Please, I need an expert help to choose an high quality sharpening tool.

Mar 29, 1999
Dear friends,

it is about 20 years I use to sharpen my knives myself.

Fifteen years ago, I bought a Smith Medium Arkansas and a Smith Hard Arkansas and since five years ago I was very happy with them. I was able to sharpen all my knives to a good razor edge (not very hair-popping, but I could either give a good quick edge or an hair-shaving one, spending some more time and some more care).

There was only a knife I wasn't able to sharpen properly: a Cold Steel Large Shinobu Tanto (year 1990), San Mai. I was able to obtain a good edge on the blade, but its point was (and is) quite thick. It needed, and need, a lot of hard work.

After that knife, I bought some other knives, from Spyderco, Case, Cold Steel, and I started to have problems in sharpening more often. When I bought a Benchmade 800HSS I achieved a total panic!

I wasn't able to sharpen it!

The problem is that my stones are quite old and used, so are eroded, and it is very difficult to maintain always the same angle. Moreover, it seems that some steels are very hard and wear-resistent, like the stone itself (just kidding a little).

I am still able to sharpen 440C quite nicely.

I bought some other stones and a triangular ceramic rod, but it seems I bought cheap stuff that can't work at the level I want.

So I decided to buy a new good stone to solve my problems. I went to two well-known knife-shops and asked for it. One of them adviced me for a Japanese stone (I cannot tell the brand, it was all written in Japanese Kanji), say 8x3x1 inches, light orange, grit 1000, it seems a man-made one. Just to describe it better, it is made in grit 600, 800, 1000 and 6000. Its price is $ 52 USD, $ 70 USD for grit 6000.

The other man adviced me for a DMT W6_P Whetstone, grit 1200. Its price is $ 78 USD.

Looking at those prices, you can have discovered I am not in USA.

The final question is: given I like sharpening my knives free-hand, what kind of stone among the Japanese and the DMT you think it is better, at those prices? Please, be open-minded and forget "Buy American!" for only few moments. I need a real good advice. When I started my quest, my budget was $ 40 USD. I will be pleased to spend 78 bucks, but does DMT worth it? Or is the Japanese stone not so good as the DMT, but his quality gap is lesser than the gap between $ 52 and $ 78?

If I bought DMT on Internet, its price, added with taxes and fees to import it, would be greater than $ 70 USD.

Please, I need your help. I am not using my knives, because I cannot resharpen them!

In my opinion, the prices you mentioned are outrageous. Go to and check out their stuff. The quality is the best and support is wonderful as well.

None, of that will sharpen a knife. It will only put a finish on a knife that already cuts well. If you actually attempt to restore a blunt knife with a 1200 grit DMT stone you will be long dead before the knife shows any improvement. The surface on that stone is as smooth as glass and leaves a very fine finish. Same as with the Japanese Waterstones in the grits you mentioned.

If your knives are blunt, meaning they are so damaged that they cannot actually cut anything. Try steeling them for awhile (25 strokes or so per side) to see if that makes any effect. If it does not then you are going to need to remove a significant amount of material and I would start with a much lower grit. The x-coarse in the DMT, black, and the low grit Japanese Waterstone , green.

If you are unsure of which to get then buy a really small version of the stone and try it out. DMT for example sells little key chain versions of their stones. You can use these little stone on a small portion of one of your blade and see how it sharpens. The little keychain DMT for example is less than $8.00 at Discount knives. The upside of this is that you now have a little portable sharpener for quick touchups in the field.

I use a 600 grit DMT to sharpen all the knives you mention including Benchmades HSS. If I want a little better polish I go to 1200 grit DMT (after I have sharped it on the 600). And if the knife is really blunt I start on the x-coarse dmt (220?).

By the way, if you are in a store that sells sharpening equipment, odds are that they will have a display version that you can use. Ask about it if you don't see it.

Speaking of steels...
Someone earlier here (or perhaps it was in rec.knives) mentioned how difficult it is to find these anymore, but that Klein tools still sells one. I can confirm how hard it is to get one around here, anyway :) But I did manage to find the Klein at a specialty electrical outlet. This is basically a textured flat bar (which can also be used as a chisel and pry bar, btw) in a nice leather sheath (attached to the bar). But EXPENSIVE.
Many thanks, friend!

Yes, I do know how will be hard to resharpen a blunt blade with a grit 1200, but I have some other coarse stuff. The problem is to give a quite-razor edge to knives that worth it.

So, you think better a DMT or a Japanes Whetstone? I do have a Puma stone and some other stuff from, say, grit 200 to grit 600. But I am not satisfied by them.

And about the price, please note these strange rules of the country where I live: I saw a DMT at about $40 USD, but I have to add about 10-15 bucks to receive it now, not between two months, $ 12 USD more in taxes and another $ 12 in Customs Fees. Do you guess where I live?

So, I will pay $ 52 for Japanese or $78 for DMT. Only please give me your opinion about which is the best.

Many thanks again.

The 1200 grit DMT will leave an edge that is very highly polished. Norton did some extensive testing awhile ago and the only thing that they found that was higher in terms of blade polish was an 8000 grit Japanese Waterstone.

In terms of the DMT vs Waterstone, I have used both and I like the DMT for several reasons. First off it cuts faster. Second you don't need to use water, the Waterstones are messy and need to be water logged to work right. This usually means you have them in a tank of some kind. Lee Valley sells a nice system like this. Third, the DMT does not hollow out. As you use the Waterstones you need to keep flattening them.

The only problem with the DMT's is that if you press hard you can scrape the diamonds right off the pad so you need to use a light touch. There is one other minor problem. The DMT benchstones are just metal plates on a plastic housing so they are really light and tend to slip. I filled the bottom of mine up with concrete so they don't move when I use them.

One more suggestion is to see if you can find actual sheets of diamond abrasive. This is basically sandpaper with diamond as the cutting grit instead of AO or SiC. 3M sells these sheets and they are dirt cheap compared to the actual stones. All you do is just glue them to a flat surface. Check local places that do finishing work on metals or similar and you might find the sheets. They will give you an opinion of how well diamond cuts. 3M also produces the diamond up to 2000 grit which is significantly higher than the highest grit that DMT makes (1200). However I doubt that would make any effect except on the finest grain knife steels.