Problems with Shaptons

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Forum topic by chrisd posted 01-22-2010 07:49 AM 3126 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 3016 days

01-22-2010 07:49 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sharpening chisels shapton blade

Hi, I’m new to this site and came here due to a frustration level that’s going to give me a hemorrhage.

Very quick background: I’m tired of the mess and fuss of ‘scary sharp’ so I decided to buy some stones. Owner of Craftsman studio talked me out of DMT diamond plates and sold me Shapton stones. Set me back MANY bills and I can’t get these stones to sharpen for my life. All I’m trying to do is flatten some new chisels and all I’m doing is either digging holes in them, or the shavings are catching my chisels, twisting the blade, gouging the stones and gouging the blades.

The grit progressions is this … DMT extra course – DMT course – Shapton 1000 – 4000 then 8000 (This progression is what was recommended by the owner of Craftsman studios)

I’ve tried firm pressure, light pressure, semi firm, semi light. I’ve cleaned them, flattened them, talked nice to them and I’m now about to make them Linguine w/ clam sauce just to see if that might get them to work.

I’ve been working with these stones now for over a week and all I seem to be able to get from them is a murky haze at best.

Has anyone else had any such problems with Shaptons and if so how did you solve it?

Secondly, and I’m serious here, can anyone recommend a sharpening service that flattens the backs of chisels. If my problem is a problem of technique then I’ll just send them out. This kind of frustration isn’t worth what ever it would cost to have someone else do it.

Thanks for any help


19 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3546 days

#1 posted 01-22-2010 07:53 AM


-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View JuniorJoiner's profile


485 posts in 3409 days

#2 posted 01-22-2010 08:03 AM

I’ve not had any problems with shapton stones. and if I had to recommend waterstones, they would be shaptons. if your new to waterstones, then it may just be technique. and if your chisel backs are far out of flat, then a diamond plate could sure speed things up(about 220 grit)
perhaps a honing guide could get you going until you get a feel for the stones-they are softer than scary sharp.
also, narrow chisels can be tricky on waterstones, and are often best honed on the pullstroke.

I think if you get used to having tools sharpened to 8000 grit on waterstones, you will wonder what you ever did before

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View Luke's profile


545 posts in 3263 days

#3 posted 01-22-2010 08:16 AM

Just making sure but you are using water too right?

-- LAS,

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4370 days

#4 posted 01-22-2010 08:19 AM

I’ve got my own sharpening solution. I’ve tried a lot of things and I’ve settled on my home made MDF disks mounted on a motor and I use sandpaper, polishing compound and also diamond paper to sharpen my chisels and planer blades.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View chrisd's profile


14 posts in 3016 days

#5 posted 01-22-2010 08:33 AM

@Juniorjoiner – I haven’t gotten to the point of using a honing guide because I can’t ge the backs flattened and polished, and I know of now honing guide that will hold a blade at zero degrees.

@skywalker01 – yes, I’m using water

Please note – I’m not having a problem sharpening my chisels on the Shaptons because I can’t get to that point w/o flattening.

View pete57's profile


134 posts in 3380 days

#6 posted 01-22-2010 08:49 AM

I use water stones but what I like is to use a granite sharping stone and put some 500-6000 grit wet dry sand paper on it and use a bevel guide. I have a set that are flat and hollow ground. After the sharpening is done, I use a green polishing compound on a leather strop. I do not let my chisels get dull. I have to sharpen plane blades, spoke shaves, travishers, draw knives, scorps/inshaves, turning tools, cabinet scrapers, and other stuff. I have to maintan a shapening system, of stones, grinders with stones and with hard felt and soft polishing wheels, and all that stuff has to be stored. I have to keep my books on it as well because I can’t remember all the angles and stuff. I know I have missed somethings, but you are getting the idea. It is a nessassary evil to create nice fulfilling woodworks.
In my personal opinion, you need to embrace sharpening if you are going to stay in the woodworking business. it use to suck for me but as time went by it usually relaxes me. I just sleep better when I know I have sharp chisels and tools to do what i like best. Create dude!!!!

-- Humble Wood Servant

View chrisd's profile


14 posts in 3016 days

#7 posted 01-22-2010 09:07 AM

@Pete57 – I’ill never see sharpening as something relaxing or ‘zen’, that’s what baseball is for me. I approach sharpening not unlike changing the oil in my car. I don’t like to do it, but if I want it to work I have to. But then again, I’m not talking about sharpening here, I’m talking about flattening/honing and the problem of doing so on a Shapton stone.

