1. Welcome to the New & Improved BladeForums. New software info here. Please report problems in Tech Support, and read existing threads before posting! - Spark
  2. I've changed the default forum style to Flat Awesome based on feedback. Don't like it? Click here to change how the forums look Feedback on this is welcome here.

So...Waterstones Vs. diamond/ceramic?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by EDDAKA, Feb 21, 2011.


    EDDAKA Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 24, 2009
    Hey everybody,

    I like to sharpen all my knives freehand. I find it enjoyable, challenging and a good stress reliever. (believe it or not.)

    I've been using two king stones, a 1000 and 6000. (and a strop) They put an excellent edge on all my knives, but they get uneven fast. Not a problem really, but that's just what they do. I've been thinking of getting one or two diamond bench stones something from DMT. Maybe something like a "8 Inch Continuous Diamond." I'm thinking fine grit? (they say 600 mesh)

    and maybe a good ceramic bench stone (something like 302f from spyderco? any idea on what their definition of "fine" and "ultra fine" is? Would it be to big of a jump to go from a decent diamond bench stone, to a finer ceramic stone?


  2. thombrogan


    Nov 16, 2002
    The DMT fine (continuous and polka-dotted) both work well. Like any other diamond hone, they have an initial break-in pattern where they cut very quickly and finish rough and erratically and then they cut slower (but still fast) and finish finer and evenly.

    If you use the continuous surface ones, use water with a li'l dab of soap or shake of baking soda in it. It helps keep the steel swarf from piling up and interfering with holding a consistent angle and also from packing down beteen the diamonds and making it seem like the diamond has 'died' when it still has a lot of years of service left.

    I'm not so good with comparing the ceramics' finishes to popular waterstones.
  3. I've been using several variations of DMT's diamond hones lately (Dia-Folds, Card sharpeners, Dia-Sharp 6" x 2" continuous hones). I most often use the Fine (25 micron) & Extra-Fine (9 micron) grits. I also have an EF/EEF Dia-Fold (9 micron/3 micron). Occasionally, after these, I do some very light passes on a Spyderco DoubleStuff pocket hone (Med/Fine). The ceramics are nice for cleaning up burrs & such, but lately I've been on the fence about needing them after the EF or EEF diamond. Those two, for the most part, leave an excellent edge by themselves. Haven't needed to clean up too many burrs. DMT also has the the Dia-Pastes in 6, 3 and 1 micron (maybe 0.5 too, I don't remember at the moment). I'd think you could go straight to stropping with the diamond pastes, after the EEF stone.

    I still like the Spyderco ceramics for some occasional touch-ups, but I'm not using them as much as I used to.

    That's my 2 cents' worth. :)
  4. hiwa


    Jun 7, 2009
    I'm liking the water stones over ceramics myself. If you have a issue with the stones hollowing or dipping , buy a Norton trueing stone to keep them flat.
    I have a 220 , 1000 , and 4000 waterstone set up and it does everything.
    My diamond stones I take in the bush as they are not too heavy.
  5. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007
    Well said.

    When researching waterstones I came across a little tip about putting baking soda in the water, I guess it changes the Ph and keeps the steel from rusting.

    Ceramics to waterstones would be something like Fine ceramic-4k-6k waterstone and UF ceramic-8k-10k waterstone. The comparison is not that simple though because those numbers will relate more to edge sharpness than scratch pattern.
  6. somber


    Nov 9, 2009
    Seeking clarification: The stones are forming a hollow already? If they work great, an easy solution for the hollow is just to use a truing stone or a flat area of concrete.

    You must do a lot of sharpening. :D
    I've been using the same KING stones for a year now and I have yet to rub off the writing on the 6K.
  7. pwet


    Feb 13, 2009

    diamond stones are very good no brainer stones, no flattening, just keep them clean. ceramics are as easy to maintain but imho not effective enough. they shine for light touchup on the field but that's it, too slow. if you want high polish waterstones will give you the brighter finish at the best speed regardless of the steel. they are faster than ceramics, faster and easier than strops ... ymmv.
  8. thombrogan


    Nov 16, 2002
    I agree most high-grit waterstones are faster than non-dishing ceramic plates, but a loaded leather strop or a piece of high-grit wet/dry sandpaper does the same job on the edge while costing lots, lots less.
  9. pwet


    Feb 13, 2009
    not how i work on my stones.

    i work by sections with fast back and forth movement. this is waaayy faster than sandpaper and strop. you can't do that even with your paper on glass and compound on balsa. you have to go edge trailing and again. i cut on both strokes. 'till 1 micron (naniwa 10k) ... even sub micron with the high dollar shapton 30k ...
  10. thombrogan


    Nov 16, 2002
  11. hkpokes_you


    Aug 29, 2008
    I think all three have their place.

