Looking for some sharpening suggestions

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Forum topic by fas0latid0 posted 03-16-2012 09:30 AM 2511 views 1 time favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12 posts in 3284 days

03-16-2012 09:30 AM

Hi, I’m new to this forum and relatively new too woodworking, and have a few questions about sharpening hand tools. I recently bought a few things from Lee Valley, which include a set of 4 Narex bevel edge chisels, Veritas MKII honing guide, and some of their Micro-Finishing sandpaper, and possibly in the future a LA Jack from them.

Anyways, I’ve tried sharpening with the micro-finishing sandpaper from them, its amazing what that paper will do, I sharpened the chisels and it will go through softwood like butter, and give super fine shavings, almost what a plane will do.

I’ve applied the sheets cut in half to a 12×12 granite tile, with very thin two sided tape, I think it may be some sort of freezer tape, it is a nice setup, but its hard to not get bubbles underneath the paper, and if you put to much pressure on the finest grit(.5 micron) the edge will scrape the grit right off. I bought 5 pieces of each grit and will probably send the other 4 of each back.

I am considering buying some DMT diamond stones, since they will last forever, and don’t need to be flattened. I’ve seen there are two different types, the interrupted surface and continuous surface stones, and wondering what the benefit of each is? Also, I know I will not need every single grit but also know that the diamonds need to be broken in and wondering which are good ones to buy. I would want a coarse grit for lapping and establishing bevels, then maybe a medium grit, 600x, then a 1200x for the micro-bevel, and maybe a 8000x waterstone, or strop for final polishing. Basically I’m looking for some suggestions to point me in the right direction.

14 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

19890 posts in 3577 days

#1 posted 03-16-2012 01:51 PM

First read Dan’s review on DMT’s. I’ve made a few comments there as well. I bought the DiaSharp because I got a great deal on a used set from ebay. If I was buying new I’d go DuoSharp to get the holes.

I don’t like waterstones. My shop is unheated, so thats strike #1. #2 is the mess. I’d much rather use oil stones. But I’m not sure I understand your switching from DMT to waterstone for the final edge. I have a 3 micro and its perfect.

Find Paul Sellers video’s and watch. They will help as well.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View fas0latid0's profile


12 posts in 3284 days

#2 posted 03-16-2012 03:57 PM

Thanks for the reply, I read that review I know their great stones. I thought the 8000x waterstone might be a good idea since it would probably leave a better edge since the diamonds are rougher until you wear them in, but like you said its a hassle to work with them.

Would it be alright to say just skip the 8000x EEF diamond stone and just strop using DMT 1 micron paste? It would just mean I would have to sharpen longer to get the desired finish?

1 micron diapaste

View Don W's profile

Don W

19890 posts in 3577 days

#3 posted 03-16-2012 05:51 PM

That would work. Actually a strop with almost any compound would probably be ok.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 3371 days

#4 posted 03-16-2012 06:33 PM

No offense, but I think you’re way ahead of yourself. I’ve never used anything but oil stones and a piece of leather since I was a Boy Scout 60 years ago, and I can shave with any of my edges. (They’re also good on wood) Norton coarse, medium, and fine stones plus a hard ceramic are all that are necessary. Final swipes on an oiled piece of heavy leather completes the task. For knives, I end up on a linen and horsehide razor strop.
Now and then I’ll dress an edge on wet 600 grit silicon paper before the leather.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 3458 days

#5 posted 03-16-2012 10:50 PM

Ok, first issue, is the two-sided tape. Get rid of it. Use spray adhesive.
Also, you want to pull the bevel across the abrasive (cutting edge trailing), not push it across the abrasive (cutting edge leading).
3M makes some excellent self adhesive honing films ranging from something like 50 micron down to .3 micron. I have used them, and they are the best sheet type honing product I have found, beating sandpaper by a huge margin. Tools For Working Wood sells it=, and they even offer a “sample pack” with 1 of each grit. I recommend trying it before anything else, because at $15, it could well give you a very economical method of sharpening that does work very, very well.

As for stones, diamonds may last forever in a ring, they do not last forever when sharpening. Both my father and I have worn out numerous diamond stones over the years. And granted they do work good, they do not last as long as some other stones. For instance; I have my fathers Smih’s hard Arkansas stone he bought when he was 18, and he’s 52 now. The stone has a lot of life left still, and has been flattened several times.

I have several systems used to sharpen. I have oil stones, granite plate and abrasive paper, I have some diamond stones, water stones and a Grizzly 8” wet grinder (Tormek knock-off).

If you don’t want to get into waterstones for whatever reason, go oil stone. They are simple to use and maintain, only needing to be flattened once in great while, and not requiring any soaking, etc. Just oil and go. Just be sure to wipe off your tools and hands well after so as not to oil your workpiece (I’ve done that, it sucks).
Woodcraft sells a really nice 3 stone set that will cover all your needs, and it can be seen HERE.

The set includes a Washita for heavy honing and removal, a soft Arkansas as a medium grit, and a hard black Arkansas that will give you a polished razors edge. Black Arkansas stones are one of the best I have ever found for getting a super polished edge, no stropping needed.
I have this set, and it is of great quality.
You could also add some India stones and get even more versatility/range of grit.

Another option is Spyderco ceramic stones. I have never tried them, but one of the employees at my local Rockler (who is a very talented woodworker) uses them and tells me they are an excellent product.

