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Diamond sharpening, buying advice !

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mikey78

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Hello guys,
I use to sharpen my plane irons and chisels, with a traditional water stone .
When I first bought my stone I decided to go for what was considered a medium hardness stone
so i went for a double sided (1000/3000) Cerax stone.
I've to say that I'm happy with the edge produced by the stone after stropping but
my main problem (althought the stone is not considered soft ) every single time I sharpen a plane blade I need to flatten the stone
and really don't want to waste my time this way.
I'm considering buying a set of good set of 3 diamond stones (coarse/medium/fine plus stropping)
so that I can considerably cut the time spent in refreshing the edge.
There are lots of options on the web : monocrystalline, polycristalline, cheap diamonds on a plastic base, expensive stones with diamonds packed in clusters ...
I'm a week-end worrior and was leaning towards a good set of 3 eze-lap stones (as per Paul Sellers advice)
but than I read that flatness can deviate by up to 0.3 mm (EZE-LAP diamond sharpening stones | FINE TOOLS ) which is quite a lot when flattening the back of a plane blade,
so I started considering what I believe is now the golden standard in terms of quality : Atoma, whose stones are even more expensive than eze-lap ones ....
Am'I overthinking this purchase? And furthermore if eze-lap are good for Mr Sellers who am I to consider something better ?
I see many people getting good results with cheap stones, beating them to death for shaping edges (I have a hand crancked bench grinder for this purpose) and flattening the backs and they say they are happy ...
Can you plese share your thoughts !!!
 

Jacob

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Nothing traditional about waterstones they are a very modern fashion originating from Japan.
Eze lap work well but very expensive - I sold mine on (8x3" set of three), not worth their keep and use 2 double sided oil stones instead; Norton 1B8 and Norton No "0". These will do everything from axes to fine chisel edges and will never need flattening if used carefully. A strop is good for even finer finish.
I don't do much in the way of flattening but had to drastically straighten the face of a plane blade recently and did it on a metal backed sanding disc on my lathe. For most purposes flattening best done with wet 'wet n dry' coarse paper on a good flat base
 

redhunter350

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Hi, I looked at many of the expensive offerings but never jumped in ! However a local hardware/ tool shop had the Faithful double sided one on offer at £20 ? If memory is good ! That was around 3/4 years ago but they still seem to be available in the £25/£30 range. For the price I am very satisfied with the item, works well and is certainly flat within expectations, I clean it occasionally with soap & water and sometimes use water as a lubricant.
Last year I bought 2 similar looking units from the internet at an even lower price and they also work well, no brand but I am sure they come from the same source??
I don’t use it for the final finish on my tools, for that I use either an oil stone or a man made hone from Spyderco plus a strop —— just my three penny worth!

 

Ollie78

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Apparently Atoma ones are good.
I have had a couple of the cheaper ones and found they sort of went blunt quite quickly or became clogged or worn. Not sure if I wasn't using them right or something but I was not keen to get any more.
With traditional oil or water stones new abrasive is being constantly released but with a diamond stone it's just one layer.

Ollie
 

Phil Pascoe

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Nothing traditional about waterstones they are a very modern fashion originating from Japan.
Eze lap work well but very expensive - I sold mine on (8x3" set of three), not worth their keep and use 2 double sided oil stones instead; Norton 1B8 and Norton No "0". These will do everything from axes to fine chisel edges and will never need flattening if used carefully. A strop is good for even finer finish.
I don't do much in the way of flattening but had to drastically straighten the face of a plane blade recently and did it on a metal backed sanding disc on my lathe. For most purposes flattening best done with wet 'wet n dry' coarse paper on a good flat base
This is the same Jacob who has never used a water stone. Don't take too much notice.

Just as with an oilstone, if you don't use the whole of the stone it will go out of true, but so long as it only hollows end to end it really doesn't matter. I don't use my stones regularly now, but I've flattened them only three or four times in nearly forty years.
 

Daniel2

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I have the Atoma stones (from Workshop Heaven).
They certainly work very well.
 

