Sharpening (stones? Diamond Pads?)

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Forum topic by Ben posted 10-25-2016 11:29 PM 656 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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386 posts in 3028 days

10-25-2016 11:29 PM

Hey Gang,

I’m starting to get a bit more serious with hand tools and looking into the sharpening options (mainly for chisels and plane irons), which make my head spin.

I have an old 800/400 Japanese stone, can’t remember brand or where I got it. Requires soaking in water. I’ve hardly used it.

Went to diamond pads, have two in course/extra course, and fine/extra fine. Have been doing the Paul Sellers style freehand sharpening. But my chisel tips are out of square and the bevel angles are all over the place.

In my research, I’m tempted to get the water stones that do not require soaking, along with the MKII honing guide.
Just have no idea what grits to get. I hear about people establishing primary bevels on diamonds, then secondary bevels on stones, then tertiary bevels on 10,000 grit stone, etc… Seems a little convoluted.

Hoping to hear from some of you what you use, and what you recommend.


12 replies so far

View corelz125's profile


552 posts in 1147 days

#1 posted 10-25-2016 11:49 PM

I am pretty new to the sharpening thing myself but i use sandpaper with a honing guide and i get a pretty sharp edge.

View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 762 days

#2 posted 10-25-2016 11:54 PM

Chisels out of square and incorrect bevels is the product of bad technique, has nothing to do with what kind of stones you have.

View Ben's profile


386 posts in 3028 days

#3 posted 10-26-2016 12:02 AM

Chisels out of square and incorrect bevels is the product of bad technique, has nothing to do with what kind of stones you have.

- Carloz

Yes, obviously. Which is why I want to use a guide.
I didn’t say that my bevels are incorrect, just impossible to tell where/what they are, as it’s not even really a bevel, but a cambered edge.

View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 762 days

#4 posted 10-26-2016 12:07 AM

I never could get it right using a guide. It always gave me a lopsided blade.
Sharpening with bare hands on the opposite never gave me troubles. And you do not need the exact bevel angle. A ballpark is OK.

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 3123 days

#5 posted 10-26-2016 12:37 AM

Ben, I use 800, 1,000, 6,000, and 10,000 grit Japanese stones. I usually only use all four when I first sharpen a blade that was redone or new to me. To freshen blades, I use the 1,000 and 10,000.

I have been sharpening for a while now and I still use a honing guide (Veritas MKIII). If you have issues sharpening freehand, invest in one and you won’t be disappointed.

There are many ways to sharpen your tools and I am pretty sure you will be inundated with suggestions for all of them. My advice would be to find a method that works for you and stick with it until you feel very comfortable with it. In other words, don’t change methods until you can master the one you use. All methods can be expensive, so changing can be costly. I won’t advocate one method over the other as they all produce acceptable results.

Good Luck!

-- Mike

View BurlyBob's profile


5934 posts in 2436 days

#6 posted 10-26-2016 12:39 AM

I use the Veritas guide, Granite countertops cutoffs and wet dry paper to 3000 grit and am very satisfied with the results.

View Stevedore's profile (online now)


73 posts in 2196 days

#7 posted 10-26-2016 01:00 AM

I recently bought the Veritas guide & like it quite a bit. A few of my chisels suffered from years of my attempts at manual sharpening, but using the Veritas guide & some DMT diamond “stones” I was able to get them straightened out & sharpened better than they’ve ever been.

To fix up a couple of bad ones, I used the guide with coarse sandpaper (3M 80 grit) on a flat granite tile from Home Depot. Once the bevel was uniform & the end square, I moved on to the diamond stones.

-- Steve, in Morris County, NJ

View Quikenuff's profile


66 posts in 1040 days

#8 posted 10-26-2016 01:17 AM

I started with DMT diamond stones, I bought all of the various grits/mesh, and after about a year switched to water stones. I find the water stones cut faster and leave a “sharper” (very subjective) edge than the diamond stones.

The downside to water stones is they need to be soaked, flattened and make more of a mess but I still prefer them. I use 1000, 5000, and 12000 grit Shapton Kuromaku stones for maintenance sharpening, and 120 and 320 of the same make for initial bevel setting on damaged or skewed blades.

If you google “water stone grit comparison chart” you’ll find various charts comparing different manufacturers grit scales including DMT diamond stones. I find it easiest to pick a manufacturer and stick with them. That way the stones are at least then the same size if you want to set up a sharpening station later, and the grits are scaled appropriately.

