Review By Dean Bielanowski  Eze-Lap Website - http://www.eze-lap.com

Eze-Lap Diamond Sharpening Stones
 Review

By Dean Bielanowski

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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 stage.

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.

Prices
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 would expect.

Diamond Surface
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 hardness scale."

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 example.

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 specific needs.

Oil-Free!
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 nicely.

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.

Instructions
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!

Conclusion
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 - www.eze-lap.com

Eze-Lap Photos
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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
86F model


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 for ultra-sharpness!

 

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