Hand Tools Archive

Re: Exactly what I was looking for

Wiley Horne

Before Tormek, I was using flat 1” soft wheels, like the Norton 3X (and whatever came before it), on a Baldor 6” 1800rpm grinder. What I would do is make a red sharpie square line across the blade face, and set out to grind near that line. But not to a burr. Just using the tool rest on the Baldor, meaning it was hand held.

If the tool already had a hollow, I could nestle into that by feel. Then keep the blade moving side to side, trying to avoid a heat ‘focal point’ to build up. Dip into water after every sweep right to left and back, then dip. Never grind after the drip on the face goes away.

If starting from a flat bevel, it was hit or miss to start, checking by eye until I found the ‘right place’ to start. Then as the hollow develops, nestle into it. Keep checking every so often to get to 1/64th or 1/32nd from edge. Water dipping as described above.

Do this away from any other work, because of grit slinging off the soft wheel.

A crowned wheel would have been a huge improvement, partly due to the ease of locating a starting point, but mainly because the heat control would be so much better.

However, I went to Tormek as an alternative. Traded not having to think about heat at all, for slowness. Now, CBN wheel improves Tormek speed, eliminates fooling with water, gives you a wheel that does not change shape or require any maintenance. Has a really cheap and useful jig for lengthening gouge bevels. But still substantially slower than higher speed grinder. Those are the tradeoffs I see.

If I were starting over again from scratch, I would set up like Derek, with an 1800rpm 8” grinder, and Tormek holder, but with Joel’s crowned CBN wheels. Or prolly 1 CBN and 1 carving tool wheel that uses a heat-sensitive honing paste. I would lose the shallower hollow which I really like with Tormek.


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