There are other products like the Grizzly wet-grinder I have (cost $85), and while it works well and gives an excellent edge, it can be a pain to set-up while you are working and want to get back to work quickly. However, when doing the initial hone on a plane or chisel, it is an excellent tool. It is also good if you have time to sit down and sharpen all your tools at the beginning or end of the day, or if you don’t mind stopping for a few minutes to sharpen while you work.

There are a lot of options out there. Knowing the pro’s and cons will help you find what will work best for you.
But whatever you do, keep the granite tile and some 3M films on hand! It’s good to have a back-up system, and it’s great for things too wide for your stones.

Good luck. Any more questions about what I stated, feel free to ask.

-- Kenny

View fas0latid0's profile


12 posts in 3284 days

#6 posted 03-17-2012 03:20 AM

Man thanks for the in depth reply! I see where your coming from, my dad has a combination oil stone(he does specialized vintage auto restorations) but I’m not too sure of the grit/brand. I know the oil stones don’t work as fast as water stones, but I would probably only go to the stones for either lapping the back of a chisel/plane blade or regrinding a bevel, so I don’t know if speed would necessarily be a good thing, probably more chance to make a mistake, I would be using the LV honing guide though. What works best for flattening the oil stones just some sandpaper on granite? Also what brand diamond stones did you buy?

As for the 3M film I think I’m still going to send back the pieces that I bought from Lee Valley that I haven’t used yet, and get the stuff from TFWW, the PSA seems like it would be much easier too apply then using spray adhesive, and less messy. That film excels at getting the final finish very easily and never has to be flattened. I’m curious at how long it lasts though, and if you would recommend any sort of liquid to keep the paper from clogging, I remember reading somewhere that mineral oil works well.

Actually do you have or have used the 40 Micron paper from TFWW? That should be equivalent to around a 220 grit paper/stone, and could be used for quick lapping or bevel grinding I’m assuming?

View Farkled's profile


28 posts in 3326 days

#7 posted 03-17-2012 07:33 AM

All sharpening/honing involves rubbing steel on an abrasive. What you need to do is to figure what kind of abrasive you like and then stick to it. Almost nobody does this – some other method always entices. I have some thoughts.

DMT stones: I would stick with the dia-sharp (continuous surface.) The plates have a reputation for staying flat which the other do not. I have DMT stones in 400, 600 and 1200 grits. I try to use power for these grits (WS3000 system) but this is what I have for hand work. The 8000 grit stone is apparently closer to 6 micron rather than the 3 or so of other 8000 grit stones – so not as good a final polish.

Most all the “experts” do their work on stones. Most on water stones and some on oil. The rest use diamond paste on various substrates.

So, pick one system and become very good with that before you try the next one. If you ever find one that really makes you happy, stick with it.

View waho6o9's profile


8997 posts in 3587 days

#8 posted 03-17-2012 04:43 PM

mdf + green honing paste = sharp and works well

or pricey like Tormex

or PSA which is also great

or stones which rock as well

+1 for Kenny’s great explanation and references.

View fas0latid0's profile


12 posts in 3284 days

#9 posted 03-17-2012 05:44 PM


If I were to get one DMT stone for stone flattening/bevel grinding/lapping which would you recommend?

View fas0latid0's profile


12 posts in 3284 days

#10 posted 03-19-2012 07:44 PM

I’m going to be making a purchase from Tools For Working Wood and would like to know how much use you get out of the 3M micro abrasive paper. I would only be getting the 3 smallest grits.

View thebenchdogs's profile


9 posts in 3276 days

#11 posted 03-20-2012 01:19 PM

I find the waterstones work best for me. I have a 800x, 1200x and 8000x, and they do a fantastic job. Yes, they are a little messy, but we should be used to getting are hands dirty. Just my $.02. Good luck, and beware of all the fancy gadgets out there. Most of the time you can do find with the basic setup. Furniture made in the 1800s is still a classic today, and there was no LV or Woodcraft around back then.

-- Scott

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 3893 days

#12 posted 03-20-2012 01:53 PM

There are so many different methods of sharpening, as you can probably tell from the varied responses here. As long as the end point is a sharp edge, it doesn’t really matter what method you use. You’ll probably find that the simpler the method, the more often you’ll sharpen. Personally, I use the “scary sharp” method with cheap hardware store sandpaper up to 2000 grit and then a 4000 and 8000 grit waterstone. A bit messy but works for me.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Marlow's profile


207 posts in 3681 days

#13 posted 03-21-2012 10:52 PM

Tools for WW and Lee Valley both sell PSA backed micro-finishing film: I’ve been using it for years with good results, much better than the stuff you have to glue down. I generally have no problem with the blade cutting the film, edge leading or trailing, until I get to the 1 or .5 micron paper, then its trailing only. I’ve been enticed a few times to switch to some other system, but I know this system, and it works, so I stick with it. For lapping the backs and re-establishing the bevels, you will probably want to get some coarser grits (than the “3 smallest grits” you mention above).

View fas0latid0's profile


12 posts in 3284 days

#14 posted 03-22-2012 01:04 AM

Lee Valley sells only the bottom three grits, plus they are more expensive then TTFWW. The film is really great from the couple times I’ve used it, it’s a lot less messy then the other alternatives. For lapping and re-establishing bevels I may just get a Coarse and Fine DMT stone down the road.

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