There are perhaps as many ways to sharpen tool edges as there are opinions on the matter. In this video, we take a closer look at one of those methods — sharpening with waterstones, a method that consistently receives high ratings among many top artisans. Proponents say that waterstones are fast-cutting, relatively clean (as opposed to oil stones), compact, and generally affordable, qualities that make this sharpening solution worthy of your consideration and in-depth study.

In this video, cabinetmaker and sharpening guru Craig Vandall Stevens takes a closer look at some of the varieties of waterstones available and in use today, including the Shapton, Takenoko, and King brands of stones. For the most part, man-made stones manufactured with either aluminum oxide or ceramic dominate the market, but there are also natural whetstones which remain available for specialized applications. Craig’s interest and expertise in sharpening makes this a unique opportunity to learn more about this art and skill. In this video learn how to flatten and maintain Japanese waterstones using 150 grit sandpaper and a flat-milled machinists’ reference granite. Craig also suggests a useful collection of grits and styles of stones for maximum efficiency and value. And he discusses how natural Japanese quarried stones might fit into the mix. — Keith (8 Minute Woodworking Video)

(9) Comments   



This is a very informative video. I really appreciate the detail that he put into the different types of stones. I’m fairly new to waterstones but so far, I’m very impressed with my results. I have chosen Norton stones, usually in combinations (220/1000; 1000/4000; 4000/8000). I think if I were to choose again, I would avoid the combinations, but it was a less expensive way to get into waterstones.

Keith’s Note: Frank – I hope this idea came through in the video, but Craig is very insistent that folks need to find what works for them. So it’s interesting to get your feedback.

I haven’t had much instruction with water stones before this and I think I might act on Craig’s suggestion and pick up some stones.

I have been using garnet paper up until now and calculating how much money I have spent on all the paper over time, not only would the amount buy a few Shapton stones, but there would probably be enough left over to buy the company.

Great stuff, Keith and Craig, as usual.




This might seem like a bizarre question, but can whetstone be used for other purposes? for example as a building material. I’m building a house in a area where there is a lot of whetstone. I wanted to find information if maybe I could use it for building purposes.
Thank you

Keith’s Note: Well you’ve got me on that one. Probably outside the expertise of most of my viewers.

Alan P.

Ann, yes whetstone can be used as a building material. The ancient Egyptians built monuments out of sandstone which have lasted 5000 years, and the stone which gets made into whetstone is basically sandstone. Especially if you can quarry it yourself then it could make a good and cheap building material.

Lee S.

I was wondering if the technique of flattening the water stone with a granite surface plate and sand paper would also work on the Shapton stones. The expense involved with purchasing the Shapton Diamond Reference Lapping Plate is too much for me currently, but I am interested in purchasing Shapton stones to finish off my set of water stones.

Keith’s Note: That’s a good question. Craig says that it is best to use a diamond plate to flatten and maintain the Shapton stones. As you may have observed, this was mentioned in the video. I don’t have the answer for you on whether this is the only way to do this as I have not personally used the Shapton system. I’ll try to find out.


I just discovered WoodTreks and I think you are doing a great job. I simply loved the videos. They can easily be turned into some kind of a TV show.

Small question about this video; Craig uses the same grade sand paper to flatten different stones? Doesn’t a coarse sand paper damage the surface of the polishing stone (3000 and above for example.)

I have no experience with these sharpening stones so obviously I don’t understand the nature of them yet it seemed logical to me to use different sand paper grains.
Thank you and keep up the good work.


I’ve always used a DMT DuoSharp to flatten my king stones. I’ve wondered if it’s as flat as it needs to be but haven’t a way to tell. Before that, I used sandpaper on a sheet of glass for sharpening but didn’t like it. Too much fussing with adhesive and if I didn’t glue it down, I’d always end up turning an edge while flattening.

One trick I use when flattening is to scribble all over the surface of the stone with a pencil, then flatten until the marks go away.

I still feel like I’m at the beginning when sharpening..much left to perfect. Sometimes it seems like no matter how long I work, I can’t get a back flat!

Jim W

What does Craig use to flatten his Takenoko 8000 stone? Does he use the Shapton lapping plate, sandpaper on a granite surface plate like he uses for the Kings, or something else?

Can the Shapton lapping plate be used to flatten a Takenoko stone?

Thanks for a very informative video. I really appreciate what you are doing with Woodtreks.

Keith’s Note: I’ll forward your question. Craig has been very busy these days, so please be patient.


I purchased a Granite surface stone 9″ x 12″ x 2″ Woodcraft for $37.00 I stick 220 grit sandpaper to it them go to town flattening my water stones. It does a nice job for not much money.