Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 89

Thread: Surgical Black Arkansas - Translucent Arkansas - Question I Have Both Now

  1. #1

    Surgical Black Arkansas - Translucent Arkansas - Question I Have Both Now


    I have used a surgical black hard arkansas stone from for years. I am just saying the source because I don't know who makes them. Anyhow, I love it but I just picked up a translucent arkansas stone from I just compared the two side by side. By the touch of my finger the translucent feels much more coarse.

    I honed on the translucent and it gave me a more coarse edge. Then I went to the black and it was much more fine. I was under the impression from the website that translucent is supposed to be finer then the surgical hard black.

    Is it that my black stone is years old and smoothed down? I remember it being pretty smooth when new.

    Thanks for any info. The Cedar box with translucent stone came shrink wrapped so the "maybe the stones got switched" does not work. The box says translucent. So, I am just wondering was I expecting the wrong thing here? Will the translucent smooth out? Or did I just get lucky with my old black arkansas?

    Thanks so much,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    A, A
    it will smooth out, mine is smooth as glass atm and gives a high polish

  3. #3
    Thinking back the black surgical arkansas on the tri hone felt like glass when new. So any ideas or comments knowing that? Thanks again.


  4. #4
    Okay kimberfan, thank you for the feedback. It is a beautiful stone, and as is put a killer edge on my knife. Just followed by the black it became even better.

    I will see how it works out over time

  5. #5
    Yes, the Black Arkansas is finer than the Translucent, espically the older blacks. Yet, your Translucent will smooth out some with use. DM

  6. #6
    Thank you Dave. Can I ask why the translucent would have a premium price over the black then? Is it in any way better? It really cuts metal nice and feels AWESOME to sharpen with. I am just going to keep it for before the black. I was planning on after though lmao

  7. #7
    Your welcome. I'm not sure its any better just marketed that way. The deep colored black's are harder to find and quarry these days. So, they went up. We are seeing the same scenario occuring with the Translucent. Without the black the Translucent was the next selling point close. The black are only about 1-200g finer . Yours may have not been 'finished' well as quality and finish vary widely on these natural stones. Try lapping yours using 600g sand paper on a block of wood using about 100 strokes with the stone wet and see if this doesn't improve its surface to finer. Novaculite is quartz in make up and hardness and these stones are found in areas which contain hot springs. Indicating volcanic activity sometime during their formation (heat), plus, pressure and water assisted sedimentation are the ingredients that brought them about. The area was renowned for the hot springs and stones long before white men stumbled upon it. Their hardness of 7 Mohs is well established, yet if they were quarried very deep (enormous pressure) and the sedimentary rock around them quite hard. This sets up favorable conditions toward mining stones of somewhat higher hardness (external factors). Arkansas stones today are somewhat passe' because of our knife steels yet they are known and used on every continent. DM
    Last edited by David Martin; 07-02-2011 at 10:50 PM.

  8. #8
    Thanks Dave that helps a lot! My black stone is BLACK! I think it sounds like the translucent is where it should be hearing your range between the two. I appreciate the info on lapping and will keep it in mind

    Thanks again,


  9. #9
    Your welcome. DM

  10. #10
    Dave, I just read your edit about blade steel. I do agree and its why I have DMT bench stones as well as a belt grinder. But, a big but, I am using these arkansas stones for good ole' 1095 hardened to 59-60 according to the manufacturer and they are working like a dream. I really could not be happier with my current set up

  11. #11
    Your on target. They should do that steel very nice. Makes you glad you have a good black--hang on to it. I have one from 1980. DM

  12. #12
    I will thanks again Dave.

  13. #13

    cell pic

    Well, me being the person that never believes anything until I see it for myself...I ordered a new black arkansas from

    Here is how it goes, the translucent and new black feel about the same when sharpening. The translucent feels a little smoother to my touch but not to the metal.

    The old black feels like glass to my finger and the metal. When I sharpen on the old black there is almost zero feedback and it will take the edge from the new black or translucent from hair popping to ridiculous.

    Just a little conclusion of my own. This is without lapping or anything. The translucent has smoothed from very limited use but only to the touch of my finger.


  14. #14
    Also, I wanted to add, if I had to pick one stone it would be the translucent. It puts an edge that will pop hairs off, push cut paper, slice any material...etc.

    A great all around finish for an all around pocket knife.


