Grindstones and Other Sharpening Media

This page addresses grindstones, grinding wheels, and other sharpening media. It is broken up into the following sections :

  1. Honing the tool - a process for getting the edge super sharp.

  2. Sharpening the tool - a process for getting a tool sharp, and ready for honing.

  3. Shaping the tool - a process for gross removal of metal to change the shape of the cutting edge. This is something not done often, so it is listed 3rd.

Some other useful information can be found at these links :

  1. Storing water stones and wheels - comments and ideas about storing the wheels for allow them to dry.

  2. A quick Grinding Media Comparison and Materials Hardness Scale - comparing grinding materials with materials being sharpened.

  3. A Quick Select Table provides a recommended selection of sharpening media, based on the tool's material to be sharpened.

  4. A discussion on getting More Life From Your Grindstones.


Honing / Stropping the Tool

Tormek Grinder

Traditional Approach
  • Leather honing wheel
    • +2° is recommended for optimal stropping. The backs of chisel blades are often honed by hand, though jigs are also recommended for other edges as +5° will start to round over the edge.
    • When in doubt, follow Wootz' rule, "the softer the steel, the higher the angle". Really hard steels could have this decreased to +1.2°.
Traditional Grindstone

Sorby ProEdge System

Bench Grinder

  • Razor Sharp Edgemaking Paper Wheels.
    • A common rule of thumb is "Better to do two quick passes than one slow one" to minimize edge softening with heating.
    • I use the 8 inch wheels on a 6 inch grinder.

Sharpening the Tool

Tormek Grinder

Traditional Grindstone
  • Tormek SB-250 Black Grindstone
    • Use for harder steels like HSS
    • Grade to 220 grit for initial sharpening, especially if the tool needs a bit of work.
    • Grade to 1,000 grit for final touch-up on sharpening, especially for tools which won't be honed.

  • Tormek SG-250 Original Grindstone
    • Use for high carbon steel
    • Grade to 220 grit for initial sharpening, especially if the tool needs a bit of work.
    • Grade to 1,000 grit for final touch-up on sharpening, especially for tools which won't be honed.
Diamond / Cubic Boro Nitride (CBN) Wheel
  • Tormek DE-250 Diamond Wheel Extra Fine
    • Finely honed edge from this stone is especially useful for finishing cuts

  • Tormek DF-250 Diamond Wheel Fine
    • Good all-round wheel which leaves a smooth surface finish

  • Tormek DC-250 Diamond Wheel Course
    • Good selection for stone carving tools with carbide inserts.

  • 150 - 180 grit CBN
    • Most CBN manufacturers recommend not using the CBN wheel with water. It can invalidate the warranty.

  • Use diamond or CBN grindstones for tools with vanadium levels >3%.

  • CBN stone notes
    • These are not recommended for tools with high carbon steel. Those and other softer steels can "gum up" the wheel's surface. That said, a person I cannot remember has stated that grinding high speed steel (HSS) on the CBN wheel will clear the "gumming".
    • Resins accrued on tools when turning wet woods can also gum up the grit. Trend lapping fluid was recommended (on an AAW forum) by Reed Gray (aka, "Robo hippy") for cleaning the wheel.
  • Diamond stone notes
    • Do not use diamond stones (unless they are cooled - e.g., with water) for tools with ferrous metals. Hot iron molecules can dissolve diamonds, quickly eroding the surface.

Sorby ProEdge System

Bench Grinder

Traditional Grindstone
  • 150 - 180 grit, very friable grindstone, such as aluminum oxide
    • Friablility reduces (but does not eliminate) the heat build-up.
    • Be sure to manage the temperature so that the temper is not lost due to overheating.
      • If there is a carbide insert, then DO NOT cool by dipping in water. This will cause the carbide to crack due to shocks.
      • Otherwise, dip it frequently in water.
    • Truing the stone may be necessary.

  • 80 grit silicon carbide (green) is recommended for tools with carbide inserts, and especially for stone carving tools.
Cubic Boro Nitride (CBN) Wheel
  • 150 - 180 grit CBN

  • Use diamond or CBN grindstones for tools with vanadium levels >3%.

