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Waterstones or Diamond?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by cm_bushman, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. cm_bushman


    Oct 22, 2012
    I have the set of three small DMT 6x1" stones that were included with my Aligner and I am very impressed.
    I am now gaining confidence leaving the aligned behind and just using stones. Now that I am at that point, I am undecided on what type of stones would be best.

    I love diamond, and it is what I know. I like how it can handle both soft 1095 and HRc60+ k390 quickly without soaking, or dishing over time. I was originally thinking simply going with DMT ench stones from XC-EEF and cLling it a day. On the other hand, the more I hear about waterstones, the more I hear them praised, especially for lower-alloy steels at high grit. I know that few waterstones are going to be able to effectively sharpen carbide-rich steel, and that they require more regular maintenance, but I also hear the quality of the edge compared to diamond or oilstone is unmatched.

    I have now been looking into a mixed lineup, DMT stones from XC-F, then on to waterstones to finish the edges on the knives which benefit, with lower alloy. For this I was considering the Sigma power stones in 1k, 3k, and 8k. I think this would be ideal, but also much more expensive. So my question is, is it worth the extra expense (and time learning on both water and diamond stones) to justify this over just straight diamonds?
  2. mykel m

    mykel m Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2009
    I wouldn't waste my money on water stones,Diamond stones down to EF are all you need if you are going to use your knives for everyday tasks.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
  3. Portman30-06


    Oct 18, 2013
    I prefer waterstones. The problems i have with diamond are that they are so much harder than steel the scratches are hard to remove. Now if you just whip it around the stone and then wipe it on your jeans go ahead. Waterstones will handle any steel within 10-15 min a day if heavily used. The HRC argument is kinda irrelevant since any material hard enough to scratch it will sharpen it. Murray Carter only uses waterstones on his hitachi white steel (63-64hrc).
  4. chambelona59


    May 4, 2012
    Once I discovered DMT sharpening systems, I never went back to anything else I was using.
    6 to 10 passes using light pressure with a few drops of water (or dry) and that's it... razor sharp.
    I never went back to 'ceramic' rods, or for me time consuming Water Stones.
    I have been using DMT sharpening systems for several years.

    The DMT systems I own:

    1- For home use:
    DMT WM8FC WB 8-Inch DuoSharp Plus Bench Stone - Fine/Coarse with Base

    2- For EDC in my back pack:
    DMT FWFC Double Sided Diafold Sharpener Fine / Coarse

    3- For my serrations:
    DMT FSKF Diafold Serrated Knife Sharpener - Fine

    I recently had an minor issue with my last item, a 'DMT FSKF Diafold Serrated Sharpener' and after just
    'one' phone call to DMT's customer service in less than a week I received a brand new replacement DMT FSKF Diafold Serrated Sharpener.
    AND... along with it, a "complimentary" DMT 3-inch Dia-Sharp Diamond Sharpener, Coarse, Credit Card Sized.
    AND... a ""complimentary" DMT D2K 2.5-inch Dia-Sharp Diamond Mini-Hone, Fine.

    That in my opinion exemplifies a stellar "customer service" experience with DMT.



    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
  5. HwangJino


    Dec 2, 2012
    I've used dmt before, they work fast but I much prefer water stones, to me it's just much smoother (in cutting foods).

    I do want one for my hike bag, but no real desire for it.
  6. leghog


    Aug 10, 2013
    Diamond stones are quite aggressive at removing metal depending on steel. Be wise in their use.
  7. chambelona59


    May 4, 2012

    Just "6 to 10 passes using light pressure" with a few drops of water.
    This is just what works for me, the surface never deforms, cleans up easily, and I'm done.
    I've seen/used other Diamond systems... the thing that makes the difference is that DMT uses micronized monocrystalline diamonds
    that covers evenly across the sharpening surface, the surface stays completely flat for the life of the plate.
    Most other diamond sharpeners have a sparse, patchy coating made from a mix of different sized diamonds.
    The completely flat surface maintains consistent, even contact with the blade edge to produce a bevel that carries the same degree of sharpness from end to end of the DMT plate.

