Home > Customized

Diamond Plates or Shapton Stones: Which Sharpening System is Better for You

For those who sharpen knives and tools regularly, the eternal question arises – which is better, diamond plates or Shapton stones? Both offer distinct advantages and disadvantages when it comes to ease of use, speed, edge quality, durability, versatility, maintenance, cost, and more. Let’s dig in to see how they compare.

Introduction to Diamond Plates and Shapton Stones

Diamond plates utilize a monolayer or double layer of diamond particles bonded to a flat metal plate. As you grind your knife’s edge across the diamonds, they abrade away material to form a fresh, sharp edge. Shapton stones are made of fused aluminum oxide, an abrasive material that also abrades away steel to sharpen and hone a blade.

Shapton stones are available in a range of grits, from coarse to fine. You would start with a coarse stone to set an initial bevel, then progress to finer grits to refine the edge. Diamond plates also come in different grits, though not as many options. Both can be used dry or lubricated with water or oil.

Ease of Use – Diamond Plates vs. Shapton Stones

Diamond Plates or Shapton Stones: Which Sharpening System is Better for You

In my experience, diamond plates are a bit more beginner-friendly. The hard, flat surface makes it easy to hold a steady angle as you sharpen. Shapton stones have a bit more “give”, requiring a lighter touch and more practice to master an even bevel.

However, Shapton stones allow you to correct and refine your technique as you progress from coarse to fine grits. Diamond plates don’t offer as much feedback. For a novice sharpener, diamond plates get the job done quicker, but Shaptons build skill.

Speed of Sharpening – How Fast Do They Work?

Diamond plates are generally faster than Shapton stones. Their hard surface rapidly grinds away steel. Coarse diamond plates can set an edge bevel on dull knives in minutes. Of course, how fast they work depends on grit size – coarser is quicker.

Shapton stones, particularly the coarser ones, work quickly too but not at diamond speed. Their softer surface doesn’t abrade steel as rapidly. For deep repairs, diamond plates save time. But for touch ups, Shaptons work fast enough.

Edge Quality – Comparing the Sharpness Achieved

Diamond Plates or Shapton Stones: Which Sharpening System is Better for You

With diamond plates, the rigid surface can create tiny, micro-serrated teeth along the edge. This leaves the edge feeling “toothy” rather than polished smooth. Shaptons excel at creating refined, push-cutting edges.

However, by finishing with a fine grit diamond lap or strop, you can minimize the toothiness. In my experience, both can produce hair-popping edges with practice.

Versatility – Which Can Handle More Knife Types?

While diamonds can technically sharpen any steel, they excel on harder steels. Their unyielding surface abrasively grinds away these steels. They can struggle removing steel on softer knives.

Meanwhile, Shapton stones work well on both hard and soft steels. Their silicate abrasives shear steel off in a broader variety of alloys. For kitchen cutlery containing softer stainless or carbon steels, Shaptons offer the edge.

Durability and Lifespan – Which Will Last Longer?

Diamond plates are vastly more durable than Shapton stones. Only diamond can condition and “true” a diamond plate. When maintained properly, diamond plates essentially last forever.

Shapton stones slowly wear down with repeated use. Flattening and conditioning helps prolong their lifespan, but eventually they require replacement. For longevity, diamond plates are unbeatable.

Cost Comparison – Diamond Plates vs. Shapton Value

Upfront, diamond systems cost significantly more than Shapton stones. However, when you consider lifespan, diamond plates offer better long-term value, saving money over years of re-purchasing Shapton stones.

Additionally, you need fewer diamond plates (coarse, fine, extra-fine) versus Shaptons in multiple grits. The diamond plate system ends up more economical in the big picture.

Space Considerations – Storage and Portability

Diamond plates are slim and compact, making storage and travel easy. Shapton stones require flattening tools, making storage more cumbersome. For portability, diamond plates win out.

Maintenance Requirements – Keeping Them Clean

Diamond plates only need occasional cleaning with soapy water or glass cleaner to lift away metal residue and swarf. Shapton stones need more frequent flattening to keep their surfaces true and level.

For convenience, diamond plates require much less upkeep. But Shaptons give good feedback about your sharpening stroke, helping improve technique.

