Honing with Arkansas Stone

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JakeLoveshighCarbon

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I made the switch to water stones years ago but the other day I picked up my dad's arkansas black to hone a white #1 after using a synthetic 5k stone. I used light pull strokes, and I swear it must have been a particularly smooth 8 to 10k finish. Anybody have any experience with the Arkansas stones? Does anyone feel like natural stones do something special or was it just the snake oil mixed with soap that I put on the stone? They seemed to give interesting feedback.

I know that the black stones dont remove much material if any, but I'm wondering if I should invest in one as a convenient hone to have in the kitchen rather than my permasoaked 4k synthetic.
 

JakeLoveshighCarbon

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One more thing to add. I thought the stone gave a spectacular finish, but I was selling that knife an hour later to a chef. The chef, once he got home and tried out the blade, wrote me an email saying how fantastic the edge was on the blade. Maybe the guy just never had a great edge put on his blade before, but maybe it is kinda like all the Jnat voodoo. Maybe the natural stone was just giving me good feedback that I wasn't getting from my synthetics.
 

Helmore

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I'm not into natural stones, but from what I gather the Arkansas stones have a good reputation. Do you know what Arkansas black stone you have? There are different versions. Hard black, surgical black, etc. Then they come in different grit ratings. Here in the EU, Dictum sells some here: Arkansas Shaped stones | Dictum (Useful to see in how many varieties they come, I'm not familiar with the US sites.)
You'll have to look around to see what people like using them for. And yes, the Surgical Black was named that because they used those to sharpen surgical tools.
 

Ruso

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I don't know much about naturals or Arkansas, but this stones were used for many years so they definetlly work. I am not surprised that a simple steel like White 1 had a good edge after Arkansas black stone. If it was R2 or ZDP for example you might not have same great results. I believe blacks are the highest grit for Arkansases.
 

stringer

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I have been getting into Arkansas stones for straight razors. I find Soft Arks and Washitas are great for knives. Too slow for thinning but great for bevel work, touchups, and deburring after coarse synthetics. A Lily white washita has replaced the ceramic rod in my kitchen knife drawer.

Hard Arks put phenomenal edges on straight razors. They are dense, hard, and slow. I've seen white, translucent, black, blue black, butterscotch, and different combinations of spots and stripes. They are graded not based on appearance but on their specific density. For razors there may or may not be discernible differences depending on who you ask. But for knives they would all perform about the same.

They will improve a knife edge as well. But you are correct that they won't remove much material. Not very useful for getting a dull edge to usable. But they can make an excellent edge exceptional. They are an ideal finishing choice for a guided system. If you have really good control then they can put a screaming sharp final edge on a knife freehand as well. There just isn't that much room for error since they are quite hard. Easy to under shoot and not hit the apex or over shoot and roll the edge.

In conclusion - TLDR - soft arks are affordable and a good recommendation for a knife sharpener of any skill level. Hard arks, in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing, can squeeze every last bit out of an edge and really minimize any possible burr. I don't know about higher alloyed steels. 99% of my knives and razors are simple carbon.
 

Desert Rat

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I use them, from Washita's to the hardest of Arks and almost exclusively in the maintenance of my kitchen knifes.
I would encourage questioning everything you read about them and putting knifes to the stone, they for sure will not be for everyone.
 

JakeLoveshighCarbon

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I'm not into natural stones, but from what I gather the Arkansas stones have a good reputation. Do you know what Arkansas black stone you have? There are different versions. Hard black, surgical black, etc. Then they come in different grit ratings. Here in the EU, Dictum sells some here: Arkansas Shaped stones | Dictum (Useful to see in how many varieties they come, I'm not familiar with the US sites.)
You'll have to look around to see what people like using them for. And yes, the Surgical Black was named that because they used those to sharpen surgical tools.
Thank you for that link. I dont know the fineness of the stone unfortunately, but I can say the knife felt surgical after I was done. God, i dont want to buy another stone. Please someone just tell me that the Arkansas stones are a waste of time and that i was imagining things.
 

KingShapton

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JakeLoveshighCarbon

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I have been getting into Arkansas stones for straight razors. I find Soft Arks and Washitas are great for knives. Too slow for thinning but great for bevel work, touchups, and deburring after coarse synthetics. A Lily white washita has replaced the ceramic rod in my kitchen knife drawer.

