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D_W

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Once in a while, I'll find something really cheap in Japan on their version of Ebay and order it. This post is two of those.

First, three stones. I saw this listing in the barber section and believe someone was using these stones to sharpen razors. How recently, no clue. the reason I bought them was two things:

1) there's a whole array of fine india stones finer than anything we can usually get here, and they bring almost nothing. They're quite nice for actual sharpening - imagine something like a shapton without the stick part, a little slower cutting and slower to dish. It's just a fine artificial oilstone, but in a format of a wider stone. The concern for lateral hollowing is zero because they can be lapped once in a very great while and they won't hollow like waterstones. They are vitrified type just like india, too, and not a stone that's baked clay or resin binder.

2) Cost for these three before shipping - $8.80.

there just isn't much market for used things in japan, and I found out a few weeks ago one of the reasons for that - a lot of the population is suspicious that used goods carry the spirit of the original owner with them, and that's more acceptable if there are sentimental reasons (like it was a relative) and maybe unlucky if not.

That sort of solves why I can get chisels and plane irons really cheap from there if the seller isn't aiming at euros or americans (the folks specializing in that would buy something like this and sell the three for $100).

Oh, and I think the third stone may actually be a very fine washita stone- that's what caught my eye. It has been used with some kind of slurry and the surface is glassy. These stones do better with oil and a bit of a heavy hand - I'll find out immediately in about 5 minutes if it's a washita by putting a laminated tool to it and seeing if the surface perks up.
20220801_114602.jpg


Second item - 10 professional level crosscut saws. These are resharpenable, but with eastern style crosscut teeth. The seller listed all of them for the equivalent of $88 and I figured they'd be either big (novel) or a little big (useful in the shop to screw around with - especially considering they have a much longer life than disposable saws and the plates are stiffer but by no means brittle.

The guy selling these had them on the floor with no mention of scale.

Turns out they're really big. Generally around 2 1/2-3 saws, and I think the set varies - some are intended for dry wood and others not. They are all sharp, none are used. a 265mm z saw is shown for scale.

20220801_114516.jpg


This whole thing was a treat - I thought I was going to get away with practically legal thievery but the shipping options are wacky now and shipping was pretty expensive. Not enough to spoil the deal, but enough to make it a little less sweet.
 
follow up -the crosscut saws will sharpen on the top facet with a regular western fine tooth mill file (like a little one).

I have big feather files for other parts of the teeth. The saws cut fast, and have a moderate set for softwoods - they're not sloppy, but too much set just leads to longer cutting.

they are about 30 strokes through a 3 1/2" cherry branch. since you cant bear down on the saws, there's no real way to overexert, either.

the top facet is similar to disposable crosscut saws - you can also hone only the top facet of those several time sand actually get them to a speed faster than they were new until the depth of the impulse hardening is gone. I would anticipate on a saw like this, you touch up the top facet a couple of time sand when it starts to get large, you sit down for a longer while and file the sides of the teeth with something that looks like a cant file.

they are impressive and practical for light to medium work limbing and cutting to length in the quiet.
 
I think the stone is not a washita. I don't know what it is, but it works well with 1 micron diamonds. It could be agate, and whoever had it was intent on using it set up like a pane of glass. I'll slurry one side of it tomorrow and see how long the slurry lasts. Agate type stones have a slurry that feels dullish and peters out quickly, whereas washita is the opposite - the slurry is brash.

As it is right now, it's so glassy that even with diamonds, there's a surface tension issue. It has a heavenly feel on the bevel charged with diamonds though and will take a burr from a prior step and make it fall off without even honing the back. If I'm thinking about it, it show just how fine the edge from something like this is tomorrow. It is practically optically devoid of scratches even under magnification.
 
If the steel on those blades is good, would one make a good fine tooth saw?
As for the possibile washita, im pretty sure novaculite stones were made in various places. Britain had charnley forest, japan also produced some, so maybe its a Japanese novaculite?
 
If the steel on those blades is good, would one make a good fine tooth saw?
As for the possibile washita, im pretty sure novaculite stones were made in various places. Britain had charnley forest, japan also produced some, so maybe its a Japanese novaculite?

