February 19, 2008, 12:52 PM
I just pulled out my old Arkansas stone that I had forgotten years ago after reading a thread claiming that they are good. The problem is that I don't know much about sharpening so I need to ask a question. I read somewhere about oiling the stones before you use them. Is that necessary? I figured that water might do the same thing so I dipped my stone in water and sharpened my knife. It is now as sharp as it was fresh out of the box after a year of frequent use. Will getting some oil and oiling the stone allow me to get it even sharper?

BTW, I know about the sharpening FAQ but it wont open when I click on the link.

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February 19, 2008, 01:06 PM
Question #2. What is Stroping and how do you do it?

February 19, 2008, 01:37 PM
Odd, Joe's FAQ opens for me.

Oil allows metal shavings to "float" off the stone preventing the stone from becoming clogged (metal embedded in the surface reducing the exposed stone). You can rub a cleaning stone across the surface of a clogged stone to abrade the surface while keeping it flat or you can just try to prevent it getting clogged.

If you use water, dip you stone frequently while sharpening.

Stropping in when you draw the blade from spine to edge on a flexible surface to strip the bits or rolled edge off. SM likes cardboard for it's practicality (nearly ubiquitous these days and free) while others like leather or linen. Old time farmers and construction workers and blacksmiths could strop on their leathery hands.

February 19, 2008, 02:06 PM
Rebel here *grin* my ears were burning....

I use Norton India and Case Arkansas stones dry, no oil or water.

That said-
I use stones I know, that have never had oil on them.
I am very cautious with my stones, as I do not want any oil around or near them.

If a stone ever has been used with oil, I have no choice but to use oil,and sometimes I can get by with water.
Like being somewhere and their stones are used with oil.

Ironic is how we in the States use oil and everyone else in the world seems to use water - if they lubricate a stone at all.

If I get a good used Norton, I will put it in where fire will be make, make a fire, and let it be until the fire dies.

If one has never truly sharpened with a clean stone dry, they have not experienced a great stone to sharpen with, and the results.

Ark, I let soak in soapy water and actually boil out the oil.

Re: Cardboard.
Cardboard is clay and dirt.

That is why it dulls knives as it does - plus the heat generated by cutting it, affects the edge.
Cardboard is tough on a edge, so is paper.
That is why nice scissors a seamstress uses will never cut paper.

Flip side to everything, and like Nuclear can be bombs or medicine, cardboard can be used for sharpening, inmates in a prison use a concrete floor for initial sharpening and the final polish cardboard.
*its twue*

Cardboard is free, cheap and easy. I mean use the legal pad dry and a few strokes will keep an edge up.

Newspaper, Magazines same deal.

hso knows me and the where's and why's of my "rebel ways"...*snicker*

Denimn is a great fabric to strop on, so wearing jeans and stropping works.

Genuine Chamois is great!

My deal is, I want to be free, not restrictive in being able to sharpen freehand and no matter if in the comforts of knife shop , or in the middle of who-knows-where and all I have is what I have .

Log with the bark off , moist , heck even wet, toss some dirt on the log and it will sharpen the knife.
Strop on the smooth hard bare log.

Find the gezzers out front of the Courthouse Whittlin'.
Best to show up with a Case with CV blades or old carbon steel Shrade, Camillus and "Hey guys, I don't know come here from sic 'em, but I really would appreciate learning from you".

I assure you, these old geezers will be right happy to share, pass on and show one how to freehand sharpen.

Not to mention, these are some really neat folks to get to know anyway!

February 19, 2008, 02:31 PM
So, if the stone has been oiled then you have to continue with oil. Same doesn't go for water right?

February 19, 2008, 02:45 PM
My sharpening preferences are a Medium India and Hard Arkansas stones nesteled in a cradle that can be clamped in a vise.
I use Norton Honing Oil when sharpening.
For that extra special "scary" edge, I strop, using an old belt that has been glued and trimed to fit about a 15" long board.

Navy joe
February 19, 2008, 03:43 PM
Sm, do you clean your dry stone or just let it be? My favorite odd sharpener is the bottom of a coffee cup on the unglazed ceramic ring. Find one with a fine texture. I always have one, sometimes it even has coffee in it when I turn it over to sharpen... Strop on cardboard too, also the side of my leather boot, back of a knife sheath, jeans. I really do want to get a barber strop for my shop though.

February 19, 2008, 04:06 PM
A swordmaster told me that he uses warn out 800grit sanding belts and covers them in jewelers rouge for his final sharpening. I don't have any 800 grit belts and they are expensive so I put 1200 grit discs on the disc sander on the same machine and use jewelers rouge and it gives a better sharpening then anything else. If you are not willing to go to that extreme, a 1000 grit ceramic stone followed by a leather pallet will give you an edge you can literally shave with.
I don't know about oiling Arkansas stones but just a dab of Remington oil works just fine on 1000 grit ceramics.

