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gold_bantam

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Hi there,

I have previously used the three diamond stone setup as per Paul Sellers, but I find oilstones fascinating so though I would try them out. I enjoy the sharpening process anyway but do find diamond stones quite characterless and think I would enjoy oilstones.

I have a Norton fine India which I intend to use after my extra coarse DMT plate (I'm intrigued by Richard Maguire's sharpening instruction). I also have a washita. My questions are:

1. I need to make boxes for the stones. I have seen about using end grain blocks to even out wear which seems like a good idea in principle but I haven't seen many oilstones with them in place so I wonder how good it actually is. It seems like I won't actually be using the stones for long each time, except to work the cutting edge, so If I sharpen in a pattern to try and use the whole stone surface, would that negate the need for blocks? I found that the washita flattened quickly on wet and dry anyway, but can't say the same for the India.

2. If I was to eventually give up on the extra coarse diamond plate as the 'grinder' (from recent threads I have seen that they wear down quite quickly and they are more pricey than I'd like to spend), what other options are available? Ideally I want to stick with hand tools only. Norton Crystolon stones don't seem very available in the UK for a sensible price. Does anyone use the vintage carborundum brand stones? Or are hand cranked grinders worth considering?

Thank you.
 
1) it's up to you. I have wedge end boxes and boxes with nothing on the end. I think a good worker will keep stones mostly flat working over the edges of the stone and that means #1 isn't really a need. both the washita and india will work out of flat to some extent

2) you can flatten an india with a coarse diamond hone or card. Your comment about using an even pattern is right - it will greatly reduce any need for true up flattening, and on an india stone, from time to time, you'll deal with pinning or wanting a little more speed from the stone and a scuff with a diamond hone should be enough to keep it flat with good use (no separate flattening needed). Ultimately, the same is true with a washita, but they don't pin.

3) vintage carborundum stones are usually hardened over time. A new medium crystolon is a better bevel stone. Crystolon stones aren't a good option for the backs of tools ,and the vintage finer stones are not as good as other methods for fine honing (they don't hone that fine and they shed particles all over the place, and flatness is very transient).
 
(what's wrong with the stone hardening over time in terms of the carborundum stones? the abrasive is friable. The abrasive at the surface will break down and the stone will become slow and will also probably load. You'll have no recourse as they will eat diamond hones alive and trying to improve them by using coarse silicon carbide (loose) will result in the two abrasives grading each other).

Ultimately, you will improve your sharpening results with a grinder. I haven't ever used a hand crank grinder, but coarse wheel with speed, clean(not glazed), will lead to cooler grinding than slower speed.

it's possible to get the same edge quality and grinding neatness by hand, but I've never seen anyone actually do it as a matter of routine as it drastically extends the sharpening cycle time. there are a lot of theoretical examples provided for this, but they're often carvers or people who don't sharpen very well, or traditional ideals (japanese sharpening - when I get used japanese tools from japan, they are sharpened neatly in a full bevel with some actual wear from use about 5% of the time).

But, yes, assuming you'll get a grinder within some period of time if you do a lot of sharpening is better. You will find better results than what you can get by with using the three diamond hone method.
 
Thank you very much D_W. It's interesting to hear about speed grinding being a better method. I'm not currently setup for power in my workshop at the moment. I think for the time being I'll stick with the diamond, and keep an eye out for a medium crystolon or pick one up if we go to the States. I'm hoping I won't have to do much more back flattening as I hate it with a passion. I've done most of my edge tools now thank goodness. So a crystolon could work for just the bevels. Before I think you have said that they only work properly with an oil bath. Why is this? How acceptable would their performance be without one?
 
Thank you very much D_W. It's interesting to hear about speed grinding being a better method. I'm not currently setup for power in my workshop at the moment. I think for the time being I'll stick with the diamond, and keep an eye out for a medium crystolon or pick one up if we go to the States. I'm hoping I won't have to do much more back flattening as I hate it with a passion. I've done most of my edge tools now thank goodness. So a crystolon could work for just the bevels. Before I think you have said that they only work properly with an oil bath. Why is this? How acceptable would their performance be without one?

they can be used without an oil bath. what happens is the swarf settles into the surface of the stone. Imagine you had a gravel driveway and you walked over it with bare feet, but eventually you crushed the top layer into fine dust and sand and it settled tightly into the stones. Eventually, it will not have the same surface feel as gravel, but rather the fines packed around the gravel.

What the oil bath does is make it effortless for this stuff to leave - as you rotate it around and use the other stones, it just goes through the oil, separates out and ends up in the bottom of the bath, and you don't have to touch it.