If I knew of a trusted sharpening service that knew what, as a wood working, I needed I would send everything I have to them in a heart beat regardless of cost.

View chrisd's profile


14 posts in 3016 days

#8 posted 01-23-2010 12:08 AM

I wanted to show an example of what I’m getting when I say “murky haze”.

The picture shows too of my chisels, the one on top is a brand spanking new Narex and was done with my with the process I mentioned above, the bottom was done with either Scary Sharp or DMT’s (I can’t remember). Admittedly I need to re-polish the bottom one, but it’s mirror like finish is evident.

Now to be clear, the top chisel IS flat and tho the edge looks nice and shiny in this picture, trust me, it isn’t anywhere close to what I get via other methods.

Has anyone else had problems like this using Shaptons? Is it just a matter of technique and getting use to them? Would sacrificing a chicken help?

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3170 days

#9 posted 01-23-2010 02:21 AM

As all the others have stated, its probably technique, sooo, here is a web site that just might help. Although he is sharpening on glass, he makes some very good points and offers some ideas for solutions.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3844 days

#10 posted 01-23-2010 03:48 AM

I second… “Worksharp.”

-- Happy woodworking!

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 3757 days

#11 posted 01-23-2010 04:02 AM

I use almost the same method you describe except that I don’t use a 4000 shapton. I have had none of these problems. Is it possible that your stones are glazed somehow. You might think about cleaning them with water and a medium soft bristle brush. It’s possible there was something on them from the store that is gumming up the particles. You could also flatten the stones on the DMT plate to remove any of the this gunk.

I’m sorry to hear you are so frustrated, I love my shaptons.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View Luke's profile


545 posts in 3263 days

#12 posted 01-23-2010 07:11 AM

Do you have a diamond stone flattener to make sure that the stone is staying flat?

-- LAS,

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 3026 days

#13 posted 01-24-2010 01:37 AM

I’ve had the shapton pro model stones for a couple of years. They work great now, but I had some problems initially. Initially I treated two of the stones like a traditional waterstones and left them sitting in water over the course of the weekend. It seemed to soften the stones and I gouged one rather badly. I worked it on the lapping plate to remove the damage and it seemed to be fine. I later met a fellow that imports Shaptons at The CT School of Woodworking’s open house and explained the situation (see He thought I might have permanently damaged the stone because they shoulldn’t be kept in water. Water is only supposed to be used while sharpening and then the stones should be dried with a a rag and allowed to completely dry in its plastic box.

-- Glen

View chrisd's profile


14 posts in 3016 days

#14 posted 01-25-2010 08:53 PM

First I’d like to thank everyone who replied, I really appreciate it.

I’ve made some big steps in improving my results with my Shaptons though I’m not what I would say 100% happy with the results.

This first thing I did was to buy a new DMT course stone. My old one had been worn down too much. The second thing I did was to flatten more of the blade. Instead of an inch or so of the end, I flattened 3+ inches in order to have more control over the angle of the blade, while at the same time using more of the stone.

In this picture you can see how much more of the blade I flattened

The next thing I did was to flatten perpendicular to the cutting edge instead of parallel. This seemed to give me more control and allowed me to distribute the work over the entire stone. It also allowed me to use a lighter touch while sharpening because of the ability to control the blade. This seemed to significantly reduce the amount of the stone that was worn off.

I still can’t quite get that pure mirror finish like I do with Scary Sharp, but the blade did come out shave-able sharp. So maybe I’m just being silly in my quest for absolute perfection.

Here you can still see some of the minor scratches/haze

So thanks again everyone!


View JuniorJoiner's profile


485 posts in 3409 days

#15 posted 02-25-2010 04:38 AM

I tried quite a bit to duplicate the trouble you were having.
two things could have happened. you could have had some contamination on your higher grit stone from the lower grits, this is easily fixed with a flattening and a good rinsing.
the second thing, is that the stone was too wet. if you soak a 8000 grit stone , it makes it soft, and wears away at an unpredictable rate, creating more mud in your slurry, causing this haze. this is fixed by letting the stone dry out for a few days. the 8000 grit stone works best when spritzed with water only when in use.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

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