Making the Best Choice for Your Needs

Diamond Plates or Shapton Stones: Which Sharpening System is Better for You

In the end, choosing between diamond plates and Shapton stones comes down to your specific needs and preferences as a sharpener. Diamond plates offer simplicity and speed for the busy workshop. Shaptons build skill progressively with finer grits and feedback. Both can produce razor edges in the right hands.

For me, I prefer diamond plates for tools and outdoor/hunting knives that take a beating. And I like Shaptons for my kitchen knives where I appreciate an ultra-refined edge. There’s no universally “better” system – choose the one that suits your goals and style.

When it comes to ease of use, diamond plates and Shapton stones each have their own advantages and disadvantages for the beginning and experienced sharpener alike. Let’s break it down.

Ease of Use – Diamond Plates vs. Shapton Stones

For the complete novice, diamond plates tend to be more forgiving and straightforward to start with. The rigid surface gives you a very consistent angle as you sharpen, making it easier to pick up the basic sharpening motions. You don’t have to focus as much on light pressure and perfect technique right off the bat.

That said, Shapton stones can provide more feedback to the new sharpener. As you learn the motions, you can feel the stone give way in spots where you’re applying too much pressure or have the angle wrong. This helps you self-correct and dial in better form.

Additionally, having multiple Shapton grits to progress through gives a great learning arc for understanding how scratches are removed and the edge is refined. With diamond plates, you have fewer incremental steps from coarse to fine.

For experienced sharpeners, the advantage flips towards Shaptons. The tactile feedback from the stone is invaluable for detecting tiny imperfections and improving your technique over years of practice. Diamond plates can start to feel “dead” in comparison.

However, diamond plates retain an advantage in speed and convenience. For quick touch-ups, a few light strokes on a fine diamond plate can restore a razor edge incredibly fast compared to cycling through multiple Shapton grits.

So in summary:

  • Diamond plates excel for new sharpeners due to ease of learning basic technique.
  • Shapton stones better for progression in skill from coarse to fine.
  • Shaptons provide more tactile feedback for experienced sharpeners.
  • Diamonds unbeatable for speed of routine maintenance.

It’s worth trying both to see which suits your current skill level and sharpening needs!When comparing the speed of sharpening between diamond plates and Shapton stones, diamond plates tend to abrade steel more quickly and aggressively – but speed isn’t everything.

Speed of Sharpening – How Fast Do They Work?

Diamond Plates or Shapton Stones: Which Sharpening System is Better for You

The rigid diamond coating on diamond plates rapidly grinds away steel with less “give” than a Shapton stone. This makes reshaping an edge bevel on very dull knives quicker. You can set a new bevel in just minutes on a coarse diamond plate.

That said, more speed doesn’t automatically equal better. The more yielding surface of a Shapton stone allows you to use lighter pressure and focus on technique rather than brute force. This makes it less likely to over-grind and remove too much metal.

Additionally, Shapton stones encourage gradually stepping down grits to refine the edge. This adds to the overall sharpening time but removes scratches more evenly for a smoother edge. Diamond plates don’t promote as light a touch or grit progression.

For major repair work on very dull edges, diamond plates do save significant time. But for routine sharpening of moderately dull edges, Shapton stones work quickly enough, especially for more careful sharpeners.

It’s also worth noting that speed isn’t the only consideration. How the edge feels and cuts is more important than pure speed. A hair-popping edge produced cautiously on Shaptons beats a rushed, toothier edge off diamonds.

The takeaway?:

  • Diamonds rapidly set new bevels but can lead to over-grinding.
  • Shaptons take longer but encourage lighter pressure and better technique.
  • For major repairs, diamonds save time. For touch-ups, Shaptons are quick enough.
  • Slower sharpening isn’t inherently inferior to faster sharpening.

Choose the system that encourages the results you want, not just the fastest cutting!

When it comes to the quality of edge produced, both diamond plates and Shapton stones can produce impressively sharp edges, but they achieve it through different abrasive processes.

Edge Quality – Comparing the Sharpness Achieved

With diamond plates, the rigid surface can leave micro-serrations along the very edge as it grinds away metal. This leaves the edge feeling toothy and aggressive. Some sharpeners appreciate this for tools and outdoor knives meant to bite.

