UNCLE!!! I've DAGed and Goggled and haven't come up with what I consider a
good answer to the question of what to use to flatten Arkansas stones...
I've got quite a collection of stones, accumulated over about 35 years,
ranging from large soft stones to a large Black hard stone, along with
assorted slips, etc. The soft stones in particular are no longer truly flat
and the medium stones are a bit glazed.
Why Arkansas stones? Because when I started buying stones they were about
the best thing available... India stones were the other choice and those I
used were all glazed--I "found" them in my father's tool and die maker's
tool box. ;~)--and they didn't work too well.
I'm considering the Woodcraft granite surface plate and wet-dry paper
approach but wonder if a diamond stone would be better? I'm concerned that
the courser diamond stones may actually make my medium and fine Arkansas
stones too rough. Is there a consensus?
Silicon carbide lapping grit on glass will dress your stones nicely &
quickly. Lee Valley has it:
The 90x & flat safety glass are all you will need.
This dosen't change the grade of your sharpening stones.
A sharpening oil of 50% light machine oil (3in1) & 50% kero will keep your
stones cleaner, and give a more positive feel of the tool on the stone when
or you can get the Norton