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Recommendation? Cheap combo stone to bridge gap between Norton Crystolon and strop?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Fixall, May 24, 2018.

  1. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    Hey everyone, I searched through the Mora/sharpening threads but I haven't really found the answer I'm looking for.

    I now own four Moraknivs with Scandi grinds and a Svord that cannot be maintained with my Edge Pro. I am using a Norton Crystolon 100/280 combination stone and then going directly to a strop with Bark River black and white (3000/12,000) compound to maintain them currently.

    It does a pretty decent job, but I would like to purchase a stone to help bridge the gap between the 280 grit side of the Norton and the 3000 grit black compound. I don't need anything too fancy as these are just camp knives and I will be using the Edge Pro for literally every other knife I own. Say under $30? Under $25 would be better.

    Should I just grab whatever the cheapest 1000/6000 or 3000/8000 (I imagine the grit is nowhere near as fine as the black strop compound) waterstone with decent reviews online and call it good? Or is there a particular stone I should be shooting for in the $25 - $30 range? Should I be looking at something else completely instead of the 1000/6000 and 3000/8000 waterstones? Is there even a single stone (combo or not) that can do a decent job of what I'm asking? I really don't want to use sandpaper to bridge the gap. And lastly, is there a stone that costs slightly more (say $30 - $40 range) that is so amazing I would be dumb not to pick it up?

    Justin.P likes this.
  2. The Norton India C/F combo, in aluminum oxide, is a natural next step for many, following the Crystolon. The 'Fine' side is about ~ 320 - 360 grit, and gets a little finer with some break-in, maybe to ~ 400 or so. If you're already comfortable using an oilstone like the Crystolon, the India is a logical progression. It's also right in the middle of your projected budget for the stone, at around $25 - $30 for the 6" - 8" versions (IB6 & IB8). The 'Coarse' side of the India may not be much of a jump past the Crystolon, so you might not need to use it that much, if at all. Norton does have all of their India stones in single-grit benchstone versions, so you could also look into their 'Fine' India stone alone, if it appeals to you.

    A lot depends on how close you're actually wanting to get to the 1000+ grit finish, before stropping. The Norton India won't get that close, but it's 'Fine' side leaves a very good or excellent working edge that'd be appropriate for the knives you mention. If you are looking to get closer to that ~ 1000-grit mark or higher, you might stand by to see what's recommended in waterstones, from others replying here.
  3. David Martin

    David Martin Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    It's a long jump from 280 to 1000 grit. I like what David said ^. Then maybe look at a ceramic, the Spyderco medium a 600 grit stone. DM
    Fixall, Chris "Anagarika" and Blues like this.
  4. r8shell

    r8shell Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jan 16, 2010
    It's not fancy, but I like the Smith's Tri-Hone. For under $30, you get a coarse synthetic, a medium India, and a fine Arkansas. Lansky makes one that costs a little more with diamond/alumina-oxide/ceramic. I don't think these are the best quality stones, but they work. Also, the elevated platform makes it easier for me to hold my wrists at a consistent angle.
    Justin.P and Fixall like this.
  5. maximus83


    Nov 7, 2011
    A question is that, with those type of field/utility knives, what do you think something in the 1000 (ANSI?) grit range would gain you? Not implying that it has no value, but wondering what specifically you hope to gain from a grit in that range--in terms of edge performance--that you are not getting off your Norton + strop.

    That said, in that grit range, for these steels, and keeping the cost super low, here are a couple options:
    • As David Martin said: the Spyderco ceramic stones. A set comes with Sharpmaker or you can get them standalone in various sizes, and they are affordable except for the large bench stones. For you case, I'd consider the medium (est. on the Gritomatic site as 600 JIS, in other places I've seen estimates as high as 800) and/or the fine stones (est 2000 JIS). These are in your grit range, and work fine on these steels, though you have to be careful about burr formation.
    • You could also consider the dual-grit aluminum oxide cheap stones that you can get on sites like big river. I have a PaiTree whetstone 1000/6000, about $18, and while those ratings are JIS, the ANSI equivalent is still a step up from your Norton. If you want a higher grit on the coarse side of your dual-grit stone, you could consider the similar BearMoo 2000/6000 stone, where the 2000 side is roughly equivalent to 800-900 ANSI range.
    • What I would personally recommend: Baryonyx Arctic Fox bench stone. A little higher than your price range, but if I had to pick one of these 3 here, this is the one. It's about 400 ANSI/700 JIS, but it punches above its weight class and puts a very nice, almost hazy/polished finish on an edge that I cannot get off the fine side of my Norton. What I do with softer steels is profile/shape/edge reset on the Norton when needed, then jump to the AF for apexing. And then go straight to a higher grit strop to finish. I don't see any performance boost in my edges (for the kind of utility uses I have for my knives) from adding an in-between grit in the 800-1000 range.
  6. PeterS84

