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Arkansas stone vs Japanese Water Stone

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Darteres, Oct 13, 2008.

  1. Darteres


    Feb 4, 2008
    Can anyone tell me the difference between these? Is it just a preference thing? Quality? I'm confused.
  2. jacktrades_nbk


    Feb 7, 2007
    the japanese stones are supposed to work only with water, i guess that would be a difference
  3. cowboyfromhell


    Dec 12, 2007
    I think you can still use oil on the Arkansas stone
  4. Rotte


    Aug 30, 2008
    Arkansas stones seem to last longer. Waterstones--in my limited experience--seem to wear more quickly. The up side to waterstones is that they come in some very fine grits (I think I have one that is 8000 grit. It polishes an edge as well as a strop does.).
  5. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    I used Arkansas stones for 15 years until I wore out my first one. The ones after that just didnt seem the same. I always used them oiled. The drawback I found is that they dont cut the new alloys very quickly. On 425 Modified (Buck) and Sandvick 12C27 (Benchmade balisong) and plain carbon steels (10xx alloys, usually 1095) they work well. 440C and up takes some time. I switched to Aluminum Oxide and Silicon Carbide stones for faster metal removal. I bought a Japanes water stone in 800 grit about 3 years ago and it gave a nice finish and cut about as quickly as my Course India stone from Norton. In one test it cut faster, but later on it seemed slower, so I couldnt really tell a difference. The water stones wear quickly and you'll have a dish in the middle after a while. On the other hand they are much easier to flatten that Arkansas stones and the rougher grits (which wear the fastest) approximate a brick in size, so they still last a long time. The only thing that bothered me about the water stone was that sometimes tips and choils would gouge or groove it if I wasnt careful. A stropping motion prevented this, but I prefer to sharpen in both directions, so I was wearing the corners pretty quickly. I gave the water stone away in favor of the Norton Course/Fine combo stone. If it was a little harder, the water stone would have been great, but the wear at the corners just irritated me. I dont know the brand, since it was in Japanese, but different brands have slightly different properties. I just occurred to me that you could be referring to the natural Japanese water stones, which I have no experience with, and likely never will, given the prices for them now.
  6. Ben Dover

    Ben Dover

    Aug 2, 2006
    Waterstones do wear a bit more quickly, but they cut much faster and smoother. And leave a more polished edge. :thumbup:

    They're much easier to maintain, and need no messy oil. :p

    Norton water stones are excellent quality, and Shaptons are even better. There are others out there that are also excellent, but I have no persponal experience with them.
  7. Simon520


    Aug 29, 2008
    Oilstones won't really wear down. I hear stories of 40 year old Arkansas stones being passed on to new generations. On the other hand, they are messy, load up fast, and don't really cut that fast especially on the new steels.

    I have a lot of S30V stainless steel blades and my Norton stones don't seem to cut them. My Lansky sharpeners (stone, not diamond) just seem to run right off them without cutting.

    The Japanese waterstones cut them easily. I use a Shun 300/1000 combination stone and a Global 5000 grit finishing stone. I'm extremely happy with the speed and quality of the sharpening. I get hair-popping sharpness on my Ritter Griptilians. I just used my stones last night (dont' take that out of context); I had an old wood plane that had a nicked blade and I spent about 15 minutes flattening it and honing a hair-whittling edge on it.

    Yes, it's a bit gut-wrenching to lay out 80 bucks for a sharpening stone but trust me; waterstones are very satisfying to use. I can't really explain it; they just FEEL right.
  8. Ben Dover

    Ben Dover

    Aug 2, 2006
    Simon, are you referring to Norton WATERSTONES or India type stones???

    My Norton waterstones have no trouble at all cutting S30V, D-2, and ZDP 189.
  9. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    I have an ancient black Arkansas bench stone which a great-uncle of mine who was a carpenter owned, so it's had close to a century of use (I'm 61...). It shows virtually no wear. As noted above, it works great on high carbon steels such as Carbon V and 52100 and 1095, and some of the simpler stainless grades, but not especially well on D2 or S30V and similar high-end alloyed steels. It seems to impart a very fine toothy edge that cuts superbly.
  10. StretchNM


    Dec 7, 2006
    Ben, I think Simon was saying the waterstones worked fine on his harder steels. It was the Arkansas and norton oilstones that wouldn;t cut the S30V et al for him.