February 19, 2008, 04:32 PM

Are we related somehow? *smirk* We sure seem to be on the same page on a lot of this knife stuff.

Navy joe,
I just wipe off with a clean paper towel or cloth as I sharpen.
Eventually, I will use Bon-Ami and a old toothbrush to scrub an rinse with hot water and let the Norton dry.

Comet, Ajax, any will work, just I do not do well with cholorine, so I try not to use it at all.

Now, I prefer CV or carbon steel, and this sounds nuts, but I can feel the difference of these and say a Buck knife with its stainless steel.

I have noted over the years, the Stones do not clog up as bad when I sharpen CV, or 1095 Carbon , or 1075 Carbon used on Opinels as when used with stainless steels.

So, if I can, I will have a stone for CV /Carbon and another for Stainless.

Stainless is "stringy" or "sticky" - hard to describe. So if I have two knives to sharpen, and only one stone, I prefer to sharpen the CV/Carbon first, with smaller molecular structure , and then the stainless blade with its larger make up.

I know this sounds dumb, but I can feel it, and have looked under magnifications and microscope.

Tip: Do not look under a microscope with your "really sharp knife" - It will not look that dang sharp under a microscope"


February 19, 2008, 04:38 PM

Here is my take on this and applies to other stuff I get razzed about.

I really want folks to be able to sharpen a knife, anywhere they are, to stay safe, secure, comfortable and all that.

It may be just be at home in the back yard, or out camping, hiking, fishing, or hunting.
Maybe in a hotel room , condo for a week in FL and needing to touch up the SAK they have in a shaving kit.

In a real serious situation, the skill to sharpen a knife is real. Making Shelter, Fire making, cleaning game and fish and so much more.

I do not have anything against modern steels, or modern sharpening methods, just I am just one that really really wants folks to be able to take a small stone, to sharpen a knife, to be safe.

Dumb, goopy, sentimental , sappy, old fashioned as that sounds, I mean it.

February 19, 2008, 04:59 PM
That is what I am trying to do. The stone I am using is a Smith's 4" Arkansas stone. It is small enough to drop into the car or luggage without ever noticing it. Hell, if I have to I could stick it in my pocket and never notice that it was there. I don't want to spend a ton of money buying expensive stones or especially the electric ones when I can get the job done with my 5 dollar stone that I can keep in my car with the small fixed blade and leatherman in the glove compartment.

February 19, 2008, 05:08 PM

With kids, I take a Popsicle stick and smooth pc of wood.
Safety, with correct basics.

Sometimes I will apply a crayon, or dry erase marker ( non tox) to the "edge" and just practicing what they are to do. The mark will come off, and one can see what the are "removing".

Get a Old Hickory Paring knife for $4 or less at the hardware store. This is a 1095 Carbon steel blade.

Magnification, and 10x is great, still even a 5x hand held magnifying glass or inexpensive Harbor Freight "head" magnifier. This is like the Opti-Visor brand that sells for more money but HB has one for like $6 that you were like a ball cap and just bring the lens down (brim) to see, and raise when you don't need.
Handy for guns all too.

You have a stone, I usually suggest a Norton India combo coarse fine, it is not that big of a deal.

Sharpie Marker.

Now look at the Old Hickory edge real good, under magnification.
Put this knife down onto a old magazine and raise the back (spine) up so when you push the edge, it sticks.

Take note of that angle.

If you lower the spine, the knife might not "stick", nor might it if you raise spine too high"

Piddle with this, heck get a protractor if you want to measure, not needed still a neat educational bit.

Point being, there is a angle the metal is removed and where that metal is being removed.

Now take the sharpie marker and mark the edge.
This is going to sound really dumb, still it works...
Cardboard, just a nice flat, smooth piece and go slow, not much pressure pretend this cardboard is the stone.

Let the "stone" do the work, light pressure at this point to just hold and control the knife.

That cardboard, will remove the marker, and you can see where you are removing the marker.

All we are doing is getting the hang of this, not having to worry about actually sharpening, or "messing up" a nice knife and for sure a $4 knife".

Folks get the hang of this and then repeat with the stone.

With the stone, the deal is to get a burr raised on one side, from tang to tip.

This means that edge is sharp, from tang to tip.
Do the other side until it to raises a burr, now the edge is congruent from tang to tip...

This is where folks get frustrated - don't.

Just light pressure to remove the second burr, and flip flop ever so light, on both sides.

Wire edge refers to thinking a knife is sharp, but it not, as folks feel that burr and the first time something is cut, the burr messes up, and the knife is dull.

