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Spyros

Scheppach or similar instead of Tormek

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So I battled over this decision for many months, I actually saved the budget for a Tormek, but in the end I went for the German (probably Chinese) Scheppach instead, plus the jigs in the background.  Price difference from Tormek for the machine+jigs was about 70%.

IMG_20201106_224627-X2.jpg

I did however inspect the Tormek thoroughly because I woodworker friend has one, so I was able to make some comparisons.  No doubt the Tormek easily beats the scheppach in many little (and not so little) things.  My question was how important are those things to me.  So here's some observations after sharpening a few dozen different tools on the Scheppach:

- Most people believe that all those Tormek knock offs that the market is flooded with are all the same, but that's not entirely true.  Many (most?) of them, especially the smaller 2000mm ones have a worm drive system with the main cog made out of plastic.  I wanted to avoid that and having to replace the cog over time, so the particular model I picked has a similar system to Tormek, ie the motor axle mounts on the bottom of the stropping wheel and drives the whole system from there, which (I believe) is much better for maintenance.  Here's a view from below:

Scheppach%20drive-X2.jpg

- The Tormek is somewhat quieter.  Not an issue for me, I work in my shed which is insulated for sound and I run much noisier power tools in there anyway. 

- Vibration/dampening.  The Tormek runs very smooth, the Scheppach not quite as smooth but more than acceptable, it has a good spring for the motor as you can see in the photo and some nylon washers on the mounts, good enough. 

- The Tormek has a stainless steel axle and washers, the Scheppach not (that I can tell) which is a bit of an issue, but after some thought i decided it's not a deal breaker for me.  Worse case scenario something rusts after a few months or years, a SS washer is $1 and an axle is $10.  For sure an annoyance for a heavy user, but I'm really not that.

- Setting the toolrest height.  Tormek is awesome in that regard, they've added a thumbwheel that sets both bars at the same time while staying square to the wheel.  I have to turn two knobs instead and then check for square.  This is where you have to have some experience and be aware of your actual needs.  Me for example, I will hardly ever adjust this thing. I always make any height adjustments I need on the jig that I mount on the bar instead, or I simply freehand many of my tools.  So I can see how it can be a convenience but it's also kind of irrelevant for me and the way that I use this machine.

- Wheel running our of true/out of square, wheel run out, wheel not flat etc.  To be honest I didn't notice any differences with my friend's Tormek, the Scheppach wheel was running just fine straight out of the box.  Maybe I got lucky, but here's the thing: If anyone believes that buying a high end grinding machine means they will never have to deal with wonky, uneven and scratched wheels, think again.  It will absolutely happen overtime, and you will eventually have to learn how to set, flatten, adjust and generally finetune your wheel.  the sooner you learn the better, that's just the nature of wet grinding.

- Jigs:  Again, Tormek is the industry standard.  You pay through the nose for jigs (and parts) but there's one for every use, designs have been finetuned for decades, everything comes with clear instructions and everything works as expected.  The Scheppach has also built up a decent range by now and I was lucky that it covers most of my needs, and they are also cheap, so I bought a whole bunch.  I haven't found a drill sharpening solution yet, but there's no way I'd pay AUD $500 for Tormek's drill sharpening jig anyway.

- Just little details everywhere.  With the Tormek everything feels better made, a little more accurate, almost ridiculously overengineered to stand the test of time.  With the Scheppach you have to trust your eye and your hand a little more when turning screws and adjusting things.  In my mind, we should do that anyway, personally I don't mind it but that's up to you.

 

My opinion in general:

Is Tormek the best? Yes by far. 

If you are a pro sharpener or a heavy-use woodworker/metalworker who sharpens tools every day, should you get one?  Absolutely, start saving now.  All those little differences and features add up to a big thing that will save you time and money.

Are you obsessive-compulsive with all your tools and details, do you want to upload videos on youtube of yourself shaving your arm with a chisel you just sharpened?  Start saving for a psychiatrist.  Get well soon.

