Toycen Tradesman Grinder

Toycen Tradesman

Toycen Tradesman

I had a chance to test the Toycen Tradesman Grinder, a variable speed grinder with a DC motor that delivers a lot of torque even at the lowest speeds. It’s rated at 400 – 4000 rpm and claims five foot-pounds of torque at 1000 rpm. I loaded it up at low speed, pushing a piece of steel against the wheel with more force than I would ever use with a bonded-abrasive wheel and I could barely slow it down at all. The wheels — the ones I tested — are coated with cubic boron-nitride (CBN) for grinding steel. CBN is preferred over diamond for grinding steel if there is a chance the grinding process will generate red-heat temperatures. At high temperatures the diamond can be absorbed into the steel. Yes, steel loves carbon that much. So with CBN you can grind to your heart’s content (even carbide!) And the variable speed goes a long way to control that heat, allowing for relatively cool grinding of hardened steel. According to Toycen, as much as 50% of a grinder’s power is spent breaking down the stone wheel, generating heat and dust. With a bonded CBN wheel, no power is lost to stone wear and the only dust generated is the steel removed from whatever you are grinding.

The wheels are heavy (8 pounds each, 100 and 180-grit standard on this model) and precisely balanced. The Toycen video above demonstrates the smooth running by balancing a “loonie” on top (they’re a Canadian company, eh) through the full speed range. We use belt grinders here at the Hock shop, partly because I don’t like bench grinders all that much. Oh, they do they’re job and are almost essential for some things — and certainly handy for so many more — but bench grinders are rarely balanced, need constant dressing and truing and make way too much gritty dust. But the Toycen’s power, balance and quiet-running make this bench grinder a real pleasure to use.

Toycen Tradesman with the Tormek fixture

Toycen Tradesman with the Tormek fixture

The Tradesman I tested included a rod fixture that allows the use of all the Tormek jigs adding immensely to the functionality of this grinder. And there are other options —  wheel sizes, a belt grinder attachment — to serve many needs. The model I tested lists at $1275, a price that may discourage many woodworkers. But when you compare that with an 8-inch Baldor at $1029, and compare the Toycen’s considerable advantages, its price doesn’t seem so out of line.

For more about diamond, CBN and other abrasives, along with much more about tool steel and sharpening in general, read my book, The Perfect Edge.

About Ron Hock

Owner of HOCK TOOLS (.com) and author of "The Perfect Edge, the Ultimate Guide to Sharpening for Woodworkers"
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4 Responses to Toycen Tradesman Grinder

  1. Tom Hoffman says:

    Hi Ron: Wow, what an amazing tool. Are the grinding wheels fine enough to get a finished edge for plane irons and chisels, or is stone work necessary to finish it?

    • Ron Hock says:

      Hi George and Tom,

      Belt grinders and the Toycen share that advantage of offering a consistent grinding wheel radius. With belts, the radius can stay the same through many grits. With the Toycen (or any grinder that uses coated abrasive wheels) it stays the same with both grits. In this case it had 100x and 180x so you’d want to finish hone to a finer grit for most plane irons and chisels, etc. Turning tools could be used right off the wheel.

      I can’t say better or worse than Tormek — each has advantages (it’s that no-free-lunch thing again). You can overheat a tool with the Toycen, though low speed grinding is much cooler. But the water-cooled Tormek prevents overheating. The Tormek fixture and jigs used with the Toycen makes for repeatable edges in all kinds of tools. But the Toycen doesn’t have the leather stropping wheel. Sorry — apples to oranges.

      Toycen: variable speed, coarser grit(s), much faster stock removal possible, no truing or dressing
      Tormek: finer grit, water-cooled to prevent burning, super-fine strop for final honing.

  2. George Beck says:

    I am very intrigued. How did sharpen the tools? Better or faster than the belt sander? I have no doubt of the advantages (quiet, no truing, no heat or dust etc.) but what about the part that cuts wood? Is is better than tormek? I hope for more discussion.

    Thank you.

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