Flip flop...lightly.

Then using only the weight of blade...pull the spine, stropping, one side then the other. You don't need compounds just keep it simple to get the basics.

That OH steel is easy to sharpen and learn on. It will get real sharp! Stay that way, and only need a light touch up, depending on use.



February 19, 2008, 05:21 PM
Ok, thanks.

February 19, 2008, 05:22 PM
Is that Smith's 4" a new stone that came with a black nylon sheath?
(MPL4 or similar number).

If it is, that stone is not the same stone that AR/Smiths used to be.
It is what I am others are calling "hybrid" as it is a mixture.

We are not having any good results with that stone. Let me /us know.

I /we want you and others to learn, and IME that stone is not a good one, will frustrate and impede getting the correct basics.

I don't want you to spend a lot of money either,and you do not have to, to get a nice stone, that will last.

Advise please.


February 19, 2008, 05:25 PM
It did come with a black nylon sheath but it is at least 6-7 years old. If that isn't any good please let me no so I can dump it and get a differrent one. It seems to have gotten my Buck 290 pretty damn sharp but I may not be the best judge of that.

February 19, 2008, 05:30 PM
6- 7 years ago you should be fine.

Keep it.

Some of these new ones are funky! They look "processed" to give a marbled stone look and are "slick", I mean they look like tile for the bathroom finished...


Norton IB6 is like $10 from SMKW and they were doing free shipping.
Everyone should have that stone.

February 19, 2008, 05:31 PM
I will probably end up ordering one of those Norton stones that you recomend. I looked at them a while ago and they aren't very expensive so it might just be worth the 20$ or whatever to get one of those.

February 19, 2008, 05:34 PM
Another great thread. I need to get me some stones and get busy with this learnin' bit.

February 19, 2008, 05:36 PM
SMKW has 5 different Norton stones. The 6" and 8" Crystolon Pike Stones. The 6" and 8" India Oil Stones and the Sportsman Stone Combo Grit. You have been recomending the India Oil Stone right? Also, Just to clarify, I wouldn't actally need to oil the India Oil Stone correct.

February 19, 2008, 06:18 PM
Norton India, coarse /fine IB6 (6")
Norton India coarse/fine "Sportsmans Combo, NT630 ( 3")

IB8 is a 8" stone just like the IB6. Great stone, and if one is going to be using on planer blades (wood working) or really big knives, get this one.

Just the IB6 is just a great general purpose 6" stone.

February 19, 2008, 06:27 PM
Ok, I might have to order that.

February 19, 2008, 07:00 PM

February 19, 2008, 07:16 PM
If it is OK I have a question for you.
You state,
If I get a good used Norton, I will put it in where fire will be make, make a fire, and let it be until the fire dies.
I have two Norton stones I use here at home, both are the longer 11 1/2 inchers, a fine and a medium. The fine stone I bought new and is an India stone, the other I found used and is Crystolon. It's is filthy with old oil, has been the 20 or so years I have had it, gets your finger tips oily and black, but still works. I have tried to clean it with very hot soapy water but never thought of placing it in a fire.

Now, where I live we have no fireplace like when I grew up, so finally to my question.

I have not actually placed it in a pot and boiled it but will try, that failing,
If I place this stone in the BBQ amongest briquettes let them burn till gone, do you suppose this will be OK on the stone, and do you think this will work to clean it?

Water is all I have ever used for lube to sharpen things.

February 19, 2008, 07:30 PM
I have never done one with charcoal briquet's.

I have stunk up the house using the fireplace though *phew*

Do this at your own risk...

These stones have been known to break, being "fired" and most of the time it is because they heated up to fast and were cooled down too fast.

[Tossed into a fire already going and then yanked out and cool air hit them]

If the stone is sentimental - I suggest not messing with it, just me, still the sentimental value is worth more than the stone itself.
It is not worth taking a chance and messing up memories and all.

That said and at your own risk...
...put the stone where fire is going to be made (brushfire for example) start fire, and let burn out and get the stone out of the ashes.

Oh, these stones will shoot "flames" of oil, kerosene, wax, and whatever else lubed with over the years..."

Pretty Flames...


February 19, 2008, 08:10 PM

Good to hear about the Norton stone, that's the one I ordered with my Case Sodbuster Jr. CV blade.

Thanks for the great primer on knife sharpening, that's good info for newbie's like me.


Navy joe
February 20, 2008, 04:26 AM
sm, thanks for the stone info, doesn't sound odd at all. Every metal works different, I can pretty much tell what alloy and temper of aluminum I'm dealing with based on how it cuts. Steel is similar.