--Tom--

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I would guess obsessions over flatness rarely translate to noticeable differences in sharpness in use for at least 99% of users.
It’s an easy trap to fall into and one that people read so much about that they will then hold on to that view as it all sounds very sensible.

You’ll have more impact on the sharpness than any deviation from flat on a diamond stone. Push harder on one side than the other and you’ll grind it more.
Sharpen, check it’s sharp and then use it. You’ll get more done.

If you think diamond stones are going to get you making more then buy one and try it. If you don’t like it sell it, or use it to flatten your cerax- diamond stones make that process really quick and easy. Maybe 5 seconds work before sharpening- and it’ll both refresh the surface and build a slurry that makes the stone work quicker.
 

Droogs

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I got mine from ITS a good few years ago now and they have been great. I bought the Ultex double sided ones, a 300/600 and a 1000/1200. the later has had far more extensive use and is still going well. They take a little time to bed in and once they have they are all I need for general sharpening. I also use a 3K/8K waterstone for the final 1/2 doz strokes to create the micro bevel. Campared to a set of DMTs I had they are just as good and a lot less expensive. You do have to check them when they arrive using a good straight edge and feelers (if you want that kind of flatness) and ITS will happily exchange any that you feel aren't up to it, though considering the state my old oilstones were in (could have used them as cereal bowls) before I switched it is not that mission critical. ITS seem to have changed the brand and now sell them as Vaunt, but they are the same plates really. ITS often have them on special for around £20 each. links to plates below

300/600


1000/1200


hth
 

D_W

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There is an exception for flatness with diamond hones...They are trouble if not flat.

That said, I'd recommend the 20 quid stone above if on a budget and atoma if not.
 

city17

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I've been using the DMT double sided stones which work well too, although I got them for quite a bit less than the current price (imported from the US), so with current prices I don't know if they're worth it. Might be worth trying the cheap stones mentioned above, and then you can always upgrade later if they're not up to scratch?
 

Fitzroy

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I have a set of the ITS ones that have a diamond pattern on them, and I must say I don’t get on with them. I find the diamond pattern can catch an edge occasionally, likely my technique. I’m back to using wet and dry paper on a marble tile, so I think for me a diamond stone with a continuous surface would be better.
 

D_W

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My recommendation above for the Chinese diamond hones is based on having had 20 or 25 hones. If the China types are out of flat, they're a bear, but can still work bevels. I've had three of those at least. The last was 20 bucks and is nearly as flat as a starrett straight edge.

Separately, the sellers method is a dead end, but people like to learn that the hard way.
 

Jacob

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This is the same Jacob who has never used a water stone. Don't take too much notice.

.....
I've never used a water stone because I've been talked out of it - 100s of times!
If you look at OPs first post in this very thread he says about water stones:
my main problem (although the stone is not considered soft ) every single time I sharpen a plane blade I need to flatten the stone and really don't want to waste my time this way.
Everybody says more or less the same - then there's the mess and the short life span and so on. I'm hardly going to bother buying one just to see if I can prove everybody wrong, I believe them!
OTOH I've never had a problem with an oil stone, from day 1 about 60 years ago at school. And they last a life time - still got my first Woolworths purchase, probably 2/6d ish, maybe 5 bob, can't remember.
Seller's method is excellent, quick and easy. I do much the same but with oil stones. It's how it was always done until modern sharpening kicked off and everything got really difficult, sometime in the 80s I guess
 
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Ollie78

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What about the scary sharp method of using flat glass and abrasive sheets.
Worn abrasive easily replaced but maintains flatness, also large choice if grits available.

Ollie
 

Jacob

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What about the scary sharp method of using flat glass and abrasive sheets.
Worn abrasive easily replaced but maintains flatness, also large choice if grits available.

Ollie
Yes but less convenient than an oil stone and more expensive in the long run
 

Phil Pascoe

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I've never used a water stone because I've been talked out of it - 100s of times!
If you look at OPs first post in this very thread he says about water stones:
my main problem (although the stone is not considered soft ) every single time I sharpen a plane blade I need to flatten the stone and really don't want to waste my time this way.
Everybody says more or less the same - then there's the mess ...
"Everybody" doesn't. If you listened to "everybody" you probably wouldn't use oilstones. I can't quite work out why a drop of water is dirtier on your hands, wood or clothes than a drop of oil. I know which I'd rather have.
 

