Which sharpening stones should I get?

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Forum topic by Bob Downing posted 02-22-2012 02:55 AM 4276 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bob Downing

43 posts in 2823 days

02-22-2012 02:55 AM

Topic tags/keywords: sharpening stones sharpening

I’m hesitant to ask this because I’m sure there are as many ways to sharpen tools as there are woodworkers, but here goes. Currently I’m using sandpaper on plate glass ( Scary Sharp method) and it works great. I’ve reached the point though where it is getting to be a real pain changing the paper so often. So now is the time to move to sharpening stones. I’ve been looking at the Norton stones (1000, 4000 & 8000), but I know there are other options. I want decent stones but with the price about $250. My chisels are O1 but my plane blades are A2. Any suggestions?

-- BobD Chandler, AZ

22 replies so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3710 days

#1 posted 02-22-2012 03:06 AM

I’d say try the water stones. I’ve used sand paper, oilstones and water stones. They all seem to work equally well. The only one I did’t like was the oilstones; mainly because I felt I never quite got the oil off of my hands before I went back to the wood.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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Don W

18711 posts in 2565 days

#2 posted 02-22-2012 03:26 AM

I started with water stones. My major complaints with them were two fold. First, my shop isn’t heated, so that was a hassle. Second, they needed flattening a lot. I hated the mess. I never really went the sand paper route, but I’m sure they are better than that.

I then managed to pick up some oil stones in a lot of other tools I bought. I essentially got them for next to nothing. What I liked over the water stones was I didn’t need to use water, so I didn’t have the freezing issue or the mess. I used a diesel fuel / mineral oil mix which meant I didn’t worry about rusting my tools. The point I didn’t like was I never knew what grit I was using, (used vintage stones) but they worked well and I still use them. The oil is still messy, but not as near as bad as the water.

I recently caught a buy-it-now on ebay for 4 dia-sharp DMT diamond stones for a really reasonable price. I bought them on a whim. I like them so far. I’ve only sharpened about 5 or 6 planes on them, but they work well. What I like about them is I have a nice uniform set. A course, medium, fine and ultra fine. They do slide around on the bench a lot more than the oil stones, so I’ll need to get them in a base of some sort.

So for a suggestion. If your a flea market, antique shop, trying to find the second hand stuff, go for the oil stones. You can get them pretty cheap, they work really well, and in a reasonable amount of time you can have a set. By a set, I mean a course, medium and fine stone. I’ve got 6 or 8 I’ve picked up over the course of time, some I like, some not so much, but I don’t have $50 in all of them.

If your going new, its a tough call. I would love to have a set of new oil stones. I think in reality for new, diamonds may be a woodwrokers best friend. They never need flattening, you can use glass cleaner, water and murphys oil soap, and a host of other lubricants (I understand you shouldn’t use diesel fuel or similar substrates) and they are suppose to last a very long time.

Its an interesting question. I’m cheap, so I’m glad I found what I did.

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

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10385 posts in 3645 days

#3 posted 02-22-2012 03:31 AM

All you need is a coarse friable grinding wheel, a 1200 stone and
a 6000 stone. The difference between 6000 and 8000 grit is
not big in terms of sharpness. Both stones will polish blades
to a very, very sharp edge.

4000 is a polishing stone. You can go straight from a 1000 or
1200 to 6000 or 8000.

The Nortons are nice because they are bigger than the Japanese
stones. That’s their main advantage.

You can get a 2 King stones in 1200 and 6000 for about $60 for
the pair. Then a white friable wheel for about $20 more and
you’re good to go. For good measure you can get a buffing
wheel for the other end of your grinder (no fancy slow-speed
grinder needed) and a stick of jeweler’s rouge for carving tools
and for polishing carving tools.

If you own the grinder already this stuff will set you back about $120.

Oh. Get a Nagura stone too.

View rum's profile


148 posts in 2583 days

#4 posted 02-22-2012 03:35 AM

I would recommend a set of Sigma Select II stones over the Norton’s. I have one of the two sided Norton and its “ok”, but the Sigma’s are faaaaaasssssttt in comparison.. Especially in comparison on harder steel like A2. They’re sold by and , I’ve heard some folks say the ones from Tools From Japan are slightly better, but am very happy with the lee valley ones.

