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Cleaning a hard unknown stone? need help IDing it

The*Cincinnati*Kid

Well-Known Member
I just got a stone in the mail that I bought off ebay. I rolled the dice and I think I crapped out. It came stuck in a block of wood, so I cut it out. I think the previous owner used oil on it or laquered it into the wood because it is caked with black shit :-/ (anybodys guess) top bottom and sides. I tried dial and a wet/dry sanding sponge it with minimal results. Any suggestions on how to clean it up? I'm thinking about using paint thinner on it. Will paint thinner hurt it in any way if it is not a natural stone? Any suggestions on how to proceed would be greatly appreciated. Also how should I go about lapping it once I get it cleaned up? 80 grit wet/dry?



Thanks
Louis.
 

TM280

Well-Known Member
Hi Louis,

I have done a good deal of lapping and tried most of the suggestions on the different forums, though I haven't tried sweating the oil out with dry heat. For me, oven cleaner was the most efficient. I usually need a few rounds of good scrubbing to get a stone to some type of usable state (I have never gotten all the oil out of a well used stone). I don't know what paint thinner would do, but it would definitely clear the oil...

Check the underside, often it is cleaner and flatter. Depending on the hardness of the stone, it could be free of oil.

I find that taking the stone to my belt sander (clamped upside down) does a very good job. I use 80 grit until things are getting flat (if there is no chipping going on from that grit) and then switch up to 120 and 220. I go through quite a few bands, but the worn out 80 grit can be used again before moving up in grit.

I have used lapidary grit on glass as well. 400 grit can save a lot of time on a DMT, but I find that the glass grinds down as well and the surface of the stone becomes much more sensitive to variations in pressure.

Depending on what the stone is, you can have good luck with a drop of dish washing soap and water for honing (this also continues to remove any residual oil over time). Is it one of these brown novoculites, with spots which appear to be burnt? A vastly underrated stone, I use one now for straightening out edges and removing large chips. As well as on all my tools. Fast and fine but harder than hell.

regards,
Torolf
 

tat2Ralfy

Well-Known Member
TM280 said:
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Sorry for the slight hijack, is there any chance of a picture Torolf? I have a stone that sounds like the one you describe, and would love to I.D. it

Back on topic, I use "Grease off" kitchen cleaner, and a 320 DMT, I find it gets most stones as clean as clean can be, another great way is to use a dishwasher if you have one, although without knowing what your stone is its hard to say how aggressive you could get without causing damage

Regards
Ralfson (Dr)
 

The*Cincinnati*Kid

Well-Known Member
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Any guesses on what it is?:confused: 73/4" X 21/8" X 6/8" It gives off a tan slurry, like the dots in the first pic, but it is a BITCH to get slurry raised!!!:blink: Tons of preasure and like 150 strokes with a small survival knife sharpening stone produced minimal slurry. I'm gonna give that belt sander idea a go some time today or tomorrow.

Regards
Louis.
 

TM280

Well-Known Member
Hi Ralphy,

Yes, you probably have one, or three...:) I think anyone who has tried to snag a disguised coticule off of the UK ebay has wound up with these. Here are a couple pictures (stone is roughly 8x2):


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The color is pretty close to the first picture. This one was absolutely clean (this is originally the underside) and shows coloring which I believe use with oil winds up hiding. It also doesn't have the "burn" marks which are so common. Though the other side does. Perhaps oil erodes inclusions in this stone over time? They have been described as "sandy" and I would agree, especially with slurry.

I don't like my 1k so much so I have been using this one. It works fast, and lightning fast with slurry (DMT card and hard rubbing...). But it leaves a rough edge on a razor, easy enough to smooth out with some good slurry strokes on a coticule, and in my estimation much sharper than a 1k leaves. If I am not doing edge repair, then I use it on water (with soap) just to make sure a bevel is nice and straight, too much, maybe more than 50 x-strokes, will start roughing up the edge.

I have taken a tool steel wood chisel from major chips (2mm) to shaving arm hair above the skin with one of these stones in about two minutes. They are perfect in the shop due to the speed and fineness. I have passed a few of these on to friends for general use. They are far superior than anything we can get in this country.

Though there are blowhards repeating the common "wisdom" that novoculites are all arkansas stones from the US, the prevalence of this stone in the UK, and their rarity in the US, is probability enough for me to think their origin is British.

regards,
Torolf
 

danjared

Well-Known Member
Torolf: That looks like a washita to me. But you are quite correct, novaculite is found on both sides of the pond. The functional difference between a Charnley Forest and a black Arkansas is that a CF will go for 2-5 times as much. Oh, and Arkansas stones are still mined. Maybe people don't like associating good whetstones with coming new (from the American South, nonetheless). I don't know where you're getting the information that stones like this are rare in the States, though.
 

TM280

Well-Known Member
Hi
Yes, washita is another name for it. I have seen more than my share of Arkansas stones, having lived just there for five years.
Personally, I have not associated this type of stone with those mined in the US, despite their variety. I could well be wrong and I take my statements as a good probability:
Perhaps this is an earlier mined Arkansas exported in ridiculous number to the UK about a hundred years ago (judging by the cases made for them), perhaps they never sold well in the US and so don't show up second hand, or maybe there are many more Brits trying to flog carpenter's stones on ebay than Americans... In any case, they do turn up in the US also, but no where as nearly as often as in the UK.

regards,
Torolf
 

vgeorge

Well-Known Member
There is a video in YouTube in which Maestro Levi hones with an Arkansas stone, which is left in water.

