question about sharpening stones


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One thing, I don’t believe you mentioned exactly what you’re sharpening… Hard steels, soft, a mix, etc…

 

There’s no real arguing the Shapton products – they’re on everyone’s top-5 list for artificial waterstones available in North America…

 

The King stones are from the “let’s remove some metal, and not be too subtle about it” school of sharpening. The soft-clay binder is very rapidly traded for metal… If you look at the swarf while flattening the back of an iron, you’ll see it’s mostly red/brown on a King (mostly clay binder, low percentage of metal), but gray on a Naniwa (mostly metal and low percentage binder)… So the caveat would be if all your tools are tough metallurgies, the King may frustrate you… It’ll still work, just slowly… One of the reasons to still recommend the King is that you flatten the backs only once – so you get the King, use it like crazy for a couple weeks/months flattening all you kit, then rarely ever again (unless you need to refom an edge with a nick) – and of course, King’s inexpensive… Truth be told, the King (et al) are really for high-carbon steels and mostly sold into the chef market… The clay-matrix stones made their way into the woodshop when steels were much softer… BTW: I know folks fell PMV-11 and A2 are the bees knees, but O1 is still a great metalurgy and deserves a hard consideration... It's not the simple pro/con that most woodworkers think... There a great deal of influence due to paid sponsorships and mag adverts...

 

If up-front cost becomes an issue, the money should be invested on the mid-grit edge-former and polishing stone rather than the metal-remover… As much as I dislike SS, I could see trading the King for a couple sheets of lapping film to flatten backs, then never again…

 

If you’re using O/W steels, then the Norton should serve you just fine… But if you’re planning to get a bunch of PMV-11 and D2 kit, then I’d take the money from the King, get some lapping film and get something like the Chosera 2K, Sigma, etc for your edge former… The budget would be about the same, but you wouldn’t get frustrated with the lower-speed of the Norton…

 

One thing, I just got an eMail from LN announcing their 2015 road-show schedule… It may be worth your while to attend on their swing through Oregon… There’s nothing like some hands-on instruction and those guys will have a different take on the issues…

 

One other thing, we haven’t talked guides… Are you planning to use a guide or go freehand? Unless you sharpen a lot, I would recommend some sort of guide/jig/whatever… You can get something for $10-$15 that’ll serve you well…

 

One other thing... Traditionally, folks stored their clay-matrix stones in a bucket of water with a tsp of bleach… Can’t do that with modern stones – the binder will break-down if you store them submerged.

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I'm going to be getting a couple combination waterstones at least as a starter set for sharpening, I am a bit tired of using sandpaper.  I've looked at the Norton "starter set" for about $138 but I di

I use the cheap $45 or so combo stone from woodcraft, and a regular dmt coarse stone for flattening. And I use a vertias honing jig. Never had a problem. I've thought about upgrading, but there isn'

The only way I've seen to even come close to beating TfJ prices on the high end stones, is to have a friend that's going through Osaka anyway.  TfJ prices look to be 20 to 25% cheaper than anywhere el

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I have a honing guide, basically one like this http://www.sharpeningsupplies.com/Honing-Guide-P4.aspx?gclid=Cj0KEQiAzvmkBRCm3ZbV-4-hwrYBEiQAgLOw69YhGS4bV6IIE1ncjYtus6_Jehm2OcyGS5N0kQ1mK38aArHN8P8HAQ

I have a set of narex chisels, a couple other misc chisels, and 2 vintage handplanes, I do not think the steel is terribly hard.  I do plan on getting a new LA jack which will have plane irons made of very hard steel but I do not have that yet.  My plan for the moment is to start with 2 stones and the granite plate, and wait on the shapton or whatever I decide for a high grit stone.  

 

truly the hardness issue is pretty close to greek to me to be honest...  I may opt for a 1k and a 4k norton and use the granite plate with lapping film as you suggested... that seems like a pretty good compromise for the moment.  I do have about $200 to spend but there are a couple other things I'd like to get so.. heh.

