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Sharpening Stones

If you want to keep a sharp edge on the tools you use, you will want to buy a sharpening stone. Sharp tools are far safer and easier to use than those with a dull edge because you do not have to force the tool to do its job.

There are four basic types of sharpening stones, each with its own pluses and minuses.

  • Synthetic waterstones are usually the least expensive. They are available in coarse to very fine grits (220 to 8000) but the most versatile models are combination stones with different grits on each side. These stones are easy to maintain. They need to be occasionally flattened to keep them from curling. They need to be soaked in water because the abrasive slurry on the surface of the stone does most of the actual sharpening.
  • Ceramic stones come in a wide variety of grits (120 to 15,000). They can be used either wet or dry, making them more portable than waterstones. They are extremely hard and long lasting. They are easily cleaned with a powered abrasive cleaner and a nonmetallic scouring pad.
  • Oilstones can be made from either natural stone or less expensive manufactured silicon carbide synthetics. They come in coarse, medium, fine, and superfine grits (120 to 900). They are durable and long lasting. Oilstones need to be lubricated with oil when they are used to keep tiny metal shavings from clogging them. This makes them messier to handle, and, if you are not careful, the oil can stain any wood surface it comes into contact with.
  • Diamond stones are very durable and will last longer than any other type of stone. They come in grits from 220 to 1200, but these stones do not have the ability to sharpen as well as the others. They are easy to maintain by simply rinsing off the surface with water after each use.

Like sanding wood, the grit you will need depends on the condition of the blade you are sharpening -- touching up sharp blades requires only a fine or superfine grit, but reworking a dull blade requires starting with a coarse grit and working your way up.

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