I also have a set of “halls” Arkansa stones from (which had by far the best prices I’ve seen). These stay on the bench where I don’t want water.

If you do get a set of water stones (whichever ones) do also get:

- stone holders, totally worth it

- a bottle of “HoneRite Gold” also known as “No-Rust Water Additive”. Amazing stuff, keeps the rust off

- a truing stone. Don’t have to get fancy the $30 ones seem to work about as well to me (although pickier people will certainly disagree)

View yrob's profile


340 posts in 3650 days

#5 posted 02-22-2012 03:36 AM

I use japanese waterstones, 1000, 4000 and 8000. I flatten them pretty quickly with a DMT dia-flat lapping plate. I draw wavy lines on the stone with a pencil then use the diamond plate to remove the marks. Takes just a few strokes.
I prefer waterstones to oil stones because its way less messy. They cut relatively fast and produce a very keen edge.

-- Yves

View Bob Downing's profile

Bob Downing

43 posts in 2823 days

#6 posted 02-22-2012 03:41 AM

Loren, I’ve never heard of a friable grinding wheel. What is it and where can I get it?

-- BobD Chandler, AZ

View KenBry's profile


484 posts in 2444 days

#7 posted 02-22-2012 03:54 AM

Bob, I have a king 800, norton, 1000/8000. I got them at woodcraft out there in chandler. I also recommend the stone holder and the veritas guide.

-- Ken, USAF MSgt, Ret.

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10385 posts in 3645 days

#8 posted 02-22-2012 03:56 AM

Norton makes them.

Lee Valley sells them too. The wheels have some bad reviews on
Amazon, but my Norton wheel is not a problem.

Apparently some buyers have had wheels that vibrate, so
by from a retailer that will send you a new one without yanking
your chain if you get a bad one.

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10385 posts in 3645 days

#9 posted 02-22-2012 04:00 AM

After fussing around with sharpening systems for a few years
I adopted Ian Kirby’s grinder and waterstone method. I built
the simple tool rest he describes for my grinder. He did
write a book about sharpening, but I learned all I needed
to know from FWW article from some old issue.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18711 posts in 2565 days

#10 posted 02-22-2012 04:02 AM

I agree with the aluminum oxide wheel. I do a lot of restores on badly neglected planes and they are invaluable when you need to cut back a major flaw. I also like the hollow grind for the first few times on the stone (what ever type you choose). Once the angle is correct, i usually don’t go back to the grinder though.

For a jig, I just bought a cheap eclipse type. I can’t recall the brand, but it was $13 +/-. It Works well. I’ve been doing more and more free hand, especially on the thicker blades.

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

View yrob's profile


340 posts in 3650 days

#11 posted 02-22-2012 05:00 AM

Lie-Nielsen also has a brochure on their website on sharpening. Very nice, one page and summarizes what to do when using stones. Its hung on the wall of my shop.

-- Yves

View Danpaddles's profile


573 posts in 2309 days

#12 posted 02-22-2012 05:13 AM

View Don W's profile

Don W

18711 posts in 2565 days

#13 posted 02-22-2012 12:59 PM

Well Bob, about the only thing not said was stick with sand paper. Deciding on a stone type is like deciding on the color of a dress shirt.
1. who likes wearing dress shirts
2. each store has a different brand, color and fabric
3. cost doesn’t always equate
4. and again, who likes wearing dress shirts

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

View rustynails's profile


747 posts in 2526 days

#14 posted 02-22-2012 01:52 PM

Anyone using ceramics stones? I have heard good things about them, much like the DMT diamond stones.

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2652 days

#15 posted 02-22-2012 02:03 PM

There are more opinions about this subject than just about anything else.

If you are interested in my take on possible sharpening methods take a look.

In brief…pick a system that you like that gets you to a razor sharp edge…they all work, you just need to find the one that works for you.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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