Best value in benchstones

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

  1. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    I'm with David. For the price, a Norton SiC (coarse/fine combo) is an excellent value and good stone. Will cut almost any steel out there. And the Norton India (coarse/fine combo) is another excellent stone. The SiC (or Crystolon as it is called) stone will shed it's grit, which is good for exposing new sharp SiC grains, and cuts fast. But, over time it will dish and will need to be lapped flat.
    The India stone is aluminum oxide with a hard binder. It doesn't cut as fast as a Crytolon, but it doesn't dish as fast, either. It stays flat for a long time, and the fine side will refine an edge apex pretty well, with enough "bite" in it to help in slicing cuts. For the price, those two stones are an excellent option for a $50 budget.

    You might get addicted to sharpening, and then you'll want to upgrade your stone collection and nerd out like me! A full set of DMT DiaSharp 8" plates is expensive, but well worth the investment, and if used correctly will last the average person a lifetime. XC, C, F, and EF. They have an XXC and an UF, and even a MF (medium fine). If you wanted to cut it down to just 2, go with the XC and F.
  2. Papilio


    Sep 6, 2019
    Which Smith's Tri-Hone do you have? Diamond or If the latest, the older version with 2 Arkansas stones or the current version with two synthetic stones and one Arkansas?
    You are looking for stones up to 1.000 Grit. JIS, FEPA?

    As you are staisfied with your Smith's sharpner: a much cheaper alternative to a coarse diamond stone could be a Smith's 8'' Dual Grit Combination Sharpening Stone. Most likely it won't last a lifetime but is a good start for dull knives.

    Diamond stones are good where a coarse grit is needed. They will stay flat, don't need to be lapped.
    Personally I never liked diamond stones that much. I don't know exactly, but sharpening doesn't feel good. They don't give me a good feedback. Feels like I never really know what I am doing.
    I have a 25 micron diamond stone...that is about 500 JIS, I think. My knives never feel sharp after that stone. While a slightly finer 800 JIS (instead of the 500 grit diamond) already leaves a shaving sharpness on the same knives. It is a matter of preference.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
  3. wade7575


    Apr 3, 2013
    If you want to use better stones that are above 50 a peace but can't afford enough for a full set right off the bat start slow buy 1 or 2 a month,with modern PM steels like you have I have found that it's more important to have good low end grit stones more then anything else,I often use stone by Suehiro as a finishing stone such as the G8,I say get your lower grits first in diamonds if that's what you want then get your higher grits as you can afford them.
  4. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    If OP is willing to go with oil, the Norton JUM3 or JUM4 would be a solid choice. If sticking expressly with water I'd go with Ultrasharp or Sharpal combination plate.
    David Martin and Eli Chaps like this.
  5. MarkN86


    Sep 3, 2012
    I'm pretty sure I'm already addicted to sharpening, I just bought the cheapest stones and never wanted to make a serious investment until now. Turns out if you have good knives you aren't doing yourself any favors without having a good sharpener, too.

    As for the Tri-Hone I have the two synthetics with one arkansas version. I've done various soft kitchen knife steels, VG10, tons of 8Cr13MoV, 1095, my Carbon Mora, 420HC, even put an edge on S30V and M390 with it. I didn't realize why I was having trouble with the higher end steels until I was graciously informed by Wade about the carbides being the problem. Until this thread I didn't know that there were different ratings for grit, I assumed it was one universal measurement.

    I never knew how much I didn't know. Time to dive into this rabbit hole, no going back now.
  6. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    This. I would've recommended Norton stones but refusing to use oil, well... I'd use oil with that Smith's if it were me. Heck, I'd probably use oil with the UltraSharps (which I really like).

