Translucent Arkansas stone question

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by rollintent, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. rollintent


    Jul 24, 2015
    i bought a translucent Arkansas pocket stone from Shapening supplies. I’m using their honing oil on it. I can’t get my knives as sharp on that stone as so can with a small white ceramic stone. Is the white ceramic finer than a translucent Arkansas stone. I can take hair off my arm easily coming off the white ceramic and when I make a few passes on the translucent Arkansas stone the shaving edge is gone. The Arkansas stone feels like it’s taking a bite on the blade maybe more than the ceramic. Am I wrong to expect a better edge off the Arkansas stone? Is there a break in process for Arkansas stones. I was winders my if the surface of the Arkansas stone might be relatively “coarse” due to maufactuting processes that might be leaving a tougher surface than the ceramic has? Any guesses what I’m running into?
  2. annr


    Nov 15, 2006
    What brand is it? Do you have a picture?

    They are not all the same quality—even though they may have the same label or description.
  3. rollintent


    Jul 24, 2015
    I bought it from Sharpening supplies. Com. It has a made in USA sticker on one side of the leather pouch and sharpening supplies. Com printed on the other side.
  4. cap'njake


    Aug 15, 2016
    Sharpening supplies gets their arkansas stones from dans. They are good quality. Odds are it is the steel you are trying to cut. Novaculite isn't very hard as far as abrasives go. Aluminum oxide that is found in most sharpening stones is much harder. I have found that arkansas stones work best with simple high carbon steels. About the best steel I have sharpened on an ark is vg10 and that was really slow.
  5. David Martin

    David Martin Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    I suspect technique has a play in this equation. Arkansas's do need to be broke in. If you can get a blade sharp on a ceramic then you should have similar results on a fine Arkansas. The ceramic is finer and will cut most steels. I would keep working with them both and see what edge you get. DM
  6. FK

    FK Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 15, 1999
    When sharpening stainless high alloy steels,, the Ark stones are very, very slow material removal.
    They work most efficiently on plain carbon steels.

  7. rollintent


    Jul 24, 2015
    I am sharpening a carbon steel case trapper. I bought it thinking it would be my final polish on my edge following my ceramic stones. Hopefully giving it that last bit of refinement. I went back through all my stones again and something got better. Either my technique or something. This time it feels like I improved the edge with the Arkansas stone. The first several blades I was definitely going backwards by using the Arkansas stone. It would easily shave coming off my fine ceramic and using the same technique and everything it was coming off the Arkansas not even close to shaving. I don’t know what changed but it’s working like I expected/hoped it would now.
  8. The CV steel in the Case trapper shouldn't be a problem by itself. It's not among the high-alloyed stainless or 'super' steels often presenting problems with sharpening on natural stones. By Case's own description, their carbon steel, called 'CV', is a modified 1095 with a tiny bit of chrome and vanadium added. It refines easily on Arkansas stones, assuming the prior grit progression has left it ready for such refinement.

    The difference you're seeing is just the result of differences in cutting speed between the Arkansas stone and the ceramic. The Arkansas stone's natural abrasive, called novaculite, is roughly 1/3rd as hard as the aluminum oxide abrasive in the ceramic. So, even though both will be capable of cutting this steel, the Arkansas stone will do it a lot more slowly. The ceramic, on the other hand, will cut & remove steel much faster and can still finish that job more quickly, even if the edge isn't quite as fully prepped for it as it could be.

    Bottom line, in order for it to perform well in finishing the edge, it's more critical that the edge be in sufficiently sharp condition prior to using the translucent Ark, so it can refine the edge in a timely manner. If the edge isn't ready for the Arkansas, it'll take forever to finish the edge to the degree it could be finished. In going back through all your stones again, it sounds like you've prepped the edge a little better for it the 2nd time around; hence the better result this time.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2018
  9. JD Spydo

    JD Spydo Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2004
    I agree with FK>> because the blade steels we have currently been blessed in the past 15 years are so much harder to sharpen than old stalwart blade steels like 1095 or other older carbon steels. All of the Arkansas Stones I currently own and have used over the years are made with a quartz related material called "novaculite". Unfortunately novaculite is not nearly as hard as many of the newer ceramic sharpening stones are. Especially the Spyderco ceramic stones I like to work with so well they are much higher on the Moh's Hardness Scale than any novaculite stone is.

    Now I have used some of my finer/harder novaculite stones to do finishing work with and I do find them to do really nicely to put a final edge on a blade that is already "paper cutting sharp". I would almost say they are like a "super strop". It's hard to believe that many of these newer ceramics are harder than a lot of what nature has to offer but that does seem to be the case.
  10. rollintent


    Jul 24, 2015
  11. rollintent


    Jul 24, 2015
    This is why I bought the transluscent Arkansas stone just to very slightly refine an already very sharp edge. I was disappointed when I was getting a very good (paper cutting and shaving) edge from the fine ceramic then losing it after just a few strokes on the Arkansas stone. I know I was not changing my technique or angles enough that it should have ever made that big of a difference. I am tempted to say I’m just starting to get the stone more broken in. I kind of wonder if the stone is softer if my edge wasn’t trying to cut “through” microscopic peaks in the surface of the stone. Like the surface of the stone might have looked like a microscopic mountain range and my edge was plowing through the mountains instead of gliding across the plains so to speak
  12. JD Spydo

    JD Spydo Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2004
    By chance have you ever tried those "Sharpening Guides" that are sold by "Razor Edge Systems" out of Ely, Minnesota? Because I've had some excellent results with those Sharpening Guides that you clamp on to the blade especially when sharpening bigger fixed blade knives. I bet if you get something like that to keep your angle perfectly aligned that might help a lot with what you are trying to achieve. I'm like you I still believe that those Arkansas Stones ( the better graded ones that is) do have their place in a guys set of sharpening tools>> and especially for finish work on an already sharp edge.

