MarkN1975

Choosing waterstones

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Hi everyone.

I'm ready to invest in a sharpening system for my chisels and plane blades. I'm sure the answer to my question is that it's about personal preference but...

I want to know that if you're a professional woodworker and looking for the best water stone sharpening system to give you the sharpest possible blade... Which water stones would you buy?

I'm thinking, 250 grit, 1000 grit, 4000 grit and 8000 grit. But which ones, which manufacturer etc etc.

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Hi everyone.

I'm ready to invest in a sharpening system for my chisels and plane blades. I'm sure the answer to my question is that it's about personal preference but...

I want to know that if you're a professional woodworker and looking for the best water stone sharpening system to give you the sharpest possible blade... Which water stones would you buy?

I'm thinking, 250 grit, 1000 grit, 4000 grit and 8000 grit. But which ones, which manufacturer etc etc.

 

I have close to those exact grits from Norton in the dual stones -  one is 220/1000, the other is 4000/8000.  I think it cost me around $110, and was a good way to get started.  These stones are wide enough for the blade of my No. 8.  Your other investment should be a Veritas honing guide.  It will help get the most consistent results.

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When doing my research on stones, I found the Shaptons to hit that high quality to reasonable price ratio sweet spot.  "Reasonable" is obviously subjective.  Buying anything better than the Shaptons gets you in the world of crazy expensive stones, and IMO - for the average woodworker - beyond the point of diminishing returns...unless you find sharpening that interesting and you consider it a hobby in and of itself.  Some people do.  Be sure to buy from a reputable dealer so you don't end up with knockoffs.

 

I'm not all that knowledgeable about the technical differences...frankly, because I don't care.  I bought what I knew to be quality stones, learned to use them, and never looked back.  But there are differences, and the topic has been beaten to death on many forums including this one.  I would recommend gargling and reading the old threads.

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This is one of those questions that gets asked frequently and can be debated to death. Like Eric said, I truly believe Shaptons are the way to go. They aren't cheap but you get what you pay for and they will last you a LONG time. Watch Marc's video about his sharpening set up. I've been using the same set up for two years now and couldn't be happier with it. Shapton 1000, 5000, and 8000 grit ceramic stones. Bite the expensive bullet and give them a shot. You won't regret it!

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For what it's worth I did a class recently with Christopher Schwarz and Deneb Puchalski of Lie-Nielson than focused heavily on sharpening. Their setups were-

Schwarz: Shapton 1k, 4k, and 10k. Dia Flat plate for flattening.

Deneb: Ohishi 1k and 10k. No intermediate stone. Dia Flat for flattening.

Both used a grinder for work rougher than 1k. Schwarz used a cheap $15 side clamp honing guide. Deneb had a prototype guide that Lie-Nielson has been working on and will supposedly start selling later this year. Schwarz indicated that when the Lie- Nielsen guide came out he would probably switch to that.

As with so much in woodworking at a certain point you have a choice between lots of options that work and you just need to pick what you want to use and what will work best for you. Personally I recently ordered the sigma power 1k/6k/13k special set from tools from Japan. Seemed like a good deal when you include the flattening plate and stone holder. Haven't received it yet so I can't give any specific reviews.

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When doing my research on stones, I found the Shaptons to hit that high quality to reasonable price ratio sweet spot.  "Reasonable" is obviously subjective.  Buying anything better than the Shaptons gets you in the world of crazy expensive stones, and IMO - for the average woodworker - beyond the point of diminishing returns...unless you find sharpening that interesting and you consider it a hobby in and of itself.  Some people do.  Be sure to buy from a reputable dealer so you don't end up with knockoffs.

 

I'm not all that knowledgeable about the technical differences...frankly, because I don't care.  I bought what I knew to be quality stones, learned to use them, and never looked back.  But there are differences, and the topic has been beaten to death on many forums including this one.  I would recommend gargling and reading the old threads.

I have the Norton stones in 2k/4k and 1k/8k, but I wish I would have gotten the shapton stones. It's not that the water stones from norton are not good they work great, but I hate soaking them it's a PITA. Eric can correct me if I am wrong but I think the shapton stones just need to be spayed with water and their ready to go.

Yes if I had some sweet sharpening station with baby Koi swimming in a water fall fed pond I could just leave them in there soaking, but I don't have that maybe one day.

It just takes more time to soak the stone, and clean up after that is the only thing I would change.

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Sandpaper on a granite surface plate for initial shaping or reshaping a bevel. Then hone on waterstones 1000 & 4000 - finish off with a strop. My waterstones are permanently setup and all I know is they are Japanese. They work for me and didn't cost much.

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==>finish off with a strop

For double-bevel, sure... Do it all the time... For the experienced, OK... But, I'm not experienced, so I don't do it... For beginners, no --- it's far too easy for beginners to round-over single-bevel edges...

 

Beginners are much better-off with an 8K stone and side-clamping jig...

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I have the Norton stones in 2k/4k and 1k/8k, but I wish I would have gotten the shapton stones. It's not that the water stones from norton are not good they work great, but I hate soaking them it's a PITA. Eric can correct me if I am wrong but I think the shapton stones just need to be spayed with water and their ready to go.

Yes if I had some sweet sharpening station with baby Koi swimming in a water fall fed pond I could just leave them in there soaking, but I don't have that maybe one day.

It just takes more time to soak the stone, and clean up after that is the only thing I would change.

Correct, never soak your Shapton stones. Just spray them, and go. I rinse the swarf off as I go.

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I have a set of Norton waterstones. 200,1000,4000, and 8000. Used them for a couple years and was happy with them. You will get a mirror edge with them. Then I got a set of dmt plates for Xmas. Course, fine, xfine. I have not touched the waterstones since.

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I bought Shaptons, I have zero complaints. About 300 invested since I got a good deal on some of them from a guy, and some on Amazon. You might consider a DMT diaflat to keep the stones flat after use.

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It just takes more time to soak the stone, and clean up after that is the only thing I would change.

 

I leave mine in a tupperware bins with lids, soaking in the water.  The 220/1000 has enough water to completely immerse the stone, while the 4000/8000 has enough to keep the 4000 side immersed.   I have to remember to take them in when really cold weather hits, but I haven't had any problems with them otherwise.

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I bought Shaptons, I have zero complaints. About 300 invested since I got a good deal on some of them from a guy, and some on Amazon. You might consider a DMT diaflat to keep the stones flat after use.

I looked at the DMT diaflat but ended up going with a granite slab and some good quality wet/dry paper for flattening my stones. Just make sure you flatten after every sharpening session and it make fattening go really fast. Already had the paper so the granite plate was like $25 at Woodcraft and I was ready to go, but once the paper that I have runs out I will go to a DMT as it seems like less hassle than the granite and paper.

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I have one of each and multiples of some, and have owned all the others. I say do what Stobes did. 200 bucks and be done spending on sharpening stones.

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I have the Norton and a couple of Japanese waterstones.  They work well, but often need to be flattened and of course there is the soaking.  I bought a couple of diamond stones and find myself using these all the time.  Just so much easier to spritz with water and never need flattening.  If I had it to do over, I would just go with the Shaptons and be done with it.

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