Are you looking for a way to quickly and safely sharpen your knives and tools?
We’ve got the answer.
The Tormek family of knife sharpeners is one exception to this rule. They offer a line of low speed, water-cooled sharpeners that are capable of sharpening everything from kitchen knives and scissors to woodworking tools and even lawnmower blades.
Side By Side Comparison
Our Tormek T7 Review
The T7 is in a different category from most of the sharpeners we've covered to date. Everything about this unit is designed to last.
From it's single phase industrial motor and stainless steel shaft to it's 1/8" powder coated steel housing, the T7 is intended to be a reliable workhorse.
At just over 31lbs it's not exactly lightweight, but it's not intended for portability.
The T7 has a 10″ diameter grinding wheel. The motor spins the wheel at 90RPM through a trough of water. This combination ensures the steel of whatever you're sharpening remains cool throughout the process, eliminating any worry about damaging the temper.
The motor is capable of running continuously without having to worry about overheating and can maintain speed even under a full load.
The supplied grinding wheel has a grit of 220. Should you need a higher grit for finish work you can use the included stone grader to adjust the grit to 1000.
Opposite the grinding wheel is the leather honing wheel. This is for fine finish work and allows for achieving a razor finish.
As important as the sharpener itself is the vast array of jigs that are available for precision sharpening of just about any tool or implement you could imagine. Most of these jigs are sold separately unless you buy one of their bundles.
With an expected life of 25,000 hours the T7 is designed to be an industrial grade sharpening solution. It comes with a 7 year warranty that is extended to 10 years when you register your product with Tormek.
Though it is possible to freehand sharpen using the T7, the real strength of the unit lies in the jigs Tormek has designed for sharpening every conceivable tool.
All of the jigs are attached via the adjustable universal support. It can be moved so that sharpening is performed with or against the rotation of the grinding wheel.
Setting the Angle
Setting the proper sharpening angle for any tool or knife is quickly achieved using the included WM-200 AngleMaster. This tool allows you to set the angle from anywhere between 10 and 75 degrees for a wide range of applications. It even offers adjustments to compensate as the grinding wheel wears down over time.
Start by setting the grinding stone diameter compensator. You can find the current stone diameter by using the scale on the magnetized machine label. Once the diameter is set, simply adjust the angle to the desired setting.
Rest both points of the AngleMaster on the grindstone. Then use the micro adjustment dial on the Universal Support to match the angle of the tool to that of the AngleMaster.
Adjusting Stone Grit
Although there is only one grinding wheel, Tormek has devised an ingenious method of adjusting the grit for a finer finish. By using the included stone grader you can go from the out-of-the-box grit of 220 to 1000.
To do this simply press down hard on the wheel (while it's spinning) using the smooth side of the grader for 20 seconds or so. Once the grinding wheel feels smooth to the touch you're done.
To return the grinding wheel to 220 grit simply repeat the process with the rough side of the stone grader.
Grinding Wheel Maintenance
Over time and with usage the grinding wheel surface might become less than perfectly flat. Tormek has come up with a solution for this as well. Any imperfections can be quickly repaired using the included truing tool.
Like any of the other jigs it is attached to the Universal Support. A diamond abrasive is slowly moved across the wheel until it's flat surface is restored.
The T7 is an absolute joy to use. The operation of the grinding wheel is smooth and predictable. The jigs are easy to attach and make sharpening just about any tool a snap.
Damaging the temper of the steel is near impossible as the slow speed of the wheel and the water ensure there is very little heat buildup.
In terms of sharpening knives there are three different jigs available. Each is intended for knives of different sizes from small to large. Once the knife is set in the jig you simply work it back and forth across the grinding wheel. The jigs and Universal Support ensure the bevel angle stays consistent across the length of the blade.
The only downside in terms of sharpening knives is that you won't be able to sharpen serrated or concave shaped blades.
If you're going to be going back and forth between sharpening at 220 and 1000 grit it makes sense to do multiple knives at a time. This saves you time and saves wear on the grinding wheel. Once you've hit your blades at 1000 you'll have a seriously keen edge. Then it's on to honing.
Honing with the T7 is simple and straightforward. Initially you'll want to apply some lubricating oil to the honing wheel. This is only necessary the first time you use it. It helps to better impregnate the honing compound (included in the package) into the leather.
For honing it's best to use a freehand motion. Once you've got a mirror finish on your blade you're done.
In terms of speed the T7 is tough to beat. It's much faster than the Apex or Wicked Edge even if you're totally mastered those systems. Of course it's substantially more expensive than either of those systems as well.
Tormek has come up with a LONG list of jigs for the T7, allowing you to quickly and efficiently sharpen just about any tool or knife out there. Here are just a few of the jigs they offer.
- small, medium, and large knives
- Square Edge
- Plane Blade
- Moulding knife
- Drill Bits
Final Thoughts on the T7
A tool like this is an investment. The T7 might be a bit much for the average knife enthusiast or home chef, but it's ideally suited for woodworkers or professional knife sharpeners who want a fast and effective way to sharpen knives and tools.
It's capable of putting a scary sharp edge on any blade in a matter of minutes and it won't damage the temper of the blade in the process. This is the only electric knife sharpener that we would highly recommend.
Our Tormek T4 Review
The T4 from Tormek is a slightly scaled down version of the T7. The grindstone is 8" instead of 10" and the motor is a single phase 120W. It operates at a slightly higher 120RPM to compensate for it's smaller size.
Where the T7 uses an all metal housing the T4 uses a zinc cast top and a plastic base. It definitely doesn't have the same industrial look and feel of it's bigger brother.
Overall weight of the T4 is just over 17.5lbs. Though it is smaller, it's still not designed with portability in mind.
The warranty on the T4 is 7 years unless it is used in a commercial/industrial capacity. That limits the warranty to only 2 year. Either way it's rated to last 10,000 hours.
The T4 operates in the exact same way as the T7. Unlike the T7 however, the motor on the T4 is only designed to run 30 minutes at a time. This is typically fine to sharpen several knives or tools, but obviously it's a drop from the zero downtime of the T7.
While the T4 does come with a stone grader for changing the grinding wheel grit, a noticeable exception is the lack of the truing stone. This can be purchase separately.
For more information on the operation of the unit see the Operation section for the T7 above.
We noticed very little difference in the actual performance of the T4 vs the T7. Jig attachment and setup is the same with the universal support.
While this unit will handle most of the tasks of it's big brother it's not capable of sharpening planes and moulding knives the T7 is the way to go.
Sharpening and honing are accomplished in the exact same manner with very similar results.
The T4 comes with the AngleMaster, stone grader, honing paste, and a seriously impressive users manual. Any of the other jigs and attachments must be purchased separately.
- small, medium, and large knives
- Square Edge
- Drill Bits
Final Thoughts on the T4
Considering the price, we would be more inclined to go with the T7 over the T4. Once you've purchased the additional truing stone, and additional jigs that are included in the T7 package, you're basically paying the same price for a machine that is smaller, won't run as long, and probably won't last as long.