Best value in benchstones

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by MarkN86, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. MarkN86

    MarkN86

    332
    Sep 3, 2012
    There are a dizzying number of benchstones out there at all price ranges. I did a few searches and have come across some info on some really nice stones. I don't have the funds currently to go out and buy a set of the very best sharpening equipment, and I don't have time or money to buy stone after stone online and try them all out. I have had good results with a Smith's Tri-Hone, but I'm looking to upgrade.

    I only use water, not oil. I'm looking for a set that can do really damaged blades and refine all the way up to 1000 grit without costing $50+ per stone.

    I know it's all about sharpening skill, but I'm curious as to what has worked best and lasted well, and what was absolute junk and fell apart quickly.
     
  2. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    I bought a set of DMT 6" bench stones 30+ years ago and they still work as well as new. They work best dry, no water or oil mess. Just wipe them down with BreakFree CLP or scrub them off under the tap at the kitchen sink to restore the cutting efficiency when they get loaded with swarf.
     
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  3. HeavyHanded

    HeavyHanded

    Jun 4, 2010
    In my experience, quality of stones under $50 per plate (in terms of diamond plated) are just not very good. The more coarse they are the more expensive they tend to run. Ultrasharp combination plate has held up well for me.

    For a minimalist setup, an XC and an EF would fit the bill. A double sided Sharpal plate might do well. For really banged up edges I like the Atoma 140 but it isn't cheap.
     
  4. soc_monki

    soc_monki

    582
    Apr 5, 2019
    I'm enjoying my sharpal diamond plate. Coarse and extra fine, but I really only use the coarse side. It's done about 5 knives now, 2 reprofiles on 20cv and m4, and it's holding up great. Ordered the 8x3 model as well because I like the 6x2.5 so much.
     
  5. MarkN86

    MarkN86

    332
    Sep 3, 2012
    I notice everyone is recommending only diamond. Are water stones or ceramic stones dispreferred or are the good ones just expensive?
     
  6. soc_monki

    soc_monki

    582
    Apr 5, 2019
    I use ceramic for my microbevel (spyderco sharpmaker).
     
  7. wade7575

    wade7575

    841
    Apr 3, 2013
    With modern PM steels you need diamonds to get the best edge possible,the best way gauge if you need diamond stones is if you are sharpening S30V and better you pretty much want to stick to diamond's or CBN.

    With steels like S110V it contains vanadium carbide and the problem is that silicon carbide and aluminum oxide are softer then vanadium carbide and all the ends up happening if you use a silicon carbide stone is you end up sharpening around the vanadium carbides until they fall out.

    You can use water stones on S110V and other PM steels for finishing but not for your lower grit's,I find the Venev OCB stones to be really good stones for giving a great cutting edge and I mainly stop with their 800 or 1200 grit stones,keep in mind they are FEPA grit rated stones,their F1200 is rated to be the same as a 4K water stone.
     
    MarkN86 likes this.
  8. MarkN86

    MarkN86

    332
    Sep 3, 2012
    Very informative, that explains why my M390 acts so funny on stones. I'll be making the switch back to diamond. Which brands are most preferred and which are cost effective?
     
  9. jpm2

    jpm2

    Nov 19, 2014
    It works the opposite for me. I hog off metal on high carbide steels with low grit silicon carbide stones, and finish with higher grit diamond for my best edges.
     
    willc, MtnHawk1 and Tjstampa like this.
  10. soc_monki

    soc_monki

    582
    Apr 5, 2019
    Because you're just hogging off metal at the low grits. The higher grits are where it is important to use proper abrasives.

    Although it also depends on how high in grits you go as well. There are pages and pages of discussion on if silicon carbide and aluminum oxide can effectively sharpen high carbide steels. My conclusion is that it can, to a certain point (micron level). When you get down around the size of the carbides, then you have to worry about actually cutting them. Before that you just rip them out with the steel matrix.

    After seeing a video comparing 600 grit diamonds and 600 grit alox edges, the edge retention was nearly identical. So take that for what you will. I use diamonds because they work fast and I don't need to lubricate the stones. I'll still pull out the crystolon if I need to use some pressure though!
     
    MarkN86 likes this.
  11. MarkN86

    MarkN86

    332
    Sep 3, 2012
    I might try out the 2 sided Sharpal 8x3, seems like a good one stone setup. My intent is to save up and get better stones but this seems like it will be a good upgrade for now.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
  12. Mr.Wizard

    Mr.Wizard

    622
    Feb 28, 2015
    @HeavyHanded I was sure you would recommend the Zandstra FOSS. It provides two grits in one stone and from your review it should be good for "really damaged blades" right?
     