Another odd sharpener that works. Find an immersion type fish tank heater that has gone TU. Disassemble for ceramic core that nichrome wire runs around. Presto, 8" long or better ceramic sharpening rod with four sharpening surfaces.

February 20, 2008, 02:42 PM
Navy joe,

Everyone is familiar with something(s).
If one handles or works with something enough, they develop a feel , touch ,or taste if you will. Their senses are tuned for whatever it is.
Wood, fabric, and foods for example.

Ceramic as used in the old heaters work well too, the ones I am thinking of are the orange/brown color, much like a India stone.

Folks forget, folks have sharpened knives and other edged tools, for a long long time, and while advances have been made, some things are just the same old thing.

I just remember as a kid, folks would use emery paper to do edges. It might be a wood worker, and after doing the planer blade on a Stone, put that stone on a hard surface, even a glass window pane, and finish out with finer grits, to polish that edge.

It did not take much effort to curl wood with that sharpened edge.

I still remember how folks spoke while emery paper was nice, it was not ideal to take camping, or using on the back part of the property.
Also, "sharp" meant what "sharp" for a task.

That Norton India stone, combo coarse /fine will handle all one really needs.
Just less and less pressure as one get near finishing the edge is "akin" to using a finer grit stone.

Mentors showed me a hi-polished edge on a pocket knife, I mean shiny!
I just knew that knife was going to slice a tomato super easy and fast...It did not!

"Skin is elastic (stretches and gives) and one has to get past that, to cut the tomato."

I am standing on a kitchen chair to see this lesson mind you.

So he takes Norton India stone, small one, and I am thinking "oh no, he is going to mess up that shiny edge , and goof up big time!".

He used a few light strokes, and the edge was not shiny, under a magnifying glass I could even better...*frump* I liked how shiny that edge was against the patina...

That knife just zipped through that tomato so easy! I had my hand on his, and we were not using hardly any pressure.

Rope was another thing I was shown that day...

February 20, 2008, 03:16 PM
Also, "sharp" meant what "sharp" for a task.

That's what many don't get. It seems everyone wants a knife with a 8000 grit polished edge whether it's appropriate or not, and many times it's not.

There's a great story by Ed Fowler about taking some of his knives to the slaughterhouse to try out. He started on one end of the cow and another guy took one of his knives and started on the other end. They both cut into the hide toward each other and darn near cut each other's hand off as they zoomed by in the middle! They looked at each other and said "Too sharp"! and took some of the edge off of the knives before continuing.

There's a lower grit "toothy" edge that I like quite a bit and it's completely different from a high polished edge. Different kinds of sharp for sure!

February 20, 2008, 03:40 PM
On a pocket knife for everyday use, from office, to around the house, to outdoor use, most folks I sharpen , or assist, or they sharpen themselves with the Norton India, fine, and then strop.

This will handle cutting a tomato, cord, a box, and allow for whittling for instance.

On these new knives and some are in the learning process, that shiny is really neat against the patina.

So I will go to Case Hard Fine, then strop. Do the Patina, and strop that fine edge to really make it "pretty" or "neat". Some gals just say "pretty neat and cute" *smirk*

Now that edge is really sharp, and what most find out, is what I had mentioned,
After the edge is all nice and shiny, just a few light strokes on that Case Hard/Fine leave a very fine toothy edge.

Some will find a light stroke on the Norton India fine, is "toothier" and works better for them.

Get a old broom handle, the wood is hard. Folks think they have a sharp knife, until they try to whittle on that wood.
"Dull" the edge a bit, and it will whittle better.

Granted the steel and sharpening angle makes a difference.
My experience is, a CV or Carbon will allow a less inclusive angle than a "stainless" blade will.

Rope, will show one how sharp something is, or is not.

Seriously, one can sharpen with the Norton coarse side only, then strop that edge (giving a slight polish) and it will cut rope better.

Some of the fisherman just use a file, or coarse stone, strop on leather apron, and cut rope and fish and the edge retains longer...
But it cuts!

February 20, 2008, 04:13 PM
After the edge is all nice and shiny, just a few light strokes on that Case Hard/Fine leave a very fine toothy edge.

Seriously, one can sharpen with the Norton coarse side only, then strop that edge (giving a slight polish) and it will cut rope better.Boy, do I enjoy your posts SM.

Think of a knife edge as you would a saw blade only with much much finer teeth. A Hand saw to cut across the grain has much smaller teeth than one to cut with the grain, or a cut that can leave a rough edge will have larger teeth than a finish saw, same idea with a knife edge.
A better comparison might be a hacksaw's teeth for metal compared to a wood saw.
A knife to cut rope will work better with a rougher edge ie. larger teeth, than one for fine delicate work. Both can be very sharp just a different edge for different applications. I hope that is understood as I'm not the best at it.

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