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Thread: Any Arkansas users out there?

  1. #21
    Senior Member Gamma's Avatar
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    The main thing - as I understand it - is that translucents aren't so much rarer as it's harder to find larger stones without issues. Six of one/half dozen of another I suppose. I had to wait a few months to get a pristine 10 x 3 x 1 translucent. I could have bought a 6 x 2 x 1/2 whenever I wanted it. Seems the translucent stone isn't exactly rare, it's just riddled with more inclusions and fissures.
    While the surgical black and translucent are rated to have the same density starting point (specific gravity), there will always be variances from stone to stone. They're not all the same. Not every stone's density is tested - so there will be some stones that are better than others in some regards. I'm certain that this is probably a hair-splitting concern at most levels, but I would imagine that someone who is dialed into one stone would probably see/feel the differences easily enough.
    And no - you won't see a trans graded as a soft - but you can have a hard that seems to be a translucent. You can also have a black that is a hard appear to be a surgical black too. There are harder 'soft arks' and softer 'soft arks' too. I just sold a softie and it was pretty hard.
    Back in the day - white Washita arks came graded #1, #2 and Lily White.
    Most of what I've learned about Arks stems from using them since the 80s, extensive discussions with the sharpening guru at Westphals in NYC, similar discussions via email with David at Natural whetstones dot com, and perusing through a good number of geological studies I've found online. I've read through Dan's site, as well as a few other retail sites with info on Arks, not to mention Norton's.


    That multi colored translucent is sweet. I saw one like that once before and foolishly I passed on it.
    Last edited by Gamma; 03-04-2012 at 07:33 PM. Reason: clarity
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  3. #22
    Senior Member eleblu05's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by regularjoe View Post
    Ok, Eleblu5, we're reading the same stuff. My third source was Tools for Working Wood.com I believe. My comment on translucents was just to illustrate that color has nought to do with Arkansas stone grading systems. But I guess translucent isn't so much a color, as a visual effect. Interesting information guys. Thanks for the pics too. I think you also may have told me what one of my mystery stones is. I've got a purplish stone that looks an awful lot like that blue Arkansas black you got there!
    Yes i understood what you meant i was just poking fun at it.
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  4. #23
    zib
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    I've been a vendor for Hall's Arkansas stones for years now. The Translucent and Surgical are very close, but the Surgical black will give you a finer edge, you can just about feel the difference in the two stones. Jim Hall say's the Surgical is finer. This is a generalization, These being naturals, they're are differences from stone to stone. We had some members that used them for razors, but not many. I know Jimmy just finished one on a vintage black with great results. They're great stones. They work best with oil, no slury, like a Charnley. I use them almost exclusively for knives. You can most definitely use them on razors. As far as microns and all that, I have no idea, I just know they work, Soft, Hard, Trans, and Surgical, in that order.

    I think guys like the Translucent because it looks prettier.
    Last edited by zib; 03-04-2012 at 06:16 PM.
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    Senior Member eleblu05's Avatar
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    +1 to what gamma said ,he hit on alot of good points. something else i would like to put out there ark's progression and how to prep your translucent or surgical black stone. first up the progression, washita is the coarsest ark its around 400-600 grit next is the soft ark 600-800 grit next is hard ark 800-1000 grit and to finish translucent or surgical black 1200+ grit. Now if you have a lily white washita you could sub it in for the hard it is around 800-1000 grit. Ok stone prep this is what i do to prep my finisher. (translucent or surgical black) dmt 325 with lite pressure so i dont pull the diamond's out of the nickle bonding, and then on to 1000 grit w/d sandpaper, this sandpaper is placed on my granite surface plate so its perfectly flat Once flatten the prep work come's in to smooth out the stone. I use a pocket translucent stone with oil to rub down the stone i'm finishing. use a pencil grid and remove it three times . last step i use a piece of w-1 tool steel (you can use any hard steel)and i rub the stone down until its coverd in swarf ,and repeat three time's. using these step's will wear in your stone and give the smoothest and sharpest edge possable of that stone !

