Black and White - Arkansas Stones

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Like my 8k thread, I'm acknowledging up front that there is a lot of subjectivity here, and I also know it has been debated many times over the years, but I'm curious to get your ponderings.

The Black Ark vs. the Translucent Ark. Let's say you have two Blacks but no Translucents. Would you get a Translucent? If so why? Just to have and mess with one?

Is it possible to set aside specific individual stones in the discussion or are the differences so thin that slight variations either way can render it all a moot point?
 
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I am NOT an ark expert. But I do know, by hearsay, the conventional wisdom, which goes like this:

Blacks vary more than translucents. Translucents are practically guaranteed hard, razor-finisher type stones. But a Dan's Black Ark is pretty much equivalent to his Translucent.

The only part of this I can personally vouch for is that my Dan's Black Ark, with no modifications whatsoever, makes a remarkably good razor finisher.
 
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As I only have one black Arkansas, take this with a grain of salt. The surgical ark as it was called when I bought it was said to be the hardest stone available. I spoke with an employee at Dan’s and they had mentioned the translucent can be very fine but also more susceptible to inclusions or toxicity. Being as it was my first stone(idiocy on my part), it has become my go to finisher for razors and knives, without much effort I can easily make an edge Into a blood whisperer. Not a stone for a beginner.
Also as an FYI, I use water not oil, tried oil, ho hum. But it’s a bit slow.
 
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As I only have one black Arkansas, take this with a grain of salt. The surgical ark as it was called when I bought it was said to be the hardest stone available. I spoke with an employee at Dan’s and they had mentioned the translucent can be very fine but also more susceptible to inclusions or toxicity. Being as it was my first stone(idiocy on my part), it has become my go to finisher for razors and knives, without much effort I can easily make an edge Into a blood whisperer. Not a stone for a beginner.
Also as an FYI, I use water not oil, tried oil, ho hum. But it’s a bit slow.

This is a good post. I did not know that about translucents. Using a black ark as your go to finisher for razors, I get. It works great for those, at least it did for me, once I realized I needed to really back off on the pressure compared to JNats, and to come to it with an already-perfect edge needing only some final finish burnishing to be shaveable.

Knives, though, wow. I bring none of my knives to that sort of edge. Maybe I would, though, if I ever decided to make my own sushi.

As for speed, an ark on oil is certainly slow, but slowness isn't really a thing that matters in final finishers. But an ark on water can't be that much faster, can it? I thought arks were seriously slower than any JNat or, especially, synthetic, no matter what you do.
 
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This is a good post. I did not know that about translucents. Using a black ark as your go to finisher for razors, I get. It works great for those, at least it did for me, once I realized I needed to really back off on the pressure compared to JNats, and to come to it with an already-perfect edge needing only some final finish burnishing to be shaveable.

Knives, though, wow. I bring none of my knives to that sort of edge. Maybe I would, though, if I ever decided to make my own sushi.

As for speed, an ark on oil is certainly slow, but slowness isn't really a thing that matters in final finishers. But an ark on water can't be that much faster, can it? I thought arks were seriously slower than any JNat or, especially, synthetic, no matter what you do.

I don't find my softs slow but there would surely be a steel type influence.
 
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Ah, never used a soft ark. What do you like about them?

Ah, friend, that's a little difficult for me to answer.

@cotedupy has declared the Norton India the "best sharpening stone in the world" and that would be hard to argue against but I have major love for Soft Arks.

It's entirely possible, if not probable, that my adoration is influenced by nostalgia as I've been playing with them long before I had an appreciation for them and they were just a thing you grabbed to rub your pocket knife on.

I've used them extensively on simpler stainless steels but also on steels like VG10 up to 60HRC. Never used them on high-alloy steels because Novaculite is softer than their carbides. I put my Arks away to experiment with synthetics and diamonds for my high-alloy stuff and during that time I started getting into carbon steels. I've pulled my Arks back out and have just recently started playing with them again and so far the only carbon steel I've put on the Soft Arks has been SK. I've done some refining of various flavors on my Blacks.

For me, when it's appropriate, the Soft Ark is beautiful stone. I don't think I've ever had a bad one (had one with poor surface grinding but the stone itself was good). I see it as the all-rounder of Arkansas stones. Coarse enough to handle moderately dull knives while leaving an edge that is a nice balance of toothy and refined. I just think they are awesome.

