Sick of Waterstones


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[*]Mess. I don't know how you folks who use water stones can say that oil stones are messy, but my experience with water stones is that they are way messier than oil stones. Just look at the pictures of Wilbur's sharpening bench (sorry Wilbur :)).

Bob is just jealous that I have the space for a dedicated sharpening table in my oh-so palatial workshop. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Bob is just jealous that I have the space for a dedicated sharpening table in my oh-so palatial workshop. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Wilbur. Where did you get your flattening stone? I just usually use another stone. Works, maybe not ideal for the long term wear. I saw one that was really expensive and didn't see the added value.

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Wilbur. Where did you get your flattening stone? I just usually use another stone. Works, maybe not ideal for the long term wear. I saw one that was really expensive and didn't see the added value.

The Atoma 400 grit diamond plate is available at Hida Tool. It's $110, which may or may not be in your price range. The Atoma diamond plates are also available from Tools From Japan for about $85, once you convert from the yen to the dollar. Clearly cheaper than Hida Tool, but you have to wait for it to get shipped from Japan (not really that long of a wait), and this option wasn't available when I got mine.

It has major one difference compared to the DMT diamond stones. There are little mini grooves across the surface that allows the slurry to wash out easily and makes flattening a breeze. If you use it for sharpening, which I do as well, the grooves give the swarf a place to go, so it keeps cutting faster compared to the DMT, which I've found tends to clog with swarf as you use it, and the swarf can be difficult to get out.

For me, it's something that I use almost every time I go into my shop, and it performs better than the other options, so it was worth the price. I see the same sort of added value that you would get from getting a Lie-Nielsen plane instead of fixing up a flea market Stanley.

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The Atoma 400 grit diamond plate is available at Hida Tool. It's $110, which may or may not be in your price range. The Atoma diamond plates are also available from Tools From Japan for about $85, once you convert from the yen to the dollar. Clearly cheaper than Hida Tool, but you have to wait for it to get shipped from Japan (not really that long of a wait), and this option wasn't available when I got mine.

It has major one difference compared to the DMT diamond stones. There are little mini grooves across the surface that allows the slurry to wash out easily and makes flattening a breeze. If you use it for sharpening, which I do as well, the grooves give the swarf a place to go, so it keeps cutting faster compared to the DMT, which I've found tends to clog with swarf as you use it, and the swarf can be difficult to get out.

For me, it's something that I use almost every time I go into my shop, and it performs better than the other options, so it was worth the price. I see the same sort of added value that you would get from getting a Lie-Nielsen plane instead of fixing up a flea market Stanley.

Cool..thanks for the recommendation, Wilbur!

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Anyone mind getting a little technical?

I've always heard that you can't flatten one surface using another one

(you need 3) -- and was wondering if someone wouldn't mind doing a little

experiment for us?

Use your diamond plates to flatten two stones.

Take those two stones and place them flat-face to flat-face.

See if they agree with eachother.

By all counts those stones should be convex.. so I'd expect one to find

a belly in the middle.

Anyone care trying?

In the grand scheme of things I'm sure it doesn't matter -- but I'm quite

curious. I use sandpaper on glass myself.. and although I could try it,

the diamond plate (run freehand) should accentuate the effect.

-Tony

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I'm not a water stone user, but I endorse all of Bob's observations about the ease and utility of oil stones, especially this:

[*]Speed. Sorry, but the speed of waterstones over oil stones is over exagerated if you hollow grind (I do). I takes me just a minute or two to renew a cutting edge that is properly hollow ground. Start at fine India stone to raise a small burr, move to surgical black Arkansas stone to chase the burr, strop to polish. Wipe the tool off and get back to work.

uickly get the edge sharp enough for the tool to do it's job, and get back to what's important...the woodworking.

Just what are people doing with their sharpening regimens that makes this water stone speed rationale into some sort of oft-repeated conventional wisdom zombie that just won't die? It seems to me that once you have your basic shape, and you've created a burr, it's a really simple matter to step up the grits to polish the bevel and chase the burr--regardless of the sharpening medium. I find that more intermediate steps between grits makes for a quicker sharpening session, rather than whether it's water stones or oil stones. For example, it is technically possible to sharpen something by dragging it on cement, then polishing it with a strop. You'll be at it a v-e-r-y l-o-n-g t-i-m-e . . . . But, if you get your basic shape on cement, raise a burr on some extra coarse sand paper, and refine the bevel and chase that burr up a progression of finer and finer stones up to a strop, you'll be investing far fewer strokes, far less time. Once you get your tools razor sharp, and if you keep them sharp with the strop, it's a long, long time before you ever have to invest that same amount of time to go through all that again.

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Anyone mind getting a little technical?

I've always heard that you can't flatten one surface using another one

(you need 3) -- and was wondering if someone wouldn't mind doing a little

experiment for us?

Use your diamond plates to flatten two stones.

Take those two stones and place them flat-face to flat-face.

See if they agree with eachother.

By all counts those stones should be convex.. so I'd expect one to find

a belly in the middle.

Anyone care trying?

In the grand scheme of things I'm sure it doesn't matter -- but I'm quite

curious. I use sandpaper on glass myself.. and although I could try it,

the diamond plate (run freehand) should accentuate the effect.

What you are saying about needing three surfaces to flatten each other is true since the surfaces will abrade each other, but if you have two surfaces, and one of them is considerably more resistant to abrasion (diamond plate) compared to the other (waterstone), the effect of the waterstone on the diamond plate will be small enough so that you can ignore it.

