Work Sharp or Water Stones

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by mak posted 05-08-2013 12:45 AM 3424 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View mak's profile


29 posts in 2255 days

05-08-2013 12:45 AM

Since sharpening seems to be a Coke versus Pepsi kind of personal preference, I am just asking for opinions. I have a budget that would allow me to purchase either a Work Sharp 3000 or the starter set of Norton water stones (220/1000 combo and 4000/8000 combo) and a course diamond plate to flatten them since I’ve read a lot about how the Norton flattening stone is rarely flat itself.

My goal is to have sharp tools in the most convenient manner possible and in the shortest time possible. I do have a 2 1/4 inch Veritas plane iron so I wouldn’t be able to sharpen exclusively on the sharpening port of the Work Sharp. If it weren’t for that limitation, I think I would have already pulled the trigger on the Work Sharp. Using the port to achieve a consistent bevel angle without the time needed to setup a honing guide is a big plus for me. But, if I have to buy the wide blade attachment (or build a table and buy a honing guide anyway) then maybe I should just buy a Veritas MKII guide and use it on the water stones. It seems like the setup time of getting an iron situated on a honing guide would be a hassle and further encourage me to put off sharpening.

So, if you were starting over and had a budget similar to mine, which would you choose?

12 replies so far

View Mosquito's profile


9542 posts in 2497 days

#1 posted 05-08-2013 12:52 AM

Personally, I would go for the waterstones. But I will preface that with the fact that I’ve been using diamond stones and finishing on a waterstone for almost a year now. I sharpen free hand, but the MKII is a very good honing guide.

As for the setup time of a honing guide, you could always make something like this once you have it set to the right angle, if you don’t want to buy the “registration jig” for the MKII

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View RodNGun's profile


118 posts in 2509 days

#2 posted 05-08-2013 01:49 AM

I recently bought a Work Sharp and it sure takes the art and magic out of sharpening (which I always admired). However, the thing is so easy to use, doesn’t make a mess, sharpens fast, and does a great job. Unless you enjoy the production that goes into fine honing with stones, get a Work Sharp. I have chisels you could shave with.

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3564 days

#3 posted 05-08-2013 03:06 AM

I have both a Worksharp and waterstones. If I had to choose only one, I would probably opt for the Worksharp. Its fast, consistent and less messy. There are issues however. For one thing, the discs don’t last very long and get expensive after a while. Second, if you’re going to use the WS for flattening/polishing the backs, you need to be REAL careful. I’d suggest getting a foot pedal for it so you can use both hands to make sure the blade is flat on the disc when you start it. I rehab/sell quite a few planes and the WS saves me a LOT of time flattening, but I use the stones to hone most of the plane irons. Good luck!!

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View RogerInColorado's profile


321 posts in 2159 days

#4 posted 05-08-2013 05:15 AM

I’d rather use my tools than sharpen them. That’s why I bought a Worksharp. It’s always set up ready to go, so I use it more frequently than if I had to clear space and pull out stones and then put them away. Having said that, I know that some people take great pleasure in the task and customizing the technique and the result. Those people would not enjoy the Worksharp shortcut.

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 4197 days

#5 posted 05-08-2013 05:55 AM

I find that the best sharpening system is the one you will use. I have a really good set of stones and a good sharpening grinder. a few years back i got a work shop as a gift and it gets used constantly. it takes seconds to freshen up a blade and I mean seconds. after getting it i added the wide blade attachment and have never looked back.

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2838 days

#6 posted 05-08-2013 11:31 AM

”My goal is to have sharp tools in the most convenient manner possible and in the shortest time possible.”

IMO, waterstones are not particularly convenient. They do a beautiful job of sharpening and cut very quickly. But the water element and flattening make it a PITA. I adopted diamond stones and a leather strop because I feel it works 95% as well as waterstones, with less hassles.
However, given the choice between waterstones and worksharp. I’d probably go with the WS. Seems like the easier of the two options. I too like the sharpening process to be quick n’ easy.

Sidenote: I wouldn’t let one single tool dictate which sharpening system you adopt or discard. I assume you don’t have to sharpen that 2 1/4” blade on a daily basis. You could always do the bulk of your sharpening on the WS, and use a cheap/simple scary sharp set-up for that particular blade.

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8542 posts in 2187 days

#7 posted 05-08-2013 12:31 PM

I actually made a blog about this subject that might help, here. Most all of the methods can be efficient with experience. Hopefully your able to narrow down one for you….because it’s gets expensive switching. Take care, Red

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View JohnChung's profile


416 posts in 2279 days

#8 posted 05-08-2013 01:19 PM

I would go for waterstones. Water can be inconvenient but with Shapton is it more a splash stone. I have
quite a few stones from Shapton but it is worth it. With work sharp the cost of sandpaper would add
up quickly. I started with sandpaper first but moved on to waterstone b’cos changing them took too much time
and did not last long.

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2896 days

#9 posted 05-08-2013 01:31 PM

I love my Work Sharp!

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2690 days

#10 posted 05-08-2013 04:12 PM

Regarding the 2 1/4” iron, it’s worth noting that Stumpy's Worksharp 3000 station (which looks very easy to make) can handle wide blades, so you’re not limited to the underside port. And the cost of sandpaper is negated by using buffing compound on MDF, which is dramatically cheaper than buying the replacement sandpaper from Worksharp, and works just as well.

-- Brian Timmons -

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3853 days

#11 posted 05-08-2013 04:23 PM

I use water stones. I flatten them with a drywall screen –
no special stone needed.

I use a nagura stone. I consider it essential.

I sharpen freehand usually. The technique takes awhile
to learn.

Obviously with water stones you don’t have to keep
all that sandpaper in stock.

On method that works pretty well is a white, friable
wheel on a grinder with a buffing wheel charged with
rouge on the other side. In between you can use a
1000 grit water stone. Usually I use this method for
carving tools but it works fine for chisels and plane
irons too.

A 1000 grit water stone will get a blade sharp enough to
shave hair off your arm. While it cuts well, I feel
the edge is more durable if it is buffed or honed. I
usually go from the 1000 grit stone to an 8000
stone, but actually the King 6000 grit stone is easier
to use and does not glaze as easily as the Norton
8000 stone. The Norton is bigger though so that’s
why I usually use that one.

View mandatory66's profile


202 posts in 2336 days

#12 posted 05-11-2013 05:37 AM

Work Sharp for irons,iron backs & chisels. Water stones for honing,1000 & 8000. Wide irons, sand paper 100-220,320,400,600 for main bevel and stones for honing. The quick flattening of backs of irons on the Work Sharp is a great time saver.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics