which diamond stones for chisels and hand planes blades

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by Spikes posted 10-27-2018 12:37 AM 4287 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Spikes's profile


125 posts in 1204 days

10-27-2018 12:37 AM


after getting into woodworking via powertools I’m re-evaluating my path and trying to pick up more handtools. Besides even with powertools it still seems like chisels are a necessity for joinery and hand planes for jointing/flattening larger stock (ie the workbench I’m trying to build).

I’ve read about a dozen of previous threads on LJ and several other links on FWW or PWW and here’s what I’ve taken away:

- oil stones are messy and unless you have a dedicated area for sharpening it seems a no-no. some people of course love them and say they work best.
- water stones are really popular, somewhat messy but not as much. The big problem I see here is that you need to flatten them and a DMT lapping plate or similar is very expensive. Unclear if an ultra fine diamond stone can take care of that. Japanese water stones seem the best.
- diamond plates. These seem to be the goto solution and what’s recommended for newbies like myself, less expensive, less messy, altho maybe not super duper fine like advanced woodworkers need. DMT are the most common, but very expensive
- sand paper, maybe glued to glass… seen some recommendations as a way to get started for cheap, but unclear how well it’s gonna work

With that in mind it seems I should get some diamond stones and a strop, and here’s where I’m stuck… what stones should I buy? Some people seem to really like the UltraSharp sets, a set of 3 is reasonably priced on amazon, but then it’s unclear if I even need a set of 3. Some people recommend to just get a combo stone, which can be about $30 cheaper (incidentally there’s a vintage stanley no. 4 on ebay for that amount that I’m bidding on…). Also there’s lots of opinions on grits, which seems to vary if we’re talking chisels or hand planes… but I can’t afford different sets or even a set of 4-5 stones… even 3 is nearly out of budget. Matt Estlea recommend this on his video on sharpening hand planes: but I’ve not heard of axminster in any other forum and the grit seems relatively low to what many other threads discussed. That said the results in his video are really good as far as I can tell:

soooo, what’s a recommendation for a “getting-started” kit that will take care of both chisels and hand planes without breaking the bank ($100-$130)?


-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

17 replies so far

View Mr_Pink's profile


197 posts in 1530 days

#1 posted 10-27-2018 01:38 AM

I have the fine and extra-fine Ultrasharp stones that are available on Amazon, and I think they’re a great deal. They were perfectly flat and have cut as expected for the past several months.

The only reason I didn’t buy the three-stone set was that I already had a coarse DMT.

View Mattg43's profile


27 posts in 1265 days

#2 posted 10-27-2018 01:43 AM

Axminster is a UK store, and while they ship to the US, with places like Rockler, Woodcraft, local shops, and Amazon, the deals may or may not be worth the hassle of international buying. With that said, I have bought many dollars worth of stuff from the UK for other hobbies, and have not ran into any problems.

Understand that I am new to hand tool woodworking too, this is just based on what I have found in my own research along the same lines as what you are facing. Im sure the experienced guys will chime in and correct my errors soon!

1. Pick a method and stay with it. Dont skip around or you will spend a ton of $$ chasing the same edge.
2. Many seem to agree that 1000grit on diamond and a polish is all you need in most cases. Not that they wont go for a more fine edge, but many dont push past that:

Paul Sellers goes to 1000 or 1200 on a diamond plate, then on to leather strop with compound.
Stumpy Nubs has a video on the Worksharp3000, and they do glass/sandpaper then MDF with compound.
Rob Crosman’s “minimalist” kit is a 300/1000 diamond stone then a water stone to “polish”, which would be similar to the others with compound.

Matt Estlea is, of course, similar.

Lots of other methods, and many like the Tormek, and other options.

I decided to start basic with an EZE Lap (from Paul Sellers list of good stones) and then recently grabbed a Woodcraft 400/1200 combo diamond stone for $40 for wider blades/irons, with the anticipation of going to a jig/block set up like Paul Sellers uses with 3 diamond plates across for a while. Ultra sharp, I believe, has the set of stones for about $140 on Amazon, seems like DMT will probably run around $180-200, but there are some negative reviews on some of their affordable diamond stones.

I may eventually go to soemthing like the worksharp in the future, but thus far with the diamond stones in the 1000 to 1200 range, followed by a strop and compound, I am able to make some pretty nice shavings on boards as I am learning to plane properly.

