With durable abrasive particles linked with high-strength bonds, these traditional Arkansas oil stones cut at moderate speed. They also wear slowly, requiring only periodic lapping to expose fresh abrasive particles as much as to restore flatness. Cut from flawless natural novaculite in Pearcy, Arkansas, the stones are described in "grades" rather than grits, since the size of the particles ranges consistently from about 3µ to 5µ. The difference between grades is a matter of particle density; the more tightly packed they are, the finer the abrasive action.
The grades progress from soft (medium), for initially working the bevel, to hard (fine) as an intermediate grade, and then to either a hard black or a translucent stone (both extra-fine) for a final polish. We find that a soft stone followed by a hard black stone is an effective combination. Our tests also revealed little difference between the hard black and translucent stones in wear, speed or finish. For all, a light mineral oil works best to keep metal particles from glazing the stone.
The 8" × 2" × 1/2" stones are available in all grades. The 8" × 3" × 1/2" stones, useful when sharpening wide blades with a honing guide, are available in all grades but the translucent. Each stone comes in a fitted wooden box.