View Full Version : sharpening system/stone

Howard Pollack
03-02-2003, 11:18 PM
I'm new here after lurking around Badger Pond for a number of years.
I've been wondering what people are using as a sharpening system/ stone. I've been using fine abrasive sheets with PSA backing from Lee Valley- they're ok and cheap, but I'm wondering if there is something a bit better (finer edge)? Thanks.

Keith Outten
03-02-2003, 11:54 PM

I own a Makita slow speed wet stone sharpener and use it for planer blades, joiner blades and chisels.

I have the Lansky sharpening system that I use for knives. I have made several temporary jigs to sharpen other items using the Lansky stones.

I also have a typical bench grinder setup with a general purpose stone on one side and a small sanding belt on the other. I have a diamond stone for fine hand work which I don't do alot of as I'm not really a turner.

You will probably get a lot of responses to this thread, there are a lot of experts in this area from the turning group.

Tom Scott
03-03-2003, 10:46 AM
Hi Howard,
There are lots of different systems for sharpening out there. In theory, they are all basically the same...just different materials.
personally, I use the large diamond stones for sharpening. I have a coarse grit stone for major removal of metal (in case you get a nick, for flattening backs, etc.), and an extra fine to use after that, or for minor touch ups while I'm working at the bench. I then finish with a leather strop attached to a block of hardwood, which is charged with the green polishing compound. This gives the edge a mirror shine and very fine edge.
Like I said before, there are many different ways to do the same thing. There are water stones, oil stones, ceramic stones, synthetic water stones, and sand paper to name a few. Personally, I never liked the scary sharp system. just seemed like too big a hastle messing with the different sand paper grits. It does give good results, though. I settled on the diamond stones because they are easy to maintain, stay flat, cut quickly, and last a long time (for me). Eventually, I would like to get a set of the Shapton ceramic stones. They seem to get rave reviews from all who try them, but they can be a bit pricey as an initial cost. The plus is that they will last a very long time.

Good luck,

Steve Schoene
03-03-2003, 12:47 PM
After grinding on a 1725 rpm stone (speed is not as important as keeping the stone dressed, though I find the slow speed an advantage in avoiding burning an edge) I favor oil stones. Using a grinding wheel gives a hollow grind that makes sharpening chisel and plane blades easy to do without a jig. (I do use a jig on the grinder though)

I start with a medium India stone, and go from there to a hard arkansas. Sometimes I use a translucent hard arkasas if I need something really polished.

I finish on an undressed leather strop, except for carving tools where I use a dressing of yellowstone.

Soft water stones require a lot of attention to keep the stone flat, and most importantly I would rather put a blade away with a thin film of oil on it than with a missed drop of water.

Chris Knight
03-03-2003, 1:13 PM
I have tried everything and in the process spent enough to have sent out all my tools for sharpening at least ten times over.

I have "discovered" the following:

1. All systems can be made to work but some are very hard work and cost a lot.

2. Waterstones and Scary Sharp are two vastly overrated systems that cost a bundle and which are also very messy and very high maintenance.

3. Tormeks are good for grinding an initial edge or bevel that you later hone with something else.

4. A second hand horizontal industrial duty grindstone costs relatively little (less than a Tormek) and is great for flattening planes and chisels.

5. Oil stones are cheap, low maintenance and if you get a fine Arkansas or Washita stone, can be used for honing to a very fine edge.

6. Diamond pastes etc are for the true nerds. A nice mirror finish can be had with any fine polishing compound and a leather wor wooden strop.

7. Old cast iron laps can be found cheaply and are good for flattening work with a suitable lapping compound.

8. This discussion will still be going on in the year 2500


Alan Hamilton
03-03-2003, 8:26 PM

I do my sharpening on water stones. I have five: an 800, a 1200, a 3000 , a 6000, and a green stone (about 240, IIRC). They're cheap, if you aren't taken in by advertising; I think I have less than a hundred dollars invested, and I've had most of my stones more than twenty years. They also get things really sharp. I just now finished re-sharpening a plane iron. I test my edges by taking shavings off of end grain of whatever woods I have laying around: today it was some red oak and poplar.

You do have to keep flattening water stones. But the trade off is that they cut very fast. It's really just the soft stones--the 800 and the green stone, and to a lesser extent the 1200--that need to be flattened after (or sometimes during) every sharpening session. You can flatten them on just about anything: I have a friend that flattens his on a concrete block; and I know another fellow who uses his garage floor. I got a ceramic "brick" for flattening my stones; it's a little pricey--abut sixty dollars--but I have no remorse.

I also have a diamond cone and some small oil stone slips for sharpening gouges, irons for my multi-plane and so forth. Give me water stones any day. I find them much less trouble than oil stones. But it's really just whatever you've grown used to. As someone else said, virtually every sharpening "system" will get your tools plenty sharp enough.


Dennis McDonaugh
03-05-2003, 9:52 AM
I've tried them all and they all have their advantages and their drawbacks. I' ve come to the conclusion that this is one skill that can't be passed on from one person to another because there is no one best way. Everybody has their own opinion formed over years of experimenting and personal likes and dislikes. You HAVE to go through the entire process of oilstone, waterstone, scary sharp, high speed grinder, low speed grinder, tormek, shapton stones and whatever else is available to see what appeals to you. Personally, I've decided to stick with the Tormek for most of my sharpening needs, but I still use waterstones and sandpaper for a few things that the tormek doesn't do especially well.

Andrew Field
03-05-2003, 3:28 PM
Originally posted by Chris Knight
2. Waterstones and Scary Sharp are two vastly overrated systems that cost a bundle and which are also very messy and very high maintenance.

Scary Sharp costs a bundle????? I've been using it for a while have to say it's about as cheap as you can get. It's just some sandpaper, of which I have plenty sitting around already. I have packages of wet/dry in 220, 320, 400, 600, 1000, 2000, and only the 1000 & 2000 are used only for sharpening. The only other thing you need is something smooth and flat, like a free plate of glass or tile.

Having said that, I really want to get the makita sharpener.

Dennis McDonaugh
03-05-2003, 8:12 PM
I think the cost of sand paper will be equal to a good set of waterstones or Arkansas stones considering how long they last.