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The TTS-100 makes setting the Tormek machine up for grinding fingernail gouges and skew chisels fast, easy and very accurate.
Click image to enlarge

Tormek TTS-100 Turning Tool Setter

Another ingenious cure for an old problem

Text & photos by Tom Hintz
Posted – 8-9-2006

Woodturners know that keeping their tools sharp is important. Unfortunately, too many of us don’t immediately realize the importance of retaining the factory angles. If we intentionally – or accidentally – change the angles at the cutting edge, the performance of the tool can suffer, plus learning to use it properly can be very difficult.
The new Tormek TTS-100 makes sharpening fingernail bowl and spindle gouges, as well as skew chisels fast, easy and very accurate.  It also makes retaining the all-important angles a near no-brainer.

Overview

The chart on the face of the TTS-100 provides nearly all of the information needed to set the jigs and machine up.
Click image to enlarge

The TTS-100 is typical of Tormek products in that it is exceptionally well made, cleverly designed and easy to use. The TTS-100 is made from glass-filled resin that in addition to pure strength produces a surface that allows very clean raised and printed graphics. It is also virtually impervious to humidity and in-shop temperature changes, important properties in a tool with this purpose.
The basic uses and settings for using the TTS-100 with the Tormek SVD-185 bowl gouge jig and the SVS-50 straight edge skew jig are clearly printed on one face. With surprisingly little practice to become familiar with its use, these graphics will be all you need to use the TTS-100 effectively.
The rear face of the TTS-100 has a series of molded-in stops used to set how much of the tool protrudes from the jig. Two round bosses on the bottom edge are used with the curved edge to index the guide bar the precise distance needed from the wheel, automatically compensating for the current wheel diameter. The use chart actually points to the boss to be used for that operation. The TTS-100 makes achieving these crucial settings fast, easy and spot-on accurate.
The TTS-100 has a pair of strong magnets molded into the rear face that allow “sticking” it directly to the Tormek machine cabinet so it is always handy. If you can’t find the TTS-100, it’s your fault.

Instructions

The instruction manual is well done but larger than anticipated because it contains four full language sections.
Click image to enlarge

The manual that comes with the TTS-100 is larger than the tool itself. That is due not to complexity but rather having all necessary information presented in four individual language sections – Swedish, English, German and French. Each language section contains a full compliment of graphics that prevents having to hunt back and forth for information.
The instructions are very complete, easy to understand (neither new for Tormek), and even easier to follow. Most users will learn how to use the TTS-100 quickly. With a little practice, referring to the manual will be infrequent occurrences but don’t throw it away!

In The Shop

Checking my fingernail bowl gouge with the TTS-100 revealed the bevel angle was wrong. I would later see that correcting this small looking error made it work better.
Click image to enlarge

Like most turners, I have ground different angles on my cutting tools. Sometimes these changes were accidental but often an intentional part of searching for a “better” configuration of the cutting edge. To date, the original angles always worked best in the widest range of turning situations.
The folks at Tormek know many of the worlds finest wood turners well and combined with their own expertise, used the opinions of this high end information pool to design the angles built into the TTS-100. I have tried these angles on my turning tools, most of which are very close to the factory grinds and found them to be easy to use and predictable. However, if you still want to use an angle not included on the TTS-100, the instruction manual shows how to determine the needed guide bar spacing to replicate an existing angle and how to make a spacer block to speed setup. For most of us, the angles built into the TTS-100 will work better than what we currently have ground into our tools. The ability to precisely replicate that angle each time we freshen the edge is a crucial feature of the TTS-100 and makes it much easier to become familiar with how our tools handle. That consistency allows you to become a better turner in less time.

Setting the amount of the tool protruding from the jig is easy with the stepped gauge on the back of the TTS-100. It works with either the SVD-185 bowl gouge jig or the SV S-50 skew chisel jigs.
Click images to enlarge

While most of this story focuses on my ½” Sorby fingernail bowl gouge, I used the TTS-100 on all of my skews, bowl and spindle gouges, following the same instructions. All of them benefited from being re-ground to the TTS-100 specs with the exception of my ½” and 3/8” Crown spindle gouges that I use most at the lathe. When these tools were checked, their angles matched those of the TTS-100 almost exactly. This is no small coincidence, especially considering the improved performance of my other tools when re-ground to the TTS-100 angles.
 I reground my skews with the TTS-100 but found very little material had to be removed. With the corrected cutting edges, both continued to perform very well.