In contrast, Shapton stones abrade metal off in finer particles, allowing you to refine the edge to a push-cutting polish. This smooth sharpness is preferred for kitchen knives and razors where you want the edge to slide through material.

However, you can reduce the toothiness from diamond plates by finishing with lighter and lighter pressure on finer grit plates. And you can get Shaptons to produce toothy edges by avoiding the finer stone progressions.

So both systems are capable of high sharpness, just with slightly different edge characteristics out of the box. To get the best from diamonds, you need to master light pressure on the finest grits. And for the best from Shaptons, you need to gradually step through stone grits.

Additionally, both benefit greatly from finishing on a leather or cloth strop. This further aligns and polishes the tiny edge to reduce burrs and refine sharpness. Stropping makes the differences less apparent.

In summary:

  • Diamonds produce toothy edges from micro-serrations.
  • Shaptons allow refined, polished edges by abrasive size.
  • Stropping and light pressure minimize the differences.
  • Both can produce hair-popping sharpness with practice.

While Shaptons may have an out-of-the-box advantage in refinement, diamonds can be coaxed into comparable sharpness levels with effort and stropping.

When it comes to the types of knives they can sharpen, diamond plates and Shapton stones each have strengths in different areas. Their versatility compares as follows:

Versatility – Which Can Handle More Knife Types?

Diamond Plates or Shapton Stones: Which Sharpening System is Better for You

Diamond plates tend to excel at sharpening very hard knife steels. Their abrasive diamond coating can rapidly cut through steels like S30V, S35VN, M390, etc. without wearing down. Their hardness matches these alloy types well.

However, they can struggle to remove steel on softer knives with alloys like 1095 carbon steel or German stainless steel. The diamond grit can “skate” over the surface without abrading these steels as effectively.

In contrast, Shapton stones work well across both hard and soft steels. The friable silicate abrasives shear steel off in a broader variety of alloys, both hard and soft.

For kitchen cutlery containing softer German stainless or carbon tool steels, Shapton stones generally cut these steels more efficiently. They also work for Japanese knives with hard carbon steel cores.

However, Shaptons aren’t as ideal for ultra-hard powdered steels. Their abrasives can slowly wear down over time sharpening these alloys. Diamond plates last longer on the hardest steels.

So in summary:

  • Diamonds excel on very hard alloys but can struggle on softer steels.
  • Shaptons work well across both hard and soft knife alloys.
  • For kitchen knives, Shaptons have an advantage in versatility.
  • For the hardest steels, diamond plates retain their abrasiveness longer.

Consider the types of knives you’ll be sharpening most to choose the optimal abrasive system.

When it comes to durability and lifespan, diamond plates far outlast Shapton stones. The diamond abrasive retains its cutting power much longer than Shapton’s abrasives.

Durability and Lifespan – Which Will Last Longer?

Diamond Plates or Shapton Stones: Which Sharpening System is Better for You

Diamond is an incredibly hard and durable material. Only other diamond can abrade and wear it down. So diamond plates essentially last forever if you take care of them and clean them occasionally.

In contrast, Shapton stones are made of friable abrasives held together in a binder matrix. As you sharpen knives, the abrasive particles shear off and slowly wear down. Even with flattening and conditioning, Shapton stones eventually require replacement.

Additionally, diamond plates don’t dish out or form grooves like Shapton stones. You can sharpen uniformly across the rigid plate since it stays flat. Shaptons require more frequent flattening to counteract dishing when it occurs.

In my experience, with frequent sharpening, Shapton stones last several years before needing replacement. Diamond plates lasts decades or more with proper maintenance.

So in summary:

  • Diamond retains its abrasiveness essentially forever.
  • Shapton abrasives wear down gradually over years of use.
  • Diamond plates stay flat; Shaptons can dish out.
  • For longevity, diamond is unbeatable.

If you value durability and saving money over time, diamond plates are the clear winner in lifespan.

Cost Comparison – Diamond Plates vs. Shapton Value

When it comes to sharpening knives, two of the most popular systems are diamond plates and Shapton stones. But which one offers better value for your money? Let’s take a closer look at the costs and benefits of each system.

