Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sharpening Stone Question

I'm about to purchase my first sharpening system (non electron power equipment of course) and need some advise. I've done a bit a searching for different stones/brands and have narrowed it down to a couple different brands. I'll just lay them all out, then go from there.

Shapton Pro Ceramics (1000, 5000, 8000) = $272ish
Sigma Power Select II (1000, 3000, 10000) = $240ish
Bester/Imanishi Ceramic (1000, 4000, 8000) = $186ish

Shapton's are highly recommended from several woodworkers/bloggers that I follow, but the price is what's holding me back from jumping on the bandwagon.

Sigma Power Select II, I've heard these are great stones that cut amazingly fast but wear pretty quickly because of they cut so quickly. I'm kinda leaning away from this type because of that fact.

Bester/Imanishi is carried by a couple different suppliers I am familiar with, but I don't personally know of any in the "wild", so to speak. Does anyone reading this have any or know anyone who does? According to the write-ups provided by the suppliers, they cut quite fast (much faster then Norton & other commonly available water stones). Bester/Imanishi Ceramics are also said to have equally high wear-resistance, very similar to stones that are much harder. This seems to be a good middle ground in many regards, cutting speed, wear-resistance, & price point.

Sigma and Bester both have a courser stone (240 @ $55ish / 700 @ $45ish respectfully). I really would like to get one or the other of these someday soon, because I know that I will have to re-establish a bevel angle, correct a chipped edge and/or fix a dropped blade someday.

Jumping to the crazy end of the finish scale, I also would  like to getting 1 or 2 polishing stones (in the distant future). Shapton makes Glass Stones that look really nice (but again I don't know of any in the "wild". Do you?). The grits I would probably get are 16,000 @ $130ish and/or the 30,000 @ $360ish.

As for stone flattening I am still on the fence between getting the Atoma Diamond Plate 400 for $100ish or the  DMT DiaSharp 220 stone for $92. I know a couple folks who have the Atome and swear by it. On the other hand, I don't know anyone with the DMT DiaSharp Stone. Because of the similar price and the fact that both seem to be really high quality, I can't really make up my mind.

One product line that I will not be buying into is the Diamond Bench Stones (you know, the ones with the yellow plastic substrate). I've actually used these before, but I don't have the best of memories of those. I'm not sure how old they were or how they were kept or stored, but they were NOT flat. I'm sure they were fine when they were first purchased. I just don't want to invest a very large chunk of money into products that can/will warp or twist over time.

**So, have you had an experience any of these brands or specific items, PLEASE let me know as soon as possible. I'm planning on making purchases early next month (Feb 2013).**

If I go with the least expensive set, the total for this group of purchases will be $278ish before tax & shipping. If I were to get the most expensive options of everything that I current want to get, the total would be $917ish. DANG! that's a lot of money.

Oh yeah, the suppliers that I'm looking at right now are:


  1. Not to add fuel to the fire, but I have this set, plus an Atoma 400:

    They're fantastic and come with the Atoma 400 plate, for a price slightly lower than the shaptons.

    Plus you get a shipment from Japan.

    1. Sorry, meant to say I have that set WITH an atoma 400. It comes with.

      Also, the Atoma is great for flattening stones because of the space it has for the slurry. All of the DMT variants I've tried do not and get nailed by crazy suction when a finer stone gets flat. I have not tried the Dia-Flat though, supposedly it works better.

      Wilbur Pan also just wrote some things up over at

    2. Thanks Ben. The Atoma 400 is pretty attractive because of the space for the slury. I'm constantly watching Wilbur's blog and often refer back to it when looking various things up. He's the one that 1st introduced me to the Atoma. I'll be sure to check out that link.
      Thanks again

    3. Adam, I started out using sandpaper on glass. It's very inexpensive and effective. After I attended Lonnie Bird's school, I switched over to hollow grinding and Norton waterstones. Much more expensive, but it's easier to get a fresh edge and keep it. There are a billion ways to sharpen and all of the stones you mention will do the job well. Time to pick a team and play!

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  3. I have this Shapton Glass set:

    I very much love them! I use a DMT Course Dia-Sharp to flatten them but as soon as I can, I will be upgrading to the Shapton Lapping Plate because of how fast and flat it is.

  4. Adam,
    I actually use the Veritas Power sharpening system. That said, I've heard that the Shaptons, though expensive are well worth their cost and a good value over their lifespan.

  5. I have the three Shapton stones that you mentioned and I use the coarse Dia-sharp for flattening. I use the Veritas MK-II as my guide. I just used them yesterday on a brand new set of WoodRiver chisels. I love the set. I have about $370 in the stones and Dia-sharp. You are more than welcome to come over and check them out for yourself. I did the sandpaper on glass (actually still have that set up too if you want to try it) and I had no problems with that set up either. I only upgraded because I was able to afford it and flattening the stones is a little easier than changing sandpaper.

  6. I can be your Bester user in the wild. I use a 2000 Bester and an 8000 Kitayama....if I need to take off more material than is practical with the 2000, I go to the grinder. And yes, I constantly cool it so it doesn't lose the temper.....but it's VERY rare I'm not just touching something up with the previous two stones. I use the DMT WM8CX 8-Inch DuoSharpplus Coarse/Extra-Coarse diamond stone to flatten. It was $64 from Amazon. I'm happy with them and the edge they give me, but I haven't tried others to say if I'm really missing out.

    If you can, order from Hida and support my local Japanese woodworking store. :)

  7. Adam - I use a combination of Norton water stones and DMT diamond plates for plane irons, chisels, spoke shave irons, drawknives, etc. I have the Veritas Mark something or other but really don't use it. Maybe I ought to sell that also. I also use the diamond plate (coarse) to flatten the water stones and I use a slow speed grinder to camber plane irons prior to honing.

    For turning tools I mostly use the slow speed grinder but I am about to experiment ala Peter Galbert, with honing these tools on water stones and diamond cones. I hope this helps rather than confuses. Stop by the blog sometime

  8. HI Adam,

    I think that any of the stones you are looking at can probably get you good results. If there is a way to try them first, do that and buy your favorite. Avoid spending money based on someone else's recommendation. Everyone gets results a little different due to their own technique.

    I would say to get the biggest stones you can afford, and also you can probably get by at first (as in the next 10-20 years) with a single combination stone. I like the Norton 1000/8000 stone. Plus your favorite way to keep it flat.

    I have a bit more to say about it on my blog.

  9. I have the DMT W8CXNB course/extra course 2-sided diamond stone I use for prepping rough edges and flattening my Norton water stones. The DMT stone works great. My Norton stones are 220, 1000, 4000 and 8000 grits, one grit per stone. I was considering changing to the Shaptons to hopefully reduce sharpening time and stone wear.

  10. By all means Shapton, superior to the others you are considering. Your grit selections are spot on, too, though I would suggest you consider adding a 15,000 when funds permit for plane irons.

    I have fallen out of love with DMT plates as they are seldom remotely flat. If you will limit your diamond stone use to stones only then the Shapton diamond on glass plate is superb (though not for use with tools directly, ever).

    Any soft stone will serve poorly so please avoid the Norton's at all costs. They are far too soft for anything that needs to be kept truly flat.

    Best of luck.