Monday, November 4, 2013

Honegrown - searching for native waterstones

So I am looking for workable alternatives to Japanese natural waterstones, something that works fast, not too scratchy and somewhat local. There are lots of rocks out there, but for some reason people seem to think that you NEED to use (******). I love Japanese waterstones way too much as it is, but wouldn't it be fun if I could find something that worked ALMOST as good?

I have looked locally for suitable stuff, and I have had moderate success with coarse to medium. No love on the fines, though.

Oregon coast sandstone (and fossils!), Montana shale. Oregon brick.

Nice big MT shale, kinda scratchy, unfortunately.
You can get very workable stuff at a landscape supply place. Look at their flagstone, but resist the tendency to get something too hard. Slate from the tile store can work very well, too. Again, not too hard. I don't want a super hard oilstone, I want something more like a waterstone. Soft is great for knives, you'll get beautifully rounded bevels that way. Most of what I get is too hard.

I ask first, but you can discretely test the stones qualities by rubbing the surface of the prospective stone in an inconspicuous spot with a S.S. spoon. Try it on your sharpening stones first, you might be surprised what you learn. I wish that I knew this trick BEFORE I started looking for rocks. We have lots of strangely shaped decorative rocks in our yard now, so I guess that's a good thing.

I am still looking, though. I have started buying geological samples from Geological Specimen Supply, who also have an Ebay store.

Geological Specimen Supply

This was a bit or a long shot, but I got hold of the owner and told him about my project. Rudy is a retired geology professor and is VERY knowledgeable about a wide variety of things, rocks being just one. Hi Rudy!

The student and teacher samples are very inexpensive, so what the heck! I bought (clockwise from the upper left)...

  • White volcanic ash-Old Dutch Cleanser (ODC)
  • Hard gray shale - Al Ross canyon
  • White siliceous shale - Altamira shale
  • White tuff - Calsilco mine

Santa's bag was heavy this time!
As usual, I was so excited, I forgot to get good "before" photos.

Rinsed off

I use sandblast media as lapping grit. The gray block is a chunk of basalt that I surfaced to optical tolerances. Well.......some people have better vision than others.

Gray shale. Didn't actually need grit for this one. The brown/gray mud is the slurry residue.

This is the white tuff. Blasting grit was too aggressive, so I just used sand from the yard. Have I mentioned that we live at the beach?

Test subject. Old, hard, Japanese mortising chisel. I taped the handle because things are gonna get a messy!
Nice and clean now, though. I lapped with grit, then a DMT P600 grit diamond stone.

To be con't......

PS. I have been looking for other folks that are doing the same thing and writing about it, and I have come up short. Like maybe 2 projects on a woodworking forum. Let me know what I am missing and if you have some good sources, samples and interest. I would love to set up a sharpening stone exchange, like a free rock swap! Now all I need are some really kick**s local rocks.....Isn't this where I started?

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Like all of us, I am figuring this out as I go, so when you see something that is incorrect or flat out wrong (and you will!), let me know. This is a learning process. Real people and names, please. Constructive comments and questions are very welcome, but hate speak/politics are not! Life (get one!) is too short.

Thanks, Jason