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oil vs water stones

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  • oil vs water stones

    How does one tell the difference between an oilstone and a waterstone?

    It seems like a silly question but is there a way to identify which a stone was intended for? does it matter if the same stone is used with oil and water? I have used both on my old stone and always wondered if I should or shouldn't do that.

    I just bought an old used one at a g-sale already mounted in a board and reasonably flat. I am curious what to use. it looks like the guy that had it before cleaned it off after every use and I don't think I have been so careful with my old ones.

    anyone care to share why they prefer one over the other? I seem to recall buying a new one years ago and I think it was labeled on the package as a waterstone. of course the packaging is gone now.

    “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” -Bertrand Russell

  • #2

    Re: oil vs water stones

    Re: oil vs water stones

    hi phil

    ....the one thing I know and is repeatedly stated on the woodworking forums is not to use oil on waterstones......I'm not sure why but it may be because the binding agent on artificial oil and waterstones is different and presumeably the oil is either damaging to the binding agent in artificial waterstones or retards new, sharper abrasive particles from being uncovered as you sharpen.....

    ... but you can use water as a lubricant on oil stones as well as various kinds of oil....

    "how to tell the difference between oil and water stones?"
    .... perhaps by a difference in their rate of wear:
    I recently tried to flatten a few known artificial oil stones that had gone out of flat from kitchen knife sharpening over the years and noticed how much more difficult/time consuming it was to return them to flatness than waterstones; even with 50 or 80 grit sandpaper on a belt sanding machine, the oilstones were much more resistant to flattening and would also develop a 'shiny' glaze; this is in contrast to the waterstones that would readily return to flatness with handrubbing on sandpaper of 100 or higher grit stuck on a flat granite or marble surface.......
    ... the one exception to waterstones being "softer" that I know of are ceramic stones (Shapton, Spyderco) which are extremely hard; they are pricey and you can distinguish them from other sharpening stones by their smaller size, typically being 1/2" or less in thickness...

    ...I understand that soft boiling of oil impregnated oil stones can remove some of oil; I've tried this and it works to some extent....

    ....I've gravitated to artificial and natural Japanese waterstones in woodworking over the years because of the wide range of grits and their availability in Canada (thru Lee Valley) and have removed the oil stones from the workshop to eliminate the risk of contaminating the waterstones with oil.....

    good luck



    • #3

      Re: oil vs water stones

      Re: oil vs water stones

      When you acquire a used stone, the best way to tell if it's a waterstone or oilstone is to put a few drops on water on it. If it soaks in, it's a waterstone. If it beads up, it's an oilstone. I know that's a big generalization, but it mostly works.

      As far as preference goes, I don't really have one. I use a combination of diamond stones, waterstones, oilstones, Scary Sharp (tm), and leather strops. Usually whatever happens to be on top of the sharpening pile at the time. Also depends on how the steel reacts. Sometimes you try one abrasive, and it's too slow, so you try another one.

      who recently got a hard felt wheel (BD gift) so I have another option now...
      Wood Hoarder, Blade Sharpener, and Occasional Tool User