I think it's some kind of chert, though I'm not very good at naming geological stuff in general - it seems like there are hundreds of stones with silica as a main component and they feel very different sharpening. it could be novaculite, but if it is, it doesn't have much cutting power. In the era that we're in where you can buy a lifetime supply of small diamond powder for $20, though, it just means use the stone how it likes to be used - as a base. I can't deny that this stone with 1 micron diamond powder is better than any natural stone that I've found without such stuff.

As far as the saws go, they are heavy duty saws - the plate is tempered for better toughness - it's still a hardened plate unlike disposable saws, but it isn't chisel hard. It's like just above western hard, is hand fileable but is intended to have big teeth with some set.

I've come across some big saws from japan before that are intended for bigger work and they disprove the idea that all of the traditional japanese saws were thin, hard and fragile. They did the same as anyone else would - make the saws right for the intended use. I think these are intended to cut really large work, wet wood , or semi-dry hardwoods. I did touch up the teeth on a couple of them and saw stuff like 4" branches and they're pleasant to use where something like a disposable saw for dry wood would bind and load.

But they won't have much use in the shop.

Last year, I found saws about half as large for dry wood, thinner and harder teeth without much set - 12 for the princely sum of $17. Just discarded old stock, and very high quality, but in the case of those, snagging teeth on sloppy wood can lead to damage.

The two finer grit india stones on the left of the natural one, by the way - sort of shifting topics at random - those are just dandy to use. I wish the extra fine india stones were sold by norton here. there's a catalog reference to them, but I've never seen them anywhere.
 
Showed my colleagues the smaller saw, they could read some of the markings, "special" and "premium", there are brand name characters and characters indicating the maker. My colleagues are Chinese though, so they can't translate the brand or maker names.
 
Thanks raffo. I'll forward a picture of the markings to someone who reads Japanese and see if more can be translated. I guess the name of the maker isn't that important given that they cost almost nothing.
 
As for the possibile washita, im pretty sure novaculite stones were made in various places. Britain had charnley forest, japan also produced some, so maybe its a Japanese novaculite?

I think it's some kind of chert, though I'm not very good at naming geological stuff in general - it seems like there are hundreds of stones with silica as a main component and they feel very different sharpening. it could be novaculite, but if it is, it doesn't have much cutting power.


They do indeed have some chert/novaculite whetstones in Japan, not many, but some. An example here, they call it 'orthoquartzite', but basically it's the same kind of affair:

https://max6500a.wixsite.com/mysite
---

David - when you said originally you were hoping that it might be a Washita... do you have any that size? Someone was asking me recently about this, and I've never had (and I don't think ever seen) a Washita cut wider than 2" (?)
 
They do indeed have some chert/novaculite whetstones in Japan, not many, but some. An example here, they call it 'orthoquartzite', but basically it's the same kind of affair:

https://max6500a.wixsite.com/mysite
---

David - when you said originally you were hoping that it might be a Washita... do you have any that size? Someone was asking me recently about this, and I've never had (and I don't think ever seen) a Washita cut wider than 2" (?)

I've had washitas that were marginally wider than 2", but like stretching to be 2 1/4" and long, just as many are 1/8th narrower than 2". I've never had one the width of a modern waterstone or the width of an old production sized razor hone - those were strikingly close in size to modern waterstones if not always as thick.

But short answer, no, nothing materially wider than 2" that came from the pike mines.
 
I've had washitas that were marginally wider than 2", but like stretching to be 2 1/4" and long, just as many are 1/8th narrower than 2". I've never had one the width of a modern waterstone or the width of an old production sized razor hone - those were strikingly close in size to modern waterstones if not always as thick.

But short answer, no, nothing materially wider than 2" that came from the pike mines.


Ta. (Good to know I wasn't misleading my friend when I said the same!)
 
Ta. (Good to know I wasn't misleading my friend when I said the same!)

can't say it never happened, but I don't know anyone who has bought more sharpening stones than me and seen more listings of them. Maybe a guy named "period woodworker" on youtube, but he's a collector of FINE stuff, and I'm just curious. that said, I've seen a fair bit of novaculite or agate or chert that looks like it in japanese listings, but I'm not sure I've gotten an arkansas stone.
 
can't say it never happened, but I don't know anyone who has bought more sharpening stones than me and seen more listings of them. Maybe a guy named "period woodworker" on youtube, but he's a collector of FINE stuff, and I'm just curious. that said, I've seen a fair bit of novaculite or agate or chert that looks like it in japanese listings, but I'm not sure I've gotten an arkansas stone.