Diamond plates use a hard diamond abrasive attached to a metal backing plate. They come in varying grit sizes from coarse to fine and are renowned for their durability and ability to rapidly cut steel. A basic two sided set, with one coarse and one fine grit plate, can often be purchased for $50-100. While the diamond plates themselves are inexpensive, you’ll also need a stone holder which can range from $15 for a basic plastic model up to $70+ for a high end adjustable stone holder system. So your total startup cost for a basic diamond system would be approximately $65-170.

In contrast, a basic set of four Shapton glass stones, covering coarse to fine grits, would cost around $100-150. Shapton stones are made from alumina abrasives fused with glass backing plates. Their main advantages are cutting speed and convenience – Shapton stones don’t require soaking before use and cut efficiently without needing frequent flattening. You’ll also need the Shapton heavy stone holder which is around $20. So the total cost for a basic 4 stone Shapton system with holder would be $120-170.

At first glance, both systems seem fairly comparable in price. However, Shapton stones tend to have much longer working lives than diamond plates. Diamond plates wear down over time, with the diamond grit eventually falling off the backing plate after heavy use. This gives them a functional lifespan of only 1-2 years with regular sharpening. In comparison, Shapton stones can last 5+ years or more with proper care. So in the long run, Shapton stones are likely to provide much better value for money.

Ongoing Maintenance Costs

Diamond Plates or Shapton Stones: Which Sharpening System is Better for You

When looking at long term costs, maintenance requirements should also be considered. Diamond plates require frequent cleaning and occasional re-flattening to keep them performing at their best. This may necessitate additional diamond lapping plates and cleaning accessories. Shapton stones, on the other hand, can be cleaned easily with a Nagura correcting stone and don’t require flattening as often.

The coarser and softer bonding matrix of diamond plates also means they tend to dish out and warp more quickly during use. Even the best diamond plates may need re-flattening after just a few knives. This can really add up in consumable costs for lapping films, sandpaper, etc. With Shapton stones, you can easily sharpen dozens of knives before minor flattening is needed. Their hard glass backing resists dishing exceptionally well.

Value for Money

In summary, while diamond plates represent an inexpensive entry point into powered sharpening, their short lifespan and frequent maintenance make them less cost effective overall. Investing in a quality set of Shapton stones, with their longevity, low maintenance, and reputation for outstanding performance represents much better value for money in the long run.

Of course, personal preferences and sharpening needs should also be considered. Diamond plates offer unbeatable speed and coarse grit cut for repair work on damaged blades. For those sharpening high volumes of knives, the speed of diamond can’t be ignored. Alternatively, the refined edge from Shapton glass paired with their convenience for freehand sharpening makes them a great choice for kitchen knives and tools used by chefs.

For most users though, Shapton stones will provide the best balance of affordability and utility. Their ability to quickly produce razor sharp, refined edges that last make them an economical and rewarding sharpening system for serious cutlers and casual cooks alike.

Whether you choose whetstones or powered options, finding quality tools that align with your needs and budget is key. With a bit of research and experimentation, you can find a sharpening solution that delivers satisfaction along with value.

Space Considerations – Storage and Portability

Diamond Plates or Shapton Stones: Which Sharpening System is Better for You

In deciding between diamond plates and Shapton stones, another factor to weigh is the storage space and portability requirements of each system. For those with limited space or the need to sharpen on the go, this may influence which option is better suited.

Diamond plates are often bulkier than standard whetstones. Their metal substrate and frequent use of plastic bases take up more space in a drawer or sharpening kit. And while plates come in a range of sizes, even a basic two plate set can occupy a footprint of 5″ x 8″ or more. The plates themselves are also fairly thick, usually 0.5-1″ a piece.

In contrast, a four stone Shapton glass kit can easily fit in a space of just 7″ x 3″ x 1″. The thin profile of Shapton stones makes them simple to stack and store. Being able to consolidate multiple grits into a compact kit is a major advantage of the Shapton system. For kitchen use, chefs often appreciate having a small, self-contained kit that can be stashed in a knife roll or tackle box with ease.

When it comes to holders, Shapton’s lightweight Shapton stone holder also has the edge for portability. Weighing under 1 lb, it’s easy to pack and doesn’t add much bulk. Most diamond stone holders are heavier and bulkier by comparison. Large adjustable holders in particular are ill suited for travel due to their heft and multipart design.