If Satan held his fork to my throat and said I could only have three stones for every kind of knife and use, I might well go with a 300 diamond, an India Fine, and a Soft Ark.
 
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As for speed, an ark on oil is certainly slow, but slowness isn't really a thing that matters in final finishers. But an ark on water can't be that much faster, can it? I thought arks were seriously slower than any JNat or, especially, synthetic, no matter what you do.

Agreed, light pressure. And sorry I meant oil or water it’s molasses slow. So patience and persistence.
 

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I am likewise no particular expert in terms of Arkansas stones (perhaps with the exception of Washitas) but I've had a few old Norton translucents and one old Norton black, and here's my take...

They're basically indistinguishable from each other, though if pushed I might be tempted to say that if you rough surface up then the trans have been a little quicker than the black I have.

However, as others have said, and you can infer from the Dan's classifications... I understand that not all 'Black Arkanasas' are created equal. People will often say things like the RH Preyda Black Arks aren't really a type of novaculite at all, though I don't have one so couldn't confirm from personal experience.

The old Norton Hard (black) Arkansas I have is probably what Dan's call 'Surgical Black', and that's pretty much the same as Translucents in use. Apart from black arks looking cool there'd be no reason to have both imo.

---

And it goes without saying that neither are as good for knives as a good Soft Ark or Washita :)
 
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I've got a smaller Best black and a big Dan's translucent, I gravitate to the translucent mostly because of the size. They are good for a touch up but you had better be on your game, if your in a hurry forget it you have to slow down, the stone will tell you if your on or not. If edges start getting too slippery I recondition the stone with SiC powder, they can get pretty grabby this way.
 
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I am likewise no particular expert in terms of Arkansas stones (perhaps with the exception of Washitas) but I've had a few old Norton translucents and one old Norton black, and here's my take...

They're basically indistinguishable from each other, though if pushed I might be tempted to say that with a rough surface up then the trans have been a little quicker than the black I have.

However, as others have said, and you can infer from the Dan's classifications... I understand that not all 'Black Arkanasas' are created equal. People will often say things like the RH Preyda Black Arks aren't really a type of novaculite at all, though I don't have one so couldn't confirm from personal experience.

The old Norton Hard (black) Arkansas I have is probably what Dan's call 'Surgical Black', and that's pretty much the same as Translucents in use. Apart from black arks looking cool there'd be no reason to have both imo.

---

And it goes without saying that neither are as good for knives as a good Soft Ark or Washita :)

I bought several stones from Hall's Arkansas Stones over the years and corresponded with the owners several times. They were very nice and I always got a good product. Some folks have said they had issues but I never did. Anyway, they wanted to sell and retire so Hall's became RH (prior owner's name) Preyda. Since then I've heard many stories of inferior products and poor service. I've even heard they've used novaculite "dust" to make stones. I don't know if that was ever true but I've heard enough negativity to know I won't do business with them.
 

Naftoor

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If edges start getting too slippery I recondition the stone with SiC powder, they can get pretty grabby this way.


Do you find that the powder leads to the stone needing flattening? I’ve been reading that black/trans arks are pretty resistant to dishing in general but I know SiC seems to be the way most folks flatten them when needed
 

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Like my 8k thread, I'm acknowledging up front that there is a lot of subjectivity here, and I also know it has been debated many times over the years, but I'm curious to get your ponderings.

The Black Ark vs. the Translucent Ark. Let's say you have two Blacks but no Translucents. Would you get a Translucent? If so why? Just to have and mess with one?

Is it possible to set aside specific individual stones in the discussion or are the differences so thin that slight variations either way can render it all a moot point?
Yes, I would get a translucent if I had two blacks. Do you need both? No.

If we are talking about how fine they are I think the black is a little finer. It's a moot point though because they are both so capable that I don't think anyone will really get out of them all that they offer.

The translucent is a faster stone. The feedback is even different. I don't know that the difference can be felt on oil but it can on a little soap and water. If I could have just one it would be a translucent. Thankfully we don't do that here.

This is just my opinion and there are other opinions that disagree with that. So it's probably worth what you paid for it....nothing.
 
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