I don’t get too worked up about sharpening equipment. With a few exceptions, any abrasive gets your tools sharp. And I find that the less I write about abrasives, the happier I am.
But I’m going to break my silence to talk about DMT’s Dia-Flat lapping plate. It is awesome – practically perfect. Yes, it is expensive and probably overkill for most home woodworkers. But if you sharpen a lot and are burning through lots of diamond plates or (shudder) wet/dry sandpaper, the Dia-Flat will pay for itself.
What’s so god-awesome about it? It’s the proprietary binder that DMT uses to attach the diamonds to the heavy steel plate. I have been all over the country with this plate. Students at every school have used and abused it. Heck, Roy Underhill used it to flatten all the oilstones at his school.
And the Dia-Flat still works like a champ.
In fact, I’ve been using it as a grinder in the field when there is no electricity or hand-cranked grinder available. I’ve ground high-carbon steel, A2, PM-V11 and D2 on the plate and it hasn’t hurt the thing one bit.
How does it compare to other diamond plates? Well, my opinion is colored by the fact that I am a heavy user. Not only do I sharpen every day, but hundreds of students use my equipment every year.
The Shapton diamond plate is a fine product and many fellow woodworkers love it. I’ve killed two of them by wearing through the diamond plating. The DMT Dia-Sharp plate (the coarse and x-coarse) are probably fine for the home woodworker who is an occasional sharpener, but I’ve killed a couple of these as well. I don’t recommend the imported diamond plates from China. Period.
This year I got a chance to use the iWood/Koyama plates from Tools from Japan. I was impressed with their speed – they were faster than the Dia-Flat – but I have no idea how long they will endure.
I’m sure there are other flattening products out there that I haven’t used. I don’t know if I’ll ever have to try them because I get the feeling that my Dia-Flat is invincible.
— Christopher Schwarz
If you want to learn to sharpen and don’t want to feel like you are getting religion, may I recommend my DVD: “The Last Word on Sharpening”? In it, I show you the principles of sharpening that work with any abrasive and any equipment. You can find it in ShopWoodworking.com.