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Thread: Novaculite and other Natural Whetstones?

  1. #1
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    Question Novaculite and other Natural Whetstones?

    I do know and realize that the newer ceramic sharpening stones are superior in many ways to some of the older/traditional whetstones provided by Mother Nature herself. I have a Novaculite (Arkansas Stone) which is a super high grade that I've been told was mined completely out many years ago. I do like the stone for final finishing on already sharp blades. Novaculite had many uses other than it's great whetstone uses.

    There are other natural stones that GOD provided us like the "coticules" which is better known as the "Belgium Razor Stone".

    Not to mention some of the natural Japanese Waterstones.

    I want to talk about Natural Sharpening Stones:: Which ones do you all like and why>> their pros and cons>> Because I do believe that Natural Whetstones still have their place.
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User phillipsted's Avatar
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    Somewhere in my toolbox is my old "hard Arkansas" natural stone. It came in a little wooden box when I bought it back in the 1970s. Back then, I used oil on the stone, so it now has a coat of hardened lacquer covering it that is really tough to remove. In addition, the stone is not flat - in fact it cupped fairly quickly after I got it, if I recall.

    Personally, for a flat bench stone, you can't beat the Spyderco boxed ceramics. The fine and ultra-fine never wear out and don't need to be flattened.

    TedP
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    Quote Originally Posted by phillipsted View Post
    Somewhere in my toolbox is my old "hard Arkansas" natural stone. It came in a little wooden box when I bought it back in the 1970s. Back then, I used oil on the stone, so it now has a coat of hardened lacquer covering it that is really tough to remove. In addition, the stone is not flat - in fact it cupped fairly quickly after I got it, if I recall.

    Personally, for a flat bench stone, you can't beat the Spyderco boxed ceramics. The fine and ultra-fine never wear out and don't need to be flattened.

    TedP
    By the way Ted is that "Hard Arkansas" one that was put out by BUCK by chance?? IF so I have 2 of them myself>> they were good stones but a little too small for most work I'm doing.

    And I agree with you that the Spyderco ceramic 302 Benchstones are about as good as it gets for basic sharpening. But I have achieved some very wicked edges by doing a final finish with my "Blue-Black Arkansas" stone. It's as though it's got the effects of a top notch butcher steel and a great strop at the same time. There are other stones out there that I also want to know about and talk about. In Tactical Knives magazine a while back they were talking about a super natural sharpening stone from Israel of all places. I'll have to dig up the article and let you all know what it was but they said it was a good tool.

    I do think that some of these natural stones can contribute to a good sharpening system. Like I said I know some of them are great for final finishes. Not to mention their role in woodworking shops.
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User phillipsted's Avatar
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    JD - yes, indeed, it was a Buck stone. They must have sold a million of those back in the day...

    The one issue we need to discuss is the whole "synthetic" whetstone versus "natural" whetstone concept. A lot of the modern Japanese whetstones are synthetic, which means that they were constructed using raw materials such as aluminum oxide and silicon carbide held together with binders. Natural stones are often composed of similar materials - but they were mined instead of manufactured. The main difference is that the synthetic stones offer a much higher degree of consistency in the particle size and generally cut more aggressively than the natural stones.

    As you noted, JD, the Arkansas stones are a non-renewable resource...

    TedP

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    Diamond will eventually win it all

    Quote Originally Posted by phillipsted View Post
    JD - yes, indeed, it was a Buck stone. They must have sold a million of those back in the day...

    The one issue we need to discuss is the whole "synthetic" whetstone versus "natural" whetstone concept. A lot of the modern Japanese whetstones are synthetic, which means that they were constructed using raw materials such as aluminum oxide and silicon carbide held together with binders. Natural stones are often composed of similar materials - but they were mined instead of manufactured. The main difference is that the synthetic stones offer a much higher degree of consistency in the particle size and generally cut more aggressively than the natural stones.

    As you noted, JD, the Arkansas stones are a non-renewable resource...

    TedP
    What a coincidence I had several of Buck's sharpening stones and sharpening devices over the years. And I will say that most of Buck's stuff was at least of reasonable quality and some of it was actually quite good for that time period ( 1970s-1980s).

