Looking for diamond/ceramic bench stones for that won't become obsolete too quickly.

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Fixall, Apr 17, 2020.

  1. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    Hello Bladeforums, I hope you are all doing well today!

    I am in the market for a set of Diamond (and possibly ceramic) stones that I can use to sharpen my harder steels. I am looking for something that I can grow into and will stick around as my skill improves.

    I was thinking maybe a DMT Coarse 3" x 8", DMT Fine 3" x 8", and a Spyderco Fine ceramic 2" x 8". I was also thinking of maybe throwing in a Spyderco Extra Fine ceramic 2" x 8", and possible a Spyderco Medium ceramic 2" x 8" (although I have a feeling the medium isn't needed).

    And what about a lapping plate? I have the glass lapping plate from Edge Pro as well as the 60 grit silica carbide and 240 grit aluminum oxide. Should I be looking into a diamond lapping plate while I'm at it? So far, I've only had to dress a few of my Edge Pro stones... Although my Soft Arkansas is probably about due.

    As of now, for softer steels, I am using a 1" x 2" x 8" Norton Crystolon, a 1" x 2" x 8 Norton India, 1/2" x 2" x 8" soft Arkanasas stone, 1/2" x 2" x 8" translucent Arkansas stone (I haven't found the need for a hard Arkansas stone, but maybe I'm missing out?), and strops with various compounds.

    I also have a Spyderco DoubleStuff, DoubleStuff 2, and a DMT Fine/Coarse Diafold that I use for my hiking/camping kits but I find them to small to be full-time sharpeners.

    I also have a Spyderco Sharpmaker with the Medium, Fine, and Extra Fine rods, but again... I find them too small to use them as benchstones.

    And last, I have an Edge Pro Apex with all the standard 1" and 1/2" stones, as well as all of the Diamond Matrix stones. I've thought about using the matrix stones as benchstones... But again, I tend to get the best edge/finish when I use a wider and longer stone.

    Well, I guess that's it. Sorry for the wall of a post, lol.

    Guide me wise ones!
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2020
    JJ_Colt45 likes this.
  2. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    I tried a few diamond stones and I really like the DMT best. I use the DMT Diafolds for my packs much like you said ... but I prefer larger bench stones to do much sharpening so I got the large 10" x 3" DMT polka dot surface bench stones ... I much prefer them over the uninterrupted surface diamond stones ... I couldn't be happier with them. They are plenty big to sharpen anything I want including choppers and so far after a couple years they are holding up great. They make quick work out of repairing edges and even some minor reprofiling.

    I have been using the Shapton glass stones and they may be my favorite stones to date overall ... they give excellent feedback which I appreciate having learned to sharpen on Arkansas stones when I was young. The Spyderco would be a less expensive route than the Shapton glass stones ... although I have no personal comparison between the performance of the two ... I hear good things about the Spyderco ceramics. But I went with the Shaptons for the size of the stones and the variety I could get. They will sharpen anything I've thrown at them so far and they will take you to a nice polish if you want to go that far.

    I still use Crystolon and India Stones on softer steels sometimes because I like the feedback they give ... but the Shapton are showing me they give great feedback too so they have sort of been what I reach for most often now.

    For lapping I have an Atoma and I use tile with SiC grit sometimes. But the Shaptons have held up extremely well for me ... it may be partly because I like to use a light stroke but I think they are a good wearing stone.
    Fixall and Alberta Ed like this.
  3. Mr.Wizard


    Feb 28, 2015
    Have you considered bonded rather than plated diamond? Unlike plated diamond that gradually becomes ineffective over time the surface of bonded diamond can be refreshed to cut like new again. I believe @DeadboxHero @Diemaker @Gritomatic and Jon Broida of Japanese Knife Imports each have or soon will have products in this category.
    Fixall likes this.
  4. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    I'm surprised to hear that you like the polka dot DMT over the uninterrupted stones (although I don't know why). I had planned on going with the uninterrupted version, but I have nothing to support my reasoning other than I figured they would last a bit longer. What differences have you noticed?

    I'll check into the Shapton glass stones too. I've heard good things about them but haven't looked into them too deeply. I'll try to find some comparisons to the Spyderco ceramics. I have to admit, I had planned on going with the Spyderco ceramics mainly because I love the company and have a lot of trust in them to put out a quality product (I love both my DoubleStuffs and Sharpmaker).

    I haven't looked much into bonded stones although I've been seeing the name Venev pop up a lot lately, I'll take a look at Gritomatic offerings and will read some reviews. I absolutely love David's (@Diemaker) Matrix stones for the Edge Pro and would snatch one of his benchstones up in a heartbeat. Looks like they may not be available yet though. I wasn't aware that @DeadboxHero was also working on a bonded stone. I'd love to give one of those a go too! I love his feedback on various steels. Jon Broida is a legend when it comes to sharpening... His stones tend to always be sold out though... And I'm a little frightened by the $300 price tag for two stones, lol. I guess that's something I could definitely grow into though...
  5. Mr.Wizard


    Feb 28, 2015
    That surprises me too; I had always heard the uninterrupted surface DMT's were preferred. @JJ_Colt45 would you mind elucidating?

