I recently purchased a set of three diamond sharpening plates for all my woodworking sharpening needs. I was previously using a doubled sided diamond plate consisting of a 400 grit side and a 1000 grit side. To sharpen a blade I had to start on the coarse side, flip over to the fine side, and finally finish by polishing on the leather strop – a cumbersome process. Having three dedicated stones makes it much easier to go from one grit to the next.
I made a holder to secure all three plates and the leather strop in place as I sharpen. Mine is made of plywood roughly 5/8″ thick though any type of wood between 1/2″ and 1″ will work well. My stones are 3″ by 8″ each and the holder is 9 1/2″ tall by 15″ wide.
To start I cut the plywood to size. There are two pieces: the larger main piece that holds the plates and the “cleat” at the bottom that will be clamped in the vise while sharpening to prevent the holder from moving.
Next I cut the groove for the cleat to fit in. Start by scribing a line 3/4″ from the long side of the larger piece with a marking knife (any utility knife will work). Make three passes with the knife: a light pass to score the wood, one heavier pass, and a very heavy pass to deepen the cut. Then, use a wide chisel to cut into the wall created by the knife, along the entirety of the scribed line.
Place one edge of the cleat firmly against the wall and scribe the opposite side of the groove. Repeat the same process of chiseling into the scribed line.
With the chisel bevel side down, remove the bulk of the waste in the groove until the depth is slightly less than 1/8″.
Set the depth of the router plane and gradually remove material until the groove is 1/8″ deep.
In the end you should have a nice clean groove for the cleat to fit in.
Glue the cleat in the groove.
The same approach is used to create the recesses that hold the diamond plates. Place the plate 3/4″ from the top and sides of the board and use a marking knife to scribe a line around the plate. Repeat for the two other stones, leaving a 1/2″ gap in between the plates.
Again, chisel towards the knife wall and remove the bulk of the waste with the chisel bevel down. Set the router plane and gradually increase the depth until the recess is 1/8″ deep. Ideally the plates should fit perfectly now but otherwise some minor adjustments may need to be made with the chisel.
I finished my holder with tung oil which is 100% natural, water-resistant, and really easy to apply. Just pour it on, wipe it around, let it soak for 15 minutes and wipe off the excess. Repeat after around an hour. Other finishes will work too. This is not fine furniture so I wouldn’t worry too much about which finish to use.
Finally I drill two holes to screw the leather strop into. The strop is used to polish the blade after sharpening with the diamond plates.
And that’s about it. I keep the sharpening station close to my bench at all times and pull it out whenever my blades feel dull. It makes sharpening a simple task.