View Max™'s profile


139 posts in 1068 days

#3 posted 10-27-2018 01:49 AM

I’ve got no cash for stones but I’ve got a range of grits of sandpaper and gotten into a habit of taking pieces that weren’t cleaning wood as nicely and cycling them into my sharpening pile, I don’t even go through all of the “plate glass on wood, sprayed adhesive for full sheet sandpaper, angle guide” stuff, I’ve got a flat slab of igneous countertop (forget what I identified as being, it’s not the green pyroxenite stuff I was trying to knap though, as it’s almost solid black) and I just hold the paper across it with one hand and sharpen sideways across it, working through grits til I’m back to a shiny mirror polish after stropping.

Just gotta make sure to clean all the dust off your hands afterwards doing it this way, I rub them on a magnet I’ve got handy and then wash em down good. Using glass plates and adhesive backing would arguably be better but I never subscribed to the “x degree 1st microbevel, y degree 2nd microbevel, z degree main bevel, polished to 30,000 grit” school of thought, these aren’t straight razors, and I don’t shave anyways, why do I need a “hair-popping edge” on a woodworking tool?

-- One hand to hold the saw, one hand to guide it, one hand to brace the work and in the sawdust OW MY THUMB!

View waho6o9's profile


9037 posts in 3735 days

#4 posted 10-27-2018 02:02 AM

Atoma diamond plates

View Comey's profile


6 posts in 1006 days

#5 posted 10-27-2018 02:21 AM

I have Diamond stones of 300 600 1000 4000 8000. Yes I spent roughly $350 but I wanted 3” wide to sharpen my joiner plane blade
I will never have to buy another stone in my life.
I do think you could get away with the 3 plate kit, but with that said I do LOVE my diamond plates, dead flat every time, fast cutting and all I use is soapy water in a spray bottle to lube the plate.

View lumbering_on's profile


578 posts in 1648 days

#6 posted 10-27-2018 02:22 AM

Stumpy has a great video on what to look for in diamond stones. He says it a lot better than I could.

Spoiler, you basically get what you pay for.

View Spikes's profile


125 posts in 1204 days

#7 posted 10-27-2018 04:36 AM

thanks all, good to see some thumbs up for the UltraSharp kit. I thought the Ez-lap were going to be far too expensive, and they are a little bit more pricey than the UltraSharp, but not as bad as the DMT kits. That said I admit having no money and no stones for now I’m kind of tempted to try out with sandpaper, if nothing I’ll appreciate the diamond stones even more.

@Max what’s your sandpaper sharpening grit progression?

anybody else using or that has used sandpaper willing to chime in?

@lumberin_on, I had seen that video before, in fact that’s the one that made me decide for diamond stones. The thing is, while it’s true that you get to pay for, what’s unclear to a newbie like me is what I need. I’m far from doing fine woodworking and short on cash so is it really worth spending the extra dough on “better stones” or would I be better off investing that money on something else? this is similar to the underlying question about combination squares (and I appreciated the contextual answers there).



-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

View Max™'s profile


139 posts in 1068 days

#8 posted 10-27-2018 05:04 AM

I usually only grab the 60 or 100 grit with a brand new tool unless I ding an edge badly, skipping to the 150 > 220 > 320 > 400 > 600 > 800 >1200 > 1500 > 2000 > 2500 > 3000 so I spend more time getting the paper sorted and in place than I do actually stroking edges across it, but smaller steps make the paper last longer/made it easier for me to identify when I’m ready to move to the next grit.

I like to get several tools I’ve been using together and go through a cycle of tools per grit unless I just happen to notice one I need now is feeling/looking rough or I ping it against a nail/screw I didn’t notice somehow.

Biggest thing I noticed using paper is that I needed to stop sharpening in the cutting direction because it shreds it no matter what you do, while sideways strokes are controllable and much easier on whatever you’re sharpening with.

-- One hand to hold the saw, one hand to guide it, one hand to brace the work and in the sawdust OW MY THUMB!

View waho6o9's profile


9037 posts in 3735 days

#9 posted 10-27-2018 05:15 AM

I use PSA paper once in a while just for fun.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4667 posts in 2653 days

#10 posted 10-27-2018 11:07 AM

+1 you get what you pay for when it comes to diamond plates.
Best quality diamond plates cost more. Sorry, but $100 budget will gain you ONE quality diamond plate if you need to sharpen wide plane blades?

If you are beginner and have read WWW debate on sharpening, then hope you learned one thing:
ALL of the sharpening methods work (sand paper, stones, diamond plates, or power grinders).
Please ignore the WWW posts of folks who tried something once or twice, and proclaim it doesn’t work. Making something sharp is not ‘easy’, until you learn what sharp really means, and how to make it happen with a given set of tools. :)

If you have never sharpened an edge by hand, then save your money, and use sand paper (Ask google about ‘scary sharp’ method) for now while learn how to sharpen an edge. It is cheapest way to start. Then once you learn grits/edge quality/sharpness; go spend your hard earned money on sharpening process that will best simplify and reduce your sharpening time.

