Japanese tools #7: Sharpening station for water stones the base

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Blog entry by mafe posted 10-21-2011 09:13 PM 29179 reads 17 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Sumitsubo II (Japanese ink pot) Part 7 of Japanese tools series Part 8: Sharpening station for water stones the pond »

Sharpening station
for water stones the base.

I have tried most of the sharpening methods by now, sandpaper, water grinder, oil stones and diamonds, but water stones were still a black page in my book.
At first it was because I had too little knowledge to know what to buy and it was just too expensive to just test and throw away, later because I was kind of happy with my water grinder.
But after i started my journey into the Japanese tools it became clear for me that it was a road I had to take, that I needed to save the bucks for a decent set and then sharpen and hone away, especially freehand with my Japanese tools, but also for a jig with my other cutting tools and finally my kitchen knives freehand once I really master it.

Ok before we even start, water stones, that’s kind of a silly name, is it stones or water? – shut up MaFe…

So the postman came with the first parts for my new road.
320 – 1000 – 8000 grid stones, a grid 60 flattening stone and I ordered also a book about the process since the title was so seductive ‘in 60 seconds’.

So time to trawl the internet for inspiration, especially Japanese sites and after some serious surfing I was ready to give it a go.

In the meanwhile the postman returned, and I got the rest.

The setup is this:
320 Shapton stone for the rough work, for bringing tools back to shape.
1000 Shapton for sharpening.
3000 Suehiro to have less violent jump in grid and to spend less time honing.
8000 Cerax to finish up and give that mirror polish that we always read about and that I with my water grinder system only has been able to get close to on the cutting edge.
And a couple of artificial Nagura stones to build up the surface on the fine stones.
I choose different brands for different stones after what the brands was known for, and so I choose Shapton stones for the first steps since they are known for being durable and really hard, and this will help to keep them flat longer. Then Suehiro for the fine stones since these are known for being softer and the particles gets finer as you grind and so an 8000 stone should be 2000-3000 grids finer than an equaling water stone of the same grid according to the German experts on DICTUM and their microscopes… They say the 8000 Cerax leaves some of the best mirror polish on the market (so now I have to see if they are right).

Japanese Naniwa flattening stones grid 60 to flatten rough water stones, and 220 for the fine stones.

All this added up to a total of 370 Euro / 500 US dollar (but should last for a life time unless you drop a stone on the floor…).

I also collected some of my other stuff i wanted to fit into the new system.
A diamond stone on wood base.
Cut one of my glass plates into the size of a stone so it could be used with sand paper.
Leather strap glued onto a wood base also to hone with compound – I do this a lot when I use my chisels.
And finally I bought a hardwood floorboard for outdoor use, since this would make me convinced the wood was right for water (I paid eight dollar for a four meter long board, quite fair I think considering how many water stone bases I can make of it).

Ok I had to show you this box, that is pling yes?

The base for the stones.
First I cut the floorboard down to pieces that were longer than the stone, then set the saw for the width of the stone, and split up the board, I was lucky to be able to get to bases from each piece.

Then the table saw was set to a third of the board thickness and a cut was made at the ends of the board.

Like this.
Notice the ling lines in the board, this is due to the fact it was a terrace board for outdoor use.

Then a cut from the end.

Like so.

We now have a base that can hang between to bars.

My table saw said funny noises so I opened it and look what I found… No wonder the shop vac was not so effective…

Change into my router table (homemade router lift for Festool CMS).

Routed out a bit more than the length of the longest stone.

Some more.

And the rest!

Finally I set the miter gauge to four degrees.

And made a cut at the one end just where the routing ended.

With a chisel paring out the rest.

Can you guess why?

A block of wood is cut in two by a four degree cut.

And we got us a wedge!


Cut to length.

The base needs some shaping.
First a cut at the ends to form a slope, in this way your hands are free and water will run down the slope.

Then a water stop, later you will see why.

To make the water run of I also added a cut on the sides under where there were none.
Left board none, right an extra cut (the splinter in the wood was made when I cut the board in two…).

To not get all messed up, I decided to mark the bases and the wedges with the matching stone, in this way I can also grasp the right stone when they will be on a shelf.

A little fine family.

Do I need to say oil?

Lin seed oil.
And this is where we finish the bases, as they suck plenty of oil.

I will split the blog up here, in next part I will make the box, holder or pond if you will and the system will be a reality.

