Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:33 pm
I've looked around and not say that it isn't on this site, but I haven't really found the answers to a couple of questions that I've had about Arkansas stones. If there on here and I missed it, point me in the right direction.
While I don't live in Arkansas all of my family does. My grandfathers box of old stones that was handed down to me has been my only set of stones and since finding CKTG I have been coveting a set of Japanese stones over my current ones. With finances tight, that just hasn't been in the budget, and to be honest I can get some pretty decent edges with my current stones. My hobby, of sorts, is to find old carbon knives and restore them and have made quite a collection of them, my most recent restore is a 1940's (ish) Sab that is FANTASTIC. Now the questions:
When looking at sites that have Arkansas stones, the grit system is just weird to me, for those that have used them what do you think of them (thoughts, feelings, emotions:) the soft, medium, hard? in comparison to Japanese stones? Since I've never actually bought any I'm not really sure what this all means.
Why do they push honing oil with the AS's? I soak my current ones in water and have found that to be a good set up, should I be using some type of oil instead?
And this might be boneheaded but why are they so much cheaper than Japanese Natural stones, is the natural finish comparable?
Basically I'm just curious, any info would be greatly appreciated. My sharpening and skills have been tremendously improved since I found this forum, to everyone that posts on here thank you for your knowledge.
Also this is kind of side question. After putting a final edge on that Sab that I mentioned before I could shave, cut through printer paper and have used it to prep every meal for a week. The damndest thing happened when I tried to go through newspaper, it wouldn't. Any ideas about this? Just kryptonite paper?
Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:53 pm
1. The grit system is different because it is not based on particle size, but density. More dense = finer edge.
2. Try using a spray bottle with a tiny bit of simple green in it, instead of oil or just water. It's an effective surfactant, and having something that isn't such a molecular floozy as water around helps to clear away swarf and get more knife on the abrasives, which is what matters. You can't really switch back and forth between water and oil, once the stone is saturated with oil, it takes a looong time to get the oil cleared out.
3. They are cheaper because they are far less rare, and in lower demand. Japanese natural stones are a precious commodity, and some are almost entirely gone. Japanese synthetic stones are a ridiculously high-tech product, so I wouldn't expect them to be cheap. The finish is very different--Japanese natural stones are known for producing a beautiful haze on the steel, and impart a sense of bite or grabbiness to an edge, even at a very high polish.
4. On the sab, do you have coarse hair that you were shaving with? Sometimes you can get a knife to shave pretty easy. It may also be that the newspaper was just bent funny--the trouble with these outside tests(cutting newspaper, shaving arm hair, etc) is that they are just as much a skill you can improve on as anything. I showed this to a couple coworkers, got a knife and a piece of ticket paper, and got 3 of them to try to cut it, and they couldn't do it. Then I grabbed it and it breezed through like a TV infomercial. There's technique in anything, whether you realize it or not. If it will prep every meal just fine, it is doing it's job. When you need to shred a lot of newspaper, use a paper shredder!
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