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Sharpening your planer and jointer knives when YOU need them sharpened can save time and money.
Click image to enlarge
Photo courtesy Tormek

Tormek Planer/Jointer Blade Jig - SVH-320

Fast, accurate blade sharpening and maintenance

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

If you use a jointer or planer, the Tormek SVH-320 Jig represents an effective way to maintain and extend their performance. In addition, the SVH-320 can help save time and money, commodities that are important to all of us.

The Kit

   The SVH-320 jig has a built-in adjustable support system that goes in the vertical mounting sleeves on the Tormek machine. The support is part of the pivoting, keyed platform on which the blade holder slides. The angle of the platform is adjusted with a single knob, which sets the angle of the blade to the stone.
   The support mechanism uses a pair of graduated thumb dials to level the jig to the stone and control its height. After the initial set up, the height adjustment dials are also used to precisely control the grinding depth. Turning the dial simultaneously by one graduation changes grinding depth by 0.004"-inch.

Adjustable collars at the top of the jig prevent the blade from slipping off the stone during sharpening.
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   Along the top of the jig is a bar with two positionable collars (hex key included) used to limit left and right travel of the sliding tool holder.
   The collars are set to prevent the ends of the blade from accidentally running off the edge of the stone wheel during sharpening.
   The SVH-320 sharpens blades with a minimum width of 0.5" and can handle any length.
   Blades longer than 10 ½" (according to the manual) can be sharpened in two steps; sharpen one portion, move it in the holder and grind the remainder of the edge. Because the SVH-320 jig is not adjusted during sharpening, the blade comes out flat even when ground in two steps.
Note: By ensuring that my stone is perfectly true and being careful with the settings, I am able to sharpen my 12"-long planer blades with the SVH-320 without moving them in the holder.

The blade holder slides along the base on a track that keeps it straight and true.
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The tool holder has a cast-in shoulder against which the blade rests to insure it is aligned accurately in the jig. A clamp bar uses five finger knobs to secure the blade in the holder. The finger knobs appear to be spaced randomly but are really placed this way to allow grinding of other straight edge tools that are unsuitable for other
jigs. In addition, one or more of the knobs can be removed to allow sharpening of guillotine-style blades. The Tormek instruction manual and pamphlet (included with the SVH-320 jig) provide detailed information on this auxiliary use.

   

Setup

   

   Preparing the SVH-320 jig for sharpening is slightly more involved than other Tormek jigs because the blade (and jig) are leveled to the stone in addition to setting the bevel angle and depth. This additional step actually adds very little time to the setup process but is essential.

Graduated dial control height and allow you to level the blade to the stone.
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   I clamped the blade in the holder, placed the holder on the support platform and turned the graduated thumbwheels to lower the blade edge close to the stone. A little adjusting of the thumbwheels aligned it to the stone's surface before locking it in place. Slipping a piece of paper between the blade and stone is suggested in the manual to confirm this alignment and works well. It is important to remember that the graduations on the thumbwheels need not be the same when the jig is properly adjusted.
   Adjust the height of the SVH-320 jig so the blade is just above the stone and turn the angle knob to align the bevel to the stone. Lower the assembly until the blade rests lightly on the stone and then lock the jig in place. Confirm the alignment by coloring the blade edge with a marker and turning the stone by hand, making fine adjustments as needed to get the bevel perfectly aligned with the stone.

A piece of paper helps adjust the blade flat to the stone.
Click image to enlarge

Note: I noticed that the cutting edge on a used blade can be distorted somewhat. Use your best judgment when "reading" the scrape mark in the color on the edge.
   All that remains is setting the grinding depth. Turn the graduated dials up the desired amount, loosen the locking knobs, push the SVH-320 assembly down to seat the dials on the supports, secure the locking knobs and the jig is ready for use.
   In most cases, if the SVH-320 jig is set up using the most damaged blade, all remaining blades from that machine can be clamped in the holder and sharpened with no further adjustment. This insures that all of the blades are ground to the same specification when you have finished grinding.

Long blades can be perfectly sharpened in stages.
Click image to enlarge
Photo courtesy Tormek

   It is essential that you continue grinding each blade until you reach the stop and you cannot grind anymore. For optimal sharpness you can adjust the stone for fine grinding and hone the blades manually on the leather wheel.
   The overall setup procedure sounds far more complicated than it actually is. Once you become familiar with the procedure, it goes very quickly.

In Use

   The first time I used the SVH-320 jig, I spent a total of 2 hours sharpening the blades from my jointer and surface planer. That included reading the instructions, removing, sharpening, reinstalling and setting the blades up in both machines. A little experience with the jig reduces that time substantially. The next time I sharpened the jointer and planer blades I was able to perform all of the same steps in just over an hour.

   Sharpening my jointer and planer blades on the SVH-320 jig the first time showed just how out-of-whack they really were. Before sharpening, the machines were cutting OK, but I had

If the blade is wide enough, the Tormek Pro AngleMaster can be used to set the angle.
Click image to enlarge

noticed more passes were necessary and the finish was not as smooth as it used to be. The transformation after sharpening with the SVH-320 jig on the Tormek was remarkable. Both machines cut effortlessly and the wood emerged with a satin-smooth finish that would require little sanding before finish could be applied.
Tip: I found that the blades I was sharpening were wide enough that I could use the Tormek Pro AngleMaster to identify the angle and set the SVH-320 jig. I still had to fine-tune the angle setup slightly but overall the process was quick and surprisingly easy. Some blades are just too narrow to use the AngleMaster.

Conclusion

The Tormek SVH-320 Jig is a worthwhile investment if keeping your jointer and planer blades sharp is important. Being able to freshen the edge of my blades whenever necessary, without having to make a trip to a sharpening shop (during their business hours) makes the SVH-320 both a cost and time saver for me.   

Pricing Link

Since using the SVH-320 jig, my jointer and planer perform better than they ever have. Being able to maintain the sharpness of their cutting edges anytime I feel it is necessary means I do it more often. That allows my machines to work at their best all of the time.

Update: (6-13-2006) The SVH-320 jig has proven to be more than worth its price. I have saved far more than that on sharpening bills and not having to buy replacement knives for my jointer and planers. Even the "throw-away" planer knives are usually able to be touched up once or twice per edge before having to be replaced. That alone has saved hundreds of dollars over the last couple of years!

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