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==>the hardness issue is pretty close to greek to me

Yea, the term ‘hardness’ isn’t exactly clear when discussing artificial waterstones. Unfortunately, ‘hardness’ has more to do with a stone’s tendency to ‘dish’. Loosely speaking: a stone that resists dishing is ‘hard’ and one that dishes easily is ‘soft’…  What’s worse, ‘hardness’ is used differently when discussing Natural Japanese Waterstones (J-Nats)*1, but that’s out of scope.

 

 

To develop a good edge, you need a flat stone. As you remove metal to develop the edge, you are also removing matrix from the stone. As you remove matrix, the stone comes out of flat – it becomes ‘dished’.  If you trade a lot of matrix for not much steel, it’s a ‘soft’ stone, will disk quickly and need frequent flattening…

 

In a worst-case scenario, you sharpen a tool with a tough metallurgy (ex D2) with a stone that cuts slowly and loses matrix quickly – you’ll end-up spending way too much time flattening the stone. That's why I asked what you sharpen... The Norton isn't all that soft, but it's not all that hard either... If all your tools were D2, then I'd have suggested something harder...

 

Early stones imported to the West worked well for the steels in use at the time -- you just had to flatten the stone as you changed tools – not so bad... As woodworkers adopted harder/tougher steels, it became common to flatten a stone repeatedly for each tool sharpened… A real pain in the ass…

 

For most stones, the hardness is a function of the binder… Clay binder = soft stone. Ceramic binder = hard stone*2. So all things being equal, hard stone will last longer and require fewer workflow interruptions for flattening…

 

And then we introduce cutting speed to the mix… That's a function of abrasive, binder and mfg process --- and a post for another day...

 

*1Note: TK brought up an interesting point, with experience (and good stones) you don’t need to check for a wire edge – you simply know by the feel of the tool as it moves over the stone (Zen in the Art of Sharpening)… This feedback is a hallmark of good artificial stones and the other use of the term ‘hardness’. You’ll see terms like ‘hard’ and ‘buttery’ in discussions of artificial stones as they relate to J-Nats. I only mention it because some tracts will use the term interchangeably and cause confusion… As a side note, the Chosera 10K was developed for the sword making crowd specifically to emulate the ‘feel’ of a J-Nat… The 10K uses a diferent mfg process and abrasive matrix from the rest of the line and was never intended for tool use... It’s a very ‘hard’ stone with a ‘buttery’ feel – confusing, no? But they achieved their goal, it does feel like a natural stone... But for the price, it should come with a helper to sharpen your tools for you.. :)

 

 

*2Note: A general rule and way over simplified – there are hard clay stones and soft ceramics…

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I really appreciate all the responses, a lot of good information here.

at minimum I think I'm gonna go pick this up today, woodcraft sale starts now http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/144838/Granite-Surface-Plate-9-x-12-x-2-A-Grade.aspx

I will probably do what 3H suggested and get a King 800, Norton 4k and Shapton 8k, it fits my budget.  with the granite plate I should be able to maintain well enough and I can use 220 paper on the plate if I need anything rougher than 800, which SHOULD be rare.  

great thread though.

I thought it was about time for those to go on sale again.  I have a couple of them.  One I cut up into pieces, so I could put Diamond Lapping Film on individual pieces.  The Diamond Lapping Film makes a wonderful final polish, but the film is pretty fragile, and you can only pull an edge backwards on it, or the sharp edge will cut right down into it.  I used to keep all four grits on the one plate, but it was a bit aggravating to have to handle to turn around.  I like having the weight of the granite, and the amount the thickness raises it above the working surface.  The individual pieces are still plenty heavy enough, and still the same height.  I cut it wilth the wet cutting brick and tile saw.

 

I used to use the Diamond Lapping Film a lot, but it evolved to just getting called on for show pieces, or things I give as gifts.  If I want to polish the whole back of a chisel so that you can see yourself in it, the lapping film gets the call for final polish.

