How to Use a Diamond Sharpening Stone
Every craftsman worth his or her salt employs the use of a sharpening stone to keep his or her tools perfectly honed.
While there is an abundance of natural stones out in the world for a craftsman to use, many employ the use of diamond sharpening stones, (head here for our review of the best sharpening stones on the market today).
What is a Diamond Sharpening Stone
Diamond sharpening stones can be produced in a number of different ways, and each offers its own benefits.
The term ‘stone’ here is a misnomer, as a diamond sharpening stone is not a true stone such as a Japanese water stone or an Arkansas stone is. There are several ways a diamond sharpening stone can be produced and some of these ways are listed .
First, a block of steel or aluminum is flattened around industrial quality diamond chips. This method produces the flattest stone, but it is also somewhat more expensive and less often used than the two other main methods of production.
Second, a series of thin steel plates studded with the same industrial quality diamond chips are glued to a flat block of aluminum.
The thinner the steel plates used in this method, the better. Finally, for the craftsman looking for a more flexible stone, a plastic or copper foil is studded with industrial quality diamond chips, and adhesive coats the back.
The foils themselves can be easily glued to a variety of shapes and materials to suit the craftsman’s needs.
Advantages of Using A Diamond Sharpening Stone
Diamond sharpening stones have their advantages over natural stone beyond the variety of grit coarseness. They can grind away chipped material faster without losing strength, as well as quickly change the bevel in a plane iron or a chisel.
Perhaps the best advantage over using natural rock is that a stone coated with diamond will not wear down as quickly and will maintain its shape for far longer than a natural whetstone, tending to last a good deal longer as a result, a lifetime in some cases.
They also make the perfect flattening blocks for Japanese water stones as well. And since the stones are studded with diamond chips, the sharpening process is much faster as well as less labor intensive than using a natural oil or water stone.
And should the craftsman drop a diamond sharpening stone, there is no need to worry, as the metal and diamond chips are far more durable than a softer natural stone, which will potentially chip or shatter on impact with a hard ground surface such as a driveway or a hard floor?
How To Use A Diamond Sharpening Stone
Choosing the right Stone
To use a diamond sharpening stone for a minor touch up, the craftsman’s best friend is a finer stone, (1000 grit and above depending on the type of steel you are honing). For those knives that need more work to get that pristine sharpness back, use a coarser stone (the lower the number grit, the courser it is) and work your way to the finer stones. (Head here for a sharpening stone grit chart)
Using the sharpening stone the right way
While a diamond stone can be used wet or dry, it is generally recommended to use water to better carry away the bits of metal left behind from the tool being sharpened.
Put the tool’s edge on the stone at the desired angle (try to match the existing angle to maintain the edge), in addition to the scrape the tool along the stone as though you’re trying to shave down the stone.
Use slow strokes to ensure that the tool’s edge is consistently sharp and apply more water as needed. (In a kitchen, where water is abundant, this isn’t an issue!) In order to test the edge of a newly sharpened blade, one can use newspaper and some other materials.
If the blade glides effortlessly through the newspaper, the job is done and it can be used in one’s next project. Tomatoes or lettuce works just as well here, especially for kitchen knives.
Know when to stop
Take care not to over sharpen the blade, however, as this is potentially dangerous to the handler of the knife, and a gardener or woodworker’s tools should not have the same sharpness as a chef’s knives might. Always be sure you know how sharp your tool needs to be for any job!
And as a reminder to all craftsmen, always be very careful of where your fingers are in order to keep from injury, as the sharpening process can be very dangerous, especially with a blade that requires in most of the time.