    I have yet to spend more than $40 on a single stone so I really understand. However for steels too wear resistant for Arkansas stones, India stones, Spyderco ceramics etc. bonded diamond is probably the only type that could be described with "buy it for life."

    Well, maybe a colossal grinding wheel. :p
    Fixall likes this.
  6. Blues

    Blues Lapsed SuperMod / Cattle Knife Rustler Staff Member Super Mod

    Oct 2, 1998
    Looks like you can plan a good workout around those wheels as well. Multi-tasking at its best. :cool:
    Fixall and Mr.Wizard like this.
  7. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    I like the polka dot pattern DMTs because the uninterrupted course diamond stones are really rough and there was a huge learning curve on those.

    I thought the polka dot pattern would be the stones to cause catching or not have a good feedback. But after trying some course diamond stones (like the Atoma) I gave the DMT large course polka dot bench stone a try and after a few sessions it felt pretty good. I tried a uninterrupted DMT and it much like the Atoma was more difficult to break in to get a feel for it. They higher grit stones may have a lot better feel.

    And I think the Spyderco ceramics would be nice stones but I would want at least one a bit coarser than Spyderco offers.
    Fixall and Mr.Wizard like this.
  8. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    Yea, I guess I should edit my title a bit. What I meant was a set of stones that I would be able to keep around for a long time as my skill improves. For instance, how some people suggest a beginner's snowboard because the learning curve on an expert or even a moderate snowboard is much steeper... But before long you've outgrown you beginner's snowboard and you're out shopping again for a more advanced snowboard. If that makes any sense?

    I want to buy a set of stones once and be good for years if possible.

    I edited the title to hopefully make it a bit more clear.
  9. Mr.Wizard


    Feb 28, 2015
    In that case I misunderstood; I thought the idea was stones that would not wear out in your lifetime.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2020
    Fixall likes this.
  10. Phydeaux


    Mar 4, 2006
    The stone that I use is a Norton IB8 stone. It is probably 45 years old. Still is very good shape. It'll get handed down to my son.
    Fixall likes this.
  11. soc_monki


    Apr 5, 2019
    I'm using sharpal Diamond stones, I like them. Also have a Norton crystolon coarse/fine, and my sharpmaker. I don't see any of them wearing out anytime soon!
    Fixall likes this.
  12. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    Specifically for high alloy/high carbide steels I'd go with Atoma 140 and Ultrasharp combination plate. Throw in a few sheets of diamond lapping film at < 10 micron for a strop if needed, or some diamond powder rubbed over regular grease stick compound.
    Fixall likes this.
  13. ScottsBad

    ScottsBad Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 13, 2015
    Since I went to harder steels (CPM 3V and 20CV) for most of my knives I generally do not let them get dull before I strop them back to razors. I'm not super experienced with sharpening, but I've learned from my mistakes over the years. I avoid waiting until my knife is dull and I've gone with convex for almost all my edges. Because convex is easier to sharpen IMHO.

    I've tried most of the methods out there. The only time I remove much steel is for repair or complete reprofile.

    If I have to do a re-profile because I want to change the blade geometry, or I get a chip or what ever. I use Japanese water stones (seldom), or my cheapo $40 Harbor Freight grinder with appropriate grit belts and leather belts. The grinder is what I primarily use to re-profile.

    If you opt for the belt grinder be very very very careful and start with very fine belts. The HF grinder speed is high and will take material off so fast you won't know what happened. Especially on softer steels. PRACTICE on cheap knives.

    I also have an Edge Pro and have had it for years, I find this type of sharpener to be too fiddley, and it doesn't work well (for me) on knives over about 5" or so, so I don't use it. YMMV

    I have some expensive Japanese water stones and diamond plates, I occasionally use these, but they are tricky to use so I only use them to true an edge that is getting crooked or uneven (almost never happens).

    I also suggest only using the finest grit DMT type sharpeners as they remove steel very quickly.

    What I've found works best for me (best results while maintaining sanity is my goal) is to get to an optimal edge profile and use a strop to maintain it. Otherwise, it can be extremely frustrating especially with super-steels.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2020
    Fixall likes this.
  14. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    Yea, I should have made the title more clear. I still like your idea of picking some benchstones (or at least A benchstone) from both Deadboxhero and Diemaker though!

    I agree! I am a big fan of both the Norton IB8 and JB8. Great stones... That I picked up on the advice of this forum, lol.

    I'll check out Sharpal, I don't really know anything about them. Thanks!

    Now you've gone and done it! I was all ready to pick up the DMT and Spyderco or Shapton plates/stones, lol.

    What do you like about Atoma over DMT? I do tend to see Atoma's name pop up a lot. I also see that you suggest diamond lapping films... Do ceramics not perform well on the type of steels I want to sharpen? I tend to collect a wide range of steels and want to have the basis covered on all of them. As of now, I am only sharpening low hrc stainless steels and carbon steels on cheaper knives until my skill improves and using the EdgePro for the more expensive knives and harder/high carbide steels.

