Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Another Sharpening Post

Rob over at Heartwood Blog posted about his new sharpening sequence. It is a near duplicate of the sequence that I have been working with for long enough to know I may have finished my forty years in the desert.

After flirting with diamonds, oil stones, and different water stones I have returned to diamonds. Of all the methods of sharpening, I much prefer the feel of oil stones and like the edge from a natural stone vs. the edge from a man made stone but as I posted in a comment to Rob's post, oil stones are not efficient with all the irons in my shop. Diamond stones are not the best at any one of the things a stone needs to do except maybe stone maintenance but they are a damn good midder on all the rest.

If the only irons in my shop were high carbon O-1 an oil stone system would be the cat's pajamas. For O-1 there is nothing better than a couple or three Arkansas oil stones followed by a strop. Good oil stones have a great feel with a beautiful scratch pattern, little mess and little fuss. A near perfect system for softer high carbon steel. That ain't my shop, I have a bunch a bunch of O-1 iron but also PM-V11, LN's A-2 (grumble, grumble), Japanese white paper #1 and #2, and a assortment of mystery steel. Oil stones work well on many of the irons but not all and it is a PITA to change the stones to sharpen each iron.

Cut to the chase: The current system for tool maintenance uses four "stones", more than I would like but the results are worth the extra steps. Two diamond stones (600 grit and 1200 grit, there is a 250 grit in the holder for use when needed), a extra fine Spyderco Ceramic, and a 20000 Gukomyo for final polish. The Spyderco is a perfect setup stone for the Gukomyo. The Gukomyo is fast, very hard, stays flat and needs less maintenance than any other water polishing stone I've tried

I expect in the near future I will make a four plate holder for 3 diamond stones and the Spyderco, leaving the Gukomyo in the stone pond. If I do I will move the stone pond closer to the plate holder and move the strop to the right end of the bench. BTW, with the Gukomyo, the strop gets very little use. Can you tell I'm falling in love with my Gukomyo stone.

Here is a photo of the current set up:

Click it to big it.



  1. Second the diamond stones use. I take the Spyderco Ceramic doesn't need to be soaked before use but the Gukomyo does? I find it hard to believe polishing with a 20000 grit stone is worth the calorie count. How long does it last?

  2. Ralph,

    Neither the Gukomyo nor the Spyderco need soaking. The Gukomyo works with just a sprit of water. The Spyderco can be used dry and scrubbed occasionally, I use it with oil but will also work with a spritz of water. It, the Spyderco, is very hard and only needs flattening about as often as a oil stone.

    That's what is so surprising about the Gukomyo, it cuts very fast and only needs a few strokes to bring up a beautiful smooth polish. You have to see it, the polished edge, under a loop to appreciate just how quickly it polishes and takes out the final scratches.

    As for how long the Gukomyo lasts, I do not know because I haven't used it that long, but it is very hard for a water stone and wears slowly. Let me put it this way: waterstones have always been a love hate thing with me. Love the speed of cut and polish, hate the mess and hassle. The Gukomyo has kept the speed and polish, eliminated the mess, and reduced the hassle to just a little more than oil stones.

    Long answer, you know me...ask the time and I...


  3. Phew www no metric in that post! :-8
    I find that ceramic stones tend to glaze when used dry, I put a drop of soapy water on mine and scrub it with a 3M green scrubby to keep it clean. Where did you get the Gukomyo?

    Bob, back waiting you know where....

  4. Bob,

    I hope things are going well or at least as well as can be expected. My experience with the Spyderco is the same....What I have found is going back and forth between oil and water seems to make no never mind with the Spyderco and either extends the time between scrubbings..

    I got my Gokumyo from Stu at Tools from Japan .Stu isn't fast but the customer service is very good, he knows Japanese tools, and his prices are usually better than others.

    I just looked at the web site and the 20000 grit stone is $314.13 CD plus shipping. I know that is expensive but damn they are nice and I don't want to leave anything for the kids anyway,

    Take care,