    PeterS84 Sharpening addict, collector of "super steels" Platinum Member

    May 9, 2018
    My experience with Mora/scandi-ground knives has been that the steel used isn't generally super abrasion resistant, so I think AlOx waterstones would work well. A good, inexpensive solution would probably be a King 800/4000 or a 1000/6000. Both are good stones, but the 800 tends to dish somewhat quickly. Both the 4000 and 6000 give an excellent polish, especially for the money, and have worked very well for me for years. In fact, those are what I learned to sharpen on: Norton Crystolon and King waterstones.
    Justin.P and Fixall like this.
  7. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    I was actually checking out the Norton India stone as it was highly suggested in a lot of the other Mora threads. I was thinking if I go that route, I'd probably go with a single grit so I could use both sides (since the course side of an India combo likely wouldn't be used). I still have a long ways to go, but I'm getting a lot more comfortable with the Crystolon and like the way it feels. I'm able to get a very good working edge with the fine side of the Crystolon and after stropping, I can get both the carbon Moras and Svord to a hair shaving sharpness. It just takes a long time on the strop to get there, so I'd like to reduce that time a bit while "tightening up" the scratch pattern.

    That's kind of what I was afraid of. The jump from the 280 to the black compound is huge and I'm trying to alleviate it a bit... If going to a 1000 grit waterstone is going to be nearly as bad, I need to look elsewhere. It's starting to sound like the India stone is what I should be going for. I already have a SharpMaker, so I'll give those stones a go as bench stones too.

    I got the Crystolon INSTEAD of the Tri-Hone because I thought the Tri-Hone would be too small for reprofiling and repairing a Mora's Scandi grind... But I didn't think about using the two together (doh). Since I wouldn't be reprofiling or anything, I'm sure the stones would be plenty large enough. I'm going to have to think about that!

    I'm a little embarrassed to say this, but I'm not looking for any more performance out the edges on the Moras or Svord. They're just used for camping and slicing fruit and I can already get them to a hair shaving sharpness with just the fine side of the Crystolon and the double sided strop. I have to spend a LOT of time on the strop to get there though and even then, the scratch pattern doesn't look the greatest in some places. I guess what I'm looking for is to reduce the amount of time I have to spend on the strop until I am satisfied with the edge and to reduce or refine the scratch pattern of the finished edge. I'm not looking for a mirror edge or anything, but a decent polish absent of anything but fine scratches would be great.

    I have a SharpMaker already and tried them out before I got the Crystolon, but I didn't cross my mind to try them out again until I read David's post. I'll have to try that. I'm going to spend some time checking out you other suggestions too (I had already been looking at the BearMoo a bit), thanks!

    The King stones are exactly what I was talking about when I was talking about the cheaper waterstones. :) I'm going to read up some more, maybe watch a few sharpening videos and think about this a little more I think, lol.
    Last edited: May 24, 2018
    Justin.P likes this.
  8. Blues

    Blues Lapsed SuperMod / Cattle Knife Rustler Staff Member Super Mod

    Oct 2, 1998
    Norton Medium Crystolon / Fine India is a classic combo. I had each of mine out today for inspection.
    Fixall likes this.
  9. jc57

    jc57 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2012
    For basic steels, which encompasses most of my knives, if I want to refine the edge off of synthetic oil stones (I prefer the India over the Crystolon but I have both), I just use a soft/hard combo Arkansas. If you don't get the "hard black" combo which runs the price up, they are around $40 or so for the 8" bench stone.