    To give you an idea of the range of steels I am trying to cover, on hand I have:

    rex45, hap40, m4, cruwear, pd1, d2, cts-xhp, 3v, 4v, m390, 20cv, s30v, s35vn, 440c, superblue, supergold 2, bd1n, 52100, 1095, o1, elmax, cpm154, damasteel, 420hc, 14c28n, 12c27, 420hc, and the list is growing. I think what I have on hand covers the back-end of my list, but I don't know that they'd be too effective with the first ten or so steels on the list.

    I really enjoy the slow pace of sharpening (at least how I do it, lol) so I can't imagine I would ever switch to using a grinder, but who knows! I've never tried to reprofile some of my harder steels by hand so maybe I just have no idea what I'm in for yet, lol.

    I'm a huge fan of the EdgePro (I think I've purchased every accessory and stone they sale, lol), but it does indeed take quite some time to get a feel for. The new Slide Guide and Magnet really help with this in my opinion.

    Waterstones have never really appealed to me for some reason. I've seen beautiful results from them though, so maybe I should be a bit more open.
  15. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010

    I like the Atoma 140 because its fast, has a finish that is a little more aggressive than the XC DMT but not as gnarly as the XXC. The Ultrasharp is a good price, good size, and has proven to be extremely durable. As a trio this works very well for everything.

    All of my DMTs show evidence of diamond loss near the edges, and I swear some have come with low abrasive coverage there, right from the factory. Quality of the uninterrupted surface plates has been hit or miss in my experience.

    The interrupted surface plate quality is much better, more uniform in my experience. A C/EF would be a nice Duosharp combo.

    Diamond lapping film works just like a strop but can be cleaned as it gets loaded up. I have also gotten excellent results using a very light rub of conventional compound like Flexcut Gold, and if the steel warrants it a tiny bit of diamond residue smeared over the top.

    I'm not a fan of ceramics for high carbide steels of any flavor.
    Fixall likes this.
  16. Cutler


    Feb 13, 2000
    Asking what kind of stone you should get is kind of like asking what kind of ice cream you should get. Get the kind you like.

    You can see from the responses that there are as many opinions as there are stones. None of the opinions are wrong.

    Personally, I am old school. I like oil stones. Crystolon is great and cheap. India stones, black Arkansas, natural water stones, whatever flattening equipment that is needed for the stones you use. I have a couple diamond files too.

    My only advice is that once you find you favorite, get big stones. Long strokes always give better results. Every time you lift or change direction, you have to re-adjust your angle...either consciously or subconsciously. Long smooth strokes work best.
    Fixall likes this.
  17. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    Thanks for the input on the Atoma 140 vs DMT XC and XXC plates. It looks like I can get the DMT XC for around $55 and the Atoma for $80. Not too much of a difference if I am going to keep these for years. Do you feel that extra $25 is worth the cost of admission?

    as far as the diamond loss on DMT plates goes, I actually noticed that on the DMT Diafold I picked up when I first opened it. It was mainly on the corners where the plastic case rubs when closing it, and it’s just a field sharpener so it didn't bother me that much. I supposed it would be a bigger annoyance if it was on a plate I used often. Would you suggest the Ultra Sharp plates over the DMT interrupted plates? If so, I noticed the Ultra Sharp plates are available in several grit combinations. Which would you suggest? I was thinking maybe the 300/1200?

    I really like the idea of giving lapping films a try over a strop. Once I get a good glaze going on a strop, sometimes it seems like nothing gets it back to normal no matter how much I clean it.

    So... I actually just picked up a Spyderco 8" x 2" Ultra Fine, lol (it was for sale here on the forums for a good price). Can you think of a place for it within the stones I have, and plates I plan to get, or should I probably just be passing it along? Maybe after the Arkansas Translucent for maintaining an already sharp edge? I was pretty impressed with the finish the Fine side of the DoubleStuff and DoubleStuff 2 left on soft stainless steel (ie tru-sharp and sandvik 12c27) and the fine and ultrafine SharpMaker rods seem to do well on most my knives.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020
  18. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    Yea, I definitely see that, lol. It's actually cool to see that there isn't an overwhelming consensus on what are the best diamond plates/stones. That means there's some healthy competition (or a niche waiting to be filled I suppose)! It's just hard to know what kind of ice cream you like without trying them all... And with diamond plates, that gets expensive, lol.
  19. Baron Mind

    Baron Mind

    Mar 30, 2018
    Fixall likes this.
  20. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    To me, yes, the Atoma 140 is worth the extra $. I have the Ultrasharp 300/1200 and both sides have held up very well. In fact it was somewhat used and gifted to me from another forum member, so at first I thought of it as a "backup" plate. But now its the first one I grab - have a done hours of work with both sides and with a bit of Barkeepers Friend it it is still "like new".

    A DMT Coarse/EF duosharp would be a strong contender but cost a lot more.

    Ceramics will work great on a lot of steels, but for high carbide or even very high Rockwell I'm not a fan. I don't think I'd sell it though. On a lot of steels they work great.
    Fixall likes this.

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