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Whet stones

Discussion in 'Sharpening Stuff -- Stones, Strops, and Systems' started by smrtprts, Dec 28, 2016.

  1. smrtprts

    smrtprts Loaded Pockets

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    Hi guys, currently I am using an Apex system for sharpening but wanted to give a go at some free hand whet stones. They seem to range in price quite a bit, can someone point me in the right direction for something that is a good value for the money?
     
  2. Westerdutch

    Westerdutch Loaded Pockets

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    The stones that come with the apex system are actually pretty nice. Just lay em flat on the table and give it a try, its as good a practice as any ;) If you like it you can go and buy a proper stone (not a cheap one) and if you don't like it you can spend the money elsewhere.
     
  3. gazz98

    gazz98 Loaded Pockets

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    I usually suggest what I got first (after a lot of research). The Smith Tri Hone system. 3 6"stones + base + oil + angle guide for under $30. Add a leather belt for stropping from a thrift shop ($1 or 2) and you can be up and running for right around $30. It's a great way to practice and see if that is something you are interested in.

    Some of the newer/harder steels (especially tool steels, d2, a2, etc) might require diamond stones of some sort if they are dull. I moved on to the 4 pc DMT 6" Dia sharp kit (can be found for $90) once I found out I liked sharpening by hand. Be careful, diamond stones can remove stock quickly which is why I suggest the basic 3 pc set first.

    One problem with natural or synthetic stones, as you sharpen a blade, the surface can become uneven due to continued use on certain spots. Some stones require you to use a "flattening" stone to level out the surface. Diamond stones don't have this problem.

    There is a lot of info to sort thru. Water, oil, Arkansas, ceramic, etc. Norton, DMT, Lansky, Naniwa, and Shapton are some good quality names to look for. I'm no expert but I can put a decent edge on most knives. Good luck!
     
  4. Buckeye Jake

    Buckeye Jake Loaded Pockets

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    I only use stones. The Smith stones are good ,also look at Dan's Whetstone's too.
    Each steel is a different chalenge too .I own about 10 or so . My most prized stone was my grandfathers .
    I also have a couple of butcher steels

    Jake
     
  5. J_C
    • In Omnia Paratus

    J_C Loaded Pockets

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    What kinds of steels, what types of knives, and what blade lengths? There are lots of options and choices but knowing these answers can help narrow it down.
     
  6. smrtprts

    smrtprts Loaded Pockets

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    The most common steels would be 154CM and D2. Folders and smaller fixed blades with the average length of 3".
     
  7. baccar-3

    baccar-3 Loaded Pockets

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    Interesting sharpening video.

     
  8. J_C
    • In Omnia Paratus

    J_C Loaded Pockets

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    Well here's the thing with "value for your money" - even the more expensive options usually provide a good value for the money, though maybe not in the hands of an inexperienced user.

    Diamond bench stones, for example, can be pricey, but are what you need if you want to cut steels with large, hard carbides such as steels with high vanadium content. For a simpler steel, like 1095 or White #2, they are overkill and may not produce ideal results.

    For me, one of the highest "value" stones I own is an 8" Norton India IB8 combo stone. It was around $20, and does a good job with most of the steels I have. I will never wear that stone out in my lifetime. However, D2 will not respond that well to it, nor would something like ZDP-189 or HAP40.

    The Norton Crystolon stone, which is silicon carbide, will handle D2 nicely. It is a little coarser at every level (the coarse Crystolon is a lower grit than the coarse India) but it can handle the steels. It's what I use when I need to do some edge repair, reprofiling, or just getting the initial bevel set quickly. I have the JB8, 8" combo stone (coarse/fine). Also around $20.

    Those two are both oil stones. I use Norton Honing Oil with my oil stones. I have tried other oils, but I like the Norton the best so far. It's the viscosity. Norton honing oil is a light, food-grade mineral oil. You can get other food-grade mineral oils at the pharmacy (Mineral Oil USP) and hardware store (Howard Cutting Board Oil). Howard is my #2 choice. Pharmacy stuff (which is intended to be consumed orally, as a laxative) is a bit too viscous for me. But it's cheap, and does work.

    My third oil stone is an 8" soft/hard Arkansas combo. Unlike the other two, which are man-made, this is two pieces of flattened rock glued together. I use it as a finishing stone when I don't really need more than the approx. 800 grit finish of the hard Ark. I like the edge finish it leaves on general use pocket knives. Arkies are great for simpler, traditional steels, which is what is on my Case, Buck and GEC folders.

    Next up - diamonds. You want an affordable diamond plate? Try the CKTG 400/1000 Combination plate. It's $35. I have one. It works like other diamond plates do. Diamonds will cut any steel. Use light pressure and let the diamonds do the work. I used this one recently to repair some chipping in a ZT Elmax blade. Took care of business just fine.

    Side note: Stropping. Top sharpeners don't need to strop. They can get a great edge off of their stones. Me, I'm a good sharpener, but not top notch. I get better results when I strop as a finishing step. You don't need to spend a lot for a good strop. I used to use an old (quality) leather belt (it was a Bianchi gun belt I wore many, many years and inches ago) with some green polishing compound I bought at Lowe's for under $3. Really helped with my edges. Before I learned what I was doing, I rounded off some nice sharp edges, too.

    But I have since seen the light, and now use balsa wood with some diamond spray. Balsa wood is cheap. The diamond sprays/pastes not so much, but still affordable.

    Now, onto the path of the true enlightenment. Water stones. There are cheap ones, there are pricey ones. Usually (but not always) you get what you pay for. Skip water stones named after big knife companies, like Global, Wusthof, Shun. These are decent water stones, but you are paying a bit extra to have that knife company's name printed on it. You can get better stones for a lower price.

    Personally, I like "splash and go" stones over soakers. Some day, I would like to learn the intricacies of muddy water stones (like the ones shown in Fan-Rang's video). I have a set of Shapton Pro stones. Splash and go. I have the 320-1000-2000-5000 in this line. I like them. I use them on my kitchen knives. I use them on other knives, too. They are good stones. Other options are Naniwa Chosera and Sigma Power Select II. I haven't tried those myself.

    You can find good combo water stones in the $40 to $50 range. Suehiro Cerax and King are both decent brands. Bester/Imanishi as well.


    Edit: I forgot to add - water stones add the requirement of a stone flattener (sometimes called a stone fixer), since they tend to dish in use and need to be trued up to flat again. This is usually a slotted very coarse SiC stone or a very coarse diamond stone. This is an unfortunate but necessary added expense for water stone users. The slotted SiC flatteners run from $20 for smaller ones to $70 for larger ones. You can get a smaller slotted stone fixer from Korin for about $20.

    A good diamond flattening plate (Atoma or DMT XC/XXC) is up closer to $70-$90. Or you can go for the DMT Dia-flat plates at $130-$190 (depending on size) or even up to 300-400 for the Shapton flatteners.

    I decided to pay once, cry once and get the Atoma 140. It does a great job as a flattener. The diamond pattern prevents it from getting stuck to the stone (via suction, not actually stuck).

    CKTG sells a $30 140 mesh diamond flattening plate. I have no experience with that one myself but it gets good reviews.

    How much/how often you need to flatten depends on how fast the stone wears. The softer, muddier stones may need to be flattened each time you use them. Harder stones like Shaptons and Naniwa Choseras may not require it as often, but they will eventually.
     
    #8 J_C, Dec 31, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2017
    baccar-3 likes this.