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Tormek 1200 Review (N.B. long with biggish pics)

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AndyG

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I recently bought a Tormek wet grinder and thought I'd post a few pictures and comments. The review is for the smaller of the two Tormek grinders, the 1200 rather than the more commonly advertised 2000.

Here is a picture of the main unit. It's a fairly compact bench top device with the wet grinding wheel on the right and a leather honing wheel on the left. The grinder operates at a very slow speed which allows the use of the water trough.


I guess one of the big selling points for the Tormek grinders is the range of jigs that may be used for sharpening a variety of different tools. There are jigs for everything from axes to thicknessor knives, draw knives to inshaves. More about the jigs can be found on the tormek website. A picture of the standard chisel and plane iron jig, bundled with the unit, is shown below.


The direction of grinding depends on what tool you are sharpening, but in this case the grind wheel rotates towards the edge. So in the picture below, the water is carried up towards the edge, over the top and back down. The grinder operates at only one speed and in one direction.


Jigs are held on a universal rail that runs parallel to the grinding surface. With a chisel of plane iron clamped into the jig, you move the tool from across the grinding edge. To vary the angle of grind the height of the rail above the grinding wheel can be changed. The picture below shows where the guide rail is attached to the main unit. Two thumb screws lock it in place and a single knurled nut can be used for fine height adjustment. As new, the movement of the rail tends to bind, but after applying some grease into the mating parts, movement is much smoother and the fine adjuster works very well.


To set the correct grind angle, and handy gauge is supplied. The gauge has two dials, one to select the diameter of the grind wheel, the other, the required grind angle. You adjust the rail height so everything lines up (as shown below) and you should grind the correct angled bevel, very simple. At first I was getting quite a lot of juddering when grinding, but found this could be avoided by increasing the rail height (and increasing the amount of tool protruding from the jig – one to experiment with there!)


A stone grader was supplied with my Tormek kit. This can be used to change the effective cut of the grind stone. The stone can be graded for a course or fine cut using different sides of the grader. As I've only been using the tormek for grinding primary bevels, I've not given it a try. But it's inclusion in the kit could be beneficial to others. The grader (boxed) is shown on the right, the honing compound on the left.


The water for the grind wheel is held in a plastic trough under the wheel. This part of the grinder has 'on the whole' been nicely thought out. The trough can be removed for filling. It can also be lowered so that the stone doesn't have to sit in water when not in use.



The other half of the machine is the leather honing wheel. This is not as wide as the grindstone, only about an inch. The same jig and guide rail approach can be used, but free-hand honing is easy enough. Again, this is not something I've experimented with very much, preferring to put a cutting edge onto my tools by hand with water stones after grinding the primary bevel on the tormek. To be honest I'm not too impressed with the honing wheel, perhaps I've still to work enough cutting compound into the leather. It seems to take quite a while to make any difference to the edge. I think I'll stick to my finer water stones.

Also bundled with my kit was a video and book explaining the use of the grinders. Both use the larger 2000 for describing techniques, but everything is applicable to the 1200. The book is very good. It has a section on how to use the various available jigs. There is a nice introductory section on the basics of grinding. It's probably worth buying just to have a good reference on the available jigs.
The video is a similar idea. Nothing special and not really worth buying.

Good Bits:
Quick and easy - Irons and chisels can be jigged up and ground very quickly. Much quicker than trying to work a new primary bevel on a course stone by hand.
Very versitile - There seems to be a jig for most things. I can only comment on the one supplied, which works fine. There are a lot of jigs to keep carvers and turners happy.
Well built - The build quality is very good all round.

Bad Bits:
Messy - When grinding, water does tend to slosh about a bit. It rides up the edge and over onto the machine and onto the bench/table on which the grinder stands. I'm guessing the unit is well sealed, but I would have preferred it if they'd used a low voltage motor with an external step down transformer on the end of a longish cable.
Juddering - The juddering was a problem, but as mentioned before this can be resolved by experimenting a bit wit the distance between the guide rail and the wheel.
Expensive jigs – Some of the more complicated jigs are quite expensive. I doubt I'll be buying many of them, but turners and carvers might want to check the prices out first.
Uneven grinding – One fairly major bad thing is the potential for an uneven grind. It's possible to grind more heavily on one side of the tool than the other. You can avoid this by being consistent in moving the tool from side to side across the stone, but it's worth keeping in mind.
Trough attachment - Connection and removing the water trough can be a bit fiddly when the trough is full. Once in place it holds fine, but it's a shame they didn't provide a little more clearance to make moving it easier.

The 1200 vs the 2000:
The tormek grinders can hardly be called cheap, and this is the main reason that I went for the smaller of the two models. I bought the grinder at a show and had the chance to ask the sales rep what the main differences are. Here's a bit of a summary:
  • The 2000's motor is capable of continuous use. The 1200 should only be used for 30-45min sessions at a time. I don't see this as a massive problem. Grinding is very quick and if you are doing lots of tools, you'll be switching it off for a while whilst switching tools.
  • The 1200 has a plastic shell compared to the 2000's metal shell. Again, not a real problem as the 1200 is solid and heavy enough not to move around. Also, it's less prone to rust.
  • The 1200 has a smaller grind wheel, 200mm diameter as opposed to 250mm. In fact this does have a very big advantage. Replacement stones are not cheap and the 250mm is a lot more expensive than the 200mm. At Axminster, the 250mm is about £100 whereas the 200mm is about £60.
  • One other little thing, the 1200 has no carry handle which I can easily live without.