  • CBN stone notes
    • These are not recommended for tools with high carbon steel. Those and other softer steel can "gum up" the wheel's surface. That said, a person I cannot remember has stated that grinding high speed steel (HSS) on the CBN wheel will clear the "gumming".
    • Resins accrued on tools when turning wet woods can also gum up the grit. Trend lapping fluid was recommended (on an AAW forum) by Reed Gray (aka, "Robo hippy") for cleaning the wheel.

Bench-mounted Belt Sander

  • 150 - 250 grit

  • Belt Grinding notes
    • Be sure to manage the temperature so that the temper is not lost due to overheating.
      • If there is a carbide insert, then DO NOT cool by dipping in water. This will cause the carbide to crack due to shocks.
      • Otherwise, dip it frequently in water.

Shaping the Tool

Tormek Grinder

Traditional Grindstone
  • Tormek SB-250 Black Grindstone
    • Use for harder steels like HSS
    • Grade to 220 grit, and re-grade often.
    • Truing the stone may be necessary, depending on the amount of grinding needed.
    • Use when the area to be ground is not great.

  • Tormek SG-250 Original Grindstone
    • Use for high carbon steel
    • Grade to 220 grit, and re-grade often.
    • Truing the stone may be necessary, depending on the amount of grinding needed.
    • Use when the area to be ground is not great.

  • 40 - 80 grit grindstone, such as aluminum oxide
    • Truing the stone may be necessary.
    • Management of the temperature is not critical as the speed is slow, and the process is also water cooled.
Diamond / Cubic Boro Nitride (CBN) Wheel
  • Tormek DC-250 Diamond Wheel Course

  • <100 grit CBN
    • Most CBN manufacturers recommend not using the CBN wheel with water. It can invalidate the warranty.

  • Use diamond or CBN grindstones for tools with vanadium levels >3%.

  • CBN stone notes
    • These are not recommended for tools with high carbon steel. Those and other softer steels can "gum up" the wheel's surface. That said, a person I cannot remember has stated that grinding high speed steel (HSS) on the CBN wheel will clear the "gumming".
    • Resins accrued on tools when turning wet woods can also gum up the grit. Trend lapping fluid was recommended (on an AAW forum) by Reed Gray (aka, "Robo hippy") for cleaning the wheel.
  • Diamond stone notes
    • Do not use diamond stones (unless they are cooled - e.g., with water) for tools with ferrous metals. Hot iron molecules can dissolve diamonds, quickly eroding the surface.

Sorby ProEdge System

  • 60 grit ProEdge Zirconium Belt

  • Belt Grinding notes
    • Be sure to manage the temperature so that the temper is not lost due to overheating.
      • If there is a carbide insert, then DO NOT cool by dipping in water. This will cause the carbide to crack due to shocks.
      • Otherwise, dip it frequently in water.

Bench Grinder

Traditional Grindstone
  • <100 grit, very friable grindstone, such as aluminum oxide

  • Traditional Grindstone notes
    • Friablility reduces (but does not eliminate) the heat build-up.
    • Be sure to manage the temperature so that the temper is not lost due to overheating.
      • If there is a carbide insert, then DO NOT cool by dipping in water. This will cause the carbide to crack due to shocks.
      • Otherwise, dip it frequently in water.
    • Truing the stone may be necessary.
Cubic Boro Nitride (CBN)
  • <100 grit CBN

  • Use diamond or CBN grindstones for tools with vanadium levels >3%.

  • CBN stone notes
    • These are not recommended for tools with high carbon steel. Those and other softer steels can "gum up" the wheel's surface. That said, a person I cannot remember has stated that grinding high speed steel (HSS) on the CBN wheel will clear the "gumming".
    • Resins accrued on tools when turning wet woods can also gum up the grit. Trend lapping fluid was recommended (on an AAW forum) by Reed Gray (aka, "Robo hippy") for cleaning the wheel.

Bench-mounted Belt Sander

  • <150 grit

  • Belt Grinding notes
    • Be sure to manage the temperature so that the temper is not lost due to overheating.
      • If there is a carbide insert, then DO NOT cool by dipping in water. This will cause the carbide to crack due to shocks.
      • Otherwise, dip it frequently in water.


Notes & Comments


Tormek is a copyrighted logo of Tormek AB. Its presentation on this site is used to help the user quickly understand when specific Tormek tools, jigs, or setting are being used. For specific information regarding Tormek AB, or its products, please refer to the www.Tormek.com.