In Tools

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Tool: T4 Water Cooled Precision Sharpening System

Manufacturer: Tormek

MSRP: $415

I’m not usually a wet grinder kind of woman, because a dry grinder does the same work faster, then I move to waterstones to polish and hone.

I might be a convert, however, when it comes to tools that are difficult to grind on a dry grinder, including carving gouges and turning tools (and my kitchen knives). That’s where the Swedish-made Tormek system excels.

Precisely because it works slowly and the grind is automatically water-cooled, you simply cannot overheat an edge and ruin it. Plus, it works on my Japanese chisels (laminated edge tools don’t fare well on a dry grinder).

The grinding wheel is #220 grit for coarse work, but if you hold the fine side of the included SP-650 stone grader to it for a few moments a fine grit (about #1,000) is deposited on the wheel; then sharpen at the same setting as the grind. (Hold the coarse side to the stone to re-grade it to #220.) Polishing is at the leather honing wheel, for which 3-micron paste is included.

But note the gap in grits. Moving from #1,000 to 3 microns means there will still be some deeper scratches in the steel, which translates to a less durable edge. So for straight tools, I’d move from the wheel to a #4,000-grit stone before polishing.

But if you have a lot of woodworking tools with curved edges, and also need to sharpen knives, axes and other odd-shaped tools – or you’re simply not comfortable with high-speed grinding – the Tormek is a solid choice.

The T-4 is, according to the maker, 300 percent more stable and precise than its predecessor, the T-3 (and on par with the professional T-7 model). Also of note: it comes without sharpening jigs and attachments – so you buy only those you need.


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