They are weirdly quite popular in Japan... A friend of mine was living there for about 6 months where he got a part time job sharpening chisels and kanna, and they'd use translucents to finish apparently. Another guy I was doing some sharpening for had bought a hard ark from the same shop in Tokyo he bought the knife. Both of which surprised me.
 
They are weirdly quite popular in Japan... A friend of mine was living there for about 6 months where he got a part time job sharpening chisels and kanna, and they'd use translucents to finish apparently. Another guy I was doing some sharpening for had bought a hard ark from the same shop in Tokyo he bought the knife. Both of which surprised me.

They work great to target the edge of the tool, and on japanese steel that's tempered mid to harder, the finish gets finer and finer.

Somewhere around who knows long ago, I went from trying to run through the grits to seeking a slower stone with some touch to finish the tip of the tool. I thought maybe it was sacrilege. They'd be great for just working the last bit of the knife edge, too - you have more control over not honing away good geometry.

They're just not great for really soft knives because the abrasive can get purchase and create a big burr. But that shouldn't be much of a problem there.
 
They work great to target the edge of the tool, and on japanese steel that's tempered mid to harder, the finish gets finer and finer.

Somewhere around who knows long ago, I went from trying to run through the grits to seeking a slower stone with some touch to finish the tip of the tool. I thought maybe it was sacrilege. They'd be great for just working the last bit of the knife edge, too - you have more control over not honing away good geometry.

They're just not great for really soft knives because the abrasive can get purchase and create a big burr. But that shouldn't be much of a problem there.


Yeah, it just kinda surprised me that they weren't using and recommending hard, fine jnats. Though perhaps it shouldn't... Japanese tool and knife makers/sharpeners obviously know what they're about, and can clearly recognise a good stone wherever it might be from!

And perhaps also backs up what you said above about your stone - if they're still importing a good amount of Arkansas novaculites, then presumably the homegrown stuff isn't all that great by comparison. Nice find though, and very interesting to have. It does look quite a lot like the stones in the link I posted above, and they're not cheap (like Y25,000), so yours was a bit of a steal whichever way you spin it :).
 
Yeah, it just kinda surprised me that they weren't using and recommending hard, fine jnats. Though perhaps it shouldn't... Japanese tool and knife makers/sharpeners obviously know what they're about, and can clearly recognise a good stone wherever it might be from!

And perhaps also backs up what you said above about your stone - if they're still importing a good amount of Arkansas novaculites, then presumably the homegrown stuff isn't all that great by comparison. Nice find though, and very interesting to have. It does look quite a lot like the stones in the link I posted above, and they're not cheap (like Y25,000), so yours was a bit of a steal whichever way you spin it :).

It's absolutely a case of buying used in japan -as I've found (maybe mentioned above?) that it's bad luck in Japanese culture to buy used things unless you and the spirit of the prior owner that comes with the used item have some kind of important relation. I only just learned that this year.

The arks are a lot more (tool) hardness sensitive, but you can use that to your advantage to get a finish off of them on a white steel chisel or plane iron that you'd assume wouldn't be possible.

At any rate, I haven't seen much quality difference between used and new of anything from there, but there's no cheap source of new arkansas stones - especially the fine ones. The equivalent of $200 for something that's the size of a type 30 stone sounds about right.

FAR less variation in visually similar stones, though, and there's one other benefit (I liked using a washita on japanese chisels) - a good stone will burnish and polish the hard steel but still leave a nice finish on the wrought, and the wrought will liven up an arkansas/washita stones in a way that all hard steel doesn't.
 
It's absolutely a case of buying used in japan -as I've found (maybe mentioned above?) that it's bad luck in Japanese culture to buy used things unless you and the spirit of the prior owner that comes with the used item have some kind of important relation. I only just learned that this year.

The arks are a lot more (tool) hardness sensitive, but you can use that to your advantage to get a finish off of them on a white steel chisel or plane iron that you'd assume wouldn't be possible.

At any rate, I haven't seen much quality difference between used and new of anything from there, but there's no cheap source of new arkansas stones - especially the fine ones. The equivalent of $200 for something that's the size of a type 30 stone sounds about right.

