As you may have noticed, in the past few posts I have been talking about the advent of harder non sulphur based automotive clays because of recent changes to solders used in computer circuitry. This change in direction is extremely important because of the reliance on computer hardware and milling machines in most major OEM studios. With this type of clay you will find that the advantage for the milling machine is the lack of oils that cause major sticking to the cutters being used but what it also means is the added abrasion to the cutting edge.
The bottom line is, the cutters are going to be changed more frequently than before and the cutting feed will have to be that much slower to avoid cutter bounce especially with any cut that is on the deep side. That being said, what does it mean for hand tools that are being used on this hard clay.
During my time using this clay I am finding that the tools are being sharpened more frequently than before and for me the best sharpening medium so far is by DMT®, Diamond Machining Technology.
Previously, before I had diamond stones I use to rely on Swiss files, oil stones and wet and dry paper to produce the edge that I needed. These methods are still valid but as far as being convenient the diamond stone is far less messy. Admittedly you still need to file in the teeth on your steels and rakes, be it more often now but using an oil stone requires oil to prevent the stone from clogging from the filings. With DMT® the steels are sharpened dry and to remove clogging to the fine diamond coating it is a simple case of washing with water and removing the clogged area with a stiff brush.
One of my favorite diamond sharpening stones is a folding file that comes as a single faced or double faced blade called the Diafold®. This is a great little tool for resharpening wire tools, finishers and rakes giving you complete control over the cutting edge when sharpening. The dual colored handle tells exactly the coarseness of the diamond plate with red being fine and blue being coarse. This double sided sharpening system comes in three configurations, making it an easy solution for every day sharpening.
Another small diamond stone that is particularly good on wire tools is the 4″ Machinist Diamond Whetstone® and this has the addition of a solid 1″ of diamonds at the end for an uninterrupted sharpening surface. This four inch blade comes in two grades, coarse and fine.
With the DMT®s lighter weight and smaller size, it will takes up minimal room in your tool box or traveling case which is an important aspect for contract modelers. The weight of both the DuoSharp® and the Diafold® will probably weigh the same as a small oilstone but giving the advantage of sharpening everything from steels to finishers, certainly beneficial when weight consideration is a major factor with the plus factor of no mess from oil.
I myself was quite skeptical about using the diamond stone after so many years using various other methods but I have found that this method tends to be my normal course of action when I need to sharpen my tools. This is a case of grab the stone, sharpen and carry on with the job especially in times when there is a tight schedule.
What is your take on sharpening preferences, do you think this is the best method at present?