When I checked the cutting edge angle of my Sorby ½” fingernail bowl gouge, I found that angle was a few degrees less than what the TTS-100 prescribes. I set the knuckle on my SVD-185 to #4 as indicated on the chart and then set the protrusion of the chisel through the jig 65mm using the stepped guide on the backside of the TTS-100. Using the rear boss, the guide bar was adjusted so the aluminum disks rested flat on the grinding stone surface.

(left) The TTS-100 makes setting the guide bar to wheel (stone or honing wheel) simple, including compensating automatically when the stone wheel is worn down to a smaller diameter.
(right) The first two passes on the wheel show how far off my angle was before using the TTS-100.
Click images to enlarge

After coloring the cutting edge with a marker, three full side-to-side passes were made on the stone. Only the bottom 3/16” or so of the bevel was in contact with the stone so I continued to grind until the coloring was removed from the entire bevel. Despite having to re-shape the tool, it took less than 15 minutes to complete this step, grade the stone to the fine mode and finish sharpening the edge.
Using the same rear boss on the TTS-100, the guide bar was reversed and adjusted so the aluminum disks rested flat on the leather honing wheel. A few minutes there produced a clean, sharp edge that matched the prescribed 55-degree notch perfectly.
At the lathe, the bowl gouge handled perfectly. In fact, it felt better than I remember when it was new. It was far less “catchy” than with the angle I had ground into it and made taking light, ultra-smooth cuts easier than ever.

To try and dull the gouge after the first sharpening, I rounded this square blank (left) with it, then finished turning the bowl. After completing the bowl I used the TTS-100 to set up the SVD-185 jig and Tormek machine and re sharpened the gouge. It took less than 10 minutes to complete that sharpening. (right)
Click images to enlarge

Even more noticeable was how easy I could make the transition from cutting the side of the bowl to the bottom. Rolling the tool to make that change and keeping the bevel rubbing is directly related to the angle and the TTS-100 settings definitely improved this characteristic of the gouge.
I wanted to see how the TTS-100 worked when freshening the cutting edge, particularly how well it repeated the angle. I had a 6”-square block of ambrosia maple so I put that on the Oneway Talon woodscrew without trimming the corners and rounded it out. I know of no better way to beat a cutting edge into submission. The cutting edge did lose some of its sharpness by the time I had the blank rounded and hollowed out but was still cutting well.

See It Work!

Click the image above to see a short Windows Media video of the Tormek TTS-100 in use.

After the bowl turning was completed I took the gouge back to the Tormek and repeated the TTS-100 setup according to the instructions. After coloring the bevel, I made a few side-to-side passes on the stone. Inspecting the bevel showed virtually all of the coloring was ground away except right along the cutting edge, indicating the TTS-100 had repositioned the tool and guide bar to exactly duplicate the angles. A few light passes on the bevel and the cutting edge was fully restored. A little work on the honing wheel and my Sorby fingernail gouge was once again razor sharp and ready for use in just a few minutes.

Conclusions

The Tormek TTS-100 works at least as well as they claim and makes maintaining the critical cutting edge on many of our most frequently used turning tools a fast, accurate task. The angles built into the TTS-100 take the guesswork out of sharpening and can be especially important for novice turners. Learning to use turning tools properly is much easier if the cutting edge and bevel remain at consistent angles. The TTS-100 insures turning tools that cut the same way throughout their life. Sharpening them on the Tormek and using the TTS-100 to get the setup right the first time means very little material is removed during sharpening, extending the useful life of your expensive tools considerably.
The Tormek TTS-100 Turning Tool Setter is scheduled to be available in October (2006) with a price of $24.99. (809-2006)

 

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