The Washita Thread

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Actually, I might possibly be able to answer my question by myself, finally:)...When browsing through all the posts within this thread, I found this one by Oli: The Washita Thread

And that what can be found there is the so-called Red Washita which has a very similar, completely red label as some of the Rosy Reds, but it should be, according to Oli, the only labeled No. 2 grade Washita, some special edition for the UK market...And as can be seen, the label is comparatively a bit wider than the Pike's and also lacks the picture of the pike...And if one compares the label on my stone (see the last photo in the link I posted above!) with that one by Red Washita as posted by Oli, its probably the same, considering first the dimensions and second, the fact that there might be seen a highly faded, but still recognizable writing running in the same direction (i.e. slightly obliquely) as the "WASHITA" writing on that Red washita label...

So, it might be a useful info for those who might eventually also get a Washita with a similar, completely red, but unreadable label - it doesn't automatically mean that's a Rosy Red!

Anyway, the stone itself looks quite consistent, so let's wait how it will perform!


Ah you beat me to it!

So yep - I've only ever seen those 'Red Washitas' come up in the UK, and somewhere on the internet I’ve seen an old catalogue page describing them as ‘No.2 Grade’.

It’ll still be a good stone of course, just might have some inconsistencies or an inclusion under the label or something. But I’ve certainly had some very good Washies that were probably this kind.
 
Here's a little look at a stone I took delivery of earlier today on behalf of @Krakorak who had bought it on UK Ebay, and I'll be sending on to him in the next couple of days.

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It wasn't all that cheap, probably about the correct price for that kind of nice condition old Pike Lily White, and I'd said to him that it looked like it was probably going to be a good, relatively quick stone. But when I unwrapped it there was a little surprise...

I have no idea why the seller didn't mention or include pictures of this in the listing, but if your Pike LW still has the original end label describing the characteristics of the stone, then it makes it somewhat more desirable and valuable. Especially if, like this one, it's a: 'SOFT Fast Cutting Grit'.

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I was very happy about that for a couple of reasons; firstly Jan is a lovely guy and deserves to have an excellent Washita, and secondly I've never actually used a 'Soft Fast Cutting' Pike LW. I've probably had some, but never labelled, so can't be sure.

I'd said I could steam the label(s) off for him if he wanted, as I have a bit of practice doing that. But when I held it over a kettle briefly I got the impression it was gonna be too much of a risk. Sometimes old Pike and Norton labels can almost disintegrate or dissolve if they get too wet, and I didn't fancy the chances here, especially on a stone that wasn't mine, so I advised sealing them on instead. Which he agreed with, and with hindsight was a very good call - the stone looks really good like this I think, and it was also going to allow me to try it out and see what a soft 'n' fast Pike LW was like.

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When I first picked the stone up I was a little surprised by how heavy it was, as generally faster Washitas would be at the lighter end of the spectrum, and indeed this clocks a specific gravity of something like 2.33. Interestingly I've had a number of very good, surprisingly fast Washitas in the 2.30 - 2.34 range, there perhaps seems to be a bit of sweet spot around that density if you're lucky.

The stone is fairly quick, I'd call it above average for a Washy though not quite as fast as some mega-quick stones. It has a distinctive, slightly 'sandy' feel in use that reminds of my Rosy Red, and belies its weight. The edges are that lovely, pitch-perfect Washita combination of fine and aggressive that deliver effortless paper towel drops and are just so, so good in use.

A really great stone, with 'collector grade' labels/condition. Nice one @Krakorak!

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Thanks for a great contribution (you are almost too nice to me:)) and once again also for all your help and valuable info I got from you, Oli!

A pleasure my friend! Always nice to be able to help spread the Washita love. And as you know - I’m slightly geeky about these stones, so was great to get to try it out myself too. :)

Wow! Nice stone. What did you use to seal the label on? I will be facing a similar Washita label issue myself soon.

Couple of quick, light coats of this stuff; clear, acrylic spray lacquer. I use it both for sealing the bottom / sides of stones if they need it, and for sealing labels. Very cheap, easy to use, and dries in a couple of mins.

What have you got coming soon...?

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Couple of quick, light coats of this stuff; clear, acrylic spray lacquer. I use it both for sealing the bottom / sides of stones if they need it, and for sealing labels. Very cheap, easy to use, and dries in a couple of mins.

What have you got coming soon...?

