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Norton Crystalon. – Norton India

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by sm, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. sm

    sm member

    Norton Crystalon. – Norton India

    A number of folks are new to sharpening and have questions.
    While this has been addressed before, and there are other forums more specific to knives, edged tools and sharpening, it still seems correct to be courteous to these folks and assist.

    Just being neighborly – as they say…

    Norton is here:

    Crystalon is Norton’s name for their Silicon Carbide stone.
    Most popular is the coarse/fine combo, like their JM8.
    You have seen this stone most likely, and it is a blue/black coarse, with a real dark gray fine side - looking stone.

    India, is Norton’s name for their Aluminum Oxide stone.
    Most popular is the coarse /fine combo , like their IB6 and IB8
    This one has the coarse blue/black with the orange-ish /brown fine.

    Now I was asked personally which stone I recommend, and have shared more than once recently the Norton India coarse/fine combination stone and I happen to like the IB6 .
    This one is six inches long. IB8 is a fine stone, and it is 8” long and one can get bigger stones.

    Just for new folks learning, price points, budgets , etc, the IB6 is a nice stone, it will last a long time, and it will handle the sharpening needs most folks have.

    Yes, like the same stone in a smaller 3” size for a pocket stone.

    Re: Crystalon.

    Yes I use it too.
    So do others around here.
    Deal is, I and others around here do not want to confuse folks, and really, there is no need to get wrapped around the axle on all this.

    I and others just want folks to get comfortable with correct basic fundamentals, and be able to sharpen freehand, wherever they may be.

    Sharpening for task is the key.
    Hence the reason I suggested some folks get a Old Hickory paring knife, made of 1095 Carbon Steel , for around $5, from the local Mom & Pop Hardware Store.

    You will get skills and have a knife that will work if a serious situation comes into your life.

    I’ll address Crystalon a bit more later as I want to assure those that have one, or went and bought one, they did not mess up.

  2. Brian Dale

    Brian Dale Well-Known Member

    Thanks. I have a shoe box in the basement that's full of the old stones that my Dad accumulated. Some of them look very good, but I've known nothing about which kind was what. I picked out two of them a few years ago that I use now. One's kinda medium and the other's finer. Until now, I'd always used honing oil on them.

    Time to go outside and build a fire, once it warms up a bit (it's fifteen below right now).

    I'll pull out that box again and look through it some more while I look back through the stuff that you've put up in these sharpening threads. I've been reading them; I'm still soaking up what you've put into them.

    How is this at all related to your topic? Well, I have the IB8 or IB6 and a 630 on my "I might need to Buy" list. If need be, once I go through the old stones, I'll pick up one or the other size Norton after I see what I've got in that shoe box.

    In short (I know—almost nothing I write is short), you've given me a way to figure out how to handle a whetstone collection of my Dad's that I've had no idea how to use, until now.

    So thanks.
  3. sm

    sm member

    Burn at your own risk please!

    If these stones are sentimental, I would wait, even suggest not burning them.
    I am not sentimental, just sentimental is all.

    Some stones are really neat!
    Some are not made anymore and I'd hate to see /hear a stone got messed up.

    Stones, are collectible, still to me some of the history of these stones is fascinating, even a no-name hardware stone, bought for 50 cents back in the day has the history of what it was used for.

    It may have accompanied someone to America and they became citizens.
    It may have come from some street vendor in a far away place and carried throughout a war.

    Heck even a inexpensive stone that came with a inexpensive knife - but that knife some kid really wanted and it was bought with Green Stamps is special.


    I did not forget, just had some emails to attend to...
  4. Brian Dale

    Brian Dale Well-Known Member

    Then I'll wait until I figure out what they are. I'll carefully look over and research the two that I use before I burn anything. I don't plan to do anything to the rest of the stones.

    And everything I do is at my own risk. ;)

    Again, thanks.
  5. eliphalet

    eliphalet Well-Known Member

    This thread has my curiosity up.

    Has me looking through my box of old knives and stones.

    One in particular interests me.

    It is natural stone I feel sure, is 4 /12 x 2 x 1/2, a dark reddish brown, so smooth is feels like your running the blade over glass as you attempt to use it.

    Used on razor's perhaps? Far to slick and smooth for a knife blade, or so it seems to me.

    Where can more information on old stones be found? I wasn't very successful looking online.

    I will find the India/crystolon info interesting.
  6. sm

    sm member


    Coarse Crystalon
    is for fast cutting; which is great for repairing chipped, nicked, and damaged edges.
    This grit alone will really cut rope, and work fine for many machete needs.

    Fine Crystalon is also for fast cutting edges, edges not as badly chipped, nicked and damaged.
    So this stone finishes out the edge the coarser one started; just the normal progression of sharpening.

    Folks use these on axes, machetes, lawnmower blades and even a butcher knife used hard for property tasks.

    Popular is a round version of this called a “puck” , about 4” or so in diameter. It seems Norton has changed some offering over the years, but some were “domed” on one side. Idea being to set the stone on flat side, and hold a axe or hatchet and take to the stone ("dome side") doing a circular motion.

    Some also had a “angle” on the side and this worked to get lawnmower blades, axe and hatches, machetes, and the like.

