Hand Tools Archive
...higher density "earwax" stones - yes if you're abrading them. The lower density stones *will* definitely feel softer and more coarse. If you use them long enough without abrading, though, they will definitely settle in to good fineness. Without abrasion, and with the introduction of a really hard tool or two, I found that they run out of that smartness pretty quickly.
Then when they're all settled in, there's not that much difference. The higher density stones have a harder biting feeling and less softness (it's like using a small tooth saw with aggressive rake vs. a larger tooth saw with less aggressive rake - maybe it's about the same speed in either stone, but it feels different).
As far as no 1s, some are bright and clear like lilywhites and some are a good part mottled (earwax) looking. Other than knowing that no 1 were select stones that were a grade below lilywhite in general, I don't know if they would just use clear stones to fill that grade when they were available and mottled stones when not.
I vaguely recall seeing only one lilywhite stone with some mottling, and if one has seen very little of something, it raises the question of whether or not a label was just floated off of one stone and put on another. There was a time when the lilywhite label brought $100-$200 (the latter being the older stones with top and end label, and unused), and no 1s brought about $50. I think the revival has narrowed the value difference a lot. The only uninspiring labeled norton washita I ever had was one that wasn't graded lilywhite or no 1, it just said "washita oilstone" or something on the side (behr manning label). That particular stone was clear, but fine. It just didn't have much cutting power compared to most of the stones that I've used.