Turning Archive 2005
>...>>> I apologize for not posting for a while. I have been marrying off my daughter and nursing a thumb injury. I lopped off the top of my left thumb. No, not in the woodshop but in the garden pruning grape vines. You never realize how essential a finger tip is until you can't use it.
Anyways, I think I can give a well rounded opinion on Tormek vs. other grinders as I have all three; high speed, slow speed, and Tormek.
If you can only afford one grinder, it’s preferable to get a slow speed or variable speed. Of course I'm referring to the 8"x1" models. Variable and slow speed grinders are not readily available here in Israel so my first one was high speed. This would be your last choice for a grinder. I also recommend a grinding jig if you don't have one. One of the biggest setbacks for the beginner is unsharpened tools. Later, at your leisure, you can learn to sharpen by hand. I have been turning for a living for around two and a half years and I just started to sharpen by hand after I learned from Raffan first hand how to do it. I still prefer a jig unless it is a finger nail grind.
A fast grinder will burn the ends quicker and eat up your tools faster. If you do use one you should put no finer grit than 80 for your sharpening stone. Higher grits will heat up faster. Your other should be 40 for shaping.
A variable speed would be the next choice. I don't know what the other speeds would be used for perhaps an owner of one can enlighten us. The one I own is from Taiwan and is the same one sold at Garrot Wade on sale for $260. While this is not cheap, this monster weighs in at 62lbs and runs ultra slow. In short if you have this machine or similar with a good grinding jig, you really don't need another.
So now you're asking, 'where does Tormek fit in?' Well, if you did carving for a living or sharpened tools for a living and were sharpening regular steel then the Tormek would be your first choice.
For woodturning, the Tormek is an excellent HONING machine. It’s best to use a grinder to shape and sharpen you tool and then hone it on the Tormek. If not, you'll be replacing that $140 wheel often. There is no question in my mind that the Tormek gives the best and longest lasting edge of any machine sharpener, the question is at what price. For a full time woodturner, one must weigh the extra time needed to use the Tormek vs. using a tool just off the grinder and the time it will take to resharpen your tool again. If you use the Tormek set up and labeling system, the time on the Tormek is greatly reduced. If you’re turning for a hobby and are blessed with additional income then the Tormek is a nice thing to have.
In short, the Tormek is nice but not a necessity.