I think a hand crank grinder at high speed with lower pressure will still be more accurate than a crystolon stone, and as mentioned, it's not for lack of ability to do accurate work with a crystolon stone on a bevel. it's that you will eventually start cutting it short on things where you feel like you don't absolutely have to do it.
 
Too, to describe this "packing" of the fines in a stone surface, I recall Stu Tierney marketing very coarse crystolon style stones, but it was japan, so of course, they were used with water. Everyone had a bear of a time (according to him, and his Q&A discussions) trying to prevent the stone from loading, and most people assumed that the stones needed to be conditioned again to cut fast. they probably just needed the swarf removed.

With a very thin oil, like a honing or cutting fluid or WD40, the swarf won't lift out of the stone easily - water, too. With honing oil (light mineral oil), the swarf is suspended a little better and it just comes out. this is the stuff that goes in an oil bath and it's just an ideal combination. Things will be a bit messy and gritty without, but you may be able to add oil and brush the surface with a plastic brush somewhere that you can make a mess if the stone get slow. Using copious amounts of oil without an oil bath to catch it will be a no-go with a stone in a box.

The stone itself in an oilbath is semi-essential in my knife grinding process, and it will easily cut steel that waterstones and india stones won't due to the hardness of the silicon carbide. The oil won't freeze, etc. but the cost of entry can be steep. if you find one at a boot sale and it's 30 quid or something in good working order, I would think it's easily worth purchase. You can find food grade mineral oil instead of honing oil (same thing) or a gallon of sewing machine oil generally for about $20 here. Vet/horse supply will often also have very clean mineral oil - no clue why it's given to horses - maybe it greases the digestive tract.
 
^^^^^ The Vet is probably using liquid paraffin, it is used for human use as a laxative.
I have no idea if its any use as honing oil!
I have a fair collection of stones by now the red india ones i dont really like, My favorites are a pair of old grey stones of unknown make or composition, quite soft but cut really quickly, both were heavily dished & were flatted on a belt linisher. I like using ordinary paraffin or Wd 40.
 
^^^^^ The Vet is probably using liquid paraffin, it is used for human use as a laxative.
I have no idea if its any use as honing oil!
I have a fair collection of stones by now the red india ones i dont really like, My favorites are a pair of old grey stones of unknown make or composition, quite soft but cut really quickly, both were heavily dished & were flatted on a belt linisher. I like using ordinary paraffin or Wd 40.

that may be the same thing as sold here as paraffin oil. I'm not a chemist and don't know the differences between them other than paraffin has a low smoke point. Mineral oil is a bit cleaner.

Castor, as far as I'm aware, is the traditional laxative here, but I haven't seen it used. Just discussed by people my parents' age.

At any rate, the vet stores may sell paraffin oil, too, though what's sold at the horse supply store is a medium mineral oil, like an odorless baby oil.

Sewing machine and food service equipment here is hydrotreated light mineral oil, which is identical to what norton sells as honing oil. All the way down to the chemical ID number. Unfortunately, what makes light mineral oil work so well in the crystolon and india stone makes it took thick for a fine stone and if a very fine stone is going to be used with an oil bath, it's a good idea to keep an old credit card or something close by to skim the oil off of the stone.

I've never used a higher viscosity like baby oil, but would guess it would work fine with crystolon, but may need to be mostly skimmed off of india.

Some of the knife and stone companies here suggest using the oil only to clean off the stone in a drop or two and using the stone otherwise without it. all of it works, I guess, it's just a matter of experimenting to make a method work well.
 
Hi there,

...

1. I need to make boxes for the stones. I have seen about using end grain blocks to even out wear which seems like a good idea in principle but I haven't seen many oilstones with them in place
That's because they only came along after the invasion of the jig - which already takes up an inch or two before you hit the stone so a launching pad comes in handy. You don't see them on older stones/boxes.
.....what other options are available? Ideally I want to stick with hand tools only. ...
You can do the whole job with one combi stone, if you really have to. I've ground thick old woody blades on the coarse side. A handle helps - a length of 2x1", a bolt and a hole, - bolt the blade on and you can grind with two hands and a lot of pressure. Quicker than you'd think.
You will never need to flatten an oil stone if you use it carefully (spread the load) and in any case a slight hollow gives you a camber automatically, which all plane blades need.
PS any old mineral oil will do, thinned with white spirit if necessary. "Bicycle Oil" was the rule, now known as 3 in 1.
 
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That's because they only came along after the invasion of the jig - which already takes up an inch or two before you hit the stone so a launching pad comes in handy. You don't see them on older stones/boxes.

