Nice and flat ... once I flattened it

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Review by johnjoiner posted 04-01-2008 05:12 AM 5873 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Nice and flat ... once I flattened it Nice and flat ... once I flattened it No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I had been using sandpaper on a test plate to flatten my water stones. I found myself avoiding flattening the stones because of the time to set up and the mess. So I bought the Norton flattening stone. The price was right, $27 after a 10% off at Rockler.

I almost didn’t check it. After all the instructions say, “engineered for superb flatness.” But before I gave the flattening stone it’s maiden voyage I slapped the straight edge onto it. Not even close. The flattening stone had a nice proud belly right in the middle. The first photo is how I flattened it. That took about 10 minutes. The second photo is after I flattened my Norton combo 4000/8000 stone. It made quick work of it.

I docked a star for the lame instructions and mediocre case. I know you’re thinking, “what instructions do you need for a flattening stone?” But it did come with instructions, but they didn’t answer any of the questions I was wondering about, such as wet or dry? (I used it wet.) Or, how careful I should be about keeping the slurry from flattening off my fine stones? (The slurry off the flattening stones felt very coarse, so I washed off my 4000/8000 pretty well when I was done.) Not a big deal. The flattening stone comes in a clear plastic case, but it doesn’t have rubber feet on it, so you can’t keep it in the case while using it.

I’m glad I bought this flattening stone. But I was disappointed that it wasn’t ready to go out of the box.

-- johnjoiner

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160 posts in 4664 days

11 comments so far

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10262 posts in 4759 days

#1 posted 04-01-2008 05:27 AM

I use diamond stones to flatten everything.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

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141 posts in 4759 days

#2 posted 04-01-2008 05:42 AM

I use diamond stones now, too. They’re definitely more expensive than the Norton flattening stone, but you don’t have to flatten them. The Norton flattening stone will need to be flattened periodically. It’s not a one time event.

Another problem I found with them is that they are basically waterstones and behave like them. Specifically, they will tend to dish, if you aren’t careful. When the flattening stone dishes, the waterstone you flatten with it develops a hump. I think that’s the worst result. If my waterstones dish a little, I’ll get a slight camber on my blades. I can live with that. One can argue it’s a good thing, in many cases. However, no good can come from a blade that is slightly concave.

Bottom line, keep flattening the flattening stone. In fairness, I didn’t use it properly at first (I agree 100%, bad instructions). I held the waterstone in one hand and the flattening stone in the other and just rubbed them together. That was way too aggressive and sped up the wearing considerably. The better approach is to put the flattening stone down and put the waterstone on top of it and lap it back and forth without pushing down. Just let gravity do it.

-- Disappointment is an empty box full of expectation.

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160 posts in 4664 days

#3 posted 04-01-2008 06:24 AM

So, you’ve found the diamond stones to be real flat?

I just have one diamond stone, and it’s some off-brand that I forget, not DMT. And mine is way out of flat. I haven’t figured out how to flatten that yet. ;-)

-- johnjoiner

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 4570 days

#4 posted 04-01-2008 07:02 AM

I use the large Norton Diamond 220 grit stone to flatten my other oil stones and to put a coarse edge on a blade. I have a couple of older DMT diamond bench stones for medium and fine. The Norton is pricey but darned well worth it.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4515 days

#5 posted 04-01-2008 11:58 PM

One of us must have gotten the exception. My Norton was perfectly flat when I bought it. I’ve used mine several times and it doesn’t need flattening yet. The key would be to check it before using it, to make sure it’s flat.

View hokieman's profile


199 posts in 4525 days

#6 posted 04-02-2008 01:20 AM

I am about to give up on water stones because I spend as much time flattening the stone as I do sharpening chisels and plane irons. You know that Norton flattening stone? Yeah, you will have to spend time flattening that one too after you have tried to flatten your sharpening stones. You know the common thread is that you end up flattening your flattening stone or waterstones on granite. So what’s the deal here? You might was well use the flattening stones to sharpen on and that would mean scary sharp method. I have ended up only honing on my water stones and when I have to take off a lot of metal, go scary sharp to make sure I don’t “use up” too much waterstone flatness.

I have not used diamond stones but the comment about that one not being flat makes me more firm (no pun intended) in my granite. I went by a kitchen countertop store and they gave me a scrap piece that is about 18 X 24 inches. It works great and will always be flat.

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4864 days

#7 posted 04-07-2008 08:33 PM

I was in the same boat as you on the instructions. I didn’t think to check mine for flat and completely agree with the slurry on a fine stone. I will likely try the flattening on granite as you did and then give it a shot. I have one question. I think I read some piece of documentation on Norton’s web site that says it’s preferrable to “take a wet stone to the sharpening stone.” This still doesn’t answer the question of whether or not the sharpening stone is used wet too.

What did you do, John?

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

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160 posts in 4664 days

#8 posted 04-09-2008 08:56 PM

Hi Jeff.

The flattening of the flattening stone I did dry because the best paper I had handy was not wet/dry paper. To flatten the water stone I used some water, but not a lot.

I saw that instruction of, “take one stone to the other stone” somewhere too, and it seemed very vague. I assumed it meant that the first stone should be on top of the second. I have a little bit of spray adhesive residue still on my granite block. That was handy for this operation. The flattening stone sat still on that, and I rubbed the water stones on it.

I hope this answers your question.

-- johnjoiner

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26427 posts in 4622 days

#9 posted 04-10-2008 02:19 AM

I have started using the diamond stone recently. Very happy with the result. Not sure how long they will last. does anybody know?.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Matt Stauffer's profile

Matt Stauffer

110 posts in 3536 days

#10 posted 01-12-2011 06:27 AM

I flatten my waterstones (wet) directly onto a piece of granite without any sandpaper at all. It works on my 800, 1000, 4000, and 8000 grits. I would have to throw some sandpaper down for my 200 grit stone though.

-- Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. ~ John 5:24

View johnjoiner's profile


160 posts in 4664 days

#11 posted 01-12-2011 09:04 PM


I’d think that your granite plate will quickly get unflat as your water stones wear directly on it. Or did I misunderstand you?

-- johnjoiner

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