03/17/2008 Fast and Fun!!
|I own pretty much almost every type of sharpening stone out there. Some I have because I actually use them in a regular way, some I have because I needed to evaluate the stones for possible sale, and some, of course, because we stock a pretty big range of stones. |
At work I seem to be using our new Superstones more and more, primarily because they don't need to be soaked and consequently don't require any waiting around before use. Popular Woodworking just gave us a nice review and I think Chris's comments are pretty on the money.
The "not soaking" part is very convenient. It takes away the planning stage of sharpening. Also, soft stones don't glaze and cut pretty consistently. In general I just love the feel of the stone. That's one of the features that Naniwa is very proud of. Because the stones are so soft, they flatten very quickly. They also work well on A2 and D2, which is important.
I also use my Norton stones a lot, but I think the Norton is like a Cadillac - solid, powerful, reliable, consistent. The Superstones are like a Ferrari, fast and fun.
One tip you may find useful: flat stones are important, especially when you work the back and an iron. With typical use, waterstones go hollow in the middle. For a change of pace, I sometimes work the backs of irons by going on a short stoke from side to side along the ends of the stone (as opposed to going from end to end, as is usually done). The ends of the stone normally get very little usage, so they are usually flat even if the stone itself is a little hollow. When I work the ends, it evens out the wear on the stone and I flatten less. There is that trade-off of the shorter stoke, but unless the back is really bad, it's not a big deal. And of course when I do the bevel, only a little bit of blade contacts the stone so even if the stone is a touch hollow it's not a big deal - as it follows the hollow. I am not advocating hollow stones; I'm simply saying that by evenly using the stones you can be a little less compulsive about flattening them constantly.
Note: after I wrote this, I realized that if you sharpen free-hand, the normal pressure on the bevel will keep the edge in contact with the stone - even if the stone is hollow and you have several stones with different hollows. If you sharpen with a jig, that's not always the case. Different stones with different hollows may not contact at the edge you're sharpening (they won't, actually, if the finer stone has less hollow, which is usually the case). It's another reason to sharpen free-hand. But even if you don't sharpen free-hand, using the end of the stones for the backs will even out wear and reduce the number of flattenings you have to do.
BTW the photo shows me flattening a bunch of Superstones using sandpaper and glass. I normally use the Norton Flattening Plate (which I helped design and use all the time) to flatten all but the 12k and sometimes 8K stones, but that day the glass and sandpaper happened to be closer at hand.
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