Testing the Tormek T4
Words and photos: Troy McDonald
Tormek is known for quality and the new T4 keeps that tradition alive. The significant improvement over the T3 is that all critical components are now housed in a cast zinc head assembly which improves the rigidity significantly. In fact, the rigidity of the T4 now approaches that of the much heavier T7. In use, the improved rigidity translates to improved accuracy and the T4 feels much more capable than my recollection of the T3.
Above: The Stone Grader allows the grindstone to be easily converted from coarse (220) to fine (1000) grit.
The main difference between the T4 and T7 is really the size of the grinding wheel (200mm for the T4 and 250mm for the T7) and the design of the drive train. The 14.5kg T7, being a professional model, is designed for long life with a heavy 3mm steel body and a 200 watt motor rated for continuous use. At 8kg, the T4 is lighter, and also less powerful, with a 120 watt motor rated for 30 minutes continuous operation per hour. The restricted duty may sound limiting, but in my experience it rarely is in normal use. The T4 also has a significantly smaller leather honing wheel at 145mm diameter compared to the T7’s 220mm.
Tormek offer jigs and accessories for sharpening everything from carving gouges to axes. The T4 comes with fewer accessories, meaning users can avoid paying for unnecessary jigs but customise their system as required. The T4 includes the obligatory wet grind stone, leather honing wheel, stone grader, angle master and a fantastic instruction manual/DVD. The stone grader is crucial as it allows the grinding stone performance to be switched between coarse and fine grit.
The included Anglemaster jig is a very effective tool for setting the grinding angle. Shown here with the optional square edge jig for grinding chisels and plane irons.
I tested the T4 with an array of bench chisels, plane irons, kitchen knives and woodturning chisels and it really did perform flawlessly. The reduced power of the T4 in comparison to the T7 is noticeable during heavy grinding of some turning chisels or the initial reshaping of tools, however it’s still perfectly functional with heavy grinding taking slightly longer to perform. Once your tools are shaped, the accuracy and repeatability that the Tormek allows means that sharpening is a very quick process.
Unlike the T7, using the square edge jig on the honing wheel is also not possible on the T4, however, this is not a significant disadvantage given freehand honing is not a difficult skill to master.
Hand held stropping with the leather wheel leaves a razor sharp edge.
Once you factor in the price additional accessories, it does equate to a significant investment. However, the repeatability and versatility of the system is what I love about the Tormek. If your sharpening needs extend beyond the basic edge tools to include turning or carving chisels then the T4, in my opinion, presents one of the quickest routes to successful and repeatable sharpening.
For more information see: www.promac.com.au