Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: I’m a beginner. How should I use a lapping plate?
A: Get the stone wet, apply even pressure. Push the plate over the surface of the stone. Keep your strokes short. Use an X-pattern followed by small circles.
Q2: How often should I lap?
A: Our research shows that lapping every 3-5 minutes significantly improves the accuracy and speed of sharpening. When the stone is flat and clean, we are able to contact more surface area. We want more friction and contact to bite the particles in the stone. Particles get rounded while sharpening and flattening, re-sharpens the rounded surface particles essentially re-sharpening the sharpening stone. Prepare the surface by sharpening/flattening your stone.
Q3: Why do you have several different patterns on your lapping plates?
A: Generally our plates fall into 2 categories. RIDGE TECH and BUTTON TECH. Currently, we offer two Ridge Tech design and two Button Tech designs. The Ridge Tech NL-4 is much coarser than all of our other plates. This plate is designed to groom the surface of very coarse abrasives from #120~#1000. Surface pattern on NL-4 is designed for maximum material removal and clearing.
Our NL-5 is designed to flatten finer grit stones. The star and hexagon pattern was designed specifically to groom the surface of fine grit stones. The edges of the star and hexagon structures do most of the work when flattening. With this pattern, we have maximized the number of edges on the plate and created lots of clearance between structures for slurry dispersion. This pattern leaves a very fine tight grain surface.
Button Tech plate NL-8 has the same outside dimensions as the NL-4 and NL-5. It is easy to grip and significantly lighter than the NL-10. The pattern is designed to maximize edges and slurry clearance. Removal rates are higher than NL-5 due to the weight of the button plate. Surface finish is excellent on fine grit stones.
Q4: What’s wrong with the sandpaper and glass method? That works just fine.
A: Really effective edges have an apex of less than 3 microns. Straight razors meed apex of approaching 1 micron. An average human hair is about 100 microns in diameter. Sand paper, for example #2000 grid, has a thickness of about 500 microns. The surface of glass generally takes on the surface of the bench top that it is laid down upon. That is to say the glass plate is somewhat flexible. Also, the sand paper must be glued and taped to the glass. The point here, sandpaper and glass are not flat enough to create consistent 3 micron edges.
Q5: Why are your plates so pricy?
A: Our plates are actually not expensive.
We’re pushing the boundaries of modern manufacturing technology. Manufacturing hundreds of lapping plates consistently to our specifications is a feat of modern engineering. Most of our plates are flat to +-1/4 of a thickness of a human hair. Most diamond manufactures publish a flatness specification based on their substrate before they apply their diamonds. Our spec is created and measured after the plate is completely manufactured. We measure every plate before they leave the factory.
Q6: Is 50 micron diamond optimal for #400 abrasives?
A: #400 is at the outside limit of the optimal range for 50 microns lapping plate. It works very well, however, the abrasive surface will tend to be slightly smooth. Therefore, #400 stone will cut faster when lapped with the larger diamond such as our 130 micron NL-4. Our 50 micron diamond finds its sweet spot between #6000 ~ #15000 range stones.
Q7: Why are the plates so narrow?
A: Our plates are longer than most sharpening stones. This is because our research has shown that plates are most effective when one dimension is longer than the surface of the stone you are flattening.
Q8: How do I know when my stones flat?
A: Draw an X on the surface of your stone from corner to corner with a pencil. Use the side of the pencil point, this will spread the graphite evenly over the stone. Then, lap your stones with the plate. Check to see if the graphite is evenly removed.
Q9: Since there is no way the NL-5 lapping plate can wear absolutely even what do I do when the surface is no longer 100% flat?
A: The NL-5 is an electroplated design. The diamonds are held in a bed of nickel. It is not possible to adjust the surface once it is built. The veneer of diamond will eventually wear out. It should stay quite flat until that happens. The button plates are a solid diamond/metal matrix. So the diamond will not wear off the surface. When it gets out of flat it can be lapped on a precision lapping machine.
Q10: What's the difference between the NL-5 and the NL-10, besides the obvious diamond pattern and size?
A: The NL-10 is a solid metal/diamond button that is pretty much impossible to wear out. The NL-5 is a veneer of diamonds over aluminum. It has a life that really depends on how you use it. The NL-10 is a very serious profession tool. You can also send the NL-10 back to Nano Hone to recalibrate if you get it out of flat. We have an industrial wafer lapping machine here in our shop for that purpose.
Q11: The description of the NL-5 lapping plate states that "Do not use this lapping plate for sintered ceramics". What is the meaning of this?"
A: Sintered stones are blocks of ceramic that are backed until they almost melt. They are very hard. An example would be a Spiderco stone. The same is true for diamond ceramics.
Q12: What are the advantages of your product if compared to other popular products/companies such as Naniwa or Chosera?
A: The main difference between Nano Hone and other makers is our attention to detail from a sharpener's point of view. We design tools that we want to use. There aren't many makers that use their products everyday. We sharpen knives for customers every week. So, we think that puts us in a special category. We want customers to discover new details in our products as they use them. And most of all, we don't want the tool to hold back the user. Our stones are dense so they are very long lasting with resilient. They arte also micron size accurate. Meaning, we use highly uniform particles that are accurate to our stated micron/grit sizes. Compared to other makers, our stones are a little finer most folks expect. So, our 2 micron 6000 is similar to most other 8000 grit stones. Finally, we are always available to support our products here in the US.
Q 13: I have a set of ceramic kitchen knives. According to YouTubers and others, it is impossible to sharpen a ceramic knife. Do you agree with that statement?
A: Ceramic knives are indeed difficult to sharpen but not impossible. Diamonds are the only way. We would suggest bigger diamonds like 10 microns. We recommend our Surf Stones or our original Diamond Resin Stones.
Q 14: I have taken delivery of your NS-3000 today. Your range came highly recommended by a Japanese woodworking FB group and I chose it instead of a 3000 Hibiki stone as I hoped the aluminum plate would guarantee flatness, indeed I regularly see your strap line "Our World is Flat". I was therefore dissapointed to find your stone crowned, managing to slip a .1mm, easily under a matsui straight edge. Is this normal?"
Q 15: Regarding Nano Hone One more question, I would like to have both of my hands free while I strop the knife. I am considering attaching the strop to a Panavise table vise, with rubber jaws. Question is the material attached to a solid piece of metal or is it hollow. Would it remain solid under the pressure of the vise?