I think this would be more of an issue if you are rubbing two waterstones against each other to flatten them, since they will be much closer in terms of their abrasion resistance.

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  • 9 months later...

Vic - I found it to be a serious problem using one stone (the Norton "flattening" stone) to flatten another stone (a norton water stone be it 220, 1000, 4000 or 8000). The "flattening" stone went out of flat very quickly - which I never realized for months. Finally checked and WOW - it wasn't flat and therefore my stones weren't flat. I finally invested in the new $200 DMT Dia-Flat and love it.

Of course, I'm going to now be switching to oilstones for all the reasons that Bob wrote above. Mostly I hate water in the shop and the oil will be way less mess (I know others have different experiences but that's going to be the case for me ;)

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Vic - I found it to be a serious problem using one stone (the Norton "flattening" stone) to flatten another stone (a norton water stone be it 220, 1000, 4000 or 8000). The "flattening" stone went out of flat very quickly - which I never realized for months. Finally checked and WOW - it wasn't flat and therefore my stones weren't flat. I finally invested in the new $200 DMT Dia-Flat and love it.

Of course, I'm going to now be switching to oilstones for all the reasons that Bob wrote above. Mostly I hate water in the shop and the oil will be way less mess (I know others have different experiences but that's going to be the case for me ;)

Morton, I ended up buying the DMT Duo Sharp Coarse/Medium (Black/Blue) diamond stone. I use that to keep the Norton Flattening stone flat. After a couple times flattening it, it seems to have stayed flat for quite a while. Thanks for the heads up on the DMT! I don't use it directly on the stones, because of the suction it creates. The Norton works faster and very well, as long as I keep it flat.

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Yeah - heard about that (suction) problem with the Duo Sharp. The Dia-Flat doesn't have that problem so I use it directly and it rocks. Still, switching to oil stones soon ;) Heh. Actually, just 1-2 oil stones + grinder for re-establish bevels or fix a chipped edge. And may still use water stones for quickly bringing back to sharp and then do just maintenance (hopefully 90% of what I need) on the fine oilstone.

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+1 on the Dia-Flat... I tried one in person and was sold. I used to use a DMT C/XC plate, and I know the suction! The Dia-Flat does not do this. I'm not exactly sure why. For ha-ha's, I followed the DF's instruction of flattening under running water with the C/XC... The C/XC still created a suction. I would have liked to try the flattening plate Wilbur mentions, but I hadn't heard of it until after I purchased the DiaFlat.

I also hollow grind, then use only a few strokes on a 1000 / 4000 / 8000 to finish. Rarely do I need more than a total of 25 strokes after grinding. I'll touch chisels and my marking knife up freehand on the 8000, and the tools go for ages without a full resharpening. Most of my chisels are easily sharpened freehand after hollow grinding, but I find a guide useful on the narrow edges of plane irons.

Making jigs to quickly set grinder tool rests and sharpening guide extension is well worth the time.

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One other suggestion that I haven't seen mentioned...

Hand skills, including sharpening, require muscle memory of the correct method. This is no different than swinging a golf club or baseball bat, or playing a musical instrument. You can watch as many DVD's and online clinics as you want, but sometimes, you really need someone to move your hands into the correct position and guide you through the motions, and it all clicks!

Before buying any more stuff, if possible try one of the following...

- See if a local person can teach you the motions. Not just show you, let you do it.

- Attend a LN Tool Event, and ask them to show you, then let you try. (I've seen this happen often)

- See if you can attend a 1/2 or one day class.

I used to have a mental block with accurate hand sawing. I read everything I could find, watched many videos, got a lot of forum advice... What finally did it was a train trip to Tools for Working Wood in Brooklyn, NY. Joel Moskowitcz put a saw in my hand, adjusted my feet, hips, shoulders, and head, and pushed my arm. Once he did this, it was kind of like "that's it, that's all there is to it?" :D

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My thoughts are simply my preferences, derived from my life experiences: i'm a terrible, natural sharpener!!! So about six years ago, after outfitting for scary sharp, slow speed grinding, and diamond stones (DMT), I bought a Tormek--best investment in my woodworking and woodturning hobby, ever!!!! Oh,that's strictly for ME.

Fast forward the last five years. I've finally learned how to freehand (look Ma, no jigs). I've learned what sharp is (Tormek), what slow is (Tormek), and what repeatable is (and, Tormek). The problem had become six years of accumulation of tools for which I had only seriously sharpened one side--the bevel side. The Tormek excels at sharpening the bevel side, but it sucks for blade backs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, I bought a set of used Nortons (combos with flattening stone--seriously, someone should rename that dog). And they worked--well, all but the 220 and the flattening plate. And I discovered that the Tormek wasn't necessarily the end-all for serious sharpening. Having had and used Ark oil stones (small ones) all my life, I bought some quality, larger-sized soft, black, and translucent stones; I love them. The Nortons were faster to use but messier to use. That's when I started researching what all YOU gurus had to say about ceramic stones (thought I was definitely buying Shapton stones). Eventually I took a chance on the Sigmas (not select IIs) that Stu sells; and, boy, has that transformed my sharpening. Being jigless, I love to sharpen now. I still use my grinder (on beaters) and my Tormek (for regrinding all bevels); but, Japanese ceramics are what make sharpening fun and doable for me. And, it's really a pins vs. tails first debate. Keep at it until "something" works well for you.

Now that I'm working back through my tool blade backs, my blades are seriously better for woodworking. Just wanted to encourage those of you who haven't yet discovered the zone. Keep at it.

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