  8. EpicHam


    Feb 4, 2014
    By how most master chefs swear by their water stone system .
    I say waterstone for its gentle abrasive nature.
  9. leghog


    Aug 10, 2013
    I've had DMT stones for 30 years, but I still use Arkansas stones more.
  10. HeavyHanded

    HeavyHanded KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 4, 2010
    Waterstones on the whole provide a more enjoyable freehand sharpening experience in my opinion. They can be finessed quite a bit, more than other stone types. The diamonds are going to be far more reliable on high carbide stuff, but the waterstones will make a better edge on most carbon and finer grained stainless (depending on brand).

    I've had good luck with most diamond plates out there, and am experimenting with diamond lapping film on my Washboard for high carbide materials at higher polish. So far have had good luck with all, using light pressure. If the lapping film (3M) holds up I'll keep a 6u and 1u in my bag with the wet/dry I normally use, just for high carbide fare and just for working a higher polish. Though in my experience these steels seem to prefer a medium grit finish anyway, something I can already do easily without the diamonds...

    I have a couple of DMT products that are holding up fine, but cannot share any positive experiences with their CS - took them 6months to replace a fine 6" interrupted surface hone that was warped around the punch holes right out of the box - they did send me a credit card xc plate when they got around to sending a new 6" back - worked great for lapping my waterstones :)
  11. chambelona59


    May 4, 2012
    I'm not saying one is better than the other as far as results, I'm saying that for me, I don't want to spend 15 or more minutes sharpening.
    I have friends that love using stones, for them it's like "the sharpening ritual", set up, oil or water, towels, paper, the table, everything just right.
    I agree and see how it's quite pleasurable, one friend I know loves to smoke a cigar while sharpening, another likes a glass of wine. :thumbup:

    Me, a few drops of water, 6 to 10 to 12 passes using light pressure and I'm done.
    Here's a pic of my late dad, using a stone in 1973, '74:

  12. Bob6794


    Apr 21, 2013
    Why not just pick up the EEF stone for the aligner and give it a shot to see if you like DMT up to that grit. Should set you back around $15 which is relatively inexpensive in comparison to getting the XC-EEF DMT Benchstones which I think you have to move up to at least the 8in size to get the EEF or mixing the DMT's with waterstones. This way you can at least have some idea what the finish will be in one of the areas your interested in without investing much money.

    As for me I own the DMT Aligner with C/F/EF and it works pretty good, I eventually want to pick up the EEF or the DMT Diapastes and makes some strops out of Balsa or MDF. Something else which may interest you.
  13. Jason B.

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

    Jun 13, 2007
    I love my DMT stones but I can't live without my waterstones.

    Looking back I would have started with premium waterstones a 10x4 duo sharp C/F and called it a day.
  14. cm_bushman


    Oct 22, 2012
    I was thinking that the EEF and XC Aligner stones would be nice when I first started using the system, but now I've really turned more toward steels with lower carbide content and higher stability, and lower edge angles as a result. The aligner is nice for learning, and I still use it for certain knives, but I in the interest of versatility, I am turning more and more to just using the small stones on their own and refining my technique there.

    Also, it is nice to have a good amount of surface area for my larger blades. I am going to invest in an XC DMT 8x3" (or some cheaper diamond stone in the same size and grit range) in any case, just for heavy repair or re-profiling entire blades. For the rest of my lineup, I was simply debating between extending out the entire range to an EEF DMT, or going up to F (the most useful grit for high-carbide steels in my experience), then switching over to waterstones for a superior finish and the mysterious 'quality' of the edge I hear so much about at higher grits.

    From what I'm hearing, it sounds like most of you are recommending the DMTs as a good choice for the entire lineup. If and when I get to the point of really polishing the edge to a mirror finish, I'll likely invest in a couple of good waterstones in the 6-8k range no matter what I go for now.