    I have 3 King waterstones: an 800, a 2000, and an 8000. The one I use most is the 800, mostly on Scandi-grind blades. I'm still not accomplished enough to feel comfortable sharpening my v-grinds freehand on a stone. For the v-grinds, I use a Sharpmaker.

    It's true what they say about waterstones cutting faster and dishing faster too. The upside, as someone said, is that you can use a special stone to rub them down and flatten them with. My waterstones "live" in an old round Igloo cooler filled with water. You can;t just take a dry waterstone out, splash some water on it, and cut away with steel, the stone has to be saturated. THis would take about 15 minutes or more of soaking before using, and even then I;m constantly sprinkling water on my stone as I work.
  11. sodak

    sodak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    I have some Norton waterstones that I pretty much use for my straight razors. I have gouging trouble like me2 described, but with straights it's a non-issue. For whatever reason, I tend to sharpen better on dmt's and ceramics than anything else. I have a Norton India combo, but seldom use it, no real reason.

    Hey Simon, was this you with the wood plane? You sure know how to sharpen!!!! :D

  12. pimpnugget

    pimpnugget Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 10, 2008
    i have a norton 1000/8000 grit water stone and it work great right off the 8000 grit you get a mirrior edge that is very sharp able to shave hair right off your arm
  13. Broos


    Jan 10, 2005
    I grew up with oilstones, and I have a couple I of my Dad's that I will keep forever, but I hardly ever use them since using stones made to use with water. And I haven't used the ones that require soaking much since getting the stones you can sprinkle with water and go. That said I think it's hard to argue the best (and most expensive) waterstones are the ones you need to soak.
  14. wintermute


    Oct 18, 2007
    I'm a bit of a knuckle-dragger when it comes to sharpening. I've always used just Arkasas stones and I just learned how to sharpen a convex edge w/ sandpaper and mouse pad. (bear with me)

    I'm contemplating getting a knife made out of 440C. Will I have to "upgrade" my sharpening kit - those diamond stones are pretty expensive.
  15. jawilder


    Jun 27, 2006
    I've never had any problem using Arkansas stones on 440C
  16. wintermute


    Oct 18, 2007
    Good to know. Gracias! :thumbup:
  17. thombrogan


    Nov 16, 2002

    Shapton's Glasstones and Naniwa's Super stones work perfect with just a splash of water.

    My favorite 1,000 grit waterstone; from Sigma Power; requires a ton of soaking, but it gleefully eats steel and leaves a bright albeit dull finish. It cuts faster than a 1,000 grit Glasstone and dishes slower, but a 1,000 grit Glasstone finish is nearly a mirror and the Glasstone requires just a splash of water to work.


    It's mostly a personal preference thing so long as you're not using steels alloyed with half of a chemical element chart. Waterstones generally cut faster than oilstones, but sharp is sharp and oilstones usually cost less money (and if you're going to forget liquid on your blade, it's better to forget oil instead of water).
  18. Darteres


    Feb 4, 2008
    Thanks for all the great replies!
  19. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    No, you shouldnt have to upgrade just for one blade with 440C. I used my Arkansas stones on a 440C kitchen paring knife for a couple of years with success. The exception would be if you need to remove enough steel to repair chips, fix impact on concrete or rocks, or reshape a broken tip. I am of the opinion that the newer Arkansas stones, say in the last 10 years, are not as good as the old ones. If you have older ones, or managed to find a good one, it will work on 440C fine. There are so many other variables to take into account that stone type is not a deal breaker for sharpening 440C, or even 154CM and ATS-34. It just may take a little longer.
  20. wintermute


    Oct 18, 2007
    Thanks me2! if i had to repair more extensive damage like that, I'd probably just pick up an India stone.

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