 

For jobsite use, I have a plastic tray made to go under a dish draining bin.  I got the sloped kind with the built-in fairly heavy ridges under it.  I just put it on the edge of an assembly table, with a Brute trashcan under it to catch the water. It helps a lot to use stones that don't have to be fully soaked, on this setup. The trashcan always has a plastic liner in it, and I don't worry about the trash in it getting wet.  In a shop, I have a counter and sink, and the drain goes through the wall, and empties in a bush outside the wall.

 

On stone hardness:  The harder the stone, the less feedback you get in feel.  The Shaptons are probably the hardest (well maybe the Syderco's) stones before you get to diamond.  I didn't like Shaptons that I tried, because they didn't give me any of the fell I'm used to.  It's a compromise between hardness, feel, and longevity between flattenings.  I don't mind flattening once in a while, if the stone gives me the tactile feedback I like, but I don't want one anymore that you have to flatten every time, or even very often.

 

We use planes a lot in the work I do.  I only own one, out of well over a hundred, of the new, high dollar planes.  The old planes work just fine for me, simply because I can get them really sharp.  Sharp makes up for all sorts of issues.

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went to woodcraft yesterday and had an interesting conversation with one of the guys there about King stones.  he told me that they carry the combo stones because they're popular but that they do tend to wear fairly quickly.  The only other king stone they have in the store is the 1200, and he told me that he has tested the 1200 and 800 a lot and finds little difference in the cutting ability or speed on most metals, but that the 1200 wears much slower (and lasts much longer), so they simply don't carry the 800 because he thinks it's superfluous (ppl can still order it of course).  He said they use the king 1200 and norton 4k in their hand tool classes.  outside of the shapton stones, he only stocks the king 1200, the norton 4k, norton 220, and a few combination stones from both brands.  he echoed what 3H said earlier about a higher quality 8k (or higher) putting a better mirror finish than the norton, and frankly the norton 8k is only about ten bucks cheaper than the shapton so the savings isn't all that great.  

 

they also have the spyderco ceramic stones that apparently don't need any lubrication, but I have not really heard anything about those so I passed, even though he said they work very well.  

 

anyway, bought a granite plate (that sucker is HEAVY), some 220 wet paper, the king 1200 and the norton 4k. I'm gonna sharpen a few things today so I will see very soon how much I like em.  I know I still need a finer grit stone for honing a mirror finish but I think what I have now will get me making shavings much better than what I was doing with SS (and up to 2k on sandpaper - though I do know that "grit varies" depending on a lot of things).  Thx again for all the responses,

 

and don't forget, NOBODY expects the spanish inquisition!

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I'm headed to Highland today, and am considering the Norton set with the container. I didn't want to spend that much initially, but it seems to be good value. I suppose if I wanted to stretch things out I could buy individually. I have 1000 grit paper that I could make do with a bit longer. Perhaps buy the 4000 today, 1000 next and 8000 in the future?

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Though I haven't used it yet I would also recommend getting a granite surface plate like the one on sale at woodcraft.  It weighs a ton and is dead flat, and because it's granite paper will adhere to it with just a little water, which is so much easier than using glass and spray adhesives.  plus just moving it takes serious oomph so it will provide a nice surface to work on.  

 

I frankly do not know if the grit values of paper matches the grit of the stones, I know that when you compare japanese vs domestic waterstones the grits are different, so I do not know if 1k grit paper is the same as a 1k norton.  that said, from what I've been able to discern, you need minimum two levels (preferably 3 and possibly 4 for really banged up blades) of 'grit' to hone a blade - one lower grit to cut/shape the steel and one higher grit to hone the edge to sharpness (and the higher grit to polish off the scratch marks and give that mirror finish), so I'd guess your idea is sound, using paper for shaping and the stone for honing, but better minds than mine may disagree...

 

for me, I'm going to use the granite and 220 for maintaining the stones and for tackling any nicks that may be on my blades, and perhaps any flattening I may need to do.  I'm also looking at a couple vintage planes that will very likely need some work so there's that too heh.  I will likely continue to use sandpaper if I have to work on a plane sole or something like that, and keep the stones for blade sharpening.