    So, what are the advantages of waterstones?
  15. HeavyHanded

    HeavyHanded KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 4, 2010
    They have very good tactile feedback.
    They create a very uniform scratch pattern - no deeper grooves to be cleaned up later, the abrasive is always fresh and if used properly, they do not load up.
    The coarse ones can do a lot of work, yet do not cause deeper grooves (see above), pressure burring etc.
    Overall, they create far less burring on all steels than many other grinding methods.
    The grind very quickly considering how "gentle" they are on the steel.
    One can backhone on the polishing grade stones, creating a very fine "microtooth" at very small dimensions that is extremely difficult to emulate by other means.

    To be honest, I generally only use my Washboard these days because its just too convenient, but I always have some waterstones soaking. That fine microtooth I get from JWS was a major inspiration for the Washboard in the first place - I wanted to get that edge with more convenience and larger margin of error in terms of pressure and exacting angle control.
    The waterstones are more challenging than some other methods, but reward persistence with strong results.
  16. HwangJino


    Dec 2, 2012
    I think diamonds are fine for hobbyists, I have never seen diamonds being used at a restaurant other than for the bad line cooks. Having used them I rate them above those carbide scrapers, and much below good water stones.
  17. wade7575


    Apr 3, 2013
    I have a KME system with Gold Series Hones for removing metal faster and they do last a lot longer then the DMT Diamond hones but neither give you a finish as good as the Chosera,I don't listen when people say that the Chosera water stones don't work well hard metals,the Chosera's may not work as well as a ceramic stone but they do work and well I might add.

    I have 4 ZT knifes and 3 of them are ELMAX steel witch is from hat I understand stainless steel but is also supposed to be fairly hard and it makes a black slurry with everyone of the Chosera stones I use including the 10000K stone,I can shave my arm hair without any problems what so ever.

    I also did a high carbon content cooking knife for a friend I forget what steel it was but it worked fine for me as well with his knife.
  18. Cynic2701


    Mar 31, 2009
    I think diamonds are useful - and I own more of them than anything else - but I much prefer waterstones.
  19. cm_bushman


    Oct 22, 2012
    Thank you, Heavyhanded, this makes a compelling case for waterstones. I am equally unskilled using any abrasive stone right now, so I am not avere to investing time into either waterstones or diamonds. The bold part must be that extra quality of edge I hear so much about, and it really has me thinking waterstones are the way to go. Cutting time and maintenance still has me worried though. I know that waterstones allow for higher pressure, and a slurry helps with polishing and cutting, but how will sharpening time really compare with diamond at similar grit? Will it be an extra minute or two, or will I be at it twice as long? Flattening is also a concern. I will have to invest in a good flattening method, and I worry it will wear down and decrease the life of the stone. How long will a waterstone usually last with daily use?
  20. wade7575


    Apr 3, 2013
    From what I have noticed with my KME for the difference in time it takes to sharpen with my Chosera water stones,well let's put it this way nothing cut's faster then my Gold Series KME Diamond hones that just flat out perform the KME ceramic and chosera stones.

    That being said however I was thinking to myself when the Chosera stones were on their way to me man these thing's are going to kill my arm I'm going to be sharpening way longer then I do with my ceramic stones because they are just such a fine grit,well it turned out not to the case they cut at a comparable speed to the ceramic stones.

    I have never used big Diamond plate's before to sharpen with but I can tell you one thing nothing is going to cut faster then a Diamond hone but I think once see and feel the difference in how well a water stone works you won't be sorry.
    You could also do what I do when I need to resharpen a blade,I just use my Chosera stones to touch up the blade when it start's to get dull and if I need to re-profile the edge I just use the finest diamond hone I have and once the edge is where I want it I then use the water stones.

    It's does not take me long to go over an edge to touch it up with a chosera water stone.

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