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Thanks! I have a Pike Lily White Washita coming that seems basically pristine, and that I am guessing is quite old -- I hope so, because I was crazy enough to bid high for it. It has a baby blue label that mentions only "sperm oil," not "lard oil."
 
Thanks! I have a Pike Lily White Washita coming that seems basically pristine, and that I am guessing is quite old -- I hope so, because I was crazy enough to bid high for it. It has a baby blue label that mentions only "sperm oil," not "lard oil."


Aha... @Krakorak actually pointed that one out to me a couple of days ago. It certainly did go quite high, but as you said - it’s a very rare, old label, and the stone looks almost NOS. Nice!

I would try steaming the label off that one, rather than sealing it. You should be able to get it off fine I imagine.
 
Can you get a Rosy Red Washita that isn't labelled as a Rosy Red Washita?

If you'd asked me that question a week ago I would've said: 'no', of the 60 odd Washies I've had - I couldn't remember one that was quite like my RR. But my memory would've been deceiving me. Here's a 6x2" UK market* Pike No.1 that I got a while back.

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I did know that stone was unusually good**, but I hadn't had it on me since the tail end of last year, so it wasn't until a couple of days ago that I clocked its striking similarity to the RR.

They're both light, coarse, and seriously fast. I measured the SGs together this afternoon and they're almost identical: 2.05 and 2.06***. And the blotchy pattern of the slightly pink colouration is like peas in a pod. The RR is on the right here and is obviously slightly dirtier from embedded swarf, but apart from that these might as well have been hewn from the same lump of stone.

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If you gave them to me ‘blind’ - without the labels - I don’t think I could tell any difference in use and effect.

The No.1 grading is probably explained by the fact it has a few of these pock marks or holes on the side. But to my mind it's basically a declassified RR, and it's the only example I've seen.

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Now a lot of Washitas have similar pinky-orangey-browny splodges in them, and almost all Washitas are quite quick. So it's very unlikely that any given stone will be this kind of thing. But if the patterns are precisely like this, and the SG is considerably south of 2.10, then yeah... I think there's some Rosy Red rock out there, hiding in plain sight.

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* If you look closely it doesn't actually have the Pike logo on it anywhere, and the only mention is the recommendation that: PIKE'S STONOIL IS BEST! Stones with this label only ever surface in the UK.

** I got it at pretty much exactly the same time as an 8x2" with the same UK market No.1 label, and I was intending to keep the larger and sell the smaller. But when I tried them out I changed my mind. The 8" was actually very good; light and fast, but I sold that one instead because the 6" was just astonishing.

*** In fact the densities were even closer than this because the 2.05 was rounded down and the 2.06 was rounded up. Probably more like 0.005 difference.
 
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To join this fine display of rock some bloke dug out of the ground, I present my three (probably?) washitas.

From left to right,
a Pike no.1 washita, the stamp and box has seen better days, as witness by the hot glue/rubber cement in every joint. If anyone has a suggestion on how to preserve that stamp, I am figuratively all ears.

The second stone, sold by a defunct cutlery company, is a bit of a mystery. The original owner labeled it as "washita arkansas", which is a true statement and not very helpful. In use it seems to perform similarly to the pike stone, but so does a dan's soft ark... Perhaps I am a poor judge, but both seem to have a denser structure than some of the great stones featured in this thread. (I need to dig up the SG I recorded some where).

And the third, a Dan's washita?! I had heard that in the past both Dans and Norton would sell a few washitas that were byproducts of thier operations now and then, but I thought that was solidly in the past until this showed up over the weekend. I have not had enough time with this stone to give an evaluation of this rock, but it sure looks promising with a SG of 2.22 and a porous structure (cheap jewelers loop labeled x40 used for the photo). By the way, it is criminally cheap currently ( along with dans other 2x6 arks) from KME, the small company that makes the guided sharpener by the same name.
 

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To join this fine display of rock some bloke dug out of the ground, I present my three (probably?) washitas.

From left to right,
a Pike no.1 washita, the stamp and box has seen better days, as witness by the hot glue/rubber cement in every joint. If anyone has a suggestion on how to preserve that stamp, I am figuratively all ears.

The second stone, sold by a defunct cutlery company, is a bit of a mystery. The original owner labeled it as "washita arkansas", which is a true statement and not very helpful. In use it seems to perform similarly to the pike stone, but so does a dan's soft ark... Perhaps I am a poor judge, but both seem to have a denser structure than some of the great stones featured in this thread. (I need to dig up the SG I recorded some where).

