Chisel & Plane Iron Sharpening Stone Suggestions

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Forum topic by danjo3 posted 04-07-2018 03:02 PM 3066 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 660 days

04-07-2018 03:02 PM

Hello everyone! This is my first post on this site. I’ve been looking through it for a while now and it seems there’s a lot of people here with a lot of knowledge.

So…to my topic. I am currently getting more and more into woodworking and want to take further steps into some hand joinery, and use of block planes, etc. However, I do not have everything to get started with sharpening.

My Wife was awesome enough to buy me the Rikon 82-100 Wet Stone sharpener for Easter. Now I know this is a great start but do I need to purchase a stone or stones to further sharpen hand tools before use?
Is my Rikon wet stone grinder going to get me a sharp enough for someone new to extensive use of planes and chisels?

If I DO Need stones, what is a good place to start. Again I’m still fairly new and won’t be using hand planes and chisels a ton, at least at this point. Cost is quite important to me so if I need to do this in stages what stones are a good place to start and at a relatively inexpensive price?

Thanks in advance for any help! Happy woodworking!

12 replies so far

View Planeman40's profile


1473 posts in 3370 days

#1 posted 04-07-2018 05:13 PM

I have been sharpening chisels, blades and carving gouges for years to a razor sharpness, testing with shaving the hair off my forearm. I have never used anything but hand sharpening except to rough shape a blade with a powered grinder. My process this as follows.

I view sharpening as divided into two parts, shaping the edge and sharpening the edge. After rough power shaping a tool edge I move to a coarse stone or diamond “stone” (I much prefer diamond stones) to refine the edge to its final shape and bringing the edge to a sharp edge with what is known as a “wire” edge. I remove this wire edge by jabbing the tool edge into the end grain of a piece of wood a few times. With the wire edge removed, you can begin the true “sharpening” process. The object is to move through a short series of coarseness in stones from coarse to fine. Each stone removes the scratches from the previous stone and further polishes the edge I always use a blade guide ( on flat edges to keep the edge straight. When I get toward the final sharpening I move to Arkansas stones ( which I prefer over water stones as water stones are soft and need periodic flattening and water stones make a mess. When I am finished with the Arkansas stone, I finish with stropping on a leather strop with jeweler’s rouge (a fine abrasive in a wax base) embedded in the surface. I make all of my own strops, however you can buy them. I continue this until I can easily shave the hair off my forearm as a test. If the strop won’t make the shaving test, then I return back a step or two in the process and work more on the edge. then back to stropping and the “test”.

As to diamond “stones”, the expensive diamond stones usually last longer, however I find the cheaper Harbor Freight diamond “stones” to do an adequate job. I have various sizes from diamond slips ( which I find indispensable to larger plates (

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4257 days

#2 posted 04-07-2018 05:41 PM

I have a Makita I use with a 1000 grit wheel
sometimes. It makes a mess because like a
potter’s wheel it throws muddy water around.
On hand tools the edge is sharp enough to use
but I think the edge holds up longer with
further polishing. For that I go to an 8000
grit water stone. 6000 or 4000 are also quite
good and cheaper. Sometimes I’ve use a
buffing wheel but I think for straight edge tools
like chisels and plane irons the stone gets it

You’ll hack up water stones unless you use a
guide or approach hand honing with a zen-like
focus. The most ideal honing guide for water
stones currently sold is made by VSC Tools, and
it’s expensive. It doesn’t ride on the surface of
the stone so it’s convenient to spread wear all
over the surface which reduces the dishing that
requires flattening the stone.

If all this sounds like a lot of fuss, it is. Perhaps
stropping or diamond stones will suit you better.

View Rich's profile


5152 posts in 1199 days

#3 posted 04-07-2018 05:43 PM

You’ll need jigs to hold the blades and chisels for sharpening. I have a Tormek 2000 and can get as sharp an edge with it as I do with my water stones. If the Rikon can use Tormek accessories, then I’d recommend the Tormek SE-77 jig to hold the blade. It slides onto the support bar and you can adjust the support bar height and the position of the blade in the jig to get the angle you want. Use a black magic marker to color the blade so you can see where you’re grinding.

Assuming the spacing is the same as Tormek for the support arm posts, I highly recommend the US-105 micro-adjust support arm. It’s far more precise than the stock arm, and also using it frees up the stock arm for use on the honing wheel. And, if you don’t have something to perform a similar function, the Tormek WM-200 angle adjuster is essential. You can adjust it for wheel diameter and then use it to set your support arm and jig for a given angle.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View OSU55's profile


2509 posts in 2599 days

#4 posted 04-08-2018 05:49 PM

Here is how I hone.. As I mention in the blog the problem with all of the wet sharpeners is that although all of them will create a sharp edge using the honing wheel, it is a more jagged edge that breaks down faster vs an edge polished with finer abrasives. I use my Grizzly version to resharpen turning tools, gouges and scrapers, but not for flat work tools anymore. The wet wheel does pretty good with O1 steel, so it does work for thinner Stanley oem blades, but thick plane blades and chisels take a long time to shape bevels. Forget harder steels like A2 – takes forever. It works for RESHARPENING hss turning tools because not much material is removed. I use a bench grinder with Al oxide wheels to shape turning tools and create primary bevels for plane blades and chisels. Sorry to burst your bubble on the wet sharpener, but Ive been there and can save you the time and frustration. Some of the very expensive Tormek wheels, especially the new diamond ones, will cut harder steels, but at $300 a pop I decided a slow speed bench grinder was the better choice. I do use the Tormec BGM-100 tool rest for bench grinders and many Tormek jigs. If starting over I would not have a wet grinder – I make use of it since I have it.

