 does not, and some purchasing is required. There is the standard model and the Bushcraft model. I purchased the Bushcraft one which comes only with a knife jig and have subsequently had to purchase the chisel jig SE-77 at £58.

You might if you are still reading ask why the Bushcraft one. Well, I scoured E Bay and found someone who had recently purchased one and for whatever reason decided it was not for him and I went ahead as in his enthusiasm he also purchased a number of genuine Tormek accessories that were included, (see photo) such as a truing tool, dust cover, rotating base carousel, being the main ones.

So total cost was £360. Which was acceptable to my better half. And at that price I am happy with it sitting on a shelf.

Well, it’s a little later and I decided that a dedicated sharpening area was a requirement. Now if you read my greenhouse furniture posting where I manufactured potting benches, I decided to reinvent one to accommodate my Tormek. Really all I did was fit an accessory drawer to it to accommodate all the jigs etc. I inserted an old sponge packaging sheet which I cut out on my Hegner scroll saw and a lick of paint. And that’s it.

Cost was just the £10 for the drawer runners, everything else from stock. I did not make it pretty pretty, didn’t even fill the nail holes, just slapped the paint on.

Now is it plug and play, no it definitely is not. There is a certain amount of trepidation on your initial attempt, and it takes a while to set up. That is the defining answer, i.e. setting up. Firstly, stone trued up and all blade angles correct. Deciding on how much pressure to apply is tricky and making sure you work the blade back and forth across the stone evenly to avoid creating troughs. Also deciding when to transfer from 40-grit to 1000 grit comes into play. Apparently, you can purchase a Japanese stone to finish off at about £250 to give that perfect mirror finish. I have included a photo of my second attempt, you don’t want to see the first. As you can see you do get a mirror finish, but you can still see slight scoring under the gloss. This is where the 4000 grit Japanese stone comes into play. Slightly scuffed will do me.

One addition I did make was to order a set of very powerful magnets and superglue them on to the underside of the water tray to attract the metal particles that are removed from the blades during sharpening, and they worked really well (photo) I got the idea from the T8 which has them as standard.

So that’s it. I still hanker for the T8’ but, c'est la vie.

Colin, mildly content with a small dose of hanker and scuffing in Scotland


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Glad you got it and retained your manhood. I bought a different device and made the following to house it and the accessories. It is a sawdust parking spot since I don't get much opportunity to get out there anymore. But you have to admit, it has cute, shiny red knobs. But is is amazing the difference really sharp tool make. I do use a diamond "stone" between sharpening to tune up the edges. I could use this to sharpen my kitchen knives, but only just realized that. Sharp knives and tools are safer to use too. I do have a strop disk for final polish.
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