And the third, a Dan's washita?! I had heard that in the past both Dans and Norton would sell a few washitas that were byproducts of thier operations now and then, but I thought that was solidly in the past until this showed up over the weekend. I have not had enough time with this stone to give an evaluation of this rock, but it sure looks promising with a SG of 2.22 and a porous structure (cheap jewelers loop labeled x40 used for the photo). By the way, it is criminally cheap currently ( along with dans other 2x6 arks) from KME, the small company that makes the guided sharpener by the same name.


Nice triptych!

Interestingly my Dan's Washita has a much lower SG - 2.03 iirc. Though I believe Dan's just use the name 'Washita' for any Soft Ark type stones under 2.25. Mine definietly isn't as good as a low SG Pike-Norton Washita, but it's not a bad stone by any means.

I think your old Pike stone looks in great shape tbh, box included. :) For preserving the stamp - look no further than cheap, clear, acrylic spray lacquer, such as this:

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Light spray from about 30cm away, let it dry for about 10 mins, one more spray, and you're grand - two coats should be fine.

I use the same stuff when sealing labels onto stones, and indeed for sealing the sides and bottoms of stones. Indeed I sold a Tam recently to Resident-Jnat-Guru @ethompson, who was so impressed by the sealing job I'd done that a few weeks later he came back to me and asked what I'd used for it.

(Though I can't claim credit for it originally. I got the idea as a tip-off from @ables.)
 
Nice triptych!

Interestingly my Dan's Washita has a much lower SG - 2.03 iirc. Though I believe Dan's just use the name 'Washita' for any Soft Ark type stones under 2.25. Mine definietly isn't as good as a low SG Pike-Norton Washita, but it's not a bad stone by any means.

I think your old Pike stone looks in great shape tbh, box included. :) For preserving the stamp - look no further than cheap, clear, acrylic spray lacquer, such as this:

View attachment 263692


Light spray from about 30cm away, let it dry for about 10 mins, one more spray, and you're grand - two coats should be fine.

I use the same stuff when sealing labels onto stones, and indeed for sealing the sides and bottoms of stones. Indeed I sold a Tam recently to Resident-Jnat-Guru @ethompson, who was so impressed by the sealing job I'd done that a few weeks later he came back to me and asked what I'd used for it.

(Though I can't claim credit for it originally. I got the idea as a tip-off from @ables.)
Thanks for the tip! I've been contimpating how to protect that stamp, but I've always been worried about a finish causing it to bleed. I am guessing your instructions about spraying from 30cm is for letting the propelant flash off?
The rest of that box is in rough-ish shape, as it has 4 types of glue from all of the amateur repairs. The stone is actually not finished on the bottom side, its just rough hewn, which I find beatiful.

I am still breaking in/getting to know the Dans washita, but I plan to pair it with an equally sized 600grit miserable diamond plate as a nifty travel set up.

By the way, in buying vintage oilstones, has anyone else noticed that many have been used with automatic transmission fluid? Was there a trend to use that stuff for everything 40 years ago or something!?
 
Thanks for the tip! I've been contimpating how to protect that stamp, but I've always been worried about a finish causing it to bleed. I am guessing your instructions about spraying from 30cm is for letting the propelant flash off?
The rest of that box is in rough-ish shape, as it has 4 types of glue from all of the amateur repairs. The stone is actually not finished on the bottom side, its just rough hewn, which I find beatiful.

I am still breaking in/getting to know the Dans washita, but I plan to pair it with an equally sized 600grit miserable diamond plate as a nifty travel set up.

By the way, in buying vintage oilstones, has anyone else noticed that many have been used with automatic transmission fluid? Was there a trend to use that stuff for everything 40 years ago or something!?

I don't want to know or think about what all of the old oil stones I've bought have been soaked in. But I've definitely send some interesting colors and smells come out of the simple green bath.
 
Thanks for the tip! I've been contimpating how to protect that stamp, but I've always been worried about a finish causing it to bleed. I am guessing your instructions about spraying from 30cm is for letting the propelant flash off?
The rest of that box is in rough-ish shape, as it has 4 types of glue from all of the amateur repairs. The stone is actually not finished on the bottom side, its just rough hewn, which I find beatiful.