Hard Arks put phenomenal edges on straight razors. They are dense, hard, and slow. I've seen white, translucent, black, blue black, butterscotch, and different combinations of spots and stripes. They are graded not based on appearance but on their specific density. For razors there may or may not be discernible differences depending on who you ask. But for knives they would all perform about the same.

They will improve a knife edge as well. But you are correct that they won't remove much material. Not very useful for getting a dull edge to usable. But they can make an excellent edge exceptional. They are an ideal finishing choice for a guided system. If you have really good control then they can put a screaming sharp final edge on a knife freehand as well. There just isn't that much room for error since they are quite hard. Easy to under shoot and not hit the apex or over shoot and roll the edge.

In conclusion - TLDR - soft arks are affordable and a good recommendation for a knife sharpener of any skill level. Hard arks, in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing, can squeeze every last bit out of an edge and really minimize any possible burr. I don't know about higher alloyed steels. 99% of my knives and razors are simple carbon.
Ok, I'll do it. Down into the rabbit hole again. Anyone have a recommended finishing stone/brand? I have an 8k Kitayama and would like something to hone and polish after that instead of using my leather strop/ceramic rod. I dont have any hard stainless, just blues and whites.
 

inferno

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are newly mined coticules faster than lets say black arks?

i have read that arks mostly burnish the surface and dont really cut the steel (talking the finer ones). can someone clarify if this is true/untrue?

i know the cotis actually cut the steel. but since the garnet crystals are shaped like balls the cutting isn't exactly "efficient".
but imo it can be surprisingly fast on softer and lower alloyed stuff imo, like swiss army knives and such.
 

stringer

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are newly mined coticules faster than lets say black arks?

i have read that arks mostly burnish the surface and dont really cut the steel (talking the finer ones). can someone clarify if this is true/untrue?

i know the cotis actually cut the steel. but since the garnet crystals are shaped like balls the cutting isn't exactly "efficient".
but imo it can be surprisingly fast on softer and lower alloyed stuff imo, like swiss army knives and such.
Yes, coticules will almost always be faster. They cut. Hard arks burnish/polish. Coticules release material, some more than others. There's no detectible material released by a hard arks. If I rub two coticules together dry I get a fine white powder. If wet then I get slurry. Rub two pieces of hard ark together, wet or dry, they just get shinier.

I have two soft arks that when I rub them together dry it generates quite a lot of sparks. I read up on it and it's a piezoelectric affect from rubbing together quartz crystals. If I rub a coticule on a hard ark then I get a shiny coticule. There's a ton more variety in soft arks and Washitas and tons of variety in coticules. But if someone had a coticule that's slower than any black ark or vice versa I would be highly surprised.
 

Bodine

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I have a couple of hard/black Ark stones I bought about 50 years ago. They do not remove material, but will polish an edge to a wonderful shine. I keep one in the kitchen and use it instead of a honing rod to keep my edge straight and void of patina or rust.
BTW, they are HARD, and smooth as butter.
 

inferno

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Ok, I'll do it. Down into the rabbit hole again. Anyone have a recommended finishing stone/brand? I have an 8k Kitayama and would like something to hone and polish after that instead of using my leather strop/ceramic rod. I dont have any hard stainless, just blues and whites.
are you asking about synths or naturals? i dont have the kit8k but i've heard its a good polishing stone. dont really know if you can improve of the level of polish unless you go up to a 20k suehiro gokumyo, or the glass/pro 30k.

in general stones are worthless for polishing. they always creates scratches and streaks in the finish. and if they dont, they create a hazy finish instead of mirror. in general.

i have the shapton pro12k, and 8k and the 12k is finer but it will not give you a mirror finish thats for sure. i also have the naniwa ss 12k, de facto reference synth finisher for straights. still there is scratches in the finish after this stone.
you can see how it looks in this thread here. the whole knife is mirror polished with those 3 stones. and as you can see this is as good as its gonna get with those. sure my camera is very high rez and i shot the pics to show how the finish really looks if you look close. but from 0,5m away it looks like a true mirror if you just look at the blade. its depenedant on the angle you look from and the angle that the light comes from.

(edit: forgot the thread link :) )


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if you want a good mirror polish you should look into 0,5 or 0,25micron diamond paste (true mirror), or green Cr oxide (about 0,5 micron), also true mirror.
 
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inferno

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Yes, coticules will almost always be faster. They cut. Hard arks burnish/polish. Coticules release material, some more than others. There's no detectible material released by a hard arks. If I rub two coticules together dry I get a fine white powder. If wet then I get slurry. Rub two pieces of hard ark together, wet or dry, they just get shinier.

