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Thread: Waterstone grits

  1. #1

    Waterstone grits

    I use 800, 1200 and 6000 grit king stones. In looking at the micron sizes for these, it seems like 1200, 4000 and 8000 may be a better path to a sharp edge that will last a little longer than the current sharpening schedule I'm using. I'm just sharpening regular items like plane blades, chisels and an occasional kitchen knife. I can get something pretty sharp now, but 1200 to 6000 seems like a bit of a jump and maybe 8000 will get a better polish. I'm working in mostly oak and if that changes (hopefully) I'd probably be doing several projects in walnut.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Your king stones will work, but they represent "old" technology--hence, are slower, dish faster, wear out quicker, tend to need more water, etc. The newer ceramic stones (from older tech [shapton pro] to newer [Sigma, Chosera, or Gesshin], plus all those in between [Bester, Super Stones, etc]) will cut faster, dish less, endure longer, tend to use less water, and, reflect actual grit better.

    For me, I've found a step between 1000/1200 to 6000 to be a great benefit. Coming off my 3k or 4k stone, my Sigma power ceramic 6000 works super quickly and produces a fantastically, super sharp and durable edge. Without the intermediate step, it takes me longer to achieve a sharp edge and IMO the edge is not as good (but it is sharp). My Sigma 6k is easily equal to most 8000/10000 stones in its ability to polish and hone. This stone just keeps cutting--and it's faster when it gets a better preppred blade.

    To get the most from your current stones before investing in others, pick up a quality diamond flattening stone. I have the iWood 300 and its fantastic from my King 300 to my Sigma 13000. Others have praised the Atoma 400; and there's always a coarse DMT--but having used one, it doesn't hold up as well as the iWood. Soak first, then flatten frequently. This alone should speed up the cutting ability of your Kings. When you're ready to replace your used up stones, there are several older threads here that will provide good insights into the various options.

    Bottom line--they all work! You're buying preferences mostly, along with some genuinely distinctive advantages.

    Best of luck,

    Archie

  3. #3
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    The 800 is a good starting point. A 1200 is a bit too fine for rough shaping. A 400 is an even better starting point for blades with chip or angle issues.

    The newer stones in the 6000 grit are supposed to be much faster than the earlier tech Kings. I use a 8000 king and a 10000 Ice Bear. I don't use the Ice Bear as much as I did when I first got it because the 8000 king is really quite good. Unless you hit some thing that turns an edge or makes a chip, you can keep a 8000 king edge in tune with some stropping of green rouge on a hone. Many times. And even then, back to the 8000 for a quick tune up and back in the shaving action.

    I do recommend a higher grit stone than the 8000 especially for paring chisels and the harder steels. I can only imagine how good the new high grit ceramic stone may be as they are priced awfully high. I've even tried diamond paste but I don't find it all that much better than using the green rouge hone-ing board. Let's face it, the 1/2 micron green rouge is a real bargain and the more you use it the better the results...IMO.

    As for the jump between 1200 and 6000 or even 8000, I use a natural blue Aoto stone ( http://www.japanwoodworker.com/produ...&dept_id=13118 ) that sets up the blade for polishing. It works really well in general. There's a bit of leaning that you have to go through for each particular stone. Mine has finer grit on the right half than it does on the left half. So I start left and finish right. It's rated as a mix of 2000 to 3000 grit but I think the right side may be more towards the 4000 grit rating. Mother Nature is always surprising to the learning process...that's why it's called learning...hoot!

    I would recommend you get a new tech stone in the 3000 to 4000 grit area. Send Stu a email, explain your stone sequence and he'll give you great advice...worth more than the stone in most cases as 'learning' can be expensive.

