Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. “I’m a beginner. How should I use a lapping plate?”
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. (see this video)
Q2. “How often should I lap?”
Our research shows that lapping every 3-5 minutes significantly improves the accuracy and speed of sharpening. When the stone is flat, it is clean. When it’s clean, we are able to contact more surface area due to lack of resistance on the surface- less friction between and stone and steel. We want more friction and contact to bite- the particles in the stone get rounded and flattening resharpens the rounded surface- essentially resharpening the sharpening stone. Prepare the surface to sharpen your stone.
Q3.“Why do you have several different patterns on your lapping plates?”
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.”
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?”
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?”
#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?”
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?
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. (see this video)