    After talking to my Spyder-pal "Ankerson" ( who also is on this Forum) I think I'm going to get away from Stropping. I'm going to now focus on finish work on good stones.
  13. annr


    Nov 15, 2006
    Have you tried them on the smaller blades, and how small and angle can you achieve?
  14. Grizz299


    Feb 15, 2018
    I have one of those angle guides and occasionally i put it on just to confirm my sense of it. But -and I'm not sure of this - they seem inheritantly flawed. Certainly not an expert, but it seems to me they can only be right for one size blade and any longer or shorter than that one size and the angle, by definition, has to change.
    A translucent is so fine and pure (it has to be to be translucent, since any impurities and/or large crystals would scatter the light photons and make it fully opaque).
    I am not an accomplished sharpener but I've read a lot about translucent Arkansas and I'm tempted to say that it can't be happening. I wonder if he's not taking the tooth off the edge and the increased smoothness of the bevel isn't what he's feeling. Is it worse at an actual cut test?
    The same angle that produces a sharp edge on a coarser stone has to produce a finer edge on a finer stone. Maybe this is too basic , but are you using a honing oil?
  15. JD Spydo

    JD Spydo Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2004
    I see what you're saying about Razor Edge System's sharpening guides but as far as being flawed I do tend to disagree with you. Because I've used both my Razor Edge Sharpening guides on small folders and big fixed blades ( usually no longer than 6 inches or so) and I've found that where you position the guide on the spine area of the blade is what determines your overall degree of angle.
    Because I have both the guides i.e. one for blades under 4 inches long and one for blades over 4 inches long and I've had some really decent results using them along with high quality benchstones. It really boils down to where you position the guide on the spine part of the blade. John Juranitch ( the owner of Razor Edge Systems) has written a great book which shows you how to use the guides ( both the book and video are on their website) and he's also done a very informative video on it as well. If you could check out either one or both of those I can assure you that it will shed more light in the uses of those guides.

    I'm actually surprised that Spyderco hasn't come up with something like that with all the very nice innovations they have come up with.
  16. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    I use the Razor Edge systems guides as well when establishing new bevels on my new knives. They are incredible, as far as I'm concerned. You need a little finger dexterity to get the clamp right, as there is a set of screws that tighten the clamp on the blade, and the back screws adjust how wide the clamp is (raising/lowering the spine). And like JDSpydo said, you can control the angle by how far in/out you place them on the blade as well. They can be a great tool to train muscle memory for free hand sharpening. I like using them because of cosmetic reasons, I want the edge bevel to be as perfect as I can get it on knives I am selling, and I don't own any of the WE or EdgePro guided systems. If you use the small one on large knives, you can get really low angles. I like 15° per side on most knives that go out, and these clamps do that angle naturally. I found out that the back portion of the clamp that rides on the stones will wear (obviously...and diamond plates wearing 'em faster), so I've been using a layer of duct tape on that part of the guide to negate the stone wear. Works perfectly. I can't recommend them enough. It's pretty key to make sure that you place them on the blade in the right manner. That is to say, the distance from the edge of the blade to that part of the clamp that rides on the stone is the same distance from the tip of the blade to the tip of the guide portion that rides on the stone. The instructions that come with it have a picture/drawing to help illustrate that better than I can type it. This is to keep the angle consistent from choil to tip (within's not like it's a precision instrument).
  17. Littlebabycarrot


    Jan 1, 2018
    For knives im not convinced you need a broken in surface. I dont spend too much time doing this but i will erase the marks from honing previously with 220 grit wet/dry before starting on a knife.
    There is also different feedback than with synthetic stones, right? I try to hold the pressure near the handle and when i sweep my wrist down i can sort of let the bevel help me in my technique. I got slower and use more pressure with my black arkansas stone than with, say a diamond plate.
    And unless you need to erase a previous scratch pattern i have felt like it can only need 10 to 20 strokes a side on a 6 by 2 inch stone.
  18. Littlebabycarrot


    Jan 1, 2018
    I have a shapton 12k, a well-broken in 3 micron diamond plate & a surgical black stone, and have also slowed down on the pasted stropping(1 micron diamond&simichrome) .
    Early on i would use the simichrome after honing a razor(it felt and still does feel a bit like cheating), though the one micron diamond is too close to the black ark to be really useful unless a convexed edge is desirable. Then later, i noticed as i improved that i got as close a shave without it. I will still occasionally use a pasted strop on a knife if it's going to be used for a lot of slicing: i just cant see any drawbacks to a microconvexed bevel but i do see a great decrease in the seeming force-to-cut needed to slice something like cardboard. Not saying a convexed edge is sharper, but it certainly reduces drag in some mediums..
    I certainly feel better about a blade i can get almost as sharp without the pasted strop, though.
    I know arks get a lot of knocks for not being able to handle the newer harder alloy steels but is there any steel a Jnat(for example) can handle that a black ark cannot?
  19. tiguy7

    tiguy7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 25, 2008
    When I use the Razor Edge guides, I trace the fingers of guide on one side of the blade with a Diamond glass cutter. That way I can return the jig to the blade in exactly the same location.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
    Littlebabycarrot likes this.
  20. jadubi


    Aug 3, 2009
    I've have a surgical black and can get hair whittling with s90v, s110v, m390, cruwear, Elmax, etc. so I would say technique/pressure issue.

    Littlebabycarrot likes this.

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