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Tormek TTS-100 Turning Tool Setter
Another ingenious cure for an old problem
Text & photos by Tom Hintz
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 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 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.
In The Shop
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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