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Anyone using Arkansas stones for sharpening plane blades?  I just got an old black stone from my dad, and it seems to be pretty fine.  I have been using the sandpaper on a granite tile (scary sharp method) and thought I might try a stone.  The black stones any good?  Supposed to be the finest of the Arkansas bunch...  (Jason Swan)

    The Arkansas stone will eventually wear away leaving a concavity which will distort the plane iron.  If it's an older stone, it may already be worn.  Check it with a straight edge before you use it.  I have  resorted to diamond stones which don't seem to wear with heavy usage.  (Ken Rongey)

    A black hard Arkansas stone will be roughly 1000 grit. A really good one will be a bit finer.  (Larry Blan)


Acquired 2 old stones. A black Arkansas 2"x8"x1" deep and another combination black/brown 2"x6"x1" deep. Both were obviously used to sharpen chisels as the worn spot is irregular. After 5 hours of playing with grit and a lapping plate, I'm about done in. Anyone have any ideas what might work better that 50 grit emery cloth, oil and elbow grease?  (Don Anderson)

    Use cheap diamond stones like the ones you can get from Grizzly or Harbor Freight. Hard Arkansas stones should last many years without any flattening. Soft Arkansas is a different matter. They may have been used in an industrial shop for them to be worn heavily. They will still last you a lifetime.  (Scott Bearden)

      What I meant to say was that hard Arkansas stones should last many years without the need of flattening. It is called "hard" for a reason.  (Scott Bearden)

        The stones were badly cupped for about a 1/3 of their lengths. Wife's grandfather, who owned the stone previously, was an old world cabinet builder. The cup marks, I think, were caused by a round nose chisel.  The use of the belt sander took the work right out of cleaning up the cupping and returning the stones to "nearly" true. I had to further hand lap the stones on a lapping steel to attain a flat surface..

        Took about 1/2 the life out of a 80 grit belt.  (Don Anderson)

    If you have access to a 4 inch belt sander that has a good flat platten, you can "sand" them reasonably flat if you have a steady hand. Just hang on tight! I was told how to do this by a local machinist, when I approached him about flattening the sole of a couple of old planes that belonged to my Dad. He said this would work for plane soles and, when asked, said it would also work  on worn sharpening stones. Haven't tried stones myself, as I don't have any worth fooling with that have badly worn surfaces, but don't see why it won't work. Works great on planes. Should save a lot of elbow grease. Worth a try IMVHO.  (Frank Schlicht)

      Just after I posted the question, I had much the same thought. Clamped the belt sander into a vise and held on tight. Worked quite well. The belt was nearly worn out and the stone finished it off. Off to get a new belt this morning to finish the job. Then I'll hand lap to "true".

      Thanks for the pointer.

      The old stones were my wife's grandfathers. They were totally covered in dirt and congealed oil. The dirt and oil disappeared after several liberal coatings of Fast Orange hand cleaner

      I've used Fast Orange or similar cleaners for years as an oil substitute on Arkansas Stones. Just a quick rinse under the tap after sharpening and they look as good as new.

      Buy the hand cleaners w/o girt.  (Don Anderson)

        Although I've never tried it, what would happen if you rubbed the two stones together? I'm thinking they may flatten each other out. I don't have stones or I would try it myself.  (Don Schneider)

          There is no reason why rubbing the two together won't work. Major downside that I foresee is that it may require a large amount of Elbow Grease.

          As a sidebar to this, one of the benefits of living on the outer fringe of the 4th largest city in the U.S., is that one can often find things that you otherwise would never know exists. There is a firm here in Houston that custom makes belts, among other things, for belt sanders: any size and any grit; you name it. The last ones I had made, for my Delta 4 inch belt/6 inch disc sander cost me just under $3.00 per belt. At that time they had a Minimum $25.00 order, and three belts of a grit size requirement. Will be happy to post info on them if anyone is interested.  (Frank Schlicht)

        Something else that I have pondered about our stones comes from my acquisition of a Carborundum Extra Fine stone about 50 years ago to sharpen straight razors with (you haven't had a "clean" shave until you have shaved with a straight razor!). On the bottom of the box in badly faded letters are the following instructions: "If the stone cuts too rapidly, temper by soaking the stone in a pan of hot petroleum jelly, filling the pores of the stone. For cleaning stone, wash with kerosene".

        I treated this stone with petroleum jelly and never had to lubricate it for sharpening. I have wondered if we could do the same thing with our water stones, and possibly eliminate the water bath.

        I saturated the stone with the petroleum jelly by melting enough Vasoline to come about 1/2 way up the sides of the stone and letting the stone set there until the surface was wet due to capillary action.  (Frank Schlicht)


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