    That said, these stones will do a pocket knife,

    Here is the deal, from my experience and observations.

    Let the stone do the work.

    I often suspect, or know for a fact , some knives develop blade play from folks bearing down and exerting pressure onto a stone in sharpening.

    Don’t do that, please.

    An axe, hatchet , lawnmower blade , even a machete is one thing, I mean “getting it like you mean it “ on these is one thing. Still not really needed, just is seems everyone gets in a hurry, and that often means more time to fix what hurry screwed up.

    Sharpening should be more “I gotta do this, might as well let it be therapy and fun”.
    I mean down on The Back 40 on a hot summer day, staying the shade is not a bad thing.
    Winter time and staying in the truck with the heater on is not either…

    I am over 50, I am in no hurry to get back out in the sun or freeze my butt off in the cold…

    Let the tool do the work, in this case the stone.
    If the edge is dull, or nick, or damaged start coarse, and then progress to fine.

    Now on any stone, Norton Crystalon, India, Arkansas or some inexpensive import no name here is the tip:

    One is going to use “some” pressures, still letting the stone do the work. This just takes doing to develop a “feel”. Normal with anything we do.

    Just use lighter and lighter and less and less pressure as you go along. This is sorta like going to a finer grit, with the same grit stone.

    Just like one does with a emery board doing finger nails.

    Jamaica I have been to numerous times. First time down ,I met this really neat older fella that did the grounds for a resort and he and I hit it off.
    His machete, carbon steel and he knew how to use it.
    He had a pocket stone, about 3” in diameter, with two grits, flat on both sides.
    It looked like, felt similar to a Crystalon.
    He would touch up that machete by hand, and then his trick was taking some cardboard, wrapped around a Red Stripe beer bottle, and “strop” the edge.

    Now his personal machete was his.
    I did assist on some machetes and knives kept in the tool room with the same stones.
    For the sake of science and critical information gathering, he and I did a control test as to whether a full bottle or empty bottle of Red Stripe with cardboard wrapped around it was best for stropping….
  7. sm

    sm member

    I am not real sure where I got this chart.
    I think it was from Steve Bottorff 's site some years ago...

    Type of Stone Sandpaper (US) Water Stone Microns (Diamond)

    Coarse Crystolon 120 N/A 127
    Coarse India 135 N/A 97
    Medium Crystolon 180 N/A 78
    Medium India 240 N/A 53.5
    Fine Crystolon 280 N/A 45
    Fine India 340 400 35
    Wa****a 340 400 35
    Extra Fine India 450 600 22
    Soft Arkansas 450 600 22
    Hard White Arkansas 1200 1200 11
    Hard Black Arkansas 2000 4000 6
    Hard Translucent Arkansas 2000 4000 6
    Honing compound N/A 15000 0.5
  8. Brian Dale

    Brian Dale Well-Known Member

    Looks like the SpellingNanny doesn't like that it's not spelled Ouachita any more. :)

    {List copied to print out and have on the table while headscratching and sorting stones}
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2008
  9. sm

    sm member

    Yeah we know how NannyStates are...

    Again, I am not against newer sharpening systems.
    I am not against Norton Water stones, nor Japanese, or Chinese water stones.

    May newer folks are interested in how to free hand sharpen knives and other tools one might need for everyday use, and in serious situations.

    Katrina brought some needed skill sets to folks minds.
    Recent tornadoes have as well.
    No power, and who knows if the only stone is one in a truck, found in debris, or put in a underground storm shelter is all you have to use.

    Hiking, camping , canoing, and other activities folks do, and being able to keep tools sharp is the goal.

    This is not about winning a sharp knife contest.
    The folks that do these contests will share they do this as a test of abilities and for that test.
    They are not going to sharpen a knife to that type of an edge for a survival situation, not even for everyday use.

    Sharp for task is the key.
  10. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    I have used Crystalon stones for decades. The stones don't last decades, but I have used them for decades. I have also used India stones.

    Crystalon stones are aggressive media and remove material fast. Maybe because I wobble too much, but often I can put a better edge on with these aggressive stones than the India.

    However, Crystalon stone dish out quickly. When a stone is worn to a slight curve shape, you will have trouble getting a good edge. I have taken dished Crystalon stones and ground them flat on concrete sidewalks. This gives them a longer service life. I wish I knew a better way to grind them flat, but these things are hard.

    The India stones work very well and last longer. In fact I have never worn out an India stone. I have medium, fine, and a ultra fine India stone. The ultra fine is comparable to the hardest hard Arkansas stone I have ever owned.

    I don't like natural stones. Too many wash i ta stones have hard spots. You end up with these small areas of the stone that are hard, don't wear down consistently and cause edge problems.

    I have a couple of the absolute best Arkansas stones ever to come out of a quarry: The A.G. Russell Arkansas stones. Mr. Russell used natural stone of a very consistent quality: his stones are same grit and same hardness all the way across. He told me that he wished he had kept all the tons of discard rock. I suspect they still would have made decent stones.

    Still, even the medium A.G Russell stones do not cut as fast as a Norton Crystalon or India stone. So I use those.


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