Budget Sharpening Stones

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    Hello Chaps (and Chapesses?)

    I’m at that point in I expect most woodworkers lives were they need to think about getting some Sharpening Stones. I have one little one I inherited  but its just too little to be much use, its only about an inch wide and 4 Inch long. I’m also not sure if its course or fine, I expect fine because it didn’t sharpen much.

    Anyway I’d like a bit of advice if you would be so kind as to what Sharpening Stones you think are any good in the budget ranges. Yes I’d love to have a nice set like Paul’s that look like they have been passed down for generations, but until I find some I need a cheap solution so I can get going having a proper go with the tools I have, most of which need a good sharpen.

    Having a look on eBay and Amazon it seems there are lots of these styles….

    Or would I be better just getting actual stones?

    Please help me out and share your wisdom on this subject 🙂


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    Hi Simon

    I cant help with stone choice buddy, I use scary sharp system. I pinched this info of my suppliers site 🙂

    Originally developed for polishing fibre optics 3M PSA-backed lapping film is fast cutting abrasive system that provides precise, consistently uniform, close-tolerance finishes. A high-strength polyester film backing is coated with premium, micron-graded mineral particles that are electrostatically oriented for greater cutting efficiency. The particles are bonded into a layer of resin that wears away slowly for increased durability. PSA is the acronym for Pressure Sensitive Adhesive and is a heavy duty version of the adhesive on the back of a Post-It note.

    To use, cut each sheet into strips, peel off the backing and fix a strip of each grade next to each other on the piece of float glass applying firm pressure for an even secure bond, be careful to squeeze out any air bubbles. Spread a drop of HoneRite No.1 (or water if you are using this method in conjunction with waterstones) on the surface of the lapping film to lubricate the process and prevent swarf from building up.

    Work down the grits, using a honing guide if you prefer (we recommend Richard Kell’s guides as particularly suitable for use with this system), start with blue (40 micron) on the main bevel. Then move onto green (30 micron) using a slightly steeper angle to create a secondary bevel on the tip of the blade, then brown (5 micron) to polish the secondary bevel to a mirror finish.

    A few strokes on the back of the blade using the edge of the 5 micron film will remove the burr and leave you with an exquisitely fine edge.

    Each section of abrasive can be used many times before it becomes worn, I like to use a fairly short stroke and then work my way down the strip as each section eventually wears. When I reach halfway, I rotate the glass and start again from the other end, thus ensuring that the whole strip is used efficiently. You can re-hone the secondary bevel several times before you need to do the main bevel again, an intermediate honing should only take a few strokes on each and have you back to work in well under two minutes.


    Thanks for your help Ken, never heard of them before, crazy the things “they” come up with. So you stick this paper to glass? Is that extra tough glass?

    I love the fact it is actually called Scary Sharp hehe


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    HaHa, dose get plane Irons and chisels scary sharp Simon. Ok once again pinched the info 😉

    This rock solid, 2 kilo block of dead flat of 10mm thick float glass is the ideal substrate for use with sheet abrasives for scary sharpening. The lapping plate is the same width as 3M lapping film sheets so that both ends can be used for flattening the backs of blades, and long enough to accommodate several grades.

    We had initially looked at a thinner sheet of toughened float glass but then discovered that some of the flatness is lost during the toughening process. Consequently this glass is not toughened and will produce shards if it breaks, it is however, very, very flat.

    360mm (14.1″) x 220mm (8.6″) x 10mm (0.4″) 

    Steve Follis

    Hey Simon

    I use something very similar but instead of glass I use a piece of granite.  It was a scrap/0ffcut piece I got from a guy that cuts it for counter tops. It is dead flat, and the weight keeps it from sliding around as I use it.

    Memphis, Tennessee

    George Bridgeman

    Scary sharp is great for starting out. It’s cheaper than a set of diamond/water stones when starting out but you’ll be out of pocket over the long term (a year or two if you do much sharpening). If you go with scary, save a little money every month to get yourself some proper stones later.

    A perfectly timed blog post came up on unpluggedshop.com today: http://milwaukeemonastery.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/sharpening-rant.html


    "To know and not do is to not know"


    Good link George, I agree once you start sharpening on a regular basis, stones is the way to go. But if you are someone that works wood every other weekend or so, scary sharp is Ideal, Its also Ideal for the quick touch up without the fuss. I have never used diamond plates, so I cant comment on them. I think as long as the system you use gets results, and you are happy using it, it  don’t matter what you use.