FAR less variation in visually similar stones, though, and there's one other benefit (I liked using a washita on japanese chisels) - a good stone will burnish and polish the hard steel but still leave a nice finish on the wrought, and the wrought will liven up an arkansas/washita stones in a way that all hard steel doesn't.


Speaking of arks & Washitas, couple of nice things I found recently in a second hand tool shop...

Completely pristine and flawless HB8:

IMG-0759.JPG



And this quirky little Washita-Idwal pairing, stuck firmly in their rather nice box. The stones are 3.5x1, and frankly I don't ever use things that small, but I kinda had to have them cos they were so cute (and cost almost nothing).

BAA18BE9-26E3-4BA2-AB3A-EDC4AB2FAD2C.jpeg


IMG-0801.jpg
 
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That's an unusually good translucent arkansas to find in a second hand shop, but I guess stuff like that can go anywhere in a deceased's cleanout or whatever may have been the call.

The tandem small stones are the first pair like that I've ever seen. I wonder if they may have been used by an engraver or a dentist. Idwalls are not found over here, but the two I've had may have been slightly finer and slower than an average black/trans ark - bought them out of England, of course.
 
I was certainly quite happy when I opened the top of the translucent's box yep :). I'm sure you know but Norton had a subsidary company and production factory in the UK for about 50 years from the early '30s. So actually there are a surprising number of post-Pike era stones to be found here, you may have seen some where the box labels say 'Welwyn Garden City, Herts' on them instead of 'Troy, NY'.

They employed enough people here that when the factory closed in the '80s the problem of the job losses was raised in parliament.

---

I've had quite a lot of Idwals, but likewise - I've certainly never seen anything like the little combo. It's a very unusual size for either stone to have been cut, so I assume you're right and perhaps a special order by some supplier of medical / jewellers / watchmaking equipment...(?) Or maybe just a one off that someone made themselves from a couple of broken stones.

Interesting stones Idwals, with quite a lot of variation. I've had a few that can work almost as fast as Washitas, and some like your ones that are much more like translucents or blacks. I suspect there was more than one source for the stones we call Llyn Idwal, and they didn't only come from the quarry at lake Idwal. The little one in the box as you might expect is a very fine and slow version.
 
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Actually, I didn't know that norton processed stones in the UK, but it makes sense that they would given that the market was similar for a couple of centuries.

Not much of Canada or UK anything ends up in the US if there is also a US producer for the same good. I have some UK planes and an older record that I got here honestly (not just buying off of UK ebay), but the reason I have them is because someone physically brought them here from the UK.

As far as the idwals go, I don't remember why I bought the first one, but it was speckled and light gray. I've seen others without the characteristic speckles, but don't know enough about them, so the second that I bought was with the same visual characteristics. They're both fine like you say - I sold the others. The only thing that really stopped me from picking off more stones from the UK is that the cost by royal airmail went from something like $18 to $40+ now. When it was low, I could pretty much play around with things and then sell them and end up even or close to even. Just isn't the case now - ebay fees are up, sales tax is automatic instead of a manual amount we used to be allowed to choose in my state without having to record individual transactions (it was much less overall than by %), shipping is more than some items now....fun's over!
 
Actually, I didn't know that norton processed stones in the UK, but it makes sense that they would given that the market was similar for a couple of centuries.

Yeah it’s an interesting little bit of Norton history. I think at least in part it was also to allow them to sell into commonwealth (and later EU) countries without certain tariffs and taxes that goods from the US would’ve attracted.

I believe Australian Abrasives were a Norton owned.

Not much of Canada or UK anything ends up in the US if there is also a US producer for the same good

You can kinda understand why in this instance... Between the various Arkansas stones you can basically sharpen any kind of edged instrument as well, if not better than any other stones in the world. And if a Pike Turkish is more than twice the price of a LW/RR it’s a bit of a no-brainer!

(I do actually have what I’m fairly certain is an old Pike Turkish, which someone found in the states. It’s the only old Turkish I have that’s cut to a perfect 8x2, and easily the most consistent and finest).

The only thing that really stopped me from picking off more stones from the UK is that the cost by royal airmail went from something like $18 to $40+ now

I’ve heard a few people saying this this, and not helped by ebay’s ‘international shipping program’, which is a naked scam. :(

Though I did manage to find a very good courier service recently. Sent 5 full size stones to someone in the US a couple of weeks ago for $25 (!)
 

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