See our previous posts on how to choose a sharpening stone.
In view of what I’ve learned from many years of experience using different sharpening stone systems, I’ve settled on using the diamond stones mentioned in the previous post, following the finest diamond stone with a hard translucent oil stone. I’ve chosen this stone because it’s hard, very fine, and cuts fast. Since I only use the oil stone for the final few polishing strokes, it only rarely needs flattening and gives a wonderful, polished edge.
The last step in any sharpening is stropping. A strop is simply a piece of leather adhered to a flat piece of wood with the leather’s rough side up. It’s charged with a bit of chromium oxide, which is just a buffing compound. The leather’s job is to suspend the compound. “Stropping” gives the final polish to the blade. That’s it!
You’ll see in our Sharpening Course videos and other posts in this series how we actually use these stones and strop.
To summarize my view on sharpening stones: if you’re flattening the back of or sharpening a tool, and you’re using a soft stone, such as a water stone, the stone is actually going to give to the inconsistencies of the tool. On the other hand, if you’re using a diamond stone, the tool (and any inconsistencies in it) is going to have to give to the diamond stone. The diamond stone is much harder than the tool and it’s going to stay flat. We’ll discuss this more in-depth in our next post on chisel sharpening.
What sharpening systems work for you? And of course, feel free to ask me any questions about sharpening stones in the comments below.
Next tutorial coming soon: How to Sharpen a Chisel.