I have two soft arks that when I rub them together dry it generates quite a lot of sparks. I read up on it and it's a piezoelectric affect from rubbing together quartz crystals. If I rub a coticule on a hard ark then I get a shiny coticule. There's a ton more variety in soft arks and Washitas and tons of variety in coticules. But if someone had a coticule that's slower than any black ark or vice versa I would be highly surprised.
i see. thank you!

i have the spyderco UF and its often said it behaves like a "synth ark". and i have found its painfully slow, and painfully unforgiving on knife blades (its so hard) but it works well with razors since you have built in "angle guides" with those.
 

Desert Rat

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Hard Arks are removing steel. Surfaces can be manipulated to make them finer or coarser.
You can clearly see the swarf on this kleenex and the stone after about ten strokes on this translucent. The stone has recently been dress on worn 1000 grit wet dry for razor's. I would never go this fine with knifes, I just did it to demonstrate a point.
 

stringer

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i see. thank you!

i have the spyderco UF and its often said it behaves like a "synth ark". and i have found its painfully slow, and painfully unforgiving on knife blades (its so hard) but it works well with razors since you have built in "angle guides" with those.
Exactly.

Hard arks have physical properties that, when properly dressed, allow them to perform like precision ground flat stones. Check out a YouTube video of you aren't familiar.

A normal abrasives has bits that stick out, the grit. This grit creates new burrs or scratches. Most release grit as you work, combo of grit held in substrate plus grit in slurry cuts edge. We gradually refine them with finer and finer yada yada. Hard arks work entirely different. More like rubbing against an extremely fine microplane style cheese grater. Instead of scratching the knife with bits of grit it works by erasing bits of grit from the knife by catching them in it's pores.

You can take a reference stone and rub it against am actual mirror and it will just make it shinier. Hard ark properly conditioned would behave very similar without having to have precision diamond flat grinding equipment.
 

inferno

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yeah i'm familiar with precision ground stones (ex machinist).
 

JakeLoveshighCarbon

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are you asking about synths or naturals? i dont have the kit8k but i've heard its a good polishing stone. dont really know if you can improve of the level of polish unless you go up to a 20k suehiro gokumyo, or the glass/pro 30k.

in general stones are worthless for polishing. they always creates scratches and streaks in the finish. and if they dont, they create a hazy finish instead of mirror. in general.

i have the shapton pro12k, and 8k and the 12k is finer but it will not give you a mirror finish thats for sure. i also have the naniwa ss 12k, de facto reference synth finisher for straights. still there is scratches in the finish after this stone.
you can see how it looks in this thread here. the whole knife is mirror polished with those 3 stones. and as you can see this is as good as its gonna get with those. sure my camera is very high rez and i shot the pics to show how the finish really looks if you look close. but from 0,5m away it looks like a true mirror if you just look at the blade. its depenedant on the angle you look from and the angle that the light comes from.

(edit: forgot the thread link :) )


--------------

if you want a good mirror polish you should look into 0,5 or 0,25micron diamond paste (true mirror), or green Cr oxide (about 0,5 micron), also true mirror.
That's a lovely blade. Damn, I thought 12k would give a mirror. Good to know. I guess there's a reason why straight edge people are always buying the pastes. I didnt really have a preference on natural or synthetic ark. I've been pretty happy with my strop with green compound. I minimize the number of strokes so the edge doesnt pull out and become fragile, but it is mildly inconvenient. I get the oxide over the edge and have to wipe it down. Not that it is that big a deal. I probably spent more time writing this than I would need to wipe the thing down for a couples months, but still, the ark did give great results with less than a minute of back strokes. I have been a little more hesitant about stropping to hone (because of laziness) than I would with an ark or coticule precision flattened. I'll see whats out there and report back. Thank you all for encouraging me in this.
 

Brian Weekley

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Check out Rough Rooster on YouTube. He has lots to say about Arkansas stones. A soft Arkansas stone was my only stone for over 20 years. I have and use a complete set of Arkansas stones. After mostly moving to Japanese synthetics for the past 20 years I’d say that I can accomplish what I want to accomplish on a kitchen knife faster with a progression of the Japanese synthetics. I can accomplish a finer edge with the Arcs but we’re really splitting hairs here. Nothing relevant to kitchen knives, IMO, where I will often stop at 1200 grit for daily users. Maybe the difference would be more obvious on razors. I LOVE the smell of my Arcs and will often move to them purely to enjoy the experience of a natural stone. Generally Arcs are described in terms of density rather than grit. My surgical hard Arkansas has a surface as shiny as glass. I‘m sure that the world would end before you could wear it out sharpening. I sometimes put an edge on scalpel blades with it just for laughs but I don’t think it has any real practical use in the world of kitchen knives.
 