Hope this blog and this blog series can inspire others to look into the wonders of the Japanese tools and way of thinking,

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

16 comments so far

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2957 days

#1 posted 10-21-2011 09:37 PM

That’s a great tip about the wedge. I was wondering how you hold the stone to the wood until you showed the wedge.

you are going to have some serious muscles on your forarm if you sharpen all your tool collection…

Thanks for the wonderfull post.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3112 days

#2 posted 10-21-2011 09:55 PM

My ohh Ian I almost spitted all the whisky out of my mouth as I read your last comment!
Big laugh here.
Do not worry I will do it as needed.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View 3DBMe's profile


134 posts in 3707 days

#3 posted 10-21-2011 09:57 PM

In depth as usual. Thanks

View philip marcou's profile

philip marcou

264 posts in 2620 days

#4 posted 10-21-2011 10:04 PM

Holy macaroodle, Mads you have gone plum overboard with sharpening now…...I thought you might be opening a shop for sharpening equipment (;) (;)
Ofcourse I noted the wonderful Kingstones amongst the piles there, and (not to grind on about this particular idiosyncrasy of mine ) would like to add that I have been using kerosene in place of water on my Kingstone 1200 for at least ten years now with no disadvantage and every advantage. I find it cuts fast and stays “wet”, with no rust or staining effect. And I dress it as needed for both condition and flatness with a cheap diamond plate glued to a piece of wood.
P.S: I have nominated for membership of the ALCS (American Legion of Crazy Sharpsters).

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3326 days

#5 posted 10-21-2011 10:29 PM

gee mafe…i think i could have bought 10 sets of new chisels for that price…..:))...but it would not been as cool looking as this new set up…and oh the mirror finish…i know you will get what you wished for, boy they look good, and sharp…great post……would i , could i spend that for stones….....uh…nope…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2590 days

#6 posted 10-21-2011 10:46 PM

holy crap!! That’s how sharpening should be done.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3138 days

#7 posted 10-21-2011 11:12 PM

there you are gone crazy Mads …you didn´t need to buy two flattening stones
the 200 grit wuold have been enoff to dress the 320 gritt stone and then used that for a 600
and the diamond for the rest …. just a too late thought … :-)

is it Ipé you have used for the bases …. good choise … but hard on the tools :-(
though I admit its looking realy good :-)
where did you bought it to that low price :-)

I think you forgot to think deep enoff when you mounted the saw … lol
considering that it is a festtool … they shuold have covered that too …. what a bummer they made
I think they will be happy to see that picture …............
glad you shared that tip too ….............time to think Mads … what to do….. what to do….lol

as usual a great blog from you :-)

take care

View fernandoindia's profile


1081 posts in 2966 days

#8 posted 10-22-2011 12:40 AM

Great blog Mads.

A collection of stones for a fine collection of tools !

Water stones? neither one thing nor the other. the opposite

-- Back home. Fernando

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2827 days

#9 posted 10-22-2011 02:59 AM

looks like yer gonna do some serious sharpening Mads. have fun. awesome stone holders

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View meikou's profile


115 posts in 3657 days

#10 posted 10-22-2011 03:36 AM

Nice stuff mate! Are you going to build a pond for the stones?

View tsangell's profile


216 posts in 2716 days

#11 posted 10-22-2011 05:02 AM

Your tools will be so sharp you will simply look at a board and it will sprout shavings.

On another note, we share a love of linseed oil. What a glorious substance.

View mpmitche's profile


428 posts in 2999 days

#12 posted 10-22-2011 05:25 AM

Great looking work as usual; can’t wait to see the rest! I’d love to hear how that flattening stone works for you. I’ve read such mixed reviews on the ones offered on this side of the pond by Norton.

-- Mike, Western New York

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3696 days

#13 posted 10-22-2011 05:51 AM

Great blog, Mad.

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2524 days

#14 posted 10-22-2011 01:45 PM

Always up to something interesting Mads. Looking forward to the next part of the blog.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View Schwieb's profile


1858 posts in 3484 days

#15 posted 10-22-2011 02:48 PM

Seems as if you always manage to keep prodding us to revisit to “old but true” ways of doing things. I have some Brazilian walnut that would make some nice bases if you’ll come by the shop, we’ll have a beer and make a few. Then you can show me how to do this.

Perhaps it is better if the beer comes after!!!!!!!!

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

showing 1 through 15 of 16 comments

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