Tormek sharpening machine


Well-known member
Does anyone have the Tormek T-7 or T-3 sharpening machine?  If so, what are the pros and cons for each machine?  I might be in the market to buy one.

Dennis Bork
I don't have the Tormek, but I do have the Jet machine, which is a clone of the original Tormek. I like it very much, but only for certain things. I use it for all of my turning tools, and it works very well. The gouge jig is easy to use, and gives a nice consistent grind on regular and thumbnail shapes. I use it on some vee carving tools if I'm doing reshaping. You can't burn an edge on this sharpener. But I don't use it on regular chisels and plane irons. It is very slow. If I have a lot of metal to remove I'll use a bench grinder or benchtop belt sander. I actually use that for a lot of grinding -- I don't like grinders and avoid them is possible.

I hope this helps, a little. I know this isn't specific to Tormek, but there is little difference from what I could tell when shopping. If there is anything specific you'd like to know, I can add a couple more cents worth.
Grizzly also makes a clone of the Tormek machine.  So if anyone has either of these machines please let me know your pros and cons.  I would mostly use it for plane iron sharpening.

John, thanks for your input on the Jet clone.  Do you have any rusting on the parts?

Dennis Bork
Antiquity Period Designs, Ltd.
I own the Grizzly grinder and would suggest you eliminate it from consideration. Have no experience with the others,so no help there.
The only rusting or corrosion I've noticed is on the nut that holds the grindstone on the arbor. I've had no need to remove it, and at the rate I've used it, i will likely never wear the wheel out.

If you have a badly nicked iron, it will take a while for this machine to remove a lot of metal. If you are looking to get a sharp, ready to use edge directly off of the machine, this won't help either. You will still need bench stones or some other method to get a finished edge. But I'm sure you knew that.
I bought a Tormek (the green one) a few years ago when I found it randomly on sale from for over 100 dollars less than its original price.  At first I liked it and used it a lot, but it is really slooooow.  Now I use the blue Norton 3x wheels and I am really happy with them.  The Tormek hasn't seen the light of day in at least a year, maybe two.  Dry bench grinders are so much faster.

I have a 5 yr old or so Tormek. As John said, the nut holding the wheel on is rusted. I use it to get nice sraight edges on plane irons and chisels, but not for initial shaping due to the speed. I like it because I can really lean on the tool, it will cut pretty fast and you don't have to worry about burning. They do seem to make a lot of noise and always seem to be struggling somehow, although the power seems to be adequate.-Al
Phil - what is the blue Norton 3X wheels?  I tend to live in the past when it comes to new inventions.

I thought I saw somewhere that you can hold a diamond tool against the wheel of the Tormek and change the grit of this wheel.  Am I right or did I just have a nightmare?  I was not aware that you still have to take your plane iron to a bench stone after the Tormek.

Dennis Bork

Here is a link to a site selling the Norton 3x wheels: 3x

The 3x wheels are just normal grinding wheels that tend to run a lot cooler.

As for getting a useable edge off of the Tormek - yes this is possible, but not off of the 10" grinding stone.  I don't know the exact grit of the grinding stone but I think it is slightly coarser than a 1000 grit waterstone.  While this edge may be useable it is probably not sharp enough for most applications.  You can buy an optional leather wheel with your tormek and stropping paste which can produce a keener edge.  The question then becomes a matter of sharpening preference.

I typically use my grinder to grind the primary bevel and then I hone a microbevel on the cutting edge using waterstones.  When the microbevel gets too large I go back to the grinder.  Hopefully this provides you with a better understanding of why I prefer the Norton 3x wheels.  With how I work any grinding wheel will probably do, but the blue wheels seem to give me a little extra leeway in terms of heat generation.

I'll second the motion on the Norton blue 3x wheels. I really dislike grinders, but the 3x runs considerably cooler than any other wheel type I've tried. It's still possible to burn a cutting edge with it, but you almost have to try.

