Sharpening tools is certainly not one of the easier tasks
to accomplish in woodworking. It often requires plenty of practice, a
truckload of jigs and more than a few hours of time a month to keep your
tools cutting sharp and clean.
To add to the drama, there are about a million and one
opinions and methods for how you should sharpen all manner of tools,
although I usually like to classify them as either "old school" or "new
school" technologies and techniques.
Eze-Lap's Diamond Sharpening Stones are a part of the
new breed of sharpening material... Some people love diamond stones, some
people hate them, but for the purpose of our review, all we are worried
about is the end result, and how long it takes us to achieve it!
Diamond itself is one of the most durable materials
known to man. It can cut almost anything, so it was almost a logical
progression to implement this material for sharpening purposes at some
A Closer Look
The Eze-Lap products we are looking at today include:
- Model 86F - 3" x 8" Diamond Stone with Leather
Pouch (Fine Grit - 600)
- Model 52F - 2" x 4" Diamond Stone on Walnut
Pedestal (Fine Grit - 600)
- Model L PAK 5 -
Set, 1 each 3/4" x 2", Superfine (1200),
Fine (600), Medium (400), Coarse (250) & Extra Coarse (150)diamond
pads. Color coded handles.
Models 86F and 52F ship in plastic molded packaging
which is suitable for store shelf/rack display. You have probably seen Eze-Lap
products on the shelf of your local hardware or woodworking store before.
They are widely available in many countries. The L PAK 5 set comes in a
flexible folded wrap, much like cheaper spanner sets come in, however,
this is no indication of the quality of the contents inside it of course.
This is quite handy to fold up and put in your pocket for all those
smaller mobile sharpening tasks.
You would think any kind of product that contains diamonds would cost
a fair amount of money, however, diamond stones in general are quite
affordable and useful for a variety of sharpening tasks. Retails prices for
the units we tested are as follows:
- Model 86F - US$50.95
- Model 52F - US$18.50
- Model L PAK 5 - US$29.95
Keep in mind that Eze-Lap produce a wide range of models
and sizes which are suitable for various sharpening requirements. Overall, prices
seem dependant on the size of diamond stone surface on each model, as we
I'll admit, explaining the process of how Eze-Lap manufactures the
diamond surface on their stones is beyond me. From a woodworkers point of
view, however, what we need to see is a uniform surface that is as flat as
possible to ensure our tool edges are as clean and sharp as possible.
For the technically minded, this is what Eze-Lap
themselves have to say about their diamond stone production process. You
can draw your own conclusions of course:
"Our patented diamond process and modern
technology allows EZE-LAP to produce the finest quality diamond products
for the lowest possible price. The patented process of heat treatment that
bonds the highest quality industrial grade diamond particles in a
stainless alloy to a precision matched metal substrate, has been imitated,
but has never come close to being duplicated. The resulting surface
integrity from the EZE-LAP process measures about 72 on the Rockwell C
A basic metal straight-edge test on the diamond
surface of all models tested revealed a flat surface (as far as the eye
can determine anyway), so we are off to a good start. Running fingers
across the surface revealed relative uniformity in the density and
dispersion of diamond material. Quite crude tests, but in the absence of
expensive testing devices, it will have to suffice.
To the Test Lab!
L PAK 5 - I will start by describing the
experience with the "Diamond Hone & Stone" set. This little set of 5
stones (various grits) embedded onto plastic handles is really, really useful for a
variety of applications. Grits include 150, 250, 400, 600, 1200.
The size and width of these items tend to rule out using
them to sharpen larger items like chisels, scrapers and large knives, but
are perfect for all the smaller cutting tools in the workshop. I used the
600 and 1200 grit sticks frequently during the test period to keep many of my router
bits in tip-top condition. Diamond compound is excellent at sharpening
carbide material found on nearly all quality router bits these days. A
couple swipes (using a little precise skill of course) is all you need to
keep the cutting edge in cutting condition. Very handy indeed.
Then of course we have the drill bits... Again, a swipe
or three of the 400 grit, then the 600 grit Eze-Lap Diamond stone will
produce a sharp edge on twist drill bits, brad point drill bits and almost
all other drill bits you may have in the shop. The thickness of these
sharpening sticks allows you to even get to the inside edges of cutting
and boring bits, however, some bits are just too small to get your cutting
surface into the fine edges. Other methods of sharpening these items are
needed, but keep in mind that Eze-Lap also sell a range of other diamond
stones, and some of these are much thinner in width and would allow you to
get into those tighter areas - like the Eze-Lap "Credit Card Stone" for
In each test, we were able to quickly and easily
produce, or maintain a sharp edge on a number of drilling, boring and
routing bits with the Diamond Hone & Stone sticks, most within perhaps
10-15 seconds! The L PAK 5 package is particularly useful because of the
various grits available. The Coarse grade stick can easily de-burr and
even work out chips or minor damage to the edge of a cutting tool. the L
PAK 5 set will certainly be demanding real estate space on our workshop
shelves for some time to come.
Models 52F and 86F
We will discuss these two models together, simply for the fact that
they are both 600 grit diamond stones, the difference being the size and
packaging of each. Model 52F is a 2" x 4" stone that comes set onto a nice
block of finished walnut. Anti-slip pads are also included in the package
which you can peel off and stick to the underside corners of the walnut
block. These provided a relatively non-slip grip when using the 52F on
many surfaces, although on polished surfaces, it did lose its grip now and
then, but this is to be expected to some degree.
