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Shapton Ceramic Stones

I'm curious know if anybody has tried the Shapton ceramic stones? I understand they go as fine as 20,000 grit or maybe even more, but is it really necessary?? I would imagine putting the tool through the wood once would bring the edge back to what an 8000 grit stone would do.

I agree that you can actually sharpen an iron too sharp, as you are correct to imagine the first stroke through wood and you have dulled such an edge.  In my opinion it has simply become fad and fashionable to indulge in over indulgence in this regard.  As a furniture maker for over 44 years I guess I've used nearly every known means of sharpening over all those years.  For chisels and plane irons I use diamond stones for grinding the bevels and follow with water stones from 1,000 through 8,000 grit.  I do occasionally use a 10,000 grit stone to finely tune a chisel edge for fine dovetails.

For carving tools I migrated to the Koch wheel system about six years ago.  It is now newly available through Woodcraft.  I find this to be the quickest and most efficient method ever used to put a perfectly polished edge on most carving tools except V-tools and a few others.  I use the term very sparingly, but I would say this system is "remarkable" for sharpening carving tools.  Mary have you tried the Koch system?  I'm curious to know your thoughts on this.

Patrick Vingo has reacted to this post.
Patrick Vingo

Hello Richard,

I have tried the Koch system, and several other honing machines, but so far I have always resorted to going back to hand sharpening to create that very flat bevel. The one thing I have always found (but I'll still continue to look) is the back bevel of the gouges always eventually get a slight rounding to them. I am really particular about this sharpening detail because if there is any slight rounding to the bevel, the technique of using the gouge changes a lot. Instead of doing a "planing" cut where the blade catches the wood cleanly as it moves across the surface, it is necessary to do more of a scooping motion, and therefore creating more tool facets. Not such a big deal when roughing out a carving, but very important when carving details.

I am currently testing out The Ultimate Sharpener that Chipping Away sells. It has had a lot of good reviews. It has a spinning leather belt that presses against a flat metal base to keep the leather from flexing. So far, I have found that even it eventually creates a slight rounding of the bevel. Maybe I'm not using is correctly?

So with any machine I have tried, I eventually have to take it back to the stone to bring the flat bevel back.

However... I have recently carved in some wood that really dulls my chisels quickly - Southern Yellow Pine and Cypress. I pulled The Ultimate Sharpener out and had to touch up my tools about every 5 to 10 minutes. This did save a lot of time, and it definitely got the edges very sharp, and I was able to carve successfully. But the real issue comes with the way it eventually "softens" the flat bevel.

So, I really have to weigh it all up - can I achieve the carving details I want with a slightly rounded bevel? Does the time saved make the difference? Sometimes. And sometimes not.

Maybe I'm just using these sharpening machines wrong and one day I will discover how to keep the bevels flat and sharpen really quickly. I can only hope... Then I can spend more time carving than sharpening 🙂

I have the Tormek T-8 and it's done fine so far.  However, the wheel does leave a very-slight concave profile to the bevel.  It is, however, easy to touch up on the leather honing wheel.  For me, it's unsurpassed in re-shaping the desired initial bevel into the tool as it never overheats the metal.

I've never heard of shapton stones, but I do have a set of Spyderco  ceramic stones. Plus slips & triangle set. I mainly prefer Arkansas stones. Dan's Whetstone Co. sells all grades. From Washita (coarse) to Black Hard ( ultra fine) in many sizes. Plus all different shapes for carving tools. I prefer hand sharpening, when it comes to different shapes & curves your I think hands are more sensitive & accurate   then machines. Plus if your not shop, how much can you carry with you. I've also found that machines can remove more metal then you want if you lose concentration of what your doing, even if it's just for a second.


I've used Shapton Stones since 2014 for all my sharpening needs including carving gouges.  I've used sandpaper, diamond, and Arkansas stones before this.  The worst method was honing compound on leather and buffing wheels because of the extent of rounding in a short time on the wheel.

After initial sharpening with Shapton, I use a leather strop for quick update while actually employing the tool.  Yes, it slowly results in rounding, but it takes  awhile and then its time to go back to Shapton.

I remember seeing Mary demonstrate sharpening on diamond plates so I use the same procedure with Shapton 1000, 5000 and 8000 grit.  Usually 1000 is only required if the tool is dropped and the bevel needs to overcome a dent.  I use the Sharpie method and adjust my strokes on the stone as the removal of Sharpie stain guides me.  Once I've gone through 8000, the slip stone comes out to take the burr off on the inside (concave) edge on a gouge.  Then a last pass with 8000.  If I can cut a piece of paper in the vertical position then my gouge is sharp.  The strop just gets the very edge a little finer at this point.

Although I have a 15000 grit Shapton, this is mainly for plane blades that take on difficult grain woods requiring a fine finish.

Recently I purchased the CBN wheel for my 8" slow speed grinder for sharpening turning tools.  This wheel is impressive in the low temperatures created so it takes effort to burn the steel. Very good for shaping steel.

As for Shapton, I've sharpened hollow chisel mortise chisels, plain chisels, mortise chisels, and circle cutters.  All with very nice results.


I just picked up the Shapton Pro 8000 grit ceramic stone. I just wasn’t getting what I wanted from the extra extra fine DMT. Plus I could still see fine scratches on every bevel I put to the DMT. I used the Shapton for a couple minutes and finally had that mirror finish on a couple tools. Needless to say, I spent the next hour running a bunch of my gouges on the Shapton.

I would say it’s definitely worth using as a final stone.

If there is a group of ten carvers, there are probably twelve opinions as to what is the best method to sharpen carving tools.  I think the extra extra fine DMT stone is somewhere about 1500 grit.  I use Coarse, Fine and Extra Fine DMT stones and then go to a strop.  I could add in an extra extra fine DMT stone between my extra fine stone and the strop, but there is a limit to what you could do determined by how much you are prepared to spend. In my opinion, the reason we go to very high grits, via a strop, is to reduce the sawtooth pattern on the edge caused by the scratching of the abrasives.  There are some excellent electron microscope pictures of edges in Leonard Lee's book on sharpening.  If you have a sawtooth pattern in your edge the teeth break off in the wood.  If you go to 30,000 grit on a strop the sharp edge becomes almost solid and is less likely to break off.

Oh, by the way, the Shapton Stones go up to 32,000 the last time I looked, but they become very expensive.  I have a 16,000 grit Shapton and it gives a very nice edge without round over.