I started with a Veritas MKII and have stuck with it and don’t see a need to change.


View MrRon's profile


5130 posts in 3414 days

#9 posted 10-26-2016 06:06 PM

Don’t overlook that the type of steel used for the tool has a relationship with the quality of the edge. Poor quality or low carbon steel will never get, or hold a sharp edge no matter what stone you use. Sometimes a person will spend an hour or more trying to get a sharp edge on a tool and never get it (I’ve done that). That’s because the steel isn’t strong enough to hold a sharp edge. A misconception made is you can buy a cheap tool and sharpen it to perform like a quality tool. Personally, I use diamond for all my sharpening for both wood and metalworking tools. The problem with diamond is it sharpens very fast. When only a few light strokes on a diamond will result in a keen edge, more than a few strokes can destroy a keen edge , but it’s a lot quicker than multi grit stones.

View mike02130's profile


170 posts in 843 days

#10 posted 10-26-2016 07:48 PM

Grinder for hollow grind. Without the hollow, the more you sharpen the flatter and wider the bevel gets and the longer it takes to sharpen. Understand? The more you sharpen, the longer it takes.

I have diamond, old Pike Arkansas stones, ceramic and water stones, a few India and some unknowns. These I’ve collected over the last thirty years.

For most chisels and plane irons I use a DMT course and fine diamond stone followed by an Arkansas or two. From my experience that combo works best. I use a spray bottle to spritz the diamond stones and a mix of kerosene and oil for the Arkansas’s. Water is not necessary for the diamonds but it helps.

Spyderco makes some good ceramic stones for polishing an edge. The white one is super smooth.

I have some high carbon steel Japanese and French kitchen knives that work best on some fancy Japanese water stones. I think they’re 800, 1200 and 10,000 (?). I do occasionally use the 800 for flattening and shaping chisel and plane iron backs. Some day I’d like to get an extra course diamond for flattening and shaping.

I don’t think water stones belong in a shop nor do I like to use them on carbon steel or anything which may rust quickly. I did try a plane iron on the 10,000 water stone and it wanted to hydroplane. They’re a mess to use, and a pain to clean, store and need reflattening. I’m also a bit ethnocentric.

I have quite a few 1095 carbon steel pocket knives that work best with the Arkansas stones.

With the exception of a few Hock and LN blades, most if not all my edge tools are from the mid to late 1800s to 1940. The age and type of steel may make a difference.

On occasion I will use a sheet of sandpaper on a flat granite floor tile. Only on occasion.

I can freehand sharpen with the best of them but one of those roller gizmos do work well to square up an edge after it comes off the grinder. If you consistently use the mk11, well, your edges will remain consistent.

Think about what tools you may buy later as you gain woodworking experience and how they should be sharpened. Think about carving tools, lathe chisels, drawknives and others. Thirty years ago I couldn’t imagine using an axe or hatchet to do carving or furniture making but now I have half a dozen. Using water stones on any of those tools would be difficult and surely a mess.

Did I mention a grinder? Don’t get all wrapped up with the latest and greatest Chinese product. A slow grinder is nice but you can get by with a 3450 rpm and a white wheel. Just go easy. An 8” is best but a 6” will work. For cheap money you can find an old electric motor and a couple of pulleys and a wheel holder thingy and adjust the speed with the pulley size. I don’t use the tool rest but it would be easy to make one.

My attitude is a bit old fashioned and for lack of a better word, manly. Am I allowed to say that?

-- Google first, search forums second, ask questions later.

View Aj2's profile


1783 posts in 1969 days

#11 posted 10-26-2016 08:08 PM

I use a Tormek and a regular higher speed grinder to hollow grind plane blades and some of my chisels.
If your not using japanees chisels I think you should add grinder to your line up.
I sharpen a lot after all the machinery work is done a hollow ground tool is pretty easy to keep sharp.
A2 high speed steel isn’t my favorite it takes some good effort to sharpen but that’s what In my Lie Neilson plane have in them.


-- Aj

View HokieKen's profile


6557 posts in 1309 days

#12 posted 10-26-2016 08:25 PM

Just get the guide and work through your diamond plates. I think you’ll find that what you have works just fine. If not, then you can invest in different stones. No need to spend more $ unnecessarily IMHO.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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