Of course, not all diamond systems are bulky. Smaller 3″ x 2″ pocket-sized diamond plates are available, sometimes mounted to folding plastic or wooden bases. While less common, these can provide a more compact alternative to larger diamond plates. Matching them with an ultra slim holder helps enable easy transport.

Sharpening On The Go

For outdoor enthusiasts who need to sharpen in the field, Shapton’s size advantage shines. Fishers, hunters, and campers can easily pack a Shapton stone kit in a daypack or survival tin along with a small holder and lubricant. The ability to quickly touch up a fillet knife or field dress knife is invaluable away from home.

Diamond systems don’t offer the same tidy field sharpening solution. While the plates themselves may fit in a pack, a bulky holder would still be required for proper use. And both the plates and holder would need added protection from getting banged up en route. For most on-the-go sharpening tasks, a simple Shapton stone is far more practical.

At Home Convenience

Even for home use, Shapton’s space saving design can be appealing. Finding room for a permanent sharpening station can be tricky in compact kitchens or garages. The small footprint of Shapton stones makes setting up an out-of-the-way but easily accessible sharpening corner much simpler. And storing the stones takes minimal space in a drawer or cabinet.

With diamond plates, having room for a larger stone holder is necessary for ideal use. This can limit setup options in tight spaces. And their thicker profile consumes more drawer space as well. For hobbyists with crowded workshops or chefs furnishing a cozy kitchen, the compact nature of Shapton stones gets an edge.

At the end of the day, considerations like workspace and storage constraints, frequency of transport, and sharpening objectives impact how important portability is. While Shapton stones are clearly the more compact and portable system, diamond plates can still make sense for certain sharpeners. But for most users, the space savings and convenience of Shapton’s minimalist setup will be advantageous.

Evaluating the differences between sharpening tools goes beyond just grit options and price. Being able to pick a system that integrates seamlessly into your existing space can directly impact the enjoyment of your sharpening. With their slimmer profile and hassle-free maintenance, Shapton stones deliver reliable performance without dominating precious square footage. Their versatility enables confident sharpening at home or on the go.

Maintenance Requirements – Keeping Them Clean

Diamond Plates or Shapton Stones: Which Sharpening System is Better for You

Proper maintenance is crucial to keeping any sharpening system performing its best. When evaluating diamond plates against Shapton stones, looking at their relative maintenance needs can help inform the decision.

With diamond plates, ongoing cleaning is very important. As abraded steel builds up on the surface during sharpening, it can clog the diamond grit and reduce cutting effectiveness. Frequent cleaning is required to prevent this. Typical methods include wiping with a rubber eraser, scrubbing with a nagura stone, or using a metal brush.

Chemical cleaners may also be used, often citric acid solutions or commercial diamond plate cleaners. However they come with downsides, namely extra costs and being harsh on the metal substrate. With regular use, diamond plates may need cleaned every few sharpening sessions to maintain performance.

In comparison, Shapton glass stones require very little substantive cleaning between uses. A quick wipe with a dry cloth or nagura rub is generally sufficient. The hard glass backing prevents embedded steel from impeding the stone’s cut. At most, a nagura scrub and rinse under water are needed after extensive use.

The Shapton heavy stone holder frame also stays cleaner than typical diamond plate holders. Its smooth stainless steel construction doesn’t allow metal residue to adhere like cast iron or plastic bases can. Keeping both stone and holder free of debris is faster with the Shapton system.

Flattening and Leveling

Diamond Plates or Shapton Stones: Which Sharpening System is Better for You

Another important maintenance factor is keeping stones level and flat. As plates and stones wear, their surfaces inevitably become uneven. Flattening them periodically is necessary to restore a flat sharpening surface.

Diamond plates typically require flattening more often than Shapton stones. Their softer bonding and thinner substrates lead to quicker dishing with use. Even quality diamond plates may need lapping after sharpening just a few knives. This frequent flattening increases consumable costs and time spent maintaining the plates.

In contrast, Shapton glass stones can go many months before only minor flattening is beneficial. Their hard backing plates resist dishing exceptionally well. When the time comes, a diamond lapping plate makes quick work of truing them up. Maintenance time and accessory costs are much lower compared to diamond plates.

