Sharpening Plate Holder

Sharpening Plate Holder Keyframe

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The sharpening plate holder is used daily and is a vital part of Paul’s sharpening system. Paul shows how to make your own using just a few hand tools. It holds the stones securely, keeping them in order from coarse to fine, which means you can easily pull it out and be ready for a quick sharpen.


  1. Matt Fisher on 26 June 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Which diamond plates does Paul use? I have some cheap ones I bought on eBay. They have not lasted well. The fine one is almost completly smooth after about a year’s light use.

    • bengibbs on 26 June 2017 at 2:35 pm

      I know Paul used to use plates made by Eze-lap. Pretty sure he still uses them now. I have had a set for almost 2 years still working great.

    • bytesplice on 26 June 2017 at 2:37 pm

      Paul has mentioned he uses EZ-Lap diamonds. I use DMT, and have had very good results.

      • wadepatton on 27 June 2017 at 5:08 pm

        I use DMT. They look just like what Paul is using. I’m quite pleased with them.

    • Mark Hawkins on 26 June 2017 at 2:39 pm

      3″ x 8″ stones in 250 (coarse), 600 (fine) and 1200 (superfine) grit from Eze-Lap. You can also get them from DMT (although we haven’t tested the longevity of these).

      • ticktockman on 26 June 2017 at 5:10 pm

        I use 2 DMT and 2 EZE-Lap. 8+ years on them and both brands still do an amazing job.

      • claudisimo on 27 June 2017 at 6:37 am

        Just in case someone has the question: The DMT coarse stone is 325, the extra coarse stone is 220. Depending where you are, DMT can be easier to get than eze-lap. I use DMT too, with their extra coarse stone, fine and super fine.

        • Ken Johnston on 27 June 2017 at 8:36 pm

          I have had the DMT plates for over a year. only issue I had is the coarse stopped cutting for some unknown reason after about a year and I had to replace it. turns out after some research it is a common issue with there coarse stone

          • ballinger on 18 July 2017 at 1:35 pm

            Interesting that hasn’t happened to mine. Maybe I’m not using it enough 😉

    • Matt Fisher on 26 June 2017 at 3:18 pm

      Thank you everybody for the answers. I think I will have to do some saving up but Eze-lap looks like the option I will go for. Is there any reason why I cannot get the fine first to replace the worn one and replace the others as they wear out? I am not sure of the exact grit of the cheap ones I have and thought I may have difficulty getting an even finish swapping between the lower and higher quality plates. Does anyone have any experience of this?

      • ehisey on 26 June 2017 at 6:19 pm

        No reason not to do it that way if the other hones are still working. I do recommend getting atleast 3″ wide though. I ended up getting a set of 2″ wide and while I do well with them, I feel the the lack of width on plane blades.

        • Matt Fisher on 27 June 2017 at 10:52 am

          Thanks ehisey, I agree that sounds like the better size. The cheap ones I have currently are 2″ and are a little small especially for 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 plane irons. A 3″ fine/super fine Eze-lap sound just the ticket.

    • Jeffrey Howe on 26 June 2017 at 9:42 pm

      From what I’ve seen, you want to choose diamond plates with a solid steel core, upon which the diamond surface is embedded into. These will last a whole lot longer. Further, they should be embedded with monocrystalline diamonds because, as they wear, they retain their grit size far better. The cheap ones do not have a steel or solid core and they maybe using polycrystalline diamonds and both will cause it to wear out and such. I learned about this from a, “Stumpy Nubs” video, “sharpening 101″…

      • Richard Marton on 27 June 2017 at 1:00 am

        Was going to say the same thing and reference the same source. James “stumpy Nubs” Hamilton said the good plates, I assume DMT and EZ-Lap, embed the diamonds in a bed of molten nickel. I’ve been using the DMT’s at the same grits as Paul for about 3 or 4 months now and have been happy with them so far.

        I built a plate holder based on one of Paul’s earlier videos. My results were just ‘okay’. I used a table saw to cut the grid line and chisel to take out the bulk of the material – no router plane at the time. I didn’t glue the plates in, in fact I bored a 1″ hold in the middle of each recess so the plates could be removed if needed. Watching this video I think I’ll built another using birch ply and applying a finish as Paul did.

        • gerald Anania on 27 June 2017 at 3:34 am

          I used plywood base and just glued 3/4 inch strips of plywood around the plates to hold them . also drilled hole underneath to push them out if necessary. no problem with keeping plates solidly in place after 3 months.

  2. Don Donaldson on 26 June 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks Paul, interesting method with Baltic birch plywood.