Conclusions:
The Tormek 1200 is a well made, easy to use and effective wet grinder. I'm very happy with it. OK, it's not cheap, but for something that does what it's supposed to well, it's worth it. If you are going to be sharpening carving or turning tools take into account the expense of the jigs.
I see no reason for a hobbyist to fork out the extra cash for the 2000. The 1200 is easily enough, and after finding out later about the difference in price between the two sizes of grind wheel I'm glad I went for the 1200. If you're looking for a grinder, you can't go too far wrong with this one.

Tips:
  • Put a couple of magnets attached under the trough to attract the metal fragments coming off the wheel. (Thanks to Jarviser for the reminder on that one)
  • Keep the unit covered up if it's going to be in a cold workshop. The wheel absorbs a lot of water, and could potentially crack. That said, the sales rep said he'd never heard of this happening, but better safe than out of pocket!!
  • To reduce the amount of water likely to slop around when grinding, fill the trough so there is just enough to coat the wheel. If you add more, this gets carried up on the wheel, and tends to get splashed about.
  • Another simple thing to do. Place the unit on a folded tea-towel. This can stop any water running off your bench or to areas you want to keep dry.
  • Place the unit in a canteen tray to contain the water. Drill a hole in the corner for draining water into a bucket. Thanks Scrit for that idea.
Hope all this helps some one.
Andy
 

paulm

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Good review Andy, thanks for taking the time to post it.

I have the bigger model Tormek and am very happy with it also.

Well worth getting the diamond truing device purpose made for the Tormek to keep the wheel true, as you say it will wear unevenly, but quick and easy to true up every now and again.

Good for doing the kitchen knives too, but don't let on to anybody else or you'll have all the friends and relatives queing up to have you sharpen theirs as well !
 

Freetochat

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Thanks for the review Andy. Especially helpful as this was something I have been pondering for the last few weeks.
 

Jarviser

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Good review Andy - I have one, and you are spot on. One trick I did was to stick a couple of rare earth disc magnets from Axminster under the trough with silicone. Keeps the steel filings from floating around in the water and discolouring the wheel as much. Wipes off the inside easily.
 

AndyG

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Jarviser,

Ahh yes forgot about that one. It's mentioned in the book somewhere I think. I'll add it as a tip in the main post. Those rare earth magnets are crazy, I got a load for another project, they prooved quite a pain to keep apart!!

Thanks
 

brocher

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Hi yes good review. I have had the 1200 version now for about 4 years. I use it quite often for my chisels, plane irons, thicknesser blades (these can swish the water around, but they make a huge difference to make sharpening of these so easy) and kitchen knives. I have to admit that relations do want theirs sharpened=ned and have come to visit to get them done, and I have also been asked to take the tormek with us on visits to them to sharpen their knives!

The diamond true is essential every so often to get rid of any unevenness which develops both across the stone's width and in its circumference, keeping the diameter identical in all directions, otherwise the stone starts to develop a "galloping style"!
 

sean_in_limerick

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Hi guys, i bought one of these (the 1206) last week and drove straight in with a 2" plane blade (a cheap one!) - i can't get the grind to be square across the width of blade - using a small square to measure. Is there something i'm doing stupid? I watched the video and read the book that came with it. I also read an article by David Charlesworth where he sets the bar at a fixed height and uses the diamond tipped trueing tool (forget it's name) to make the wheel parallel to the bar. Has anybody tried this, or had the same problem as myself? Thanks for reading.
 

trevtheturner

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Hi sean,

Before getting too technical, the problem is most likely to caused by uneven pressure being exerted by your fingers on the plane iron during grinding. If you have an old blade or chisel, mount that in the grinder and grind the blade whilst applying pressure to just one side of the blade. You will find that you get an angled, rather than square, ground surface. Then apply pressure to the other side only and you will find that the grind will go the other way. This will probably demonstrate the effect far more easily than me trying to explain it. It is then just a case of adjusting your technique to get it right.

With practice you should find that you can easily achieve the 'square' grind and, if you wish, acquire a slightly cambered edge by applying pressure alternately to left and right after you have achieved the square.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Trev.
 

martyn2

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:D thanks andy i was thinking about one of them later in the year it always helps to have an objective view on these items :D

martyn
 

AndyG

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Martyn, no probs

Sean, Trev has said it all really. It is one of the problems of the tormek system, it is possible to get a quite uneven/unsquare grind. But, as Trev said, with practice that problem turns into an asset as it give you the freedom to do more with the grinder.

I hope you get it sorted. The Tormek really is a great bit of kit.

Andy
 

guyos

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Andy
I have bought the T3 and I agree that it is a good system.

I tried scary sharp, oil stones, diamond stones and water stones and never could shave a hair, now with the tormek my left arm is bare, its like magic to see the hair flying off.

I had one disappointment however and its honing with the straight edge jig, it can't be done confirmed on the Tormek forum. that would be a great advantage. How do you handle it?

On the T7 you change the arm rest to horizontal set the angle and away you go.

On the T3 honing is by freehand.

I have come up with a simple jig made from hardwood scraps and it works. I simply clamp the chisel and rest the jig on the universal rest and hone away, the angle can't be set by the anglemaster as the wheel is too small, so I rely on the marker method which is very precise.


 

Philly

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Guyos
This thread is three years old - might try a fresh one if you want an up-to-date reply :wink:
Philly :D
 
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