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4 Good Reasons Why Woodworkers Should Use Diamond Sharpeners - From a South African Perspective
For years, woodworkers have lived with the problems of sharpening their tools on oil stones, water stones and ceramics. Unless they are careful, their sharpeners do not stay flat. This in turn makes sharpening more difficult. These sharpening stones can be slow and it can take 30 minutes to properly sharpen a chisel.
There are 4 reasons why diamond sharpeners have been growing in popularity:
The first reason is their ability to stay flat and not to groove like other conventional sharpeners ( oil stones, Japanese water stones and ceramics). Woodworkers find this feature invaluable. Woodworkers can then focus on sharpening their tools, not the additional task of maintaining a flat surface on their sharpening stones. A consistent flat surface means the task of flattening the back of plane irons and chisels now becomes both fast and accurate.
Secondly, diamond sharpeners dramatically speed sharpening to save time and labour costs. The harder the material being sharpened, the more time saved. It is a well known fact in abrasive technology that the removal of chip clearance and clearing of abrasive particles speed stock removal. Maintaining a constant angle of the tool to the sharpening surface is the key to producing a sharp edge. The much faster sharpening speed of diamond sharpeners, compared to conventional methods makes it easier to keep and unchanging wrist angle. The constant flatness of diamond sharpeners also help maintain the tool angle to the sharpener.
The third reason is their economical benefit in providing optimum control of carbide removal to extend the life of carbide tooling compared to sharpening services with diamond wheels. Diamonds are the hardest material known. They are four times harder than tungsten carbide and so can quickly sharpen carbide router bits and other tooling. Only a little carbide is removed at a time with the diamond sharpener. Because of this, carbide tooling life can be extended 5 to 7 times when sharpened on diamond sharpeners.
The fourth benefit of diamond sharpening stones is the cleanliness. You only need water as a lubricant, no need for the higher viscosity of a honing oil to suspend swarf and keep the abrasive surface clean. There is no chance of oil, carried by a tool that is sharpened, staining or contaminating the work piece.
Diamond sharpeners come in a spectrum of diamond sizes. Typical of most manufactures are the following ranges: 220 grit/9 micron (x-course), 325 grit/45 micron (course), 600 grit/25 micron (fine) and 1200 grit/9 micron (extra fine). Sizes are measured primarily by mesh. Mesh refers to the count of wires per inch in the weave of a sieve for sorting particles. Hence, a larger mesh number designates a smaller particle. Today, high quality diamond abrasive is sized with a more sophisticated technology than the old sieve method by using the particle of Stokes Law settling action. Crystal sizes are also measured in microns.
The micro size used depends primarily on the tool to be sharpened. The 220 grit (x-course) rapidly removes metal and is appropriate for dressing nicked or damaged knives and chisels or for flattening the soles of plane irons. For rapid sharpening the 325 grit (course) is recommended. The 600 (fine) efficiently hones precision tools and refines the edges honed by the 220 (x-course) and 325 (course) grits. Sharpeners with 1200 mesh (extra fine) are used to polish and refine cutting surfaces and cabinet making and machinist tools after stock has been removed by the coarser grits. Good quality diamond sharpeners use uniform diamond sizes to produce a superior finish to woodworkers tools.
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