    Enjoy the process and good luck. Keep us posted.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Foster View Post
    I use 800, 1200 and 6000 grit king stones. In looking at the micron sizes for these, it seems like 1200, 4000 and 8000 may be a better path to a sharp edge that will last a little longer than the current sharpening schedule I'm using. I'm just sharpening regular items like plane blades, chisels and an occasional kitchen knife. I can get something pretty sharp now, but 1200 to 6000 seems like a bit of a jump and maybe 8000 will get a better polish. I'm working in mostly oak and if that changes (hopefully) I'd probably be doing several projects in walnut.

    Any thoughts?
    The 1200 to 6000 jump is not a problem unless you're trying to use a stone meant for honing to work a large expanse of hardened steel.

    What do you use to grind and what's your sharpening style? (microbevel with a jig, hollow grind, flat bevel with a freehand microbevel?)

    The king 6000 was my first fine stone, it's OK, but it's not a world beater.

    That said, were I in your position, if I wanted to add something relatively cheap but finer, i'd be inclined to give the resin stone that takeshi kuroda makes a shot.

    I don't see anything anywhere comparable in price and finish. It'd run you about $80.

    http://www.metalmaster-ww.com/

    http://www.metalmaster-ww.com/product/46

    (this is a resin stone, like a shapton, but it's bigger and costs half as much. I'd be hardly surprised if it was every bit as good. I have ordered from this guy before and what he sells is what he says it is. His prices with shipping ($5 to ship from japan!) are pretty tough to beat).

    The other thing you could do is just get the green stuff that LV sells in a crayon (or woodcraft or rockler, it's everywhere "microfine compound") and use it on MDF with a little bit of oil, or try autosol polish (which will create a very sharp edge, but the stuff in the paste that's intended to protect metal leaves a film that's a bit undesirable).

    Give us an idea of what you're looking to do, if you're looking to get results without spending too much, if you want to dabble in some of the best at a moderately higher price, etc.

    No matter what your stones are, you can always change how you're grinding to minimize the amount of work your stones do and do more with less. You can also learn to make your 6000 stone behave like a finer stone by controlling water while using it and continuing to work whatever iron you're using as the stone becomes dry and burnished (we're not talking about a matter of minutes, here, maybe an extra 15 seconds of work on the edge and 15 seconds on the back).

    A strop is probably in order with a 6k grit stone, too. Any piece of leather, cork, felt or linen to work the 6k stone wire edge back and forth and break it off.
    Last edited by David Weaver; 01-29-2012 at 12:40 PM.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  5. #5
    Several additional data points;

    1) I think the 800 and 1200 Kings cut pretty fast and are easy to keep flat.
    2) I'm not quite sure, but I think getting the scratches left by the 1200 takes too long to remove with the 6000, and I'm curious if these scratches I don't remove shorten working time on a blade hone significantly. See pic's of a blade I recently sharpened, used a little, but I ran it across the 800, 1200 and 6000 for about the same time on each stone.
    3) As a novice, I've been pleasantly surprised that I can get a plane blade sharp enough to get .001 shaving on my smoother (#4) without it being total luck, it still takes me more fiddling than I would like and I still need practice, but it's more than enough of a small success to keep fueling my excitement to do more with my hands.

    Note: This blade looks nicely polished to my 49 year old eyes in my pretty well lit shop space, but in the pictures it looks a little rough still

    Blade1.jpgBlade2.jpg
    Last edited by Jim Foster; 01-29-2012 at 2:58 PM.

  6. #6
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    Well, you can do two things to decrease the time on the 6000 stone.

    * if the bevel is wide enough, side sharpen (i see your 1200 scratches are on the diagonal - there should be something on side sharpening here, just basically you'd run the iron up and down the stone making scratches parallel to the edge, it makes it easy to have a geometrically clean edge that's quick to work with the finish stone any way you'd like)

    * do what you're doing with the 1200 stone, then reference the bevel on the finish stone, and lift the iron about two degrees and then pull strokes on the 6k stone so that you're only working the very edge. That little steeper bit will be honed to very quickly with the 800 stone the next time you hone.

    Otherwise, there's no shame in working the edge on the finish stone for a while until you get what you want.