The 86F is the larger 3" x 8" stone which does not come
on a block but rather, ships with a nice leather pouch. The leather itself
seems fairly high-grade, quality material, but I am no leather expert so
don't quote me on that! The diamond material is laid down on a solid metal
base which gives the product a bit of weight. Our straight-edge test from
corner-to-corner revealed a relative flat surface as far as we could tell.
Not bad considering the size of the stone.
Now, Eze-Lap claim their 600-grit stones are suitable
for 98% of your sharpening needs. This assumes that your tools are free
from damage and have a relatively clean edge to begin with. After testing,
we tend to agree with this claim, however, there were times when a 400
grit stone or perhaps even a 250 grit stone would have come in handy...
Eze-Lap sell these also, so it was just a case of us doing what we could
with what we had on hand.
These larger stones are naturally more suitable for
chisel and plane blade sharpening, but are not limited to those
applications. According to Eze-Lap;
"These diamond stones
are perfect for hunting and fishing knives, woodworking tools, exacto
blades, axes and industrial use."
Well, I'm not really a hunter, nor a fisherman...yet!
Although I do have some exacto blades I use for plastic aircraft modeling
(my other hobby) and the Eze-Lap diamond stones have certainly extended
the life of these otherwise throw-away blades substantially now. Almost
anything that has a cutting edge that needs to be sharp, can invariably be
sharpened with diamond stones, so both the 52F and 86F models will
certainly come in handy for more than just your woodworking sharpening
needs. If your stone goes missing, check the kitchen to see if the other
half is using it to sharpen their tools of the trade as well!
Diamond stones are claimed to be one of the fastest
cutting materials on the planet, so to use the Eze-Lap diamond stones on a
tool usually requires very little time. Plenty of material can be removed
if you aggressively work your tool over the stone. I won't go into the
procedures for the sharpening of tools because there are simply too many
ways and methods, but for chisels and planer blades, we used a
commercially available honing guide jig to ensure our tools were set at
the right angle against the Eze-Lap stones and made around 4 to 5 light
passes over the stone to maintain a sharp, clean edge. A damaged edge will
require more, or at least a coarser grade stone to begin with, or you can
even grind away the problem area on a bench grinder (use a white wheel for
high speed steel) and then hit it with the Eze-Lap stones for a final
finish. The larger model stones are available in the same grits as the L
PAK 5 collection, so there are plenty of purchase options for your
The Eze-Lap diamond stones do not require the use of oil or water and
Eze-Lap claim they will remain true and flat over time. While we have not
had the stones for long enough to test that claim, if at some stage in the
future we find this is not the case, we will certainly let you know, but
so far, so good, and we expect the diamond stones to hold up well over a
long period of time and use. I would recommend occasionally lightly
brushing the stone or even vacuuming the surface to remove any steel
material laying dormant on the stone as a result of previous sharpening
sessions. This will keep the stone in tip-top condition and cutting
Many people in the past have complained about diamond
stones losing their cutting ability after a week or a month of solid use.
Further reading would suggest that during this initial period, the cutting
is more aggressive in this period because you are working over some of
rougher outer material on the stone, which will naturally cut faster. When
this material is worn down a tough, the cutting ability will of course
become less noticeable as you are now running your tool over a slightly
'smoother' surface. I too have found this with some of my other diamond
stones I have had for a few years now, but my experience is that diamond
stones in general (and assuming they have a nice flat surface) will last
for a long time, will not wear down significantly in the short term, and
will remain as an effective sharpening surface for a good deal of time
with occasional maintenance to the stone itself.
Models 52F and 86F ship with a set of instructions, which are actually
printed on the back of the logo/packaging graphics etc. They provide basic
sharpening instruction to get you started, but do not include any specific
instructions for a variety of woodworking tools. This information is
widely available over the internet though from various sources. Do a
google (www.google.com) search for "Sharpening Tools" and you will find an
abundance of sites and resources!
Overall, we were quite happy with he results we achieved with the
products on hand. Ideally, you would have a full complement of various
grit stones to get the ultimate finish and sharpness on an edge, but we
found the larger Eze-Lap 600 grit stones combined with the versatility and
various grits available in the L PAK 5 set tackled most of our sharpening
and edge maintenance needs very adequately. And best of all, it
accomplished these tasks quickly and for a very reasonable price
considering the diamond stones should last a good length of time and see
many more sharpenings in the near future. Recommended!
Eze-Lap Website -
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior
written permission prohibited
Eze-Lap Packaged Products
(From Left to Right)
Model 52F - 86F - L PAK 5
Model 52F on Walnut Base
Clear anti-slip pads are added to
the base. These work well in general
3 of the 5 diamond sticks from the L PAK 5 set. You can see the grit
difference even in this shot.
Each is marked for easy reference
A uniform diamond surface dispersion is found on the
One of my favorite uses of the
Eze-Lap stones is sharpening carbide router bits!
In fact, you can sharpen a lot of different cutters. Here a plug cutter
gets the treatment.
The 52F is great for sharpening my hobby blades
Taming the beast... The 86F that is. Here it is at work
sharpening a 25mm firmer chisel with my honing guide.
It may be a little tough to see in this shot, but the
edge is relatively sharp, but could use a finer 1200 grit Eze-Lap stone