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sharpening stones...Oil or water. Confused.

mjrarey's picture

I have a problem that I hope someone can give me some guidance on. I purchased a box of sharpening stones at an auction recently.  I am tryng to learn more about sharpening.  I have two problems that I am hoping for someones guidance.  First, I am not sure whether these stones are water or oil stones.  Can I make them either?

Secondly, I am not sure actually what I have.  Two of the stones are dark gray course on one side and finer on the other side, the second a very fine red/burgandy color and the third is a very very fine white stone. 

Can anyone help me to better understand what I am working with.

Thanks,
Mark

gdblake's picture

These may be Norton stones (post #170970, reply #1 of 9)

Go to nortonstones.com and compare their pictures and descriptions to what you have.  You can use water as the lubricant on oil stones, but cannot use oil on waterstones.  Oil stones are much harder that waterstones are.  One way to tell is to flatten the stones using 220 grit sandpaper on a flat surface.  Just place the sandpaper grit up on a flat reference surface such as a tablesaw top, countertop, or thick glass.  If the stone rubs off pretty easily onto the sandpaper it is most likely a waterstone.  If it takes a good bit of effort it is most likely an oil stone.  Some quick Internet searches for oil stone and waterstone will bring up dealers websites with product pictures and descriptions.  A few minutes of browsing should provide you with the information you need to properly use the stones you have.

gdblake

We're all here because we're not all there.

Metod's picture

Oil on Waterstones (post #170970, reply #5 of 9)

gdblake,

What is 'your' reason for saying that oil should not be used on waterstones?

Best wishes,

Metod

gdblake's picture

Okay, I'll take the bait. (post #170970, reply #6 of 9)

Metod:

My reason is quite simple, I like to perpetuate old wive's tales. 

I have not personally experimented with using oil on waterstones to see what the effect would be.  I have read of others experiences with this over the last few years and the gist of what has been reported is that oil tends to clog up a waterstone slowing down the cutting action.  As I understand it, due to the surface tension of water, loosened grit and metal filings tend to float to the top whereas with oil these particles tend to be pulled down into the pores of waterstones.  I don't know if oil messes with the binders used to make synthetic waterstones or not.  I do know from years of sharpening with an Arkansas stone that every now and then I would have to hard scrub the stone with dishwashing detergent to unclog the stone when it would become gummy.  

 If you have experimented with this yourself and have found benefits to using oil on waterstones please share your findings.  I'm always willing to learn something new.

Hope things are going well for you,

gdblake

We're all here because we're not all there.

Metod's picture

Trying again (post #170970, reply #7 of 9)

...having just posted on another tread, maybe I will not get filtered with this this attempt.

A few years ago, here on Knots, Philip Marcou made a remark about kerosene/oil working OK with water stones. I had an extra #800, so I gave it a try. If I ruined it, I would chalk it off as an educational expense. It worked fine. Tried another one, a #1200. Ok too.

Soon I converted the rest that I have: 220 ceramic, 3000, 8000, 12000, all from Japan woodworker. Among them, thet soaked up more than 2 quarts of (I used Marvel Mystery) oil. Somebody else mentioned it, and I liked the smell much gooder (correct: better) than kerosene. Now I only need a few drops, and there is not much soaking up. Marvel Mystey, kerosene, WD-40, and mineral spirits - tried them all, and happy with them. When done honing, I squegee off the (black) residue.

I can't say that they cut slower - I would have to carry out a detailed comparison with using water - but now I have nothing to compare with . Just because I am happy with oil, I reccommend that others should see if it works for them too. word of mouth is second to the actual evidence.

If not too expensive, I would verify a given claim instead of relying on old wifes' (probably: old geezers')  tales. 

Using oil is oil is definitely more expensive (we are talking real pennies), but for me the convenience of it (that's the main reason for trying oil) is worth it. 

Best wishes,

Metod

RalphBarker's picture

Perpetuation (post #170970, reply #9 of 9)

"I like to perpetuate old wive's tales"

A noble endeavor, I think. Otherwise, how would old wives support themselves, if not from the royalties from the perpetuation of their tales?  ;-)

roc's picture

Are you able to post a photo ? (post #170970, reply #2 of 9)

You do that through the attach files in the message editing window near the bottom of the text field. Or photo bucket works here.

Norton sells both oil stones and water stones.  I know the Norton water stones have "Norton" stamped on the edge of the stone in ink.

Sounds to me like you have some gray water stones , the red one could go either way but is probably a water stone and if the white stone is very smooth it is less likely a Norton 4000 water stone ,which still feels very abrasive to the touch, but could be a hard Arkansas oil stone.

The method of trying them on sand paper is a good one.

If they look like they have been used a fair amount you could put some water drops on each one.  If the water beads up they were used with oil.  If the water soaks right in they are new oil stones or water stones.

>can I make them either ?<

If new or well cleaned of old oil yes.  I use water with my hard Arkansas oil stone and have since I bought it.

One of the reasons for using oil, however is carbon steel , generally older style, blades get a light rust on them while or after sharpening if you use water.  The oil prevents any rust forming. Or if you have to sharpen when it is very cold it is no fun using water and the water can feeze in the stone and crack it appart. That won't happen with oil.

To prevent rust when sharpening carbon steel with water I just rinse the blade in hot water and dry it and there is no real problem. Only room temp water on the stones though.  You can give a wipe of oil if the super light cast of rust bothers you.  Most modern blades are higher alloy steel and don't tend to rust much and pretty much demand using water stones if you want to get them sharp the quickest way.

roc

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. Abraham Lincoln ( 54° shaves )

RalphBarker's picture

Only room temp water on the stones (post #170970, reply #3 of 9)

My "room" has been at about 14° for the last couple of weeks. How does one get water down to 14°?  ;-)

roc's picture

Oh that's an easy one. (post #170970, reply #4 of 9)

Oh that's an easy one.  Remember the cool cats and dolls that people called The Rat Pack ? The Chairman , Dean, Sammy . . . you know.  Well they apparently did some research in that area (an astonishingly large amount of research in fact) and found if you put quite a lot of this stuff, proportionally, in your water there is no problem and things flow nicely.
http://www.whisky.com/brands/index.html

PS: you work in your " room" when it is 14° F do yah ?  Hey guys we need to pool our pennies and buy Ralph some electric socks he's going through kind of a rough patch right now.

roc

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. Abraham Lincoln ( 54° shaves )

mjrarey's picture

I will try and get a picture up. Thank you for replying (post #170970, reply #8 of 9)

Thanks