JakeLoveshighCarbon

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Check out Rough Rooster on YouTube. He has lots to say about Arkansas stones. A soft Arkansas stone was my only stone for over 20 years. I have and use a complete set of Arkansas stones. After mostly moving to Japanese synthetics for the past 20 years I’d say that I can accomplish what I want to accomplish on a kitchen knife faster with a progression of the Japanese synthetics. I can accomplish a finer edge with the Arcs but we’re really splitting hairs here. Nothing relevant to kitchen knives, IMO, where I will often stop at 1200 grit for daily users. Maybe the difference would be more obvious on razors. I LOVE the smell of my Arcs and will often move to them purely to enjoy the experience of a natural stone. Generally Arcs are described in terms of density rather than grit. My surgical hard Arkansas has a surface as shiny as glass. I‘m sure that the world would end before you could wear it out sharpening. I sometimes put an edge on scalpel blades with it just for laughs but I don’t think it has any real practical use in the world of kitchen knives.
I just looked him up. Pretty impressive collection he has and a good breakdown on the different types. Thank you. I never, ever thought I would get into arks. Pain in the tuchus, slow, dumb ass oil everywhere. I learned to sharpen on a Smith's Tri-hone and gave up on using the synth ark on it because it annoyed me. Then I just did the hone strokes after a rika5k on a black after sharpening for the last five years and I was impressed. It straightened the edge nicely, and the edge sucked up anything in front of it. It was almost to the point where the act of touching it was the act of cutting. I dont want want to improve polish anymore as I see that wasn't what was happening. But I think they could become really nice hones to touch up the edge instead of the ceramic rod that clogs up or the dreaded green compound.
 

Brian Weekley

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One thing I did take from Rough Rooster was to move to water with a bit of New Dawn detergent for a stone lubricant. I bought a new set of Arcs to make the move but Rough Roster has a good video on removing oil from an Arc to convert it to water. For daily maintenance I generally use a hard leather strop with Flexcut Gold followed by leather only. I like the Flexcut Gold a lot and as a result my hones don’t get a lot of use. BTW ... I love the Rika 5000 synthetic. Lovely feel.
 

Desert Rat

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The dangers of the internet. A guy that can't tell the deference between an Ark an a Washita is referenced as a good source of information.
That's all I have to say on this subject.
 

stringer

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The dangers of the internet. A guy that can't tell the deference between an Ark an a Washita is referenced as a good source of information.
That's all I have to say on this subject.
Before you leave. I do have a few questions about your coarse conditioned ark. What do you usually use it for? How long does it stay "coarse"? Where would you put the speed in cutting compared to a run of the mill coticule with a medium slurry?

I have some little pocket knife size pieces that I can try on if you think it would be cool for razors.
 

Desert Rat

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Before you leave. I do have a few questions about your coarse conditioned ark. What do you usually use it for? How long does it stay "coarse"? Where would you put the speed in cutting compared to a run of the mill coticule with a medium slurry?

I have some little pocket knife size pieces that I can try on if you think it would be cool for razors.
I let the lower grit stones settle in and be what they want to be. I always run twenty or thirty laps with the back of a chisel after I have dressed them to free any loose grit and knock down any rogue particles. The amount of time between opening them back up depends on what you put on them pressure used ect. They are low maintenance though. I like to use a worn diamond plat on them.

The washitas are faster than coticules especially on stiffer razors where you can use some pressure. Start with some pressure finish with light strokes. Pressure is the key and it's why washita's cover such a wide range. The colored ones (Smith's) while they are as fast as any lack the range of the others and can be problematic with hard and soft spots that wear at a different rate and and different feedback. Still they can be a useful stone that puts a aggressive edge on a knife, look for the more uniform colored stones with those if you want one, they should be inexpensive. They only reason to own a soft ark is because it's hard to find washita's in bigger sizes.
 

captaincaed

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I flattened a translucent ark the other day to.get it ready for razors. I think I left it too rough, will likely need to lap it finer for really good razor performance. However I will say the slurry cut like you'd expect a fine waterstone to do. Not something I plan to do often, but fun.
 
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