Silicone Carbide whetstones on the other hand, are the fastest cutting of the three types of oil stones and the stones made by Norton are called Crystolon Stones. Also they too are graded as either fine, medium, or coarse stones depending on their grit. But, although these stones will not produce an edge as fine as Arkansas Oil Stones or India Oil Stones, their fast cutting ability makes them ideal for sharpening tools as well as for cutting the initial edge bevel on extremely dull knives or repairing the edge on damaged blades. Last, because they sharpen so quickly, it a common practice to start with a coarse Crystolon Oil Stone and then progress to either a medium or fine India Oil Stone and then to finish with an Arkansas Oil Stone.
An important but often confusing area of sharpening is knowing when you're done with one stone and ready for the next finer grit. On coarse stones it is very easy. When you sharpen one side you will notice a burr forming on the opposite side of the edge. This burr is hard to see but is easy to feel. Very carefully feel for the burr by gently running your hand from the spine to the edge. (Do not run your finger along the knife edge from heel to tip, that's only asking for trouble!) A burr is formed when your stone removes material directly at the edge. The burr will move from one side of your knife to another as you alternate sharpening sides. Make sure you have felt the burr jump between both sides before you move on to the next finer stone. That will ensure that you have sharpened both sides effectively. The finer grits are done the same way but the burr is much smaller. On the finest grits you may not be able to notice the burr at all. Testing the knife sharpness will tell you when you're done. (Learn how you can test to see if your knife is sharp.)
Our large selection of stones from many well-known manufacturers will allow connoisseurs to find the ideal stone for their needs. Because all manufacturers formulate their stones to emphasize a different mix of qualities, and because these qualities can vary widely between different stones, most woodworkers choose stones from several manufacturers to build up an optimal set of sharpening stones. Then again, once you get to know the characteristics of certain types of stone, you may find one supplier who will provide all the stones you need. Sometimes this can be an advantage. But there is no one size that fits all; each stone must fit your needs and work style.
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