My only box with wedges at the ends of the stones is old. The stone is almost 10 inches long and the box is made even longer for it and skillfully made by hand.

it probably wouldn't take anyone here long to find instructions to make a box with wedged ends from 150 years ago.

the point of it is making it easier freehand to use the full length of the stone by making a landing on the end. it makes no sense to suggest someone would add half an inch for a jig.
 
Thank you everyone for your replies. A lot to think about here so I guess I better start experimenting! I learned everything from Paul Sellers so it's amazing to read the alternative methods and viewpoints. It will be exciting to try some different things and see what the differences are and if they work for me.
 
Thank you everyone for your replies. A lot to think about here so I guess I better start experimenting! I learned everything from Paul Sellers so it's amazing to read the alternative methods and viewpoints. It will be exciting to try some different things and see what the differences are and if they work for me.

Everything you try, give it two weeks or a month of use in isolation. that's my suggestion - once you're good with anything, the next method always seems terrible until you sort of get the feel of what the method likes.

if you're using oilstones, generally, the separation of grinding and honing is more important - you have more control with the fine stone, it'll probably be a little slower with most irons, which means you work, for example, a fine washita or a black arkansas on a very small portion of the edge, and the work before that has to make it easy, to make sure the bevel prior to the fine work is shallower enough so that you can just work on the very tip of the tool.

I prefer oilstones diamond hones by a lot (have played with about everything) but it took a little time to understand how slower abrasives like you to work, and at the same time, give you a lot more control on what's happening at the end of the tool. Not to mention the dynamic that finishing oilstones are slow, but the stones before them aren't necessarily slow vs. diamonds where you're just using different sizes of the same media.

I've never seen any real edge quality difference from one method to the next- it boils down to being able to execute and get a good finish at the edge with low effort and without any chance of coming up short.
 
Everything you try, give it two weeks or a month of use in isolation. that's my suggestion - once you're good with anything, the next method always seems terrible until you sort of get the feel of what the method likes.

if you're using oilstones, generally, the separation of grinding and honing is more important - you have more control with the fine stone, it'll probably be a little slower with most irons, which means you work, for example, a fine washita or a black arkansas on a very small portion of the edge, and the work before that has to make it easy, to make sure the bevel prior to the fine work is shallower enough so that you can just work on the very tip of the tool.

I prefer oilstones diamond hones by a lot (have played with about everything) but it took a little time to understand how slower abrasives like you to work, and at the same time, give you a lot more control on what's happening at the end of the tool. Not to mention the dynamic that finishing oilstones are slow, but the stones before them aren't necessarily slow vs. diamonds where you're just using different sizes of the same media.

I've never seen any real edge quality difference from one method to the next- it boils down to being able to execute and get a good finish at the edge with low effort and without any chance of coming up short.
Thank you, I'll remember to do that. I've had a little go with the India already and it does feel alien when all I've used are the diamond plates until now. So I'll stick at it to get more competent before I make any judgements. Thanks for clarifying on the crystolon too, I was surprised at the cost of the IM 313, but I bet it's worth every cent, you can't really just have the stone in a tub of oil and lift it out when needed, the mess would be unthinkable!
 
It is not terribly difficult to fit a couple of end grain blocks at each end of the stone if you make a box.

20191231_012047.jpg
 
Thank you, I'll remember to do that. I've had a little go with the India already and it does feel alien when all I've used are the diamond plates until now. So I'll stick at it to get more competent before I make any judgements. Thanks for clarifying on the crystolon too, I was surprised at the cost of the IM 313, but I bet it's worth every cent, you can't really just have the stone in a tub of oil and lift it out when needed, the mess would be unthinkable!

not sure what they cost now, but it's probably every bit of $200 equivalent or more. Norton's stones in crystolon and india are better than any others that I've used.

worth it if you find them at a boot sale for cheap.

if anything doesn't seem like it's working right with the oilstones, check back in.
 
It is not terribly difficult to fit a couple of end grain blocks at each end of the stone if you make a box.

View attachment 149372
Thanks. I can definitely see the worth if it's for a stone where you have to really grind forwards and backwards for a while. I am tempted to fit them but wonder if it will also hinder flattening, and if there's any point using them on fine stones where I'm using light pressure and only on them for a few seconds.
 
Thanks. I can definitely see the worth if it's for a stone where you have to really grind forwards and backwards for a while. I am tempted to fit them but wonder if it will also hinder flattening, and if there's any point using them on fine stones where I'm using light pressure and only on them for a few seconds.
You don't need them.
You don't need light pressure either, except for fine finishing and removing the burr which you do in little movements, turning over from bevel to face alternately.
For basic sharpening you need as much pressure and speed as you can muster. It's quicker!
 

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