Hand Tools Archive

Things you can't sharpen with novaculite..
Response To:
Voids in steel ()

david weaver
I set up one of the rikizai blades this morning. Five minutes on a fine india and a hard arkansas (not a "real" hard arkansas, but that lower cost grade from dan's). It planed OK, but barely shaved hair.

(FTR, when I got the first one of these things years ago and used waterstones, it took more than five minutes to get everything in order).

Recalling what the washita did to the A2, I figured maybe the hard ark was pulling something out of the edge. It feels more like that than just not that sharp but everything staying in place (blue from hitachi doesn't really have a habit of feeling dull due to huge carbides). I didn't scope it, I don't have time right now.

A spent another minute (a regular sharpening cycle) on the washita, and the washita rolled a wire edge up readily and then thinning it was easy because the iron is so hard it doesn't care to hold more than a very small wire edge once you "thin it" with four or five light strokes. Light leather stropping (I don't think irons this hard strop that well, and neither do razors - so this step is probably better replaced by jasper with whetstone powder to disorganize what little bit of wire edge there is and remove it).


If this was a honing film edge, the shaving would potentially be a little straighter and easier to read through, but not much thinner. The edges have slightly different qualities. To be clear, this is just a washita, what a lot of people consider to be a coarse stone and too slow cutting. No issue cutting the blue steel - the wire edge was formed in probably about five seconds. Grinding a full bevel, of course it would be slow, but that's not intelligent use with the two items together (and I use a grinder, anyway).

I hate to say it, but this is a faster and more practical routine than any of the other mediums I've used. It'll have the same minute cycle time sharpening as a stanley iron. diamonds would do this as fast, but the feel is worse, most are not flat, and I don't have a 1200 atoma, which would be a reasonable first step. I do have two ezelaps that are on both sides of that number, but the loose diamond lap following them always seems to be contaminated with something unless you keep it under cover (which is a pain in the rear). For some reason, jasper and the loose whetstone powder doesn't suffer the same fate.

Textbook reading says this method doesn't work. If you use the hard ark I have, then you might conclude that. If you switch over to a washita, then it works very well, very fast, and with zero maintenance to the stones. If the washita seems to be going to sleep, leaning the bevel of this iron on the stone will immediately dress it because it's not hardened. The washita would not do well flattening the back, but the use of the fine india eliminates that issue, the washita can remove the wear well enough, and the india should only need to be used on the bevel if there is some kind of disaster (like a missed staple).

I have not flattened my fine india (in an IM 313) in years. It's my go-to if something is too hard for the washita to cut. It is what I use with V11, despite having a gaggle of synthetic stones, diamond hones, etc. available. It's faster and less trouble.

So far, A2 is the only thing that doesn't like the washita. It's strange that that iron is fine with arkasnsas stones, but it doesn't like washitas, and this one is opposite. I could speculate on why that is, but it doesn't really matter - speculation doesn't change the result.

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