    Cheers 🙂

    John McDonald

    I use the system from harbor freight followed by an 8000 grit sword stone I found on an E bay bu it now for 20 US then I strop and my blades are all scary sharp. I had a bounce the other day and barley touched my finger creating a new bloody mess on my table I was making. Hands behind the tool. I forgot all bout that,I was getting so intimate with the wood. I hope this helps but I can say that glass and sand papers do work very well too I have used both but I prefer my system I have now.


    I also use scary sharp. I think it’s better when starting out, not just because it’s cheaper so you can get to it right away, but because it’s more forgiving of mistakes. I’d rather ruin a $1 sheet of sandpaper, or some cheap glass, than a $50+ stone. And it really does get things Scary Sharp.


    Many thanks chaps 🙂

    And excellent link George although it doesn’t do anything to help me make my mind up, I was leaning towards paper… until I read that now I’m thinking I should just get stones. mmmmmmm

    Ideally I’ll go to a car boot sale next week and find a perfect set of stones, beautifully laid into a lovely wooden case, that have been used for years by a master craftsman…. for 3 quid! I know dreaming…

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    Brian LaShomb

    I have Norton and King waterstones in 1000, 4000 and 8000, as well as a DMT diamond plate for course flat grinding. If I could do over, I’d do exactly what Paul has with the diamond plates. Fast, no soaking and good longevity as he has reported in his blog entries. If they last him for years, then they will last the weekend woodworker a lifetime.

    You might be able to get by with a double-sided model, like the DMT 6-inch Dia-Sharp D6FC (Fine/Coarse). Start course side, then fine side, then move to leather and compound to finish. Looks like it’s around 26 pounds on ebay.

    I dislike the soaking and flattening waterstones require. I just want to sharpen quickly and get back to work. Plus they can’t break, big bonus, and they work well in cold basement or garage shops where waterstones can freeze and break if stored in water (or even sometimes wet).


    Hey Simon,

    the perforated stones you attached should work but they are better for wider chisels and plane blades because the edges of narrower chisels and plough plane blades might run into the holes or their edges could catch the corners. I think Paul was talking about this issue in his blog, too.

    I enjoy working wood in Germany.


    I started with scary sharp and it worked great, but it does get expensive, after a bit.  I moved to water stones and there was so much prep involved.  Soak the stones for 10 minutes, create a mess while you’re sharpening, flatten stones when you’re done; it took forever to touch up an edge.  I even bought a Worksharp 3000, but it has ongoing expenses, just like scary sharp.

    After watching Paul’s Master Sharpening in the Working Wood series, I bought DMT Dia-Sharp stones.  I will never look back or consider anything else. I made the holding appliance he uses, and now, sharpening is a matter of ease.  DMT stones are available on Amazon for the best prices I found.

    Cleveland, Ohio U.S.A.

    norm lafond


    I just went through this process myself so I may be able to help you.  The three plate option you showed would be the be the only one you should consider because the grits go from coarse (220), fine (600) and superfine (1200).  The 4 sided block doesnt include a superfine side.  It just ranges from extra coarse to fine.

    That being said, most diamond stones usually have a series of perforations in them to allow the debris to run off the stone and safely out of the way into the perforated depressions.  And this usually helps the stone to work more quickly and efficiently.  But if your blade is a size that is comparable to the perforations then the blades will tend to get caught in the perforations.  That is why makers like Eze-Lap and DMT make continuous surface stones (like the ones demonstrated by Mr. Sellers.)  You can sharpen even needle like edges on the continuous surface.

    So what to do?  I purchased stones like this to get started and they work fine for my smoothing planes and most chisels.  For the  small stuff I use a 12 inch square granite tile and sand paper of similar grits.  Mr. Sellers showed how to use sandpaper when he was flattening a plane bottom in one of his youtube videos.   And over time I will gradually buy some 3×8 stones from EZE-lap to upgrade.

    I hope this gives you some clarity.  I found some of these options rather overwhelming when I started looking for sharpening supplies.


    Thank you all for your helpful comments, very much appreciated 🙂

    I did do a search on the forum but embarrassingly I didn’t think to look through Pauls Blog, since joining up here I almost forgot about the blog (must read more on there). Infact I only discovered Paul last week so I’ve been basically been injecting his 40 years of knowledge in a rapid stream into my head ever since.

    Need to actually get building more though!

    Again many thanks, I’ll look over the options over the next few days.

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