For razor honing, meaning thin blades with only small quantity of swarf, is oil not necessary on an Arkansas stone?
 

danjared

Well-Known Member
They seem to show up regularly on eBay UK, even ones with Norton Pike stickers intact. Actually, there's a nice boxed and stickered hard Arkansas there right now. I've heard that Arkansas stones are popular in Europe. I also seem to see more Sheffield blades (especially Wade & Butchers) than American blades on US eBay and in antique stores. (This is much to my annoyance, because I'm rather fond of American blades.) Maybe part of it is the "exoticness" of something from afar. I do know that Arkansas stones are found a dime a dozen here, perhaps nearly as much as synthetic oilstones. Antique stones here will have mostly oilstones, natural and synthetic. People rarely want them. Just look at the craze over Charnley Forest hones when people could much more easily buy several times as many black or translucent Arkansas for the same price. Also, remember that the chief miner and distributor of Arkansas stones was and still is one of the largest (the largest?) abrasives companies in the world. That said, I certainly don't doubt that many of the stones you're finding in the UK are of British origin. Maybe what you photographed is actually from the UK. It just also happens to look like a washita mined here in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and may function similarly (and if slurry makes such a large speed difference, I'll have to try it out).
 

danjared

Well-Known Member
vgeorge said:
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The way he hones the razor in that video doesn't make sense to me in several ways. But, he does go to his pasted strop at the end. Maybe he also had done the bevel setting before the video, and all the work on the rocks is mostly immaterial. Maybe he has lizard skin. I don't know.
 

danjared

Well-Known Member
I forgot to mention something. The courser stones from the novaculite mines in Arkansas aren't mined much anymore. For example, Norton refuses to mine the once popular Lily White Washita because of the low demand brought on by the popularity of synthetics (water and oil stones). Actually, the coursest novaculite mined today by Norton is the soft grade.
 

TM280

Well-Known Member
danjared said:
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Hi!
I was doing a little reading and wound up with this survey from Indiana by Kindle in 1898:
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Most of the detailed information is on Hindustan stones, but he talks about Pike and Wachita as well. On page 345 (18 of the .pdf) he has a chart of production amounts for 1892 and 1893, with export figures for Hindustan directly after. The production of Washita is comparable to the Hindustan and I will assume export amounts were similar. Quote: "About 30,000 pounds of this [Hindustan] goes to the European market [annually]."

Regardless of what can be said about today's second hand market, this fits the bill for what I would call "ridiculous amounts".

The paper is a good read for all of you interested in this type of thing:rolleyes:
For my part, I will cease speculation on these rocks provenance, especially, as Danjared says, Norton is no longer mining all the available, and previously mined, hone types. I would like to pick up one of the brown, labeled Washita hones (not the Lilly White) and compare it to what I get form the UK... (if someone in the US wanted to help me out with a bid on a current auction that won't send overseas, it would be top...)

regards,
Torolf
 

danjared

Well-Known Member
That's an interesting article.

You may also want to read this short page:
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. Norton and its predecessors--Norton, Pike and Behr-Manning--seem to have produced and/or sold every possible abrasive under the sun. I imagine that they together with hones made by the American Hone Co. account for the largest single percentage of the vintage stones seem on eBay and in antique stores. I wouldn't be surprised if it's over 50%. Hell, the only vintage coticule I own is a Pike Choice Razor Hone.
 

SliceOfLife

Well-Known Member
TM280 said:
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Those stones turn up plenty in the US. They get trashed a lot. I've bought at least 6 in the same state as you likely got yours (Wood coffin, usually Walnut or Mahogany, oildrenched stone), all from US addresses on eBay. They're Washita. Yes, the US exported them en masse in the 1800's. Arkansas stones were widely considered superior to everything (more than one Google-book from the era mentions Charnleys as an acceptable substitute for the best option Arkansas stone) back then. Washita are known today as the coarser of the Novaculites, but some people have apparently claimed the "lily Whites" are miracle stones that cure all diseases and can be used as finishers or something. I could get a shaving edge off my first Washita back when I was trying to figure out what it was, but it was unreliable... mostly based on floating the razor above the stone on a bed of slurry. Sometimes I'd get a sharp razor... sometimes I'd get a carpenters saw.
 

The*Cincinnati*Kid

Well-Known Member
Well I had some time on my hands yesterday and decided to follow the dishwasher tip, so I put it threw two cycles in the dishwasher. That worked better than my previous attempts. After the stone had cooled off I gave it a light sanding with a hand held belt sander, then I used two sided carpet tape to tape a sheet of 80 grit sandpaper to a 2'X2' board. I sanded it totally flat on both sides, a quick sand on the others, and slightly rounded all the edges to avoid chipping. I'm still not sure what it is, and I'm hoping these photos might help someone in ID-ing it for me. Thanks in advance for the help.

Louis.
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