    People swear by diamonds, and their advantages are obvious -- no flattening, and they are the hardest material in the natural world. I like to use them to develop and refine burrs -- and I always use my DMT plates for putting a coarse edge, and developing a burr on a knife fresh out of heat treatment. They also work well for the initial flattening of a chisel ground knife's back bevel. I have talked about this before -- but it's probably the most under-appreciated element of how to make or sharpen an absolutely razor sharp chisel ground knife. Start on extra coarse and take it to extra fine and you will save yourself a lot of headache when you refine the edge further.

    Ceramic is more of a role-player than diamond. I find that it produces extremely even finishes -- more even than diamond -- while not needing constant flattening, unlike waterstones. I like it for refining zero bevels, refining flat back bevels, and touching up polished edges - but I use it less than diamond stones, or waterstones. I am curious to see how it holds up as a lapping surface though. I am going to load one side of my old medium spyderco bench stone with 8 micron diamond slurry and use it to lap some zero bevel kitchen knives. I will make a thread about it when the time comes.

    Finally - waterstones. There is more variety among waterstones then diamond plates, or ceramics; when most people think about waterstones they think about natural stones, or synthetic clay-bound stones -- stones like that are a lot of the market, and that's cool. In well-trained, and patient, hands these stones can produce amazing edges -- but they have the highest learning curve of these three freehand sharpening methods. Basically, you get out what you put in to these stones. I have never met anyone who naturally knew how to put an edge on knives with these stones. Again -- from what I have seen -- most people can LEARN how to use the sharpmaker, and then sharpen a dull but well ground carbon steel knife to hair-popping, before most people (with mean-level proficiency in waterstone sharpening) could produce a comparable edge...

    But once you get good with waterstones I have yet to find something better; especially if you pair them with diamond-charged strops.

    And, if you pony up for some really good waterstones -- like the diamond or ceramic charged Shapton stones -- I hear that you leave all the other sharpening stones in the dust. But, I mean, if you are not a pro sharpener -- and you're thinking about fun things to buy for yourself -- I'd rather go on a thrifty vacation, or explore the best local restaurants with a special lady, than buy a set of those stones. YMMV.
  12. HoosierQ


    Feb 9, 2010
    I really like diamond stones/plates...I have DMT Diasharp and Duosharp. The obvious reason to like diamonds is speed...they cut very quickly. This fact is much more than just a time saver. Feedback.

    The key skills to shapening a knife are maintaining a consitent angle and achieveing that desired angle in the first place. These two factors are what all the "gadgets" out there are supposed to do...with varying levels of success. I am not using gadget as a derogetory term...all non-freehanding tools (Edge-Pro, Sharpmaker, Wicked Edge, Lansky, and heaven forbid those horrific carbide pull through jobs).

    With a diamond stone, you can make one or two passes and see exactly where your angle is...too acute, too obtuse, or just right. You've got your angle set. Now you've got some muscle memory going too and if you keep that up you are getting your consistency. I keep an eye on the newly forming edge and make sure I am keeping it consitent. Watch the scratch pattern and you can follow your progress closely. With something like an Arkansas stone the cutting goes rather slowly and you don't get that feedback.

    That is why I like diamonds.
  13. WillieD


    Jan 22, 2004
    Would the waterstones be the best choice for sharpening scandi grinds? I use a Sharpmaker and DMT Aligner on most of my knives, but have a few scandi grinds that I am using sandpaper on a pane of glass to sharpen with. I was debating spending the money on a set of bench stones. Do the Nortons or Naniwa waterstones dish as fast as the Kings? SharpeningSupplies.com has some good prices on kits, but could I get by nicely with just a 220/1000 grit stone or dish out the extra for set.
  14. thombrogan


    Nov 16, 2002
    Can't think of anything the waterstones will do that the wet/dry won't besides making some awesome mud.
  15. I've thought about this myself. I have never tried waterstones. However, the other day, I was sharpening a plane blade using wet/dry sandpaper on hard backing. I would periodically wet down the paper a bit. I noticed, particularly at the finishing grits (800/1000), it seemed VERY smooth & slick with the wet paper, and was really working well. Made me wonder how similar it might be to using a waterstone.

Share This Page