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    Senior Member eleblu05's Avatar
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    gamma i would love to see your translucent stone !

  9. #26
    Senior Member Gamma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eleblu05 View Post
    gamma i would love to see your translucent stone !
    No prob - here's both of them side by side. The black one is actually more interesting to look at in my opinion. They're both about 10x3x1"


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    Quote Originally Posted by Gamma View Post
    No prob - here's both of them side by side. The black one is actually more interesting to look at in my opinion. They're both about 10x3x1"

    Very nice stones Gamma! How do these hardest arkansas
    compare to your best jnats? I think the arkansas are much
    harder, but what about finess? How does it feel?

    I think a great benefit of these arkansas stones would be that
    you would only need to flatten them once in a while.

    Sharpman

  11. #28
    Senior Member Gamma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SharpMan View Post
    Very nice stones Gamma! How do these hardest arkansas
    compare to your best jnats? I think the arkansas are much
    harder, but what about finess? How does it feel?

    I think a great benefit of these arkansas stones would be that
    you would only need to flatten them once in a while.

    Sharpman
    Apples - Oranges

    And therin lies the challenge. Given the fact that Jnats are new to me and that black Ark is a very old friend - I'm not really qualified to deliver an absolute answer right now. But - I can share observations.
    My stupid-hard Nakayama has a similar feel to both Arks, so far as hardness goes. And when I finish an edge on that Jnat - it seems to have similar qualities to one finished on those Arks.
    The edge from the Ark does have more of that 'smartness' to it - in other words, the blade seems to want to cut hair, not skin.
    My Suita, Kita, Narutaki, and Okudo are all softer, and they feel less fine. But - feel isn't everything.

    How fine? Well, this will never be answered in an absolute sense. I can only be subjective here.
    I believe that the heavily worked Nakayama slurry is finer than any stone I own - so far as grit is concerned. The Nakayama feels about as fine to the touch as either Ark - but the slurry, when worked, seems much finer. I believe this to be true across the board for all of the Jnat slurry I've experienced - except for the Aoto and the Amakusa.

    Sharpness - this is a conundrum. I honestly believe the sharpest edge (from a stone or paste) I've produced so far came off of my Nakayama Asagi. Now - this is not to say it was the best edge, just the sharpest. I'll also say we're talking about an extremely marginal increase in sharpness over what I remember to be the previously sharpest edge I produced, and that came off the black Ark.
    What I think - as I continue to hone, I get better. So do the edges. I usually hit a plateu of 'sharper' first and then I learn to mellow it out afterwards. So - because I haven't used the Arks in a while - I think that if I go back to them now, I'd raise the bar there too. I have too many new Jnats here right now so it will be a while before that happens though. Right now - I think I'm in the ballpark of consistently equalling the edges I get from the Arks - edges where that fine line of extreme sharpness and skin-comfort lives. I spent 10 hours honing on Jnats yesterday, maybe 5 hours on Friday - I'm starting to really get the hang of those stones now.

    One thing I'd like to note - even the softer Jnats put up fantastic edges. Equal to or perhaps even better than what I get from that hard Nakayama, depending on what variables are in the mix. I'm not sold on harder/finer being the great answer to all things Jnat. Harder is harder - and it's harder to hone on. I've done an edge on my Kita that is simply to die for and I don't know that I'll ever be able to equal that edge with the Nakayama.

    You're right about lapping the Arks - for razor honing I doubt I'll ever have to re-lap them. Same for my Nakayama though, that thing is just ridiculously hard. The other Jnats may need a refreshing more often.
    Last edited by Gamma; 03-05-2012 at 04:42 AM.
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  13. #29
    Senior Member eleblu05's Avatar
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    flatten them once in a life time if your only sharpening straight razors on them. Wow gamma your surgical black is beautiful .
    The only question that comes to mind is how does one hone with no arm's because those stone's had to cost an arm (or two)and a leg
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  14. #30
    Senior Member Gamma's Avatar
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    Well, they didn't break the bank, but they did cost a little bit of coin.

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