    The bevels you show look good whatever stone they're on (1200?). The scratches run all the way to the edge and the edge looks uniform. make sure the other side of the bevel looks as good with the polish stone.

    Your #3 is good, you're right, it's not rocket science. Experience will breed speed, both in grinding and honing, as well as setting the plane up once you're done with the iron.

    The kings are just fine for woodworking. I used kings for a long time before curiosity got the best of me and I exploded into the purchase of scads of stones.

    Of all of the stones that I've gotten (and I've gotten a lot), I probably only have one stone that will make a better edge than a king 6k followed up by green 0.5 micron honing stuff on MDF (for the few times you need an edge better than 6k). And no sane person would use that stone on woodworking tools - I wouldn't.

    If you get almost all of the 1200 scratches removed, there's likely little difference in edge durability, but you can modify technique a little so that whatever your final stone is, you get uniform very fine scratches from that stone on both sides of the bevel.

    You can go different directions from where you are now that will maybe make sharpening a little easier, but stones that cut faster than kings on O1 and A2 don't generally yield a practical gain for woodworking, not nearly so much as experience and good use of the grinder. I know the surfaces I get now look little or no different than they did 5 years ago when I was using kings.

    One side comment, I might be inclined in your position to be spending most of the time on the two endpoints (the 800 and the 6000. The 1200 should be a quick step, and the 6000 may end up being quick, too. The 800 stone is setting up everything for the following stones.)
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  7. #7
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    I'd say keep your stone set up and add a hand strop if you don't already use it. I doubt that 1/4/8 set up would be a much better improvement. The sharpest, most durable chisel edge I got was on a power strop..however, it's a little tricky to get it right without rounding over the edge or creating an unintentional back bevel. I don't have enough courage/experience to power strop a plane blade (yet!)

  8. #8
    I use the 300, 1200 and 6000 king waterstones. I won't be replacing them until they are worn out - they do the job just fine. I don't feel a great need for any additional grits either.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Richards View Post
    I use the 300, 1200 and 6000 king waterstones. I won't be replacing them until they are worn out - they do the job just fine. I don't feel a great need for any additional grits either.
    Sean, have you used any other waterstones?

    When I did, that became the deciding factor to buy better stones. Until I experienced how much faster and better an Arashiyama 1k was than my Norton 1k, I wasn't putting another dollar into stones. So, I researched Stu's blog, Tools from Japan blog http://www.toolsfromjapan.com/wordpress/ how about a dozen stones compared. Poor Stu had to work so hard to "assist" me in finding what fit my preferences. In the end, I spent twice more than I had saved and alloted but, wow, what fantastic results. From that meager but excellent start (Sigma 120; Sigma power 1-6-13k; plus an iWood diamond hone), I've added more steps from the 120 to the 1000 and another step from the 1-6 and plan to add the 8k between the 6-13k, as well.

    I agree (note my first post) that what you have works! That's not the final word though--it just works slower, dishes faster, uses up more quickly, doesn't cut as many types of steel as quickly, doesn't have as firm of a tactile response....well, that's my opinion anyway.... But it works.

    Just know that once you do use up you stones (and you may not be rehabbing dozens of blades and backs like me) there's a whole new breed of racing stones to compete for your money. And it's a shame that the Choseras are so expensive--but less than the Gesshins, because they are fantastic stones to use. The Sigma powers cost less (on some stones almost half) but yield better results (Sigma power 400>Cho 400; Sigma 6000>Cho 5000; and Sigma 13000>Cho 10000) or nearly similar results (Cho 1000>Sigma 1000 on bevels; on backs Sig 1000>Cho 1000). And there are Besters, Aryashiyamas, Gesshins, Shaptons, and a host of others of which I have no knowledge; but they really do yield better results with less time and greater feel, unless you buy hard stones (Besters or Shaptons) that are less responsive in feel. So there you have it. I'm not a purist or loyalist in the stones I use; but I certainly have preferences. The reason I have no desire (any longer) to buy a Chosera 5k and 10k is because I've got superior stones (Sigma 6k and 13k) that yield better results, are easier to use, have fewer finicky restrictions (soak times and delicate nature). I could easily have been happy with Shapton Pros until I used my Suehiro Rika 5k, which is softer and muddier. Once I had used a super polishing stone that was "fun" to work, I really pulled back from those stones that are "more-like" concrete.