IMHO – They key to sharpening wood working tools learning the Pros/Cons for different methods and using this knowledge to help you select what fits your wood working style in shop. The best method is not same for everyone, as we each work wood differently, work in different facilities, and use tools with different grades of tool steel.

FWIW – I’ve tried all methods, and spent a lot of money trying to find the one I liked best. My preference for hand sharpening chisels & plane blades is water stones for big one reason. The feedback or ‘feel’ of sharpening on quality water stones tells me exactly how well my sharpening efforts are going. Diamond plates simply do not provide the same precision feedback on quality of edge as I rub metal across the surface. I have King, Norton, Shapton, and Sigma water stones. My go to stones are Sigma Power stones recommended by _ToolsfromJapan. If you choose to buy from TFJ, note delivery was fairly slow last time I ordered, but Stuart runs an honorable one man business and have had several successful transactions with him in past.
If you want some cheap water stones to start out; pick up a King 1000/6000 combo stone and learn how to use it. Not best, is too narrow for big plane blades, but it works and is cheap way to learn if you like how water stones work. Also make sure you read FWW review article on water stones to help you learn some key differences between different types of stones.

Best Luck on your wood working sharpening journey. :)

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Robert's profile


4639 posts in 2639 days

#11 posted 10-27-2018 01:15 PM

I use a combination of diamond and water. Diamond for coarse, water for fine.

IME even the most fine diamond stone will not hone like 8000 or greater water stone.

Diamonds plates are (supposed) to be dead flat, so I prefer them for flattening and re-establishing an edge.

I use a 300 grit diamond plate to keep my waterstones flat.

If you want to try a diamond plate very economically try one of these. The look identical to a Trend. I purchased one and have used it a little. My over all impression is the grit is a little coarser than they indicate but it is a very useable stone.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View MrRon's profile


6091 posts in 4402 days

#12 posted 10-27-2018 01:56 PM

Water should be used on diamond plates and water stones when sharpening. The purpose of sharpening with water, regardless of material is to wash away metal particles. Diamond plates when used dry will clog and that will lessen it’s sharpening power. Diamond was originally meant to sharpen super hard materials, like carbide and HSS. Ordinary steel used in plane irons and chisels is soft and will clog a stone, any stone unless used wet. Diamond plates are great as a “touch up” after regular sharpening. Diamond will remove a lot of material fast, sometimes too fast. I use diamond to sharpen my kitchen knives and I found that I was doing it all wrong. I was going at it too aggressively and wondering why my knife was not getting sharp. I finally realized, that I was getting a sharp edge with 2 or 3 strokes, but when doing additional strokes, I realized I was making the knife dull, by removing the original sharp edge.

View waho6o9's profile


9037 posts in 3735 days

#13 posted 10-27-2018 02:07 PM

After establishing the angle I use an Atoma 1200 diamond plate, 8000 water stone, and

a leather strop rubber cemented on the back of a DMT stone.

A light touch yields better results vs. bearing down on the plates and water stones.

BTW a Nagura stone is recommended for water stones 6K and higher. This produces a slurry and also
cleans the stone. YMMV. (Your mileage may vary). Some recommend different Nagura stones for different
Waterstones. Occam’s razor comes to mind.

Here’s a stropping set up for a chisel that took a while to get sharp by only stropping.
Inside was done with a dowel and leather strop.

View goochs's profile


62 posts in 2388 days

#14 posted 10-28-2018 12:51 PM

I use to do stone, sandpaper, film and leather but after numerous cut fingers and more knowledge my system NOW consists of.
2 sided stone in holder..

then finish up on leather with black compound THEN green compound.

If I have a real bad nicked or out of square blade or chisel I will start with 80grit sandpaper on glass until very close then switch to the stone.

If I want a really really really sharp and shiney blade like on my smooter then after the stone I move to lapping films and do about 10 passes on 3 differnt grits which will give me one heck of a sharp blade.
sheetkit 1

these are cut in 3inch widths and are put on glass. They have a sticky back.

Got a new blade yesterday, took 10minutes to make a 5degree bevel, polish and test in plane.

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2644 days

#15 posted 10-28-2018 11:43 PM

Atoma diamond plates

- waho6o9

I use one of these to flatten my shaptons.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

showing 1 through 15 of 17 replies

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