I didn't mention the leather wheel on the Tormek-type machines, as I really don't like them. It has been easier for me to strop by hand than to use the powered wheel. But it is possible to get a sharper edge than with the ten inch wheel alone.

There is a dressing stone that looks like a double-sided india stone. If you dress the wheel with the coarse side, the grinding wheel is coarser. If you use the smooth side, it gives a finer grit. In reality, I haven't seen too much of a difference between the two. There is a diamond tool, but it is used occasionally to remove any canals you may have cut in the wheel by leaning on a narrow tool too long in a single spot.

Like a lot of people, I have more money invested in sharpening equipment than any other single piece of equipment in my shop.

I really like the Veritas Power Sharpening System.  It is basically a motorized scary sharp that uses 8-inch PSA sandpaper disc.  Their jig and system is great for straight plane blades.  But they only have one jig and it is for straight blades.

I like the Tormek's jigs, but hate hollow grounded blades.  

And, I get the sharpest edges from hand sharpening on an 8000 grit Japanese waterstone.

I now have my own hybrid sharpening system.  I use the Veritas for all powered grinding.  I ordered a spare Tormek "F" frame and holder and mounted to my workbench next to the Veritas.  Now I can use Tormek's jigs on the Veritas.  (I have a lot of money invested in Tormek jigs.)

- For straight blades, I use Veritas's jig.
- For curved blades (Stanley #40, any scrapers for lathes, ?) I use Tormek's adjustable angle jig
- For jointer blades, I use Tormek's jointer jig.

The blade sharpness off of a slightly worn 9micro paper (finest grit in the system) is about equal to a 6000 grit Japanese waterstone.  It is very quick, fast and easy.  

For my smoothing planes, I add a final step of hand sharpening them on an 8000 grit Japanese waterstone.

That is my system.

Thanks for the insight regarding the Tormek and its clones.  I think I will just buy the blue Norton 3x wheel.

I was all set to spend some money to help keep the economy what do I do!

Dennis Bork
David, Actually you can get paper down to 1u.

It's for polishing jewllery. I purchased some and find it to be excellent and puts a great edge on a blade.

I use scarry sharp for just about all my shrapening. I find it real fast. I use a wide white stone to take out knicks on a high speed grinder.

I only go up to 2000 for 90% of my sharpening. I will go up to the 1u paper when I plan to do difficult grain and on my planr I use for final surfacing.

For my carving gouges I have a 6" hard felt wheel on a high speed grinder. I charge it by spinning the wheel by hand. If you hold the compund on the wheel it melts the clay and is a pain to clean up. But for me those mwthods work the fastest.

With Scarry sharp I can renew an edge in about 30 seconds (600 grit - 8000). And if you watch grizzly they seem to have one of there granite surface plates for 50% off about every 3 months. I bought one this past January, and while no flatter than the glass I was using, the mass is great.
"Scary sharp" is a term coined (I think by Mike Dunbar) for sharpening with a sequence of sandpaper down to 2000 grit. To me, the technique and the results are not any scarier than any other sharpening method.

Howard Steier

Great tip !!   I checked out the site you referenced.  This is not a PSA sandpaper, and the "soft cloth like material" worries me a little bit.  How do you attach the paper to the disk?  PSA adhesive spray, water, ??

Also, I have a 3 inch thick granite stone from Grizzle.  It is really heavy.  If I had it to do all over again, I would go for the 2 inch thick stone purely for weight reduction.

Dennis, you are making a living at this.  So, your time is money.  The Veritas system is the quickest system to get you back at woodworking that I know of.  I agree with ttalma that once you set your blade in the jig, you can sharpen it in 30 second including a change of grits.  I have also added an on/off foot pedal to my system so I can have both hands on the blade when turning the unit on and off.  That is especially nice for flattening the backs which is a hand operation.

Dennis, Scarry Sharp is the name given to sandpaper sharpening. Basically using wet/dry sandpaper designed for automotive finishing.