    Take care and have fun.... I simply have less money for buying new saw kits and other such things because I've been busy playing with waterstones. At least Stu and David Weaver will understand . Hope my ramblings aren't taken as a challenge; they're not so intended. My journey for sharpness is merely that--my experiences. If this helps--good; if not--it's cost you nothing but a few moments.

    Archie
    Last edited by Archie England; 01-30-2012 at 10:41 AM. Reason: corrections

  10. #10
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    I go back and forth on this.

    I like stones a lot, so I've bought a lot of stones. They're like toys.

    But some razor sharpening stuff has turned some of my thoughts on their heads a little (in terms of what someone really needs to have). One of the things you get toward when you're sharpening razors isn't whether or not a razor will cut hair, but whether or not it will do it so cleanly that there is no pull against the grain, and such that there is no irritation left on your skin.

    You don't always have the option of having a finer and finer stone to do that (natural stones that are truly that fine cost real money). So you learn the stone and start to experiment to make it do more than it's label says. You moderate water (more or less, depending on what a stone releases). If you have a stone that releases swarf no matter what, then you have no choice but to let it dry, which isn't really a problem as long as you can unload it. If you have a stone that will hold onto its grit (like a hard natural stone), then it's preferable probably to run it on clear water after you've got the edge near where you want it.

    This goes back to what Joel was reiterating about spending time on a finish stone (which doesn't necessarily equate to a lot of time in a sharpening session, but spending time to learn the stone).

    One of my super dandy little stones is the 6k stone that fujibato sells for $39 shipped over here (that he calls "magnesia 6000" and labels it as private brand or private label or something). It feels like a chosera, and it cuts fast. The only thing I wished was that it would be finer, because it's clearly a 6k stone. So last night, I applied what i've done with razors to that stone, and polished the back and bevel of a chisel (which would be plenty sharp for nearly anything). And then I wiped the surface of the stone dry, and lapped the back of the chisel on the surface of the stone for about 20 seconds and the bevel for about 10. We're not talking about eons here.

    How sharp was the result? Every bit as sharp as the SP 13k, Shapton 15k and chosera 10k would get on clear water. How do I know? The edge passed HHT-3 all along it - on a chisel with a 30 degree bevel. That is not a minor feat given that razors are generally around half that in their total bevel angle. And in the shave test, it wasn't just a removal of hair on the arm, it was the silent effortless lay over of the hair on the arm, cleanly and with no irritation.

    All of that with a $39 stone, and really in little more time than I would've spent otherwise with my "expensive" stones that are at least twice as fine in nominal grit size.

    That method is only good if with a squirt of water, the stone surface will clear itself with the next chisel. Otherwise, all you have is a loaded stone that is a nuisance to refresh because you have to reach for a nagura or a diamond hone. So a spray of water on the stone, and little work on the back of the chisel and I was back to fresh 6k stone without doing anything else. Success.

    I am a proponent of high speed steels if someone works a lot of tropical woods, but otherwise, I think they solve a problem that doesn't exist. However, with good grinding technique, they can be sharpened with "cheap" stones, too. I don't like having stones that are targeted to cut HSS, because there are other things that do it better without compromising the stone itself for the rest of the steels that get used a lot more often (carbon steels, A2, ..that pretty much covers it. Even D2 isn't really hard to sharpen. M2s and beyond are better on diamonds or something hooked up to a plug).