  3. patchedupdemon on 26 June 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Made one of these about 2 months ago,had to glue up some white wood as I thought ply would separate due to the fluid we use.
    Anyway same results and the best system I’ve come across

    • Carlos M. Zaccaro on 26 June 2017 at 6:12 pm

      If plywood is made with the propper resins (phenolic) it should withstand water contact (and also detergentes) witn no problem at all
      Glueing wood for water contact, must be done with the propper glue also: epoxy o a water resistant melamine based

  4. Harvey Kimsey on 26 June 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Great video! Thanks.

  5. dpawson on 26 June 2017 at 3:51 pm

    I store them in a ‘stack’ (box, 3 shelves), vertically, then I can use the edge of all three.
    A simple holder then used whilst sharpening, gets round the problems
    Paul demonstrates when using them.

  6. António on 26 June 2017 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks WWMC team!

  7. Ed on 26 June 2017 at 5:14 pm

    This is a nice project and appliance. An alternative approach is to simply attach two battens, one at the bottom and one at the top, which trap the stones between them. I prefer this because it allows me to slide any stone I want up to an edge. I don’t need that often, but sometimes it helps. Also, I frequently clean my stones with scouring powder, e.g., Comet and it is easy to get the stones in and out (no adhesive). Finally, I have a fourth grit that I use on occasion and can pop it into the holder when needed. It’s true you must take care with just battens to avoid tipping the appliance and dropping the stones. I think I used a couple of paint stirring sticks as my battens. Put the stones on the ply, drop on the battens to determine their positions, put a bead of glue under each, and tack them with some brads. Not fancy.

    Paul’s is nicer, and you’ll learn more making it. What one might try is making Paul’l but don’t apply any adhesive, and place the stones 1/4″ from the edge (or closer if you dare). That’s probably close enough. If you need to move stones to an edge, you can (since they aren’t glued down).

    • Carlos M. Zaccaro on 26 June 2017 at 6:18 pm

      I agree. Paul´s design is fine for chisel and plane sharpening, but if you use your stones for knife sharpening (specially the ones with longer blades) it´s difficultlt to use the center stone… Interchangeable pockets are therefor a must.

      • ehisey on 26 June 2017 at 6:33 pm

        Made one over the weekend from the book notes about it. I ended up glueing strips of Hardboard to a some MDF I had a around to make pockets tall enough to hold the stones with feet on so I can remove the stone for travel or long blade sharpening I need it.

  8. Danny Barrow on 26 June 2017 at 5:24 pm

    I think u should donate them to me them stones Paul lol the ones u demonstrated on plywood thank you Danny

  9. Tom Dowling on 26 June 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks you Paul, as usual another perfect presentation.

  10. Paul Whoknows on 26 June 2017 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you.

  11. Donald Kreher on 26 June 2017 at 6:43 pm

    After reading Paul’s earlier write up or perhaps seeing an earlier video I made my sharpening plates with these differences: I bought the DMT 8″ Dia-Sharp Diamond Kit from which included 4 stones extra corse, coarse, fine and extra fine
    (220 mesh, 325 mesh, 600 mesh, 1200 mesh). So I built two sharpening plate holders each holding 2 plates. I did this by adding gluing notched ash batons to 1 inch plywood (made by gluing back to back 1/2 plywood). This allows access to a side of each stone and is easier to store. I glued cork to the bottom of each holder and I find that no vise cleat is necessary to hold them. (I first made a holder as Paul does out of oak, but it soon warped and would not hold the plates.)

  12. Philipp J. on 26 June 2017 at 8:30 pm

    In my own experience and trial and error aswell as what others have already mentioned i have to agree that this approach just isnt flexible enough and very limiting to what you can do.
    If all you ever do is sharpen chisels and plane irons on them this method seems to work rather well for Paul.

    However for knives and other tools having the plates glued down like that just isnt practical, as you obviously would be bumping into the other stones and it would be difficult to hold some of them.

    Personally i just use a block of wood with tapered sides to give me a bit more clearance for my fingers and add a bit of stability, throw a piece or rubber mat under and on it to stop it and the Plate/Stone from sliding around. Gives me acces to all 4 edges of the Stone and plenty of clearance for my fingers.

    But in the end everyones gotta decide what works best for themselves.

  13. Brian Miller on 26 June 2017 at 10:50 pm

    Thanks Paul. Even the simplest projects are good to see for new guys like me.

  14. jeffdustin on 27 June 2017 at 2:19 am

    Can we use a wide wooden board vice the plywood? I like real wood better than plywood.

  15. Eldon Lewis on 27 June 2017 at 3:07 am

    I made one of these out of pine. It’s what I had. It is working well for me. Are there down sides to using a 3/4 inch think pine board instead of plywood? Will it tend to warp over time where the plywood would not?

    • Philip Adams on 29 June 2017 at 1:50 pm

      Hi Eldon and Justin,
      You certainly can use pine/solid wood. It is more susceptible to warp compared to ply, which we have noticed as we do more sharpening than is usual for any individual.

