Hand Tools Archive
The really hard stones on the fine end of the range are used just for working the tip of the edge.
The softer fine stones are generally for scratch removal and cosmetic sharpening (thus a lot of japanese knife fans like a fine but soft natural stone - that's part of where I got the name unicorn..
"hi, I heard you sell stones. I've been looking for a long time for a stone that has a soft feel but isn't too messy and brings the hagane up to a super bright polish, works fast and leaves a really really strong matte finish on the jigane".
OK, you're looking for unicorns. I sold stones to people like that by showing them (when I had a bunch of stones on hand) what was possible. want a super bright finish on the hagane, then the stone will be fine enough to start to polish the jigane a little bit. want a hazy jigane, then you'll have to put up with a tiny bit on the hagane - at least. want no scratches in the bevel at all? Then the stone needs to be soft enough to generate a slurry and have particles rolling at the same time so that no prominent scratches form.
Want a nice haze and a super keen edge? get a really hard stone that's really fine and if you have to tell yourself that you're not putting a microbevel on because it's forbidden in japanese dogma. Let's just say you're "using it for about 10 strokes to chase the burr instead at a slightly higher angle than the rest of the edge, and leaving it really tiny so that it can't be seen easily. the knife edge will hold up better that way, anyway, and someone will have to look closely to see it".
Sounds like the unicorn. There's no unicorn stones, but there are unicorn methods.
Sorry for the tangent! the harder stones always cut slower and will always be at odds with full bevel sharpeners. Coarse harder stones are usually not so bad because they're still cutting fast, so a typical full bevel progression starts with harder brisk stones and then works toward closely arranged stones that increase in softness as the progression moves along and then the final stone will either be soft or potentially very hard depending on how it will be used (full bevel for a finish, or intended to be biased toward the tip).
For a freehand sharpener, it's always better to spend time on the coarse stones with really coarse stones instead of being stuck in a certain type. waterstones are regarded as faster than oilstones. freehanding on medium crystolon and india and then removing most of the evidence of india on an oilstone is much faster than waterstones. Then the needle edge sitters are set up to spend their time making things prettier if necessary.
like tools, the stones need to be accommodated.
Spydercos are a real oddball because they're all hard. Unless they're maintained in a way that takes a lot of physical effort, they'll never work a large area well, and if they are set up to do that, they aren't that fine.
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