Are you a light user with some experience in sharpening and tinkering, and wondering if you can you make do with a cheaper alternative?  Yes, you probably can.  It's a question of understanding your actual needs and how much each feature that you are paying for is actually relevant to you.   Chances are, not all of them are, so maybe there is an opportunity to buy a cheaper, less refined machine and do your job just fine.  It's up to you, I'm happy with mine.

 

Edited by Spyros

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Sorry double post

Edited by Spyros

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7 hours ago, Spyros said:

do you want to upload videos on youtube of yourself shaving your arm with a chisel you just sharpened?  Start saving for a psychiatrist.  Get well soon.

:16:

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Spyros, great writeup. As the very happy operator of a Tormek I agree with your conclusions.

Interestingly (to me at least) my Tormek is only rated for 50% duty cycle so while it is a great tool for professionals I would say it isn't great for those who intend to sharpen as a profession, more for professional users of edge tools to maintain their tools, of you see what I'm saying.

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Matt I was waiting for you to chip in, I remember you mentioned before that you had one :)

And yeah despite rationalising it and doing what I had to do, I still appreciate Tormek very much and I hope they stick around for a very long time.  There are many high end brands like that that tempt me from time to time, Leica, Festool, Zeiss, Lie Nielsen, even Blanchard I guess... and although I can rarely afford to indulge I'm still happy they're around and push the limits of perfection.

Re duty cycle the truth of the matter is that pro sharpeners (the ones I've seen working anyway) are likely to have more than one wet grinder, and on top of that they also use a variety of tools. Things like belt sanders with scotch brite belts on them for polishing, normal grinders for rough shaping, paper wheels, a dedicated wet grinder for a Japanese stone for finetuning etc.  So although the Tormek is typically the main piece, the actual load is spread across many machines.  

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I've had a Tormek T4 for about 30 years, it still runs like a Swiss chronometer, with always the same stone, however, I had to change the leather strap, that's all.
If I had to buy one today, it would definitely be a Tormek T7, it runs precisely and quietly, it's great.

Edited by paloma

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8 hours ago, paloma said:

I've had a Tormek T4 for about 30 years, it still runs like a Swiss chronometer, with always the same stone, however, I had to change the leather strap, that's all.
If I had to buy one today, it would definitely be a Tormek T7, it runs precisely and quietly, it's great.

Paloma, how do you change the strop on these things?  Just peel and scrape off and the glue another with contact adhesive?  Is that all it takes?

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6 hours ago, Spyros said:

Paloma, how do you change the strop on these things?  Just peel and scrape off and the glue another with contact adhesive?  Is that all it takes?

Hi,

 

in fact, it's very easy ,when you work leather,it's really simple.You cut as a belt,a littele bit longer and  you glue the two ends beveled to avoid having a bounce each time the wheel passes over the junction.

it is necessary to calculate slightly tight,with new leather.and you stick on the wheel after cleaning it well.

strap.jpegYE15d.jpg

Edited by paloma

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Spyros, I reckon that's pretty good for the money, and if I didn't already have a large wet-wheel grinder I'd buy one. Here's a thought, if you've got access to a lathe you could turn a wood wheel to replace one of the wheels and use it as a burnisher.:)

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Thanks Paloma, that makes sense!

4 hours ago, dikman said:

Spyros, I reckon that's pretty good for the money, and if I didn't already have a large wet-wheel grinder I'd buy one. Here's a thought, if you've got access to a lathe you could turn a wood wheel to replace one of the wheels and use it as a burnisher.:)

I think I've already found my preferred burnishing method.  it's the electric creasing tool with the brass burnishing tip, it gives me the best possible combination of good enough and fast enough.  I do 90% of everything this way and If there is a specific piece I want done perfectly I'll do it by hand anyway with some canvas cloth.    

 

 

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