  15. #15
    Rich, Your blacks have nice color to them. I have one Translucent that has color like yours and another that looks beige-opaque. I don't think the Translucent are defined as much by color as the blacks. My Washita is brown speckled and this is what I mostly see in this grade. The soft white and hard white are pure white with very little other color and thats what mine are as well. I think I like my washita stone and use it more for knives. My black I use more for my razor. DM

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    North West
    I had a translucent that came in a kit from Buck knives that I purchased around 1978. It was very small and smooth as glass. I purchased, around 1984, a Black Hard and it wasn't as smooth until I had used it quite a bit.
    Moving forward, last year I purchased a Translucent 12'' x3" from Dan's and it was nowhere near the other two in smoothness both to the touch and in edge finish. After using it a lot it too is now very smooth, glass-like really.
    Interestingly, or maybe surprisingly due to carbide content, I have taken my S30V CRK blades to this stone after I have used an Extra Fine DMT and been able to produce a wicked sharp polished edge that has amazing bite.
    I am really enjoying using these stones again after not having done so for so many years.
    "The surest sign of wonder is exaggeration" Gaston Bachelard

  17. #17
    Pepper, This is interesting. I posted 2yrs. ago here something very similiar about noticing some improvement after stroking some while my S30V blade on my black Arkansas. At that time some here questioned my findings that this was even possible as S30V contains vanadium and vanadium carbides are very hard, higher in hardness than the Arkansas stone. Which I could see this point. Yet, the noticed improvement was present. What might be occuring is the Arkansas polished what it could at that steels edge allowing us to notice 'some' improvement but still couldn't do much to the vanadium carbides. I'm no metallurgist but something happened. So, good to see others realize these stones are still useful. Plus, some chilling helped. DM

  18. #18
    I believe that Arkansas stones are graded by weight, rather than color. The more dense they are, the finer the edge. Its just that black and translucent stones are usually more dense than solid white or grey, but not always.

    It is true that older stones usually are better quality than current stones, except for the Norton brand which reportedly owns the "only" high quality deposit left since the 1950's. There are probably some smaller producers that also have some high quality deposits, I would guess.

    That said, any good Arkansas hard stone will get smoother with use unless it gets a new surface by sanding it. In fact, after a few dozen hours of use, it will reach the point where it cuts very little and becomes more like a flat smooth steel.

    Like you I have noticed that the black ones that I have seen are a bit smoother when new (and probably more dense) than the translucent ones and the white ones seem to be less smooth than the translucent ones. However, I have never had the spare money to purchase a Norton Hard Arkansas stone, so I am not sure how they would compare. However, Norton has traditionally sold all their hard stones simply as "hard Arkansas" regardless of color.

  19. #19
    Thanks guys for the ongoing info. I also spoke with a very knowledgeable and extremely helpful lady from Dan's. I am very happy with what I have and feel like I have a much better understanding of these stones after the help in here especially from you Dave. I am keeping with what I have.

    One thing I understand even better that you tried to explain to me Dave is that they may have the same grit size but the compactness will vary. Makes a lot of sense. Also, she confirmed the black is finer then translucent in finishing quality. Translucent is finer in the way that it is very hard to manufacture a flawless stone in the large bench sizes. She explained everything thoroughly for about 30 minutes. Great people at Dan's for sure!


  20. #20
    Rip, Your sort of right. Arkansas stones are graded by Specific Gravity ie. density which can translate to a weight. Without this turning into a chemistry lesson, the standard for Specific Gravity is water=1 at a specified temperature and pressue. So, elevation would have an affect. We all know that a pint of milk will weigh less than a pint of honey (same container being used) because one is denser. Thats why oils come with a statement of weight viscosity ( 40W, 30W). Yet, not all Arkansas stones are tested but we know the hard ones carry a Specific Gravity of 2.50+. Which doesn't tell us much about their grits just some about their density. So, we would have to have it tested or trust the eye of a seasoned expert in this field, the latter being cheaper. Which is how much of the Arkansas stones are graded. OF the 5 grades only two vary in color, the Washita and Translucent. One being the softest the other very hard, an easy field test. Rich, I also have spoken with Dan of Dan's Whetstones, the Father or Father-in-law of the lady you spoke with. I've been friends with for a few years and I agree they are very informative and helpful. DM

Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts