Where can I get a GOOD whetstone?


February 19, 2008, 11:49 AM
I want to get a small pocket whetstone, but I have been told that too many of the ones on the market today are not well made. Any recommendations from those who have used a particular whetstone (and honing block too, for that matter)?


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February 19, 2008, 11:57 AM
Smith's Arkansas stones are the gold standard in natural stones.

Norton Abrasives makes probably the best quality synthetic stones.


February 19, 2008, 12:46 PM
Really? I didn't know that Smith's was a good brand. I have a little 10$ 4" Arkansas stone that I bought several years ago for no reason. Is that one any good?

February 19, 2008, 12:56 PM
is correct to a point.

Smith is goofing up with these hybrid stones.

Norton has the better Arkansas Stones and grades these using specific gravity.

Case for instance has the better grades, and I suspect Norton is the supplier to Case for the Arkansas stones seen with Case Displays.

Seriously, there is that much of a difference!

Let me pull up what I highly recommend and use.

Just a note, back when I apprenticed, there were no such things as Dremel tools.
One had to learn to do everything by hand, even though we had Foredom Flexshafts, and a buffing machine.

We used tool steel, carbon steels for hand tools, and these had to be sharpened by hand, as they don't make a jig to sharpen these.
I am going way back...

Norton was the primary stone.
We had Arkansas, British, German, Scottish Tablets, Ruby, Sapphire, Diamond, Razor hones and all sorts of things.

I mean we sharpened tools that were used around expensive items.
For fun, we sharpened tool and carbon steels , heat treated to cut and whittle on stainless...*snicker*.
Something about whittling on a SAK with a "danged old carbon /tool steel knife".

February 19, 2008, 01:24 PM
I had read some years ago that the stone quarries in Arkansas are rapidly running out of the very high grade novaculite used for Hard Arkansas & *Wash ita sharpening stones.
(*Language Nanny got me on that one!)

If that is true, perhaps Smith's see the handwriting on the wall and is looking for a way to continue to provide a product in the future.


February 19, 2008, 01:30 PM
Yep, finite resource.

Japanese water stones are an alternative, but very expensive.

February 19, 2008, 01:39 PM
My personal preferences:

Norton IB6.
Combination coarse/fine India oilstone
·Measures 6-1/8" x 2" x 1"

Smokey Mtn Knife Works has good pics.
Sharpening>type in Norton> look for the numbers I give.

Norton 630
·Combination coarse/fine stone
·Measures 3" x 1-1/2" x 1/2".
Same stone, just smaller. This is the stone I have used from Canada to Jamaica.

I grew up with these stones, literally. I was born in '55, and these stones hav always been in my life. These were given to me at birth.
This one stone, will sharpen anything, and has for me.
I use these stone dry no oil, no water.

Seriously, this Norton India coarse/fine is the only stone one really needs.
If were to only have one oil stone, this is the stone to have.

That said, If you can find the Norton Extra fine, that is a nice find.


Case 902
Natural hard (novaculite) oilstone
·Plastic storage case
·Measures; 2-7/8" x 1-1/8" x 1/4"


This is another that has gone from Canada to Jamaica.

I personally use the Norton 630, and the 902, these two stones are all I need and use.

Case makes one other stone:

Natural Soft Oilstone. Storage/Carrying Case. 5 7/8" x 1 1/8" x 1/4" Stone colors vary as this is a natural stone.

Case made a Moonstone, this is a very unique stone, and I wish I had mine.
I have/had special sharpening needs.

Surgical black was for gold testing and assaying, and sharpening surgical and precison instruments.
Moonstone was used for some similar applications.

Back in the day, we had access to Ark stones - free.
Even so, the only stones we really used were the Norton, Case Stones, and some hand picked stones from the Quarries and finishers out of Hot Springs.
Our people went to Hot Springs to hand select the hard black, and other needs.

I've watched hand engravers, doing intricate work on guns, gold, reverse engraving on signet rings with family crests...
I've watched a person do brightcut work with dias, pave' work with diamonds and set a stone worth $250,000.

That carbon steel, tool steel tool, had better be sharp!
One little slip and things are de-valued right fast!

I know what tools they used, never stainless, and always a Norton Stone was the primary stone.

Might explain why I don't care for stainless and goopy sharpening systems...


February 19, 2008, 01:42 PM
I like how when you are looking at the stones and scroll down to the bottom of the page, it has other items you might like and brings up Christmas blend coffee.

February 19, 2008, 02:11 PM

Yeah I don't think the coffee sold real well , it does seem they have some left over doesn't it" *LOL*

My theory is, that coffee is going to be the free gift SMKW offers in the near future.

"Gee Bob, here it is June, and we still have Xmas coffee"

"Well maybe we can give it away and folks can give to Aunt Martha when they do Xmas in July"

Sorry, just that and some other stuff - just never really seems to go over well for anyone.

"My family is sooo sweet to me, I received Xmas blend coffee, fruit cake and Britney Spears posters from my family during the Xmas in July family gathering in Miami" - Aunt Martha


February 19, 2008, 04:29 PM
Best portable sharpening system I know of:


The thicker ones (black and red) will restore even damaged blades, work your way down and the 1000 grit (yellow one) will give your blade an edge like nothing I have ever seen a wet stone or Arkansas stone make. They are also ceramic stones, which have a much longer service life then wet stones or Arkansas stones.
There may be better systems out there but I don't know of them. My only complaint is that the glue that holds the stones in their handles is not the best so I take them all out, remove the glue and reset them using jb weld and never had any problems with the stones coming loose since.

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