I am still breaking in/getting to know the Dans washita, but I plan to pair it with an equally sized 600grit miserable diamond plate as a nifty travel set up.

By the way, in buying vintage oilstones, has anyone else noticed that many have been used with automatic transmission fluid? Was there a trend to use that stuff for everything 40 years ago or something!?


Yeah I'd give you a pretty much cast iron gurantee that clear spray lacquer won't cause the ink to run, it's never happened to me anyway. But yes - you're not completely dousing it in the stuff, just a very light spray, it doesn't want to look 'wet'.

Pike and Norton sold their natural stones in two varieties: 'Benchstones' which came in cardboard boxes, finished flat on both sides, so there were two working surfaces, though the stones had paper labels on them. And 'Mounted' stones like yours, glued into a wooden box, where the underside was rough cut. Flattening any kind of novaculite is a bit of a b*tch, even for a large company, so there was no point in doing it on the glued side that wasn't going to get used. The majority of the reason that translucent and black arks are much more expensive than soft arks isn't because they're way scarcer or more difficult to get at, it's because cutting and flattening them is much more time consuming and wears equipment and machinery out far quicker.

Which led to an interesting situation back in the day, because the thing that was most important in cutting and flattening Arkansas novaculite was: sand. An awful lot of sand. And the best sand for the job came from upstate NY and NH. So rather than transporting many many tons of it from there to AR, it was far more cost effective to take a smaller amount of the raw rock up to the north-east, for cutting and flattening there. For a long time the processing and finishing of Arkansas and Washita whetstones didn't actually happen in Arkansas.

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I'm not sure I'd know what transmission fluid smelled like tbh, but certainly wouldn't surprise me - people used all sorts of stuff. The one that's really annoying is kerosene, you get some stone that absolutely stink of it!
 
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ATF was thing, and it's still in use by some.

I would have probably used back in the day too but all my cars had manual transmissions.
 
After 4-5 days in the simple green plus a other day soaking in fresh water. It's an interesting stone. Not a synthetic. Definitely Arkansas quartz novaculite and very old. Maybe predating P/N based on weird dimensions. Definitely got some calico / layering going on. Too bad the label was so obliterated. Box has an interesting dovetail construction I haven't seen before so maybe I'll ID it someday. Stone was used hard and dished pretty heavy and then someone broke it. Usually at that point they would glue it in the box upside down so that they could start with a flat surface again. But in this case the other side was unfinished. So they glued the hell out of it (looked like they used wood glue of some sort) back into the box. And then used the crap out of it some more. Dished and cracked and all.

It is semi translucent. Medium hardness. Medium friable for a washita. I will probably glue it back together with a poured epoxy base for stability. And then try and flatten it.



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wow. this thing could use some more soaking. check out the color change after just sitting exposed to air for 24 hours. a lot more sludge came to the surface. This stone must be very porous. I will have to do a specific gravity test. I imagine it will be relatively less dense.

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I bet it's a speed demon fresh off a lapping.
 
Was 50/50 on this Fleebay punt, from the picks was pretty sure it was going to be another Sic or India, but was little intrigued by the CGW initials on the box.
Looks like i've got a bit of label removal and soaking to attend to.
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Do Rosy Reds have any special characteristics to them, how do they normaly rate quality wise to a Lily White or a No.1?
 
Was 50/50 on this Fleebay punt, from the picks was pretty sure it was going to be another Sic or India, but was little intrigued by the CGW initials on the box.
Looks like i've got a bit of label removal and soaking to attend to.
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Do Rosy Reds have any special characteristics to them, how do they normaly rate quality wise to a Lily White or a No.1?
That's a great find. Rated higher than lily white, rare as hens teeth. Keep that label atttched. It's about a $2-300 stone if it's full thickness.

If you ever get bored of it, let me know.
 
That's a great find. Rated higher than lily white, rare as hens teeth. Keep that label atttched. It's about a $2-300 stone if it's full thickness.

If you ever get bored of it, let me know.
$2-300 - wow, cant wait to run a blade over it. It's 8"x2"x1" thick and as flat as a pancake. No dings or chips on the edges and will only need a very light lap on my Atoma 400 and we will see how she compares to a Lily White. The perfect straight edges made me presume it was a Sic stone as all my other Washitas have all got slight battle wounds.
"If you ever get bored of it, let me know" - Haven't had a Washita yet that has bored me, they are just so good with knives - but if this is a first, it's yours.
 

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