    No argument that these newer synthetic/ceramic in particular are superior to most of the Natural stones. But again I mainly use mine for finish work. Albeit I had one friend tell me that in the Shapton line of benchstones you can accomplish almost anything. But on the other hand it never hurts to know what got you there to begin with.

    As with Novaculite there are several grades of it. The older woodworkers swore by the older Novaculite stones. Most of the superior grade Novaculite stones were either white/opaque or some type of black or "blue-Black" as I've heard a lot of the old timers refer to it.

    I also have an interesting stone that was put out by Norton many years ago that I snagged on Ebay>> it was called the "Queer Creek" stone. I don't know to this day what mineral it is comprised of but it does do a fairly decent job of reprofiling and removing dings and nicks. It's a fairly aggressive stone for the most part.

    Also I do believe we are going to see a lot of improvement in the area of "diamond" benchstones. And they are natural material the last I checked. I do believe we will eventually see the diamond products take the entire market over time.
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Chris_H's Avatar
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    JD,

    The yellow Belgian stone is the "coticule." The blue-colored stone is referred to as the "Belgian Blue."

    A couple of other natural stones that I have in my collection include the Welsh slate stone -- Dragon's Tongue"


    A Thüringer stone that I got from Toolshop.de (very similar to the Welsh slate or a Belgian blue but finer)

    The natural Chinese stone -- supposedly 12K grit -- that can be gotten at Woodcraft
    http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/200...234-x-114.aspx
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    Moh's hardness scale on many abrasive materials?

    I never knew that "Chris H">> Because all the places I've seen that sell the so-called Belgium Razor Stones for sale they usually have the yellow and blue both>> and I've never heard them make a distinction between the two>> hey I'm not doubting you at all but I am wondering if the yellow mineral/rock is the true "coticule" then what is the identification of the blue?

    Is the blue mineral harder/softer? Also I bet there are different grades of the coticule just like there is with novaculite.

    I'm beginning to see that with the advancement of diamond stones ( which are getting better all the time) and the advancement in the area of ceramics it seems like the Natural Stones are nothing more than a "hard strop">> because that's essentially what I use my 2 novaculite stones for.

    Also does anyone know the Moh's Hardness scale as to whether novaculite is harder than coticule or is it the other way around?
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    Spyderco Forum Registered User Chris_H's Avatar
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    The Belgian yellow is finer than the blue usually (being natural stones & all) with less concentration of the garnet that is the primary abrasive. Here's a very informative website on these stones: http://www.coticule.be/

    Isn't novaculite like quartz -- can be pretty hard (surgical -- black & translucent)? The Belgian stones have a natural binder holding garnet gems which are the "cutters" so I would think the Arkansas stones are usually the harder material though the sharpening action is less aggressive.

    I hope that is making sense and that I'm not ommiting too much detail in my statements?
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    Novaculite is a type of quartz

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris_H View Post
    The Belgian yellow is finer than the blue usually (being natural stones & all) with less concentration of the garnet that is the primary abrasive. Here's a very informative website on these stones: http://www.coticule.be/

    Isn't novaculite like quartz -- can be pretty hard (surgical -- black & translucent)? The Belgian stones have a natural binder holding garnet gems which are the "cutters" so I would think the Arkansas stones are usually the harder material though the sharpening action is less aggressive.

    I hope that is making sense and that I'm not ommiting too much detail in my statements?
    I had a Geologist from the University of New Hampshire tell me that novaculite is indeed a type of quartz. Unlike most other quartz it has unique abrasive properties which gives it the ability to be made into whetstones and a lot of other tools. On the Moh's Hardness Scale I think all quartz minerals fall into a rating of somewhere between 6 to 7 on that scale. It's nowhere nearly as hard as some of our newer ceramic abrasives. What gives novaculite a desirable finish for blade is it's polishing ability. To me my blue-black Arkansas Stone is kind of like a butcher steel and a strop all in one. It truly does give an edge a nice polished finish. It gives metal a type of "burnished" effect.

    There will be a time that maybe all of these natural stones will be made completely obsolete>> I do believe that in the near future they will make a ceramic that will be even harder than diamond. And I also believe that the manufacturers of diamond abrasives will continue to improve their products as well. But I do believe that many natural whetstones will still have a purpose for edged tools for some time to come.
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