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What kind of sharpening stone is it?

Recruiter's picture

I received an old sharpening stone, from a relatives estate.  It seems to be an old stone, by the looks of it.  It is in a wooden carrier.  There are no visible markings on the stone. 


It would appear to be an oilstone, since it is apparent that oil was used on it.  It is a brown stone, although with the oil its mostly black, and seems to be a fairly fine grit.  It had been suggested I try to clean the stone off, in hopes of finding some markings somewhere.  This leads to the question, of what to clean it with.  Especially since I don't know what type of stone it is.  With my luck, I'd clean it like an oilstone, then find out its a waterstone, and I just ruined it.  Anyone have any suggestions?



hammer1's picture

Some how, Dave, you managed (post #169621, reply #1 of 8)

Some how, Dave, you managed to post your question 3 times. Water stones haven't been available for a long time in the US so it's probably an oil stone. Being brown in color, it could be an India stone. If it already has oil on it, you probably won't damage it if it was a water stone. Leave it on a piece of paper overnight to see if it leaches oil. You can clean it with mineral spirits followed by scrubbing with warm soapy water, Dawn or a grease cutting detergent will work. India stones aren't from India, they are man made of aluminum oxide, quite hard and about medium fine. Pretty difficult to flatten if needed, not very expensive. Widely available. May not be marked or mark worn off, it would be on the edge.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

swenson's picture

Pix (post #169621, reply #2 of 8)

How about posting a picture?

RalphBarker's picture

old stones (post #169621, reply #3 of 8)

Like Hammer, I suspect it is an "India" stone, perhaps made by Norton Abrassives, which made fine, medium, and coars grit India stones. They sold many of their stones in wooden boxes many years ago. The black coloring is most likely from metal swarf left on the stone. Mineral spirits and a toothbrush should clean it up, as suggested.

Recruiter's picture

I think I agree (post #169621, reply #4 of 8)

Sorry about the multiple postings. I don't know how it happened, except to say that sometimes my mouse does a double click, instead of single-who knows.

I soaked the stone overnight, to clean it up. I agree that it probably is an oilstone, since it is very hard. It is slightly dished in the middle, and has a few pits in it. I tried to flatten it out on some wet & dry sandpaper, since I don't have a flattening plate. I barely made a mark on it. I'm tempted to put it away, and say forget it, and simply use my regular medium grit India stone (Norton MB8) for that stage of sharpening, unless someone has another idea of how to flatten and smoothe it out.



RalphBarker's picture

age and hardness (post #169621, reply #5 of 8)

People tend to go soft in their old age, but stones seem to get harder with age. My theory is that the oil that impregnates the stone hardens over time. But I might be wrong.

If using wet/dry paper, you might need to use a coarser grit to begin with, to break down the surface of the stone, and then switch to a grit more similar to that of the stone, using oil or kerosene as a lubricant.

Otherwise, a coarse diamond plate might be the way to go.

hammer1's picture

I've tried to flatten an old (post #169621, reply #6 of 8)

I've tried to flatten an old India stone with diamond, I suppose it might have worked if I was willing to rub on it for a week or two. Considering the cost of a new India, it doesn't make sense. Use it for kitchen, hunting knives, axes and carving tools where a long flat surface isn't an issue.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

RonInOttawa's picture

If you have a belt sander you (post #169621, reply #7 of 8)

If you have a belt sander you can get fairly close to flat by putting on a 60-80 grit blue belt, clamping the sander upside down and hold the stone against the platen.  To appease those with a violent safety gene I always say "Wear gloves, hearing protection, apron and safety glasses..."





The biggest difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits. - A. Einstein

angusthesledge's picture

One way to dress the face of (post #169621, reply #8 of 8)

One way to dress the face of a sharpening stone is to use a flat section of concrete, rather than a belt sander or a diamond grit plate. I recommend it mostly because it won't cost anything and will save the wear and tear on your expensive tools. Be aware, this will cause a section of concrete to be worn down a bit and discolored from surrounding areas. . .