    If you wash your knife well with soapy water, going from an oil stone to a water stone is no big deal, but I tend to do either an all water stone or all oil stone progression. Diamonds used when appropriate.
    Fixall likes this.
  10. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    I ended up ordering a Norton Fine/Coarse India stone (IB8). Once that comes in, I'll give that a go and then try using the SharpMaker medium and fine rods as bench stones. I won't be taking off much metal so I imagine the sticks will work out just fine. If not... Well, that's just an excuse to pick up a few more toys. :D I'll probably go ahead and pick up an arkansas stone (or maybe that Arctic Fox) here soon anyways. I'm enjoying freehand sharpening more than I thought. I barely qualify as a beginner, but the Scandi grind really builds your confidence with it's ease of sharpening. There's a nice little feeling of accomplishment when you bring a knife from paper tearing to hair shaving... And the process to get there sure is relaxing. I can't wait to see what a few years of practice/improvement will bring. I've also come to believe that everyone should own a Svord Peasant or Mini Peasant! They are a ridiculously fun to sharpen and get scary sharp.

    I also remembered I have a bunch of bench stone sized 3M sandpaper (400, 600, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500) I got with some leftover DLT Trading credit a while back. I don't want to use sandpaper long term, but I might as well use it up I guess.
    Last edited: May 28, 2018
  11. Fixall

    Fixall Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2018
    The Norton India stone is working out well. The fine side definitely still needs a little more breaking in, but feels a bit better with every use.

    I'm actually having a ton of fun learning how to free-hand sharpen so I went ahead and purchased a Soft Arkansas Stone from Dan's Whetstone Company too. I only plan on free-hand sharpening Sandvik 14c28n and carbon steel from Morakniv and Svord so natural stone should work out just fine for finishing. Now I just have to decide if I'm going to pick up a Surgical Black Arkansas Stone or a Hard Translucent Arkansas Stone. Right now I'm leaning towards a translucent.


    I plan on spending the rest of today sharpening knives on the Edge Pro and bench stones, so I'll be sure to post a pic later of my results with the bench stones.
    Justin.P and Obsessed with Edges like this.
  12. Good to hear you're liking the India. I'll be curious to hear about your results with the soft Arkansas as well. Lately, I've been giving a lot of thought to purchasing one of those in a bench-sized version. I have a smaller, almost pocket-sized one that I've liked every time I've used it on my pocketknives in simpler steels (1095, CV, 420HC in particular). I keep wishing I had it in a larger version. As with the India following the Crystolon, the soft Ark is a logical progression following the India, for simpler steels anyway.

    Good luck, and have fun. :thumbsup:
    Justin.P likes this.
  13. Justin.P


    Jan 27, 2013
    I almost never strop, except for a couple oddball carving tools, a hook knife is one example. I can't get it without a strop.
    I use one of a couple Arkansas stone instead of a strop, not like a strop.
    I still use them edge leading, but I'll even jump from the fine or course Crystolon to a soft white or a hard black and make just a couple of super light passes to tone down the tooth a bit, and/or tame a burr that's kicking my rear end for some reason.
    Fine india to that white arky will give you a nice workable finish.
    For some reason I really like the feel of the India stones, I don't know what it is exactly but I favor them over the Crystolons too.
    I know some people say the Crystolon stone cuts fast, but I don't find them to be particularly fast.
    But I also have a habit of using low pressure from years of primarily using diamond stones.

    Anyway........ my long winded way of saying, I think you'll end up really liking your stone choices for what your using them for.
  14. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    I'm late to the party, but one of my favorite techniques when using Crystalon (with oil) it to reclaim some of the stone mud and use that as a stropping compound instead of ready-made materials.

    For a strop this works well using a sheet or two of paper or a dollar bill (FRN) wrapped around a stone. Just have to make sure you don't have too much oil in the mix - the grit should stay put pretty good on whatever you're using.

    This shows with a textured Washboard plate but the coarse side of a combination stone is a serviceable stand-in.

  15. aesmith


    Jan 19, 2015
    King water stones work fine for my scandi grind Moras. I have one 250/1000 and one 1000/6000. For the Moras I go to 1000.
  16. RebelSon


    Jul 5, 2018
    I have a wicked edge, 1x30 sander, water stones, ark stones and norton combo tri stone with 2 crystalons and an india at work as well as a TruHone machine. I love sandpaper, especially for scandi grinds. I like to lay the paper on the strop block so it gives a little so that no lesser angle is needed on grinds on the leather. A slight convex.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018

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