You use a flat surface, a piece of float glass, a 12" marble or granite tile, or in my case a granite surface plate. You mount the paper to the surface, and with a honing jig just sharpen like you are using a stone. I do a 10 count, and then go to the next higher grit of paper.

Woodcraft sells a power version of this method, I can't remeber the makers name, but I have only heard good things about it.

I tend to sharpen on an as needed basis so the paper on granite works for me.

I have grizzly's 3" stone and it has lips on it, so I can clamp the paper in place. In the past I have used a little water, and the peper holds well with surface tension, But you have to let the paper dry before restacking or you can get rust on the sheet below from the swarf. Now I've found a little blue tape holds it in place. But with chisels I just use 1 hand on the jig, and the other to hold the paper.

I use the polishing paper on the granite and treat it like regular paper. Like I mentioned in my last post, anything beyond 2000 is not the norm for me. But even though I can't see the difference, I can tell the performance difference on difficult grain, such as crotch. On normal grain I don't notice any difference between the 2000 and 8000.
Dave - yes I am still doing this for a living.

Woodcraft and Rockler sell the clone, Wood Sharp and it has all good reviews.  I'm going to look at it today.  I use my hand plane every day.  The iron is good steel but not as hard as a L-N iron, therefore, I must sharpen it quite often.  Many times it takes quite a while to get an (almost) razor sharp edge.  Too much time is wasted doing this.  "Time is money".

What grits of paper do you recommend I use for touch-up sharpening?

Dennis Bork
Dennis, are you talking about the worksharp?  It's a clone of a better Lee Valley machine that is essentially a rotating platten on which you mount sand paper.

I have a WorkSHarp 2000 and really don't care for it and wouldn't recommend it.  The problem I think it has is that the speed of the abrasive varies greatly between the center of the disk and the outer edge.  As a result, it's fairly easy to wreck just about anything you put on it.

For speed of sharpening, I think David Charlesworth has it right, although he's about 300 years late.  Flat backs are not required to make tools sharp.  I believe this notion came from some former machinist author, or shop teacher who was thinking about repeatability of surfaces.

To make a tool sharp we only need polished surfaces (not flat surfaces) meeting at an appropriate angle.  Therefore, however you (Dennis) hone your carving tools is how I think:

a) you should hone everything else
b) how guys honed their tools 300 years ago (and earlier). 

I think they knife edged their tools a little.  I think it has only positive results and it's quicker and easier to do.

BTW, I didn't like the 3X stones.  I thought they were too soft.  I never overheated my tools before them (or at least not lately).  Keeping the wheel clean and the pressure low is just a matter of experience.  The 3X stones threw grit all over my shop. I wouldn't touch a tool to one of those stones without full face protection (which was a first for me. I found them too messy.  If your grinder is separated sufficiently from the shop, the 3X may be just fine.  They are good stones, but I simply found the mess not worth the trouble.


In my opinion, there is a big, big difference in sharpening results (and cost) between the Veritas (8 inch diameter) and the Worksharp (6 inch diameter). 

I think the Worksharp is inexpensive and does a pretty good job for the average woodworker. 

However at a local woodworking club, we had a sharpening demonstrations night.  One of the guys handed me a chisel that came off of the worksharp.  For the typical garage woodworker, it was pretty good for the investment.  But, I was not impressed.  I then took the chisel and ran the final two grits on it and handed it back to him.  He was impressed.  The edge was equilivent to about a Japanese 6000 grit which is "almost" razor sharp.

If you get a chance, you need to see a demo of the veritas.

One tip with these systems, they can generate a fair amount of heat.  So, keep some water or a finger on the blade when it is grinding.  When the water evaporates off the blade or your finger gets hot, dip it in a jar of water.  I have never overheated a blade by doing this.

When buying equipment, my dad always told me to buy the good stuff the first time.  So, you only have to buy it once.