Long Term Value

Considering maintenance needs in terms of time and expense can give insight into the long term value of each system. Spending less effort keeping tools in working order allows more time for actual sharpening.

For diamond plates, frequent cleaning and flattening represent recurring hidden costs. Extra accessories get consumed quickly, and significant time gets spent keeping the plates tuned up. Even premium diamond plates require high maintenance to justify their heavy costs.

Meanwhile, Shapton stones offer a nearly maintenance-free experience. Their durability minimizes recurring upkeep costs. And time not spent cleaning and flattening stones can be invested in honing skills and sharpening edges. For many sharpeners, convenience is as important as utility.

Ultimately, the goal is quality edges with minimal fuss. Shapton stones deliver that with aplomb. For both busy professionals and passionate hobbyists, choosing a system with lower maintenance equates to better long-term value.

Of course, costs in time and money should be weighed respectively against performance and suitability for the intended use. But for most applications, Shapton’s combination of reduced upkeep burden and outstanding cutting ability give them an advantage that crystalizes over years of regular use.

Well-crafted sharpening stones are meant to last and perform for the long haul. Comparing ownership experiences as they relate to convenience and usability provides insight into overall satisfaction. For a balance of quality and ease, Shapton stones stand out as a lower maintenance path to lasting sharpness.

Making the Best Choice for Your Needs

When comparing diamond plates against Shapton stones, there’s no universally “right” choice. The best system depends on factors like your sharpening objectives, knives, skill level, and budget. Here are some key considerations to help determine which solution may be a better fit.

Type of Knives

The types of knives being sharpened is a major factor. For kitchen knives, Shapton stones often excel. Their ability to put a fine, polished edge on kitchen cutlery is unmatched. From high hardness Japanese knives to softer German styles, Shapton’s refinement is ideal.

For tools like woodworking chisels or outdoor and survival knives, diamond plates may better suit. Their aggressive cutting on tough steels and ability to set a micro-beveled edge makes them well-suited for these applications.

Skill Level

User experience level also impacts the choice. Diamond plates tend to be more forgiving for beginners. Their fast material removal aids correcting mistakes and learning proper technique. The coarse diamonds can literally grind away imperfections.

Shapton stones demand more skill to use well. Their lightning-fast cut requires a light touch and mastery of angles to avoid errors. For advanced sharpeners they excel, but the learning curve may be higher for newcomers.

Maintenance Mindset

Diamond Plates or Shapton Stones: Which Sharpening System is Better for You

As discussed regarding maintenance requirements, one’s patience for upkeep also matters. Diamond plates demand frequent cleaning and flattening to stay true. If you don’t mind the recurring care, diamonds can serve well. But for convenience, Shapton’s “set and forget” nature gives them an advantage.

Budget Realities

Budget plays a key role too. Quality diamond plates are significantly more expensive than Shapton stone sets. While diamonds offer good value long-term, the higher initial cost can be prohibitive for some users.

However, inexpensive diamond-impregnated steel “sharpeners” are also available. And these may provide a more budget-friendly powered option compared to Shapton stones. Matching expectations to price point is important.

Personal Preferences

Lastly, individual preferences and sharpening philosophies help guide choices. If you prize refinement above all, Shapton stones may better fit your style. Or if brute force removal and speed are paramount, diamond plates satisfy that goal.

There’s no objectively “right” or “wrong” system. Selecting the one that best aligns with your knives, skills, and needs is what’s important. Being realistic about abilities, workflow, and budget helps ensure you choose a solution you’ll enjoy using and get satisfaction from.

While Shapton stones work beautifully for most general sharpening pursuits, diamond plates still shine in specific situations. Rather than viewing it as an either/or proposition, having both in your arsenal can be advantageous. Using each system where it excels maximizes their respective strengths.

Building a sharpening toolkit is a lifelong journey. Starting with quality beginner stones like Shapton Glass provides a perfect foundation. Later on, adding specialty items like diamond plates expands your capabilities. Investing in versatile tools with longevity pays dividends over time.

With a bit of reflection on how you sharpen, researching options, and trying various methods hands-on, you can discover the ideal solutions for your needs. There are many paths to success in sharpening, but choosing the right one for you makes the journey a reward in itself.