Reply by balidoug

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Posted on Waterstone Questions

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477 posts in 2444 days

#1 posted 05-10-2012 02:48 PM

I’ve been using norton’s waterstones for about two years now, and cannot imagine ever switching. Like you, I’m a beginner, but for what its worth here’s what I’ve learned in the last two years.

Flattening depends on use. the courser stones dish faster, obviously, but you shouldn’t be using them much. Like sharpening, the more frequently you flatten the less time you spend doing it, and, within reason, the stones last longer. Flattening a deeply dished stone will take a long time, and wear away a lot of stone. Too, you’ll spend more time trying to sharpen on a dished stone which will increase wear. If you draw a hatch work on the surface of the stone with a #2 pencil before flattening you will not over wear the stone as you will stop pretty much exactly at the bottom of the dish. So my short answer is flatten a lot. My current stones are about two years old, and judging by the amount of wear have lots of life left in them.

Sharpening is similar. Doing a “session” to get everything sharp makes sense, but after that you are mostly just maintaining the secondary bevel. If you hone that bevel regularly – before the blade gets dull – just a few strokes on the 4k and 8k stones will keep you going a good long time; that saves wear on the stones as well. I sharpen whatever I plan to use whenever I first sit down to work. If I’m doing a lot of planing, maybe every 20-30 minutes after that, chisels rarely need more.

True, the 220 dishes very quickly, but its only for serious grinding. I use the 220 and the 1000 only if I find a serious ding or corrosion on a tool i haven’t used in a while and have to restore the primary bevel.

To avoid “grit contamination” I just rinse the stones and the metal with water, I’m still getting a mirror finish so I don’t think its a problem.

FYI LieNielson has a great video on chisel sharpening on YouTube. Many of the same principals can be applied to irons. My sharpening-station jig is just a piece of router mat inside a tin cake tray. see the “” for details.

I use the Veritas mark II, and like it. I used the original for awhile but – not being big on instructions – neglected to oil the roller and it died. For amateurs like me a guide makes sense. It takes a lot of time and practice to freehand a consistent bevel. I learned to do it passably, but i get a better edge with the guide. If there is much more wear on the stones because of the guide, I haven’t noticed. I suspect that since with the guide I need to make fewer passes to get a consistent edge, it evens out.

I did my lapping once, on all grits, and then worked the bevel. The books and videos I’ve seen say to do the same thing. Can’t think of an advantage to doing it any other way, and if you use a jig all that switching would drive me nuts. Now I only lap to repair damage – something that fortunately is becoming less common.

I got the cuts, too, for awhile. Then they went away. Don’t know where they came from, don’t know where they went. Perhaps you found mine?

-- From such crooked wood as that which man is made of, nothing straight can be fashioned. Immanuel Kant

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