Hand Tools doings #16: Sharpening with questions, of course

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 04-15-2008 04:54 AM 1330 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 15: Dovetails - Fit First Time! Part 16 of Hand Tools doings series Part 17: Yet more questions about hand cut dovetails and fret saws »

My woeful dovetails, although getting better, sure could use some help from sharper tools. So that’s what I have been working on late last night and tonight. I have found that I like the diamond stone to get my backs flat – it goes faster than a waterstone. But once I get a good scratch pattern on the diamond stone that I can move on to the waterstone with more success. I get my 1/2 and 1/4 chisels not so much sharp—- but sharper than they were. I “manned up” as they say and cut the hair on my arm—- worked pretty well.

Here are two questions that I’ve not found answers for.

1) When I put my 1000 grit Norton waterstone into the water it bubbles up



None of the other stones do this. Any idea what the reason is for the bubles (tiny stone farts maybe :-)

Back to the diamond stones——after you use them – and I use water as lubricant. Do you wipe them off and let them drip dry or do run a blow dryer over them to push it along.

Noooo back to the waterstones. When you take them out of the water – how do you store them so that they will dry out evenly.

Last questions—- am I getting closer to sharp if I can get curls like these on oak endgrain>


Thanks for your help.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

11 comments so far

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3143 days

#1 posted 04-15-2008 05:23 AM

Waterstones are supposed to bubble up when you submerge them in water. In fact, you should leave the stones in the water until the bubbling has stopped, and then start sharpening. That means that the stone is saturated and will now work properly.

As for storing them, I don’t think there’s a right way or wrong way to let them dry. I usually keep mine in their tupperware containers with the lids slightly open to let them dry gradually.

On the flip side, if you plan on doing a lot of sharpening, it does not hurt the stones in the slightest to just store them in the water. I know several people who do this. That’s why I keep mine in two tupperware containers that are almost perfect waterstone sized. My experience, though, is that if they’re in there too long, they get a bit slimy (algae, maybe? maybe it’s my water), so if I think it will be a while before my next sharpening session, I dry them out. If I expect to do more in the next week or two, I’ll leave them in to soak (after changing the water).

P.S. You can see a couple pics of my setup over on my blog.

-- Eric at

View Betsy's profile


3299 posts in 3255 days

#2 posted 04-15-2008 05:32 AM

Looks like you’ve got a good station going there. I left my stones in the water for a few day and they got a bit manky sooo I stopped dong thing. I wonder if it would make any difference if you used distilled water.

I’m glad the bubble thing is expected. The first time I saw I though Snap Crackle and Pop had come for a visit!

Well – gotta get ready for work.

Thanks for your input.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View grumpycarp's profile


257 posts in 3105 days

#3 posted 04-15-2008 05:58 AM

the lower grit stones, like a 1000 are more porous so obviously they have more voids in them to trap (and release) air. I store my lower grit King (Japanese) stones in rubbermaid lidded containers so that they’re always ready. Add a couple of drops of bleach to the water to mitigate the mung in the water and you’re good to go. Norton says not to store their stones in water when not in use so I don’t do that to the set I have.

As a side note, when sharpening narrow chisels or other narrow blades, router plane, etc., I “drag” the tool cutting edge facing me, rather than push it across the stone to mitigate gouging the stone.

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 3143 days

#4 posted 04-15-2008 09:17 AM

grumpycarp: Thanks for the tip about bleach – I’ll have to try that!

-- Eric at

View Lakey's profile


97 posts in 3132 days

#5 posted 04-15-2008 02:39 PM

Diamond stones you can just wash off and let them dry on their own. They don’t need help. Getting curls in end grain is good!

-- "No Board Left Behind"

View Betsy's profile


3299 posts in 3255 days

#6 posted 04-15-2008 02:40 PM

Grumpy—- I had forgotten that Norton tells you not to store the stones in water when not in use. Thanks for the reminder.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View johnjoiner's profile


160 posts in 3253 days

#7 posted 04-15-2008 10:57 PM

I have the Norton combo stones, and I store them in water, in a closed tupperware container. I add a splash of vinegar to the water to keep it from sliming up. I was told to do that by someone along the way, and it’s worked well. I’ve had these stones for at least a couple years now.

Paring end grain and shaving means it’s getting pretty sharp.

-- johnjoiner

View Don Niermann  's profile

Don Niermann

214 posts in 3332 days

#8 posted 04-16-2008 04:13 AM

My water stones have been in water for 10 years in tupperware container. I change the water every 6 months(distilled and a tsp of bleach). Have had no problems. They are 800 & 1200 stones.

-- WOOD/DON ( has the right to ones opinion but not the right to ones own facts...)

View Betsy's profile


3299 posts in 3255 days

#9 posted 04-16-2008 03:07 PM

Don——I’m assuming you clean off the slurry before you put both stones in the same water??? Your waterstones and Bret Farve have a lot in common – longevity!

Thanks for the help guys!

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View Woodhacker's profile


1139 posts in 3083 days

#10 posted 04-17-2008 04:55 AM

I noticed a little mildew on my norton 1000/4000 combination after having it kept under water for a few weeks. However, a couple years ago a guy at Woodcraft told me about trying bleach and like other posts here, I’ve not had any trouble keeping them clean while under water since then. Now, I always add a few drops of bleach whenever I change the water.

-- Martin, Kansas

View Betsy's profile


3299 posts in 3255 days

#11 posted 04-19-2008 06:35 AM

I’m trying the bleach idea. Sounds like it works.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

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