  13. wade7575

    wade7575

    841
    Apr 3, 2013
    One other thing I have noticed with diamonds is that an Atoma diamond plate will leave deep groves in your edge and tear it up a lot more then a Metallic CBN stone made by Poltava Diamond Tools found at gritomatic.

    The CBN stones are just about as fast and they do not leave really deep groves in the edge which makes more work and also is removing more metal then needed and wasting your edge,Atomas are great for flattening stones but for sharpening I don't prefer them at all.
     
  14. soc_monki

    soc_monki

    582
    Apr 5, 2019
    I'm really enjoying my 6x2.5. Got the 8x3 in last night, and the case has a spot inside for the angle Pyramid. Nice touch!
     
  15. HeavyHanded

    HeavyHanded

    Jun 4, 2010
    I just checked and yes, that stone at Nordic Skater is well under $50. It also does require some reconditioning from time to time if it gets used often, so a great option for the educated and the relatively infrequent hoobyist, folks in the middle will be better served with a somewhat more foolproof choice.

    I hesitate to recommend most waterstones to relatively new folk as they come with their own peculiarities. And the ones I'd most recommend tend to be over $50 each. The Foss stone and a Suehiro Rika G8 might be all anyone would ever need except for super steels. My first recommendation for waterstones would be some of the Suzuki Ya house brand stones but they are at the upper end of price and all of them over $50 (well worth it). Diamonds aren't as nice to work on, but they are relatively foolproof on everything.
     
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  16. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    The request was for stones under $50.
     
    mycough likes this.
  17. aue123

    aue123 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    86
    Jul 10, 2018
    maybe a spyderco double stuff 2 and a spyderco 204 medium ? should run about $50 total for both. spend another $20 for green compound and a piece of decent leather. .. should be able to take care of 95% of your needs.
     
  18. David Martin

    David Martin Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    MarkN86, the better economic value stones will be Norton's 2X8" combo, coarse/ fine India. About 30$ delivered. And the IB-8, also a coarse /
    fine SiC grit stone. These two will cut many steels and last 2 life times. DM
     
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  19. MarkN86

    MarkN86

    332
    Sep 3, 2012
    I'm not completely restricted to under $50 but I just can't do 2-3 stones at $50 per stone at the moment. I do have the Smiths Tri-Hone and a rough grit no-name benchstone for the more tame lower carbide steels, so I think a good rough/smooth continuous diamond plate would probably be a good compliment to the stones I currently have. I do have some S30V and M390 in the stable and have been using regular alox stones on them as best I'm able, it's definitely a necessary upgrade from what has been said here. I intend to do more learning on grits and sharpeners as time goes on and buy more and better sharpeners.

    I have no illusions that somehow a better bench stone will make me a better sharpener. It's all about stone maintenance, good technique, and as I've now learned using the correct abrasive.
     
    willc likes this.
  20. MtnHawk1

    MtnHawk1 Gold Member Gold Member

    199
    May 22, 2019
    The 60 grit Baryonyx Manticore is my most important sharpening stone, although I don't know how it works specifically on S30V and M390. I usually start with it to form burrs, and to reprofile and repair edge damage. I tried several abrasives around 120, probably the most used coarse grit, but they were too slow, and I can use more pressure with the Manticore than diamond. I have better things to do than spend more time grinding metal than I have to. The Manticore is much faster, IMO, and comparatively low cost for a great value, which would leave you more money for higher grit stones, although tax and shipping have to be considered, too.

    I like diamonds but I'm not sure the type of abrasive matters much after the apex is formed. Since it's so thin and relatively delicate, it usually only needs a few light strokes with a higher grit or grits. If I were limited by funds, and needed more stones for higher grit edges, I'd go with SiC rather than diamond, again if SiC works for your steel.

    I much prefer coarse, toothy edges and don't know much about achieving smooth, polished, refined edges. Those who do may sharpen differently. There are so many variables in knife sharpening, including personal preferences, that probably not many people sharpen exactly the same way with the same stones.

    I consider the quality and potential life span of stones to be important factors in determining value. A stone might cost $50 or more, but if you can get 10 years out of it that's not much per year, plus the stone is more likely to be high quality. To me, this is an excellent value, also.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020

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