    I have a Baryonyx Manticore that is an excellent value and I'm sure @FortyTwoBlades uses a number of his stones with water.
    FortyTwoBlades likes this.
  7. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    I use all of my stones with water, but they're oil-compatible as well. :)
    MtnHawk1 and willc like this.
  8. David Martin

    David Martin Moderator Moderator Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    Another stone that is a great value stone, is a SiC twin grit 2"X 8" stone, coarse / fine offered at Ace hardware. They are now hard to find.
    But even a blind squirrel finds a acorn now and then. A Norton stone (maybe) and the coarse side is very coarse at 90 grit and the fine side
    at 180 grit. So, a medium. For a sharpener like me these grits work fine. I like the edge coming off the medium stone. It cuts real agressive.
    I think I paid 14$ for this stone. DM
    MtnHawk1 likes this.
  9. Mr.Wizard


    Feb 28, 2015
    Nordic Skater is offering free shipping right now, so the 10 inch two sided Zandstra Foss stone is $39 total, possibly less with coupon codes. I ordered one for myself.
  10. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    It pairs up great with just about any medium, fine, or extrafine stone. I keep it in permanent water bath and use it with Arctic Fox, Norton 8k, Suehiro Rika G8, sometimes strop right off the "fine" side. It doesn't make the best stand alone edges but is a set-up powerhouse.
    I have the Suzuki Ya 400 grit and its a great stone, but is so much easier to flip the Foss and keep going that it hardly ever gets used. Surface finish is about identical.
    Mr.Wizard likes this.
  11. DeadboxHero

    DeadboxHero Triple B Handmade, Custom Knives Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 22, 2014
    King Neo is the best place to start with the best range of edge finish on the widest range of steels and the best features for the money.
  12. David Martin

    David Martin Moderator Moderator Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    So, the Nordic Skater 10" stone is a water stone... DM
  13. Mr.Wizard


    Feb 28, 2015
    @DeadboxHero Where can those stones be purchased? Tools from Japan has closed shop unfortunately.

    @David Matrin I believe it can be used with oil or water. They sell "Foss Honing Oil" but HeavyHanded uses water.

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2020
  14. David Martin

    David Martin Moderator Moderator Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    Thanks Wizard. What do you think Foss honing oil contains? DM
  15. Mr.Wizard


    Feb 28, 2015
    I don't know; I'll be using water too. Isn't most honing oil basic mineral oil of the right weight? I haven't read of them using high pressure additives like tapping fluids for example.
  16. Papilio


    Sep 6, 2019
    Those two synthetics should be quite coarse. Smith's rates them as 300 (coarse) and 800 (the medium stone). Both 300 and 800 will remove metal from your blade. For keeping your edge sharp they are too coarse, I think. It is better to keep a blade sharp than waiting until it is dull and needs a coarse stone.
    And I think we are talking about JIS. Because the fine Arkansas is given as 1.000 Grit. That's more or less true (you never know exactly, because it is a natural stone) when rated in JIS. Therefore it would make sense if those two synthetics are given in JIS, too.
    The progression from 800 to 1.000 isn't that huge. And 1.000 Grit not that fine. I would want something finer as a honing (finishing) stone. In the coarse section you are ok with your Tri-Hone. But in my opinion you need at least a finer stone. Or a strop with a good honing compound. Whatever you prefer.
    1.000 Grit JIS are ~16 micron. Your finishing stone should be about 3.000 - 6.000 (5 - 2 micron).
    That would be my suggestion. Instead of buying another coarse stone (nothing against diamonds or Norton). Maybe this is your first step?

    That was a lesson I had to learn, too. It is quite annoying (or maybe I should say frustrating) that often enough it is not clear what grit rating is used. JIS? FEPA? ANSI? CAMI? Quite confusing.
    And keep in mind: There are two grit ratings called FEPA. FEPA F (stones, more or less) and FEPA P (sandpaper).
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
  17. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010

    I used it a little bit with oil and wound up boiling it back out - it works a LOT better with water in my opinion, but it can be used with both.
    Mr.Wizard likes this.
  18. hardheart


    Sep 19, 2001
    Silicon carbide. You only mentioned going up to 1000 grit so there's no particular reason to spend more.

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