Got a Japanese water stone as a gift a while back, and last night, while
installing a deadbolt, my chisel said "If you'd sharpen me more than once in
10 years, this door would be finished by now". :-) The funny writing on the
stone's box is of no help. How long do they need to be soaked before use?
The presoaking time can vary on the dimension of the stone. Because I use
mine so often, I leave them in a covered plastic tub. And if you wish to do
that and have a shop area which might freeze, you can add some antifreeze to
the water. Then you are armed and ready at any time to sharpen.
Does the anti-freeze do anything to damage the properties and/or strength of
I have delayed buying a tormek because my shop is unheated and I live in CT
where at least 3-4 months of the year I'll have temperatures below freezing.
I never really thought of using antifreeze because it seems that the
chemical would do something to the stone, but maybe I'm completely out to
lunch about this.
How long have you been doing this (and I'm assuming you haven't had problems
or else you wouldn't still do it)?
Varies a lot depending on the stone, particularly the coarseness of
A stone is "wet" when you can splash water on the top surface and it
doesn't sink straight into it. For my hard stones (mainly the fine
stones) this is a matter of a few splashes and letting them sit for a
moment. For the 1000 King "brick", it's an hour's soaking in its
My stones up to 1500 grit are stored wet, in Tupperware boxes. I keep
them inside the house to avoid frost, and a splash of TCP stops algae
growing. Stones finer than this, or natural stones (because of their
cost), are stored dry and soaked as needed.
In use, a "stone" doesn't cut, the wet slurry on the top does the
cutting. So keep it wet, but don't try to wash it clean. I just
dribble a bit from my fingertips.
I took a sharpening class at the local adult ed. One of the takeaways was
a piece of plexi, with three or four grits of good wet/dry sandpaper
affixed to it, plus a small leather strop.
This now lives in the 'portable' toolbox, for edge touchup on a moment's
Dull chisels and planes are a misery, and a danger, to the operator and to
Nope - no antifreeze. I usually keep my house above 32 degrees. The
houseplants like it that way. By the way, if you want to mystify your
friends, do what I did: Put the stone in a stainless steel mixing bowl to
soak. For about 20 minutes, the bubbles released must have created some sort
of vibration because the bowl was making a tone similar to what you get when
you run your wet finger around the edge of a lead crystal wine glass, but at
a much lower volume. I thought the bubbles themselves were doing it, but
when I grabbed the bowl, it stopped.
This could be the next big New Age thing, now that wearing crystals has
become a tired idea. :-)
I use scarry sharp, so I don't have a lot of experirnce with stones. But
I've heard that water stones saturate faster if you stand them on a long
side and leave the other long side 1/16" proud of the water bath. This
allows a pathway for the air to flow out. If they're totally submerged the
water can trap the air.
Had mine - about 4 different grits with 3 mounted on wood - soaking for the
past 20 years in a covered plastic bucket to which I add a tablespoon of bleach
to keep any critters and algae down.
Whatever kind of wood ( teak ?) and glue was used, it has NOT hurt them a bit
and they are like new.
I change the water about once or twice a year.
Thanks to everyone for the tips provided. The stone worked beautifully,
making the chisels razor sharp. So well, in fact, that while juggling the
chisel between two hands to grab another tool, I sliced the f**k out of one
of my fingers. It was like a paper cut - didn't notice it until I spotted
the blood on the floor. But, that's OK. The striker plate in the door jamb
is installed like a work of art. :-)
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