View jonah's profile


2092 posts in 3908 days

#5 posted 04-08-2018 06:08 PM

In my experience, you only need two stones for sharpening. A 600-800 grit stone (it could be a water stone, arkansas stone, or diamond stone) for initial sharpening and a 4000-6000 grit stone for polishing. Follow that with a strop charged with the green compound and you’re golden.

I used to use water stones exclusively, but I’ve recently switched to diamond stones. They’re more expensive, but you don’t ever have to flatten them or soak them. Just a convenience thing – both work perfectly well.

If you have a chisel or plane iron that has big nicks or the wrong bevel angle on it, thats when you would want to use a grinder or some coarser (~100-180 grit) wet/dry sandpaper stuck to a flat surface to set the initial bevel. You can’t really do that on a 600-800 grit stone. You could possibly add a grit of sandpaper in between the coarse and the first stone (~400 grit, probably), just to speed up the polishing from there.

Personally, I would not spend a lot of money on a Tormek or other machine just to sharpen the odd chisel or plane iron. IMO, those are best used by people who need to regularly sharpen carving or turning tools as well as chisels/blades. With water stones, you could spend less than $100 and get everything you need, where you’re going to spend an order of magnitude more than that for the machines.

View BurlyBob's profile


6918 posts in 2875 days

#6 posted 04-08-2018 07:56 PM

I’ve been very satisfied with the results I get from my Veritas guide , wet/dry sand paper and granite. I’ve found paper up to 3000 grit. It certainly seems to meet my needs. I’ve recently acquired a piece of Quartz counter top material. It lacks the dings and dents of granite. I use that for my 2500 and 3000 grit sand paper.

View Richard Lee's profile

Richard Lee

260 posts in 1384 days

#7 posted 04-08-2018 09:02 PM,43072

This is what I use for final hone, makes a mirror finish on blades.

View Mr_Pink's profile


184 posts in 981 days

#8 posted 04-08-2018 09:16 PM

If you want steel diamond plates that are less expensive than the better known brands, look at the Ultrasharp stones on Amazon. I’ve had their fine and extra fine 3×8 stones for a few months now, and I’m quite happy with them. They sit next to a DMT coarse stone, and you can’t tell (yet) which the cheap stones are.

View danjo3's profile


3 posts in 660 days

#9 posted 04-09-2018 04:20 PM,43072

This is what I use for final hone, makes a mirror finish on blades.

- Richard Lee

These seem interesting…how long does one sheet last?

View OSU55's profile


2509 posts in 2599 days

#10 posted 04-10-2018 01:29 AM

I use Al oxide coated film and I get 40-50 honing sessions or more, and the diamond coated film should last longer. The one downside to the film is you can slice it easily if you arent careful. I sliced up a few pieces learning. Otherwise, it’s great stuff – cuts much faster than an oil stone, doesnt dish like a waterstone, and just needs a little water on it – much cleaner than the alternatives. I spent $100 on the 3M lapping film I use 5 yrs ago, and Ive used maybe 25% of it. I do use diamond bench stones for heavier work, even small nickes, only using the film to for micro bevels. It will do the heavier work but that does wear it out more quickly. I would not use it for free hand honing a hollowed bevel, its too easy to cut through it.

View danjo3's profile


3 posts in 660 days

#11 posted 04-19-2018 05:23 PM

Wow, thanks to everyone for the help!
So due to budgetary restrictions, and further youtube viewing I’ve settled on the following to start.

Rikon Wet stone slow speed sharpener – used to clean up old chisels/plane blades and put primary bevel on. (I Should have mentioned a lot of my chisels and planes are donations/inheritances and need to be cleaned up.)

- Honing guide and a 400/1200 Diamond stone for secondary bevel

- leather strop on my rikon sharpener for final polishing.

I figure i might as well spend a little money now on the stones i buy so the next round i can fork over cash for maybe a 3000 or 4000 grit diamond stone.

Im not interested in trying to keep stones flat and Im really only planning on “weekend woodworking” for now.

Im thinking my combination listed above should get me in the race at least. Ill let you know how i make out. Ill be using freshly sharpened chisels to cut my first mortise and tenons in a new assembly table base. I made the Marc Spagnuolo torsion box top from the wood whisperer and im going to put it on 4 legs with braces for now.

Wish me luck! Thanks again everyone!

View waho6o9's profile


8812 posts in 3186 days

#12 posted 04-19-2018 05:42 PM

Good luck danjo3 and when time permits check out Atoma diamond plates.

Ebay seems to be more cost effective for the Atomas.

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