What is the difference between a dressing stone and an abrasive file? For example, items 61463610555 and 61463686100: www.nortonabrasives.com/sites/sga.na.com/files/document/Catalog-SharpeningStones-Norton200.pdf

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They're both the same shape, size, and both aluminum oxide so I guess the difference must be in the binder but I am not sure what the difference would be for an abrasive file versus a vitrified dressing stick.

  • Questions that rely on hyperlinks and manual searches of external websites become useless in time, so it's better to chop the information up yourself and provide it in the question. Judging from the information they provide, your question would best be asked of Norton, but one offhand guess would be a file would have a binder that helps it maintain its dimensions. The best comparison I see with the information provided is that the file is for dimensional filing and the other stick appears to be for hand sharpening.
    – K H
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 8:26
  • I could put screen shots in, but the catalog is really spread out. Even the information for a single product is spread out over 3 pages.
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 8:27
  • The link was also not the direct link I thought it was.
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 8:35
  • You're asking about these two sharpening products in particular, but maybe it would be better to reveal what you want to sharpen or shape? These are pretty specialized stones, and there may be a genre of stone more effective or specialized to your use at a better price point. Most people want to dress their abrasives flat and clean them/clear the pores. Especially for rough work, diamond has become pretty cheap.
    – K H
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 8:47
  • @KH I just ordered a dressing stone by accident (plus it was a lot cheaper than the abrasive file) and was wanting to know what to expect and whether I should order the proper item since it's going to take a while for either to get here.
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 18:32

1 Answer 1


The first product is a dressing stick, so if you have abrasive impregnated grinding machines, you use it to flatten and true them. A binder would be chosen to stay strong and hard with the heat produced. Generally with stone you want a dressing abrasive harder than the stone, but as they mention particularly cleaning and truing diamond abrasives, it appears it is adequate in this case to be stronger and harder than the binder.

The second product appears to be more for hand filing, sharpening and shaping high strength metal cutting tools like wood chisels and punch dies, so they likely have flexibility to choose binder properties that are better for low speed hand work.

  • Yeah, I was reading up and it got a bit confusing when they were talking about using diamond to dress aluminum oxide wheels and aluminum oxide to dress diamond wheels, with a softer binder for uses where the abrasive is dulled more quickly. Normally you want the abrasive to be harder than the thing be dressed so aluminum oxide to dress diamond wheels was a bit confusing. I imagine the binder for that must be quite soft and wonder whether a diamond wheels is expected to wear away at the AlO dressing stone more than vise versa.
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 18:35
  • Do dressing stone abrasives even need to be very sharp? I'm thinking the abrasive need only be hard enough to not be instantly worn down by the diamonds in the wheel while being sharp enough to cut away at the softer binder in the diamond wheel. And I guess they just mechanically tear the diamonds out of the binder rather than trying to cut the diamond which does not require dressing stone to actually cut the diamond. Heat tolerance is a good point but that won't really be an factor if trying to use a dressing stick as a hand stone.
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 18:38
  • They mention cleaning diamond wheels, so the point may be to abrade everything but the diamond, or they could be talking about something similar to a sintered diamond wheel where you would actually be wearing off substrate, but in the latter case I'm not sure how it would work since the diamond protects the substrate that supports it. You can see that in the "comet trails" on an angle grinder disc. I'm guessing for the diamond discs it may be more to free them of the crud that builds up.
    – K H
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 18:52
  • I imagine there is tearing and/or cracking the diamond to open room to get at the substrate.
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 18:57
  • I would expect the stone intended to hand file to be more microporous to facilitate a good work rate, but that's just speculation. Usually the advantage of using a stone or cutting agent that is only hard enough is either cost or that as they deteriorate some materials polish to a finer and finer grit.
    – K H
    Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 18:57

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