    So despite the fact that I am enamored with stones (I have another one coming this week - purple welsh slate, for razors - probably too fine and too slow for tools), and that I would continue buying them in droves, ever more expensive (like the huge $550 razor stone Takeshi has listed - hubba hubba!) if it weren't for my wife....despite that, I'm beginning to lean toward the knowledge of how to use a decent semi finish stone for cheap being every bit as good as buying a stone or set of stones where the stones themselves are more specialized.

    I have little doubt at this point that a competent user who is willing to experiment with a 6k king can get just as good of edges as I can get with "the big 3" that i mentioned earlier.

    But it probably won't keep me from playing around with more stones.
    Last edited by David Weaver; 01-30-2012 at 11:17 AM.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  11. #11
    Ah, that's the spirit!!!!!

    And, if you hadn't gained all this experiential knowledge then the wisdom to try what you've done and discovered would not have happened. I could never have articulated what you just said; but, I've had a similar (albeit much less successful) discovery with my few Chosera stones. After finished and ready to move up to the next stone, if I'll wipe it down and leave it only moist but mostly wiped dry, the stone will impart some fantastic polishing to the bevel edge. Now, I don't do microscopes and photos; but it was much sharper than normal. I just didn't know what it meant.

    Thanks for taking one for the team, David; paying for weddings has depleted my funds for a while. To further compound my woes, my baby gets her drivers license next month and not to fear--the roads are safe. It's just the parking lots that are serious risk

  12. #12
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    This whole discussion reminds me of the saying that's often used in bluegrass circles... beware the guy who only owns one banjo, because he probably knows how to use it.

    (hoarding and experimentation and churn in the collection is common in banjo players, too).
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archie England View Post
    Ah, that's the spirit!!!!!

    And, if you hadn't gained all this experiential knowledge then the wisdom to try what you've done and discovered would not have happened. I could never have articulated what you just said; but, I've had a similar (albeit much less successful) discovery with my few Chosera stones. After finished and ready to move up to the next stone, if I'll wipe it down and leave it only moist but mostly wiped dry, the stone will impart some fantastic polishing to the bevel edge. Now, I don't do microscopes and photos; but it was much sharper than normal. I just didn't know what it meant.

    Thanks for taking one for the team, David; paying for weddings has depleted my funds for a while. To further compound my woes, my baby gets her drivers license next month and not to fear--the roads are safe. It's just the parking lots that are serious risk
    haha...you can use the line we always used when someone got a license...."walk on the road, because ___ just got their license, and the sidewalks surely aren't safe".


    You're ahead of me if you're already intentionally playing with the polish from a lower grit stone - by years! I haven't done it in earnest until i started with razors and realized that I had exactly zero stones that were suitable to finish a razor when they were freshly scuffed.

    Not that I'm trying to discourage people from buying a set of stones. Stu's set is nice, a set of shapton pros (if you can avoid the high cost of them in the US) is nice, a set of choseras is nice (they're not cheap anywhere). I like all of them, but I see them all as sort of the same thing. They make a great set of stones to use, any one of them, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy any one of them.

    But for the people who would hesitate to buy any of them because they don't have the money or don't want to put it there, skill can replace wallet thickness and provide results that are just as good when they're needed. I wish I would've realized it earlier - I egged a lot of people on to buy stones! And the more I learn to use them all, the less different they all seem.

    It just takes a little of stepping away from the instructional videos ("put your tool in this kind of guide, and pull it on this stone in this way, buy these, and never do it different than this...." blah blah - if you've ever watched a 1 hour sharpening video, you know what I mean) and getting some experimentation in.
    Last edited by David Weaver; 01-30-2012 at 11:32 AM.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by David Weaver View Post
    You're ahead of me if you're already intentionally playing with the polish from a lower grit stone - by years! I haven't done it in earnest until i started with razors and realized that I had exactly zero stones that were suitable to finish a razor when they were freshly scuffed.

    ... buying a set of stones ... I like all of them, but I see them all as sort of the same thing. They make a great set of stones to use, any one of them, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy any one of them.

    But for the people who would hesitate to buy any of them ... skill can replace wallet thickness and provide results that are just as good ...And the more I learn to use them all, the less different they all seem.
    Okay, ahead of you--but only in age! Wow, the knowledge and wisdom you've accumulated in such a short time! My hat's off to you. You, sir, are one of the best informed people in the room. Of course, Stu and Joel (and many others, too) deserve those accolades.

    I owe such experimentation suggestions to Orlando (OBG). He's quite knowledgeable, seriously so, in these matters. We joke around about our fanatical pursuit of the unobtainable sharp edge: there might need to be a 13 step program for blade sharpeners--both for the blade backs and bevels :-). He clued me in to steel nuances that reacted to one stone binder better or worse (think, slower or faster sharpening) as well as to the world of stone responsiveness. For instance, I prefer hard stones to a point; but, if a stone can't produce slurry beyond mere swarf, that stone loses appeal for usage. Once I learned what polishing "FELT" like, it's hard not to want to polish. IMO, polishing = burnishing the final edge, and I can do that nearly well on a Chosera 1k, and definitely on a Chosera 3k and a Gesshin 4k. The Sigma 6k absolutely polishes--but it's not primarily a polishing stone. Like the Choseras, the Sigma power 6000 is a cutter. Keep adding water to soften the swarf and this stone will just keep making an edge sharper, and mirror edge polished, too. But what's lacking in the Sigma 6k is that FEEL. Orlando tells me that the Sigma 8k is the fantastic "feel" stone for polishing. He and another friend, Eric, describe the Sigma power 8k as nearly doubling the polish factor beyond the 6k. Wow! That sounds great. I've just got to get with Stu and make an order (awaiting a reply currently). Now, beyond the 6k I can tell the cut quality coming off the 13,000 is much better than off the 6000 but the blade looks the same, just brighter.

    So, to sum up--polishing matters, sometimes. For me, this is the domain of planing end-grain. To achieve that level of sharpness for normal planing is okay--but, honestly, overboard. So our finer grit stones allow us to attack difficult grain, endgrain, and finishes for smoothing so that no sanding is required. Now that I've invested in better and higher grit stones, my use of sand paper for flat work has gone way down. Sharper blades really do make a difference; and to use David's analogy--sharpness without resistance is the shaving feel sought for!

    Back to our search, now, for more stones and yet further esoteric sharpening nuances

  15. #15
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    So, are you going to go out and let your 6k surface dry off a little and see if you can duplicate the sharpness of the 13k? There's no great reason to do it other than noodling around when you already have the fine stone, but I guess it's a skill builder of sorts.

    I'm going to take my 13k tonight and let it dry off and try to work over a razor that i have that's extremely hard, and that may be thwarting a natural stone that I have. The 13k is a nice razor pre-polisher wet, but it releases just a bit of swarf - just enough to show up in the water and make a light slurry -and has a pretty strong draw (feeling of friction on a razor). That keeps it from getting quite the sharpness you'd want on a razor, but maybe used dry or almost dry, it'll do the same a step further than the 6k stone will do and put a level of sharpness on a razor that makes it comfortable (none of the artificial stones really do that wet, they all get sharp enough to shave OK, but they leave a ragged edge. That doesn't matter for woodworking, you blast past that level in wear very quickly such that worrying about it is chasing problems that don't exist).

    My original thought with stropping and all of the other stuff that works well with razors is that it's not necessary on a stone with a 1 micron abrasive, because you wear the edge of an iron past the point of benefit so fast that it's a waste of time. I think that's still accurate, but I recognize the value of stropping and polishing now when that tiny abrasive isn't available (and even a 1 micron abrasive that cuts deep can leave an uncomfortable edge on a razor, despite the fact that it would leave a waxy looking super smooth surface on wood).

    Short of buying some 30k grit shapton stone (that's not going to happen), the SP 13k is my favorite "fakie" for razors. If stones are doing the final business, natural stones still rule when it comes to making an edge on a razor most of the time, both in fineness and comfort.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

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