    • Derek Long on 25 August 2017 at 5:12 pm

      I made mine out of a pine cutoff about 4 years ago. It’s cupped, but still usable.

  16. Rich Dienes on 27 June 2017 at 3:23 am

    Paul mentioned he had finished the holder with shellac or Danish oil. Was the finish applied inside the recesses? If so, does the silicon adhere to the finish or does it matter?

    Thank you Paul for another outstanding educational video

    • Ken Johnston on 27 June 2017 at 8:45 pm

      I made one a year ago based on pauls comments around his holder and used a spray shellac and the silicon adhered fine to it

  17. ramisdom on 28 June 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I made my first sharpening holder 15 yrs. ago after attending one of Paul’s workshops in
    Elm Mott, TX. Mine is comprised of 4/4 walnut, with a rebate underneath, unfinished. I let
    in the plates with a cordless router like Paul, and the water and slurry stains are not nearly
    as visible due to the deep shade of the walnut. I use mine for planes and chisels as well as
    short knife edges that can be ground on the perimeters. I also have several other jigs
    for stropping edges such as spokeshaves, long knives, and have tried most of the water and
    arkanasas stones over the years. I agree with Paul that the nature of system increases the likelihood of my sharpening more frequently, resulting in safer work and better results over the long haul.

  18. Farred on 2 July 2017 at 4:26 am

    I cheated and used 1/2″ plywood with pine strips–a lot quicker.

  19. ballinger on 18 July 2017 at 1:45 pm

    I made mine 2 years ago based on seeing Paul’s, but my method wasn’t quite as good. I just used a chisel for the most part as I still haven’t put a wooden base on my router plane. It was quite slow to do but then again I was working on a kitchen counter at the time. I added the leather strop to the end of mine so I just keep moving over once I’m finished going through the stones in one movement.

    I think I’ll make mine again at some stage because I think it would have been good to silicone the stones in and put a seal on the ply like Paul did. I’ve had the stones fall out a couple times when it’s getting moved about the place.

  20. Ezequiel Laprida on 25 August 2017 at 2:11 pm

    I don´t have a manual router… what could be another way to do the pockets for the stones?
    Thank you

  21. Stefaan Verweirder on 14 November 2018 at 5:25 pm

    Where can you buy the stones please?
    Any link .

  22. David Williams on 11 December 2018 at 5:59 pm

    I can’t see a mention of the thickness of plywood that Paul uses. Only the length and width is given. Also some tips of the type of plywood to use would be useful. Can anyone offer any suggestions. Thanks in advance.

    • Kurt Schultz on 11 December 2018 at 9:04 pm

      3/4 ply. It’s cabinet grade – 12 layer ply. Home centers do not carry. However, a lumber yard should have it or can order. They generally come in 5’ x 5’ sheets. You can use standard ply as well. Especially for this application. Edge joined two hardwood scraps is equally suffice.

  23. Rob Drown on 18 June 2019 at 7:55 pm

    I Just completed a pair of these (two pocket for four plates) and am ready to apply the finish. Does the finish go inside the pockets for the diamond plates or should I glue the plates into the pockets before applying finish?

    • Izzy Berger on 19 June 2019 at 3:27 pm

      Hi Rob,

      Paul recommends applying finish in the recesses to avoid the holder absorbing the auto glass cleaner during use:

      Kind regards,

      • Rob Drown on 19 June 2019 at 3:35 pm

        Very Cool. That’s the way I applied the first coat and the second goes on this morning.


        You guys are the best.

        Rob Drown

        • Ed on 19 June 2019 at 5:12 pm

          Rob, may I suggest you start of trying the plate holder without gluing in the stones? I often find reasons for taking them out, even if just to scrub them, but other times to put one or another of the stones at the edge. Glue really hasn’t been necessary long as I carry it reasonably level.

  24. Michael Ross on 5 July 2020 at 12:53 am

    I’d like to thank you again for this video and the lesson. A functional tool for the “student”. If it isn’t perfect in appearance, so what? If you mastered the techniques, and you work was flawless- all the better.

    1. This is a great introduction to the “knife wall technique.”
    2. Reinforcement how to use the hand router.

    I struggled on the first opening, because my knife wall technique was wrong, but that gave me a chance to realize what to do for the remaining two.
    I made some small changes to the wooden plate holder to accommodate my fingers.

    Another person suggested a hole in the wood underneath the plate to facilitate removal. ( I originally planned to use a hammer to knock out the plate) A worthwhile addition that may or may not be needed.

  25. Warren Hall on 22 February 2021 at 3:33 pm

    That looks like great quality plywood, where does Paul get that from in the UK?

    • Izzy Berger on 14 April 2021 at 9:32 am

      Hi Warren,

      Paul says:
      I used 19mm Russian birch plywood which is readily available from most plywood suppliers.


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