What I Don't Get About Sharpening Stones
Thanks to the steady stream of tools that flow in and out of our shop, I do a lot of sharpening. I set up more tools from scratch than I care to admit. And I wear out sharpening stones.
Last week I noticed that my #1,000-grit Shapton Glasstone was getting wafer thin. This is the second #1,000-grit Glasstone I’ve burned through in the last few years, and it brings up something that has irked me about some brands of sharpening stones sold in North America.
Here is my gripe: Why would anyone sell stones that are all the same thickness? Perhaps I’m missing something, but I think that’s odd.
Your coarse stones, such as #1,000, wear away quickly. I’ve probably burned through five since 1993. These stones should be thick. Give me at least an 1″ of thickness, and I’ll be your best friend. I know some manufacturers are smart about this, but not all are.
The finer stones should be thinner. I’ve used up only two #4,000-grit stones since 1993. Make one that is 1/2″ to 5/8″ thick, and I bet most woodworkers would have a lifetime stone.
The finest polishing stones can be wafer thin , 1/8″ mounted on some kind of plastic base or glass would be fine with me. I have yet to use up an #8,000-grit stone. So giving me less of this abrasive is fine by me.
I think this approach works on the money side of things, as well. The coarse stones are the least expensive. The finer stones are the most expensive.
That’s all the bile I have this week. I’m off on vacation as of …. now. I won’t be able to monitor my e-mail or this blog, so if you have any problems, you’ll be better off contacting the other staff members.
– Christopher Schwarz
Want instruction on how to wear out your sharpening stones? That’s easy , sharpen a lot of tools. Here are a couple stories I’ve written on sharpening methods, and a link to Rob Hock’s excellent new book on sharpening just about any kind of tool.
– “The Perfect Edge,” by Ron Hock , This book will change the way you think about “sharp.”