Sharpening on a budget?

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    Jamie Carlisle

    Hi All,

    Just working on getting my basic hand tool workshop (corner of garage) in place. I spent a fair amount so far on chisels, plane etc and still have the bench to build so I am trying to work out the best sharpening set up for around £50 (UK).

    Ultimately, I hope to eventually get the three DMT stone set up that Paul has but I think that will cost close to £200. The only other options other than sandpaper in this price range seems to be:

    Axminster 400/1000 Diamond –
    DMT 6″ x 2″ Fine/Course (350/600) –

    I think the DMT looks the best but it is very small. Has anyone used one? I need to hone all my chisels and plane iron. From what I have read on reviews the Axminster falls apart after little use.

    I intend to finish on a home made strop. I could even make two with different grits if this would help?

    Would really appreciate any advice.

    Ecky H

    Hello Jamie,

    I’ve got that Axminster plate years ago and can’t confirm that “falling apart” feature. Surely it doesn’t last as long as the monocrystalline DMT, EZE-LAP, Atoma etc.
    Mine served well, even with stubborn A2 irons. After roughly 3 years of weekly use it is much finer, but still usable. If you do the heavy work like reestablishing a damaged bevel eg. on sand paper, the plate will llast longer.
    On the other hand of the particle size isn’t as even as on the much more expensive plates. Flatness also MAY be an issue. If you can visit an Axminster shop, you probably can check “your” plate with a straight edge.

    The 6″x2″ are (too) small, in particular if you’re using an Eclipse type honing guide. And it’s difficult to sharpen plane irons and chisels wider than 2″.

    If you can afford something around £67, this one could suit your circumstances:
    I recently bought one and my first impression of it is quite good.


    Veni, vidi, serravi.

    Münster, Germany


    I have the DMT 8×3 stones, and I use every bit of the 8×3 face of them. My assessment is that you are paying more, but you are paying for quality, customer service (if required), and permanency. I’ve heard the EZE-Lap stones are good, too, and not quite as expensive.

    I cringe to think about sharpening on 6×2. Just not enough “runway”. If you go this route, you can sharpen blades wider than 2″ by turning them sideways, but I think that introduces potential for uneven wear.

    Sandpaper isn’t a bad route to go getting started, and in my opinion, a continued requirement. You just need to procure a good flat surface to affix the paper to.

    I keep 80, 150 and 220 grit sandpaper for conditioning and shaping of newly procured tools. I rarely use my course (200 grit?) stone, but jump to my fine (350 grit) and extra fine (800 grit) stones for final maintenance and honing.

    Dave Ring

    Given your budget, I’d go with a Norton combination oilstone (Coarse Crystolon on one surface and fine or medium India on the other) , a hard Arkansas stone and a strop. That should run under fifty pounds. Not as fast as diamonds but just as effective.


    Dionysios P

    I have a Faithfull 400/1000 diamond stone and after 4 years it still works fine despite the abuse (I tend to press too hard when sharpening). It came dead flat and after the initial wear (common to all diamond plates) it shows no other signs of deterioration.

    I also have a Norton India combination stone, which I use for my everyday sharpening as well, and I totally agree with @Dave Ring that it’s just as effective though a bit slower than the Faithfull. It’s narrower than the Faithfull and therefore I have to skew the wider plane irons (not an issue really) but the final surface is better polished, compared to the diamonds, and it’s easier to sharpen very narrow blades due to the continuous surface.

    After the stone (no matter which one I have used) I go straight to a strop.

    Jamie Carlisle

    Thanks everyone!

    Sorry I missed the replies as the post was stuck in moderation for a few days.

    I have sort of gone with a mixed approach. I grabbed the DMT course (325 grit) for £50 on amazon for now on its own. I will use some wet and dry and a strop for the finer stages. Then I will add the fine and super fine DMT plates as I go.

    I appreciate all the answers and knowledge!


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