D_W

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All sharpening is messy unless it becomes a prissy process. waterstones can be kept functionally flat by an experienced user, but they're more or less a beginner's method (albeit one many don't get past). They're convenient for paint by number sharpening, too.

Paint by number is any method that someone gives without suggesting folks look at the edge when they're learning through magnification - the potential results are the same across the various methods, but waterstones and paper are both eventually a pain if sharpening occurs on a regular basis.

That's not where the OP is here, though.

In terms of answering his question, based on the increase in ezelap cost (and the fact that they will lose most of their speed quickly - all diamond hones will), I'd suggest a pair of inexpensive diamond hones from china instead. This wouldn't have been the case 15 years ago, but there is at least one manufacturer making gobs of milled steel two sided diamond hones in china for pennies. They're about $20 to get to the US and it makes more sense to get two of those than it does to get two ezelaps.
353104735831

That is an ebay number of one (I have no clue who the seller is - the same stone is sold or repackaged by a zillion different sellers, and some branded and sold at sharpening suppliers for $50-$60). I've got three of these, maybe four. The first that I bought are probably closing in on 10 years ago - and had flatness issues. The last two that I bought are flat to less than a 1.5 thousandth feeler. Four thousandths of concavity in a diamond hone will have you pulling hair out if you use it on the back of any tool - it's not like a sharpening stone with sway in the center and slightly flat bits on the edges - diamonds are harsh on edges and backs on a fixed edge of a stone and you never break in a small contact area.

The stone above is shipped to the US for $21. How can they be that cheap? Simple - you can track down the listing of these on alibaba and buy them in quantity for $6 each. Where do you think the "Trend" diamond hone is made?

Ezelap stones are decent, but less good than they were 20 years ago, and the price has gone up a lot. I have a pair of those, also - they were $35 each here in the US and then at some point, the listings on amazon went from that to $60. At $60, they don't make much sense. If they cost a lot more than that in the UK, then they don't make any sense.

The only stone that's markedly different from others at this point is atoma (the diamonds are in piles instead of just arranged on the surface seemingly close to at random). They are excellent, but still slow down over time. The cost of an atoma in Japan is about $55, so keep that in mind. If you see them at retailers for the equivalent of $100 or so, it's out of line (They're $62 on amazon here because someone got the wit to import a pile of them and have amazon do the distribution - if they're even cost with ezelap, they're a FAR better stone and flatter.).

Back to my suggestion - functionally, there's little difference between the milled steel types I showed above, so use one at 300 and one at 1000 if you'd like and when they get worn, flip them over and switch roles. It would cost $44 total or so in the US to do that.
 

D_W

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For anyone not believing that these are $6 each ...well - if you're wiling to get 500 of them!!

linky

Note - there are also versions with the base for $9.99 (and maybe less).

I have a few of those bases - they are excellent except for one issue - the rods aren't that rust resistant, but not a big deal if you use a petro fluid, and even if you don't, you just wax or steel wool them once in a while.

I've seen US sellers on ebay trying to sell those bases alone for $28. The ones I received (at various times) are good solid rubber and hold a stone well. In the US, they usually add about $5 to the stone at retail, sometimes a couple of bucks more.

There is still plenty of junk made in china, so you can't just buy anything willynilly (the multicolored hones with painted relief dots are terrible).

In my estimate, more than fair for a retailer to bring these in and sell them for $25 or whatever - they won't get rich and you don't have to fetch them from china.
 

clogs

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bought my DMT's when on holiday in the US years ago....they wern't cheap then......
(just a shame the import duties are so high, would buy more US stuff)
have a couple of the cheap Chinese sort....
The DMT get used for special tools and the junk chisels etc get the Chinese variety.....
will buy some more cheapo's in the smaller sizes for polishing etc on the metal lathe.....
will be giving away most of my oilstones quite soon...will keep one just for the odd job....
they're just to messy.....
 
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