Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Waterstone reality.... an Asagi of Indeterminate Origin (AIO), part 1

Wow! 3 days from Florida!

Just like the pictures from the auction. It's heavy, very dense and looks to be a fine grain slate. Very slight usage, as near as I can tell, and only needs a bit of lapping, no more than 1/32 here and there. Mostly around the edges. The size is a bit smaller than stated, but still a very respectable 212-76-36mm. I was hoping for more of a "blue" color, but it is definitely tending towards the gray end of the spectrum. 

A very faint stamp, but unreadable.

Full skin (kawa) back with just a wee bit of the corner chipped away.

Some skin on a few of the outer corners, too.

I think that these are called "moles" by natural waterstone aficionado's. Some sort of inclusion, like a trace of iron ore. There are two, and they look like they may be scratchy....

So here it is. While not exactly disappointed, I was hoping that it would be a liiiiitle bit more..... flashy. I was hoping/dreaming that as soon as I brushed off the grime I would be looking at some wild pattern of black spots and a bright blue color, a nice kerasu asagi. The reality is.... different.

While not perfectly flat, it is close. This will give me more opportunity to work on flattening this huge India stonestone (Waaa!!! Synthetic?!) that I got from my friend Brandon. 

Too slow, the heck with that! Bring out your diamonds! #340 or so, I forget, but it was very fast. I tried a #400 eze-lap plate but the "stiction" was a pain. This cheapy worked great. I use the darn things every day...... $8 for a set, and the only problem is getting them to adhere to a substrate. Best $8 ever!

Well, here she is, in all of her glory. For the price, I can't complain. I would've been bummed if it was a synthetic, though there was not much chance of that, with the skin and all.

Let's take it for a test drive. This is where we left off.....

Hard blade, steel type unknown, mirror finish ( from the Oregon coast sandstone) with some slight scratching. These are the artifacts from different stones on an incompletely prepared bevel.... my bad. 

Whoa!! 5 seconds! Look at all of that swarf! Instant reaction and no slurry, but the action is still smooth. NO rubbing/dragging/digging. it's a bit like using a black crayon on gray paper. Slight hyperbole, but only slight. REALLY fast and smooth..... Soooo smooth....

No weird, new scratches. Just building polish.

This stone doesn't seem to need a nagura, but let's try it anyway.

Diamond nagura?

This slurry acts strange......... It gives the impression of being about as thick as milk, but doesn't get in the way. It is as though the blade almost goes UNDER the slurry, if that makes sense. The blade feels like it is riding gently on a very thin cushion, which it is. This also makes it very easy to feel the "bite" of the tool, allowing you to minutely adjust the angle of the blade.  If I hadn't seen how quickly the stone cuts, I would think that it was a slow cutter, but...

This photo mostly shoes how un-flat the bevel is, haha, but it also shows how the steel at the blade's edge is being polished by the slurry. You can see that the steel is almost divided into three horizontal bars. The leading edge is being polished by the pressure wave of loose abrasive grains that comprise the slurry itself. Because the particles are no longer anchored to the substrate, they bounce and roll about, becoming smaller and smaller, and in doing so produce the  characteristic hazy finish that is the trademark of a natural waterstone

The second line, the hazy one in the middle, is where the steel is actually TOUCHING the stone surface. This would be the "true" grit of the stone. The third line is likely formed by a trailing eddy of slurry, and makes it clear that the bevel is not flat, my technique is poor, or (most likely) both of the above. 

Now, I am just testing out this stone so I'm not concerned with the less-than-flat bevel, but if I was GOOD at sharpening AND wanted the finest possible edge, I would lighten up on the hand pressure, just the weight of the blade itself, and polish until the slurry has degraded into nothing and is forming a dry glaze. At least, if this was a normal stone that actually MADE some slurry....

As if this wasn't long enough, there is more....

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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