Diamonds Are Forever
Who doesn't know that James bond film?
Well, we're not starting the age-old "who's the best James Bond?" argument.
I'm going to talk about Diamond sharpening plates.
Diamond sharpening plates are machined flat metal plates with industrial grade diamonds held on with nickel plating. They are available at many stores and come in many options.
Machined Flat Plate
Unlike traditional stones, diamond flat plates don't round over or become dished with use, which is important in maintaining a straight edge on skew & flat chisels, and straight edged knives. If you use flat ground tools like chisels or scandinavian flat ground knives that have a flat angle, these plates are almost essential to maintaining the flat angle.
The machined flat plate is used to resurface traditional water and oil stones to their original flat surface.
You can purchase the plate with a kind of a grid format with eye shaped holes in the sharpening surface or a flat continuous piece of steel. The reason that there are these holes is to help contain the "swarf" of metal shavings below the sharpening surface and not hurt your edge. This is great if you sharpen large format knives like kitchen or hunting knives. BUT if you sharpen micro tools or fine chisels that are sometimes 1/16 inch wide these holes sure get in the way and a continuous surface plate is a better choice.
Industrial Grade Diamonds
Diamond is a pretty useful and valuable mineral due to its many characteristics.
I think Bristol University Dept Of Chemistry in the UK said it best:
When compared to almost any other material, diamond almost always comes out on top. As well as being the hardest known material, it is also the least compressible, and the stiffest material, the best thermal conductor with an extremely low thermal expansion, chemically inert to most acids and alkalis, transparent from the deep uv through the visible to the far infrared, and is one of the few materials known with a negative electron affinity (or work function).
These diamonds aren't the same kind of diamonds that you gave your wife when you dropped to one knee and proposed.They don't have the same standards like cut & clarity and often have micro fractures, and can be opaque. These diamonds are the ones that failed that cut & clarity test.
Nickel plating is used to hold the diamonds in place. The reason that nickel is used is to resist water and prohibit rust.
Using a micron scale from as low as 4 (Extra Extra Fine) on up past 60 (Extra Coarse) I would get at least two grits. If you strop, and you should, this will eliminate the need for a third grit plate. Remember that stropping compound gets down to as low as .5 micron and will eliminate that burr you work to achieve with a plate or stone giving you that carvers edge.
Water or not?
I use water. It just helps keep things clean. Some manufacturers and sharpening Gurus say it's not necessary.
Sharpening Plates are great for knives but not so much for gouges. But wait, just when you thought you've seen it all, DMT comes out with the Wave. Its a dual curved diamond plate shaped much like a slipstone for sharpening gouges that has 1/16 to 1-1/4 inch diameter. I'm sure there are others on the market also, I just found this one interesting.
Check it out the video here:
Polycrystaline, MonoCrystaline or Synthetic...
I could go on but it really isn't necessary. I just wanted to extol the virtues of owning a Diamond plate for sharpening and also to say that.....
I liked Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, but Sean Connery will always be the best.
There. I got my 2 cents in. Keep carving!