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went to woodcraft yesterday and had an interesting conversation with one of the guys there about King stones.  he told me that they carry the combo stones because they're popular but that they do tend to wear fairly quickly.  The only other king stone they have in the store is the 1200, and he told me that he has tested the 1200 and 800 a lot and finds little difference in the cutting ability or speed on most metals, but that the 1200 wears much slower (and lasts much longer), so they simply don't carry the 800 because he thinks it's superfluous (ppl can still order it of course).  He said they use the king 1200 and norton 4k in their hand tool classes.  outside of the shapton stones, he only stocks the king 1200, the norton 4k, norton 220, and a few combination stones from both brands.  he echoed what 3H said earlier about a higher quality 8k (or higher) putting a better mirror finish than the norton, and frankly the norton 8k is only about ten bucks cheaper than the shapton so the savings isn't all that great.  

 

they also have the spyderco ceramic stones that apparently don't need any lubrication, but I have not really heard anything about those so I passed, even though he said they work very well.  

 

anyway, bought a granite plate (that sucker is HEAVY), some 220 wet paper, the king 1200 and the norton 4k. I'm gonna sharpen a few things today so I will see very soon how much I like em.  I know I still need a finer grit stone for honing a mirror finish but I think what I have now will get me making shavings much better than what I was doing with SS (and up to 2k on sandpaper - though I do know that "grit varies" depending on a lot of things).  Thx again for all the responses,

 

and don't forget, NOBODY expects the spanish inquisition!

Mirror finish?????   What for? I have a mirror in the bathroom!   Sharp is what matters to me, not how good looking I am when I pick up my tools!

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==>I do not know if 1k grit paper is the same as a 1k norton

I did a write up on the various grit systems and their applicability to plane/chisel applications, but can’t find it… I suspect the settings for WTO have changed, because I can’t locate my posts that are more than about a year old… I’m not really inclined to recreate past work, so I’ll just leave a few brief comments:

 

 

The grit scale for sandpaper is different from waterstones. Sandpapers primarily use two different grit scales and artificial waterstones also use two different scales – these scales do not line up. Unfortunately, natural stones use a separate system altogether. To compare, you need to normalize to particle size (micron) – but this can also be misleading because some of the highest quality artificial stones use a blend of abrasive particles to mimic the feel/action/behaviour of natural stones…

 

==>see how happy I am with the 4k and who knows, could be just fine
Assuming the Norton you are working with is on the J scale, then J4000 would map to a mid-grit stone… For many operations, this is an AOK final grit – you don’t need an J8000 edge to pound mortises or other course-level operations around the bench… However, paring, end grain work, dovetailing, etc benefit from the finer edge – typically around J8000… You can go higher, but it becomes a point of diminishing returns. For chisels I strike with a mallet, I typically stop around J6000. For paring and dovetail chisels, around J8000. I’ve got one set of fine Japanese paring chisels that I polish on a J-Nat – which is a totally different animal…

 

==>I have a mirror in the bathroom!

This is the subject of a great deal of misinformation.  An edge ‘like a mirror’ doesn’t necessarily translate to ‘sharpness’ or how effective an edge cleaves wood fibers… Some excellent sharpening workflows do not leave a ‘mirror polish’. The reasons for this are out of scope… The goal is to develop an edge that cleaves wood fibers for the intended application. This edge may or may not be ‘polished’ or ‘mirror like’… What's more interesting, the edge may cleave wood fibers effectivly, but not be sharp -- the reasons are out of scope...

 

If you really want a deep-dive on sharpening, you can visit Ron Hock's sharpening blog: http://www.hocktools.com/sharpen.htm

If you want to go seriously off the deep-end, you can investigate the world of J-Nats: http://www.japanesenaturalstones.com/jns-wiki/.

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I have another question,

what role if any does a strop / chromium oxide play? I know paul sellers uses one.. i actually have one that I made by just gluing some leather to a piece of 2x4 but I have yet to use it.  Pretty sure the polishing compound that you use has some really fine abrasive but I do not know...

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=>what role if any does a strop / chromium oxide play
These are works of the evil one and shall play no part in your workflow -- ever...

 

Double bevel, turning and carving tools are a separate discussion… It's on this floor that one dances with the devil...

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