Best Stones

Long --

Within the past month or two I wrote "How to Make the benchmade Axis Perform" on the knife reviews forum. It describes how I sharpened my Axis and got a 700% performance improvement. It's really a general tutorial on sharpening recurved blades -- I sharpened my Cold Steel El Hombre according to the methods in that post. There are plenty of methods to sharpen recurved blades, but method I used utilizes the spyderco 204 so it uses equipment that should soon be ubiquitous.

The general principle is, use something that has a much smaller diameter than the diameter of the recurve. I find the small DMT stones still wider than I'd like, ditto the Edge Pro Apex stones. If I didn't have the 204, I'd use a ceramic or diamond rod.

I'll cast my vote for the Norton India stones. I had heard great things about them, but I was really amazed when I finally bought one and used it. Funny story - I bought it at the cutlery store in the mall. I asked the guy behind the counter where the India stones were and he said, "The indian store? It's down there at the other end of the mall." Ah Duh.

Yeah I read your (very excellent) writeup on sharpening the 710's recurved edge using the Spyderco 204. At the time, I had neither the 710 nor the 204, and it wasn't till a week or two ago, after having bought the 204 sharpener, that I had an inkling of what you were describing (a 204's not exactly the easiest setup to describe).

I'll have to revisit your notes now that I've also just bought the 710 this last weekend.

I just wanted to be clear in this discussion on stones, that recurved (concave) edges aren't suitable for sharpening on the typical flat stones. This sounds like a diamond rod (like Ultimate Edge) such as Jeff and Cliff mentioned, would be better for touchups in the field for those blade types ... assuming you have the muscle memory to hold to a consistent angle.
Field touch-ups don't require near the skill as actually setting a bevel. Once you have the edge bevel cut (using a lansky or whatever method of choice), keeping it sharp by using a steel or a diamond rod is very easy. It should only take 5-10 wipes of a rod/steel per side and I never put any real effort into keeping the angle all that constant. The reason being is that you are taking off so little an amount of metal the variations average out quite well.

I have tried most of the usual diamond stone offerings, man made, and natural stones. One diamond stone I find superior, is the 3M bench stones, that are sold by Japan Wood worker.These come in 200,400,800, and 1800 grit. The grading of the cutting particles, make these work very well on steel, and ceramic blades. The stones cut faster, and leave a more uniform tooth, that does not require any further tooth alignment. The 2x6 versions are about 50.00 ea. If you have a budget, the Norton India Stones will do a very good job on steel of all types.
FWO, have you directly compared the 3M and DMT stones in terms of cutting ability? Have you noticed any wear on the 3M stones.

I know this is about stones, but does anyone use those silica carbide and buffing wheels like they sell at gun shows for anything?
I am kind of new at this and am kind of confused.
Until about a year ago, I used DMT for diamond media only. The 3M substrate seems to hold the particles better, thus less loss = less wear. There is a surface pattern, but it is very fine, and appears to give more diamond surface area, and still deal with the waste filings. The base is true and flat at .375 " with rubber pads.Over the years I have found that wood workers, have a better grasp of tool sharpening, and stones, than most in the knife community.

[This message has been edited by FWO (edited 21 July 1999).]
No doubt about that! Learned much of what I know about sharpening from a couple of cabinet makers -- one an elder friend, the other a grandfather.

If I weren't a nearly obsessive whittler I would have forgotten all they taught. Until you begin to actually use a knife for something other that opening mail and admiring your reflection in the nice blade you are not apt to require much of yourself in terms of sharpening abilities.

Desert Rat


Thanks for the info about the 3M stones. I've been wondering about the 3M products for quite some time. What about those diamond sheets they sell at Japan Woodworker? Have you tried them yet? I'll try to get the stones real soon, and hopefully write a field report.

I'm with Bob on the Spyderco bench stones. I use the fine and extra fine stones with good results. They produce a fine, smooth edge.


Knife lover, Philosopher, Humanitarian, and All-around nice guy
(all right, so I'm just a knife lover)
Learning to sharpen a knife on a "flat rock" should be a goal of every knive enthusiast, as should be developing greater understanding and depth in your interest of knives. knives as a hobby have great depth in variety and history.

Those that even more enthusiastic set the goal to learn to sharpen, shave with and maintain a straight razor.

One of the "excellent learning to sharpen" tools that is often overlooked is the "Triple Flip" made by Norton. It is traditional in that Coarse, medium & fine (carborundum & India) stones are used with oil. It is also modern in that the packaging holds the oil and it is large enough and secure enough to use two hands in the sharpening stroke. The coarse stone provides the fast cutting over a large area that "teaches" angle control.

Once one can sharpen a blade well enough to shave arm hair, one is in a better postion to understand and appreciate (or dislike) the many sharpening solutions available.
I have a "crock stick" sharpener and am interested in a flat stone to supplement it. Does anyone know approx what grit the coarser of the 2 sets of sticks are? I think I might get the 3M stones FWO mentioned.