Hello all. The title pretty much says it all. I’ve seen where Paul uses various grits of sand paper to do some minor work but he normally goes to his diamond stones. I’d like a less pricey alternative somewhere in between. Has anyone else had any luck with a less expensive solution? After watching several videos, it’s apparent that tool sharpness is of fairly high importance. I’m not what you’d call a heavy duty wood worker so longevity isn’t a critical factor. i just need something to get me going with the classic planes I’ve found/inherited.
A mid-priced double-sided plate (400 grit/1000 grit) would be okay. £25-£35 GBP.
There’s the inconvenience of having to turn it over, more work to get from 400 to 1000 in a single step, but for occasional use the combination works well. You’ll still have abrasive papers for initializing new acquisitions, and a strop for finnishing. Most of the time you’ll be using just the 1000 side to replenish an edge.
Faithfull are pretty good value: FAIWKIT £28.
Trend are popular too.
The price you have to pay for lower financial investment is the lottery in flatness of the plate, combined with less even distribution and less even grit of the diamond particles and more or less probably not monocrystalline diamonds (they wear faster).
I had luck with the Axminster brand plates: fairly flat, and the older plate works much less aggressive than when new, but still does reasonable work after 3 years of more or less weekly use. The grit is notably coarser on one end of the surface.
My replacement for that plates is that one: https://www.m-powertools.com/diamond-cross-8inch-bench-stone.html
Available at dictum.com (german tool shop) for 73€. Maybe that still fits in the budget…
Hope that helps,
Veni, vidi, serravi.
My set up is somewhat ‘poor mans’. I got hold of one of those cheap and cheerful 4 sided plastic block diamond plates, popped the end covers off, and carefully removed the plates. I then took a flat piece of aluminium (rear shoe from an electric planer in this case, but thios is poor mans, so use what you have at hand), hot glued a few REM’s in the inside, so that the diamond plate would hold well to the shoe. This was then attached to a piece of MFC. Also attached to the MFC, using contact adhesive are a couple sheets of 2k and 3k wet and dry to help get things even sharper.
Some might say it is not a reliable or well engineered set up, but it has served me well, and gets me shavings I can read through. I will try to remember to take a picture and post it when I get home.
If you want to go really cheap, you could just get the MFC, and attach multiple sheets of wet and dry in different grades (if you attach them around the sides and to the back, this also helps). When using the wet and dry, do all the work pulling the blade. I find that you can clean the wet and dry afterwards by carefully using a soft pencil eraser (I use the same thing for the diamond plates as well).
This would take a bit longer than using diamonds, but gets you just as sharp. However, if you have wider blades, you don’t have any issue with width of the diamond plates and having to sharpen with the blade at an angle.
Colin, Czech Rep.
I have the Faithfull 400/1000 combination stone; it has served me well for my first 12 months of woodworking, I also use stropping compound on some leather glued to MDF for final polishing, and 80-grit oakley aluminium-oxide paper fixed with double-sided tape to a glass plate for occasional initializing and re-grinding bevels to 25 degrees. I now get very good levels of sharpness, as measured by running the cutting edge along the side of a piece of paper. I think as a beginner you will see your results improve most as you refine your technique, rather than by buying top-end kit.
I’ve recently noticed that the Faithfull stone is slightly dished on one side (therefore cupped on the other); I’m not sure if it was always like that. This makes no difference for hand sharpening bevels, where you are in any case slightly changing the presentation angle over the length of the stroke. It would be unsuitable for completely flattening the backs of chisels etc if that is one of your requirements, although this isn’t really necessary for most use-cases.
I’m now thinking of buying a couple of good-quality fine and super-fine stones to complete my sharpening toolkit. I’ll continue to use the coarse side of the Faithful stone, as I’ve read on this forum that all coarse stones, even the expensive ones (DMT and EZE-lap) wear out quite quickly.
Stu - Surrey, UK
I use Ultex double sided diamond stones, 8″ by 3″ from ITS, and I’ve got no complaints. I’ve got a course/medium (300/600) and a fine/extra fine (1000/1200). I’ve had them about three years, and they are still working well. I’m a weekend warrior and so they don’t get used that heavily but they are still cutting fine. If i’m restoring a plane iron or setting up a chisel for the first time I tend to start with a 60 or 80 grit abrasive paper before moving on to the diamond plates. I finish off with 2000 grit wet and dry (used dry) and my strop, and when done I can shave the hairs on the back of my hand.
I bought an Ultex plate for my son recently, a medium/fine, and on sale it was about £16. Before it got gift wrapped I checked it for flat, and there was a bit of a concave on one side. I took it back to the store and they swapped it for another one which was flat on both sides. The advantage of being 7 miles from the store is you get that old fashioned thing called an in-store shopping experience.
I’ve just looked on the ITS website https://www.its.co.uk/Hand-Tools/Sharpening-Tools.htm and they have the Ultex single sided stones on sale for £10.19 inc VAT. The stones come with a padded nylon pouch and a non-slip mat. The double sided ones seem to have been rebranded as Vault and aren’t on sale at the moment, but are still pretty good value at £29.99 in VAT. That said you could get 3 single sided stones for the price of one double. Their black Friday sales ends on the 6th December.
If you’re not in a rush ITS have regular sales, so you might want to wait until they roll around on offer again.
I have had what I think are very good results from the get go I can take the hairs off my arms no problems as that seems to be the you tube Mark of distinction. I use abrasive paper on MDF when flattening/restoring a plane. I then move onto 3 diamond plates I bought off amazon for less than £10 the grits are coarse medium and fine I then go onto an oilstone which gives a lovely shine then finish with a strop and green polishing compound to leave it gleaming. The diamond plates are great for removing metal quickly and they have not changed at all unlike the more expensive ones seem to. I haven’t tried stropping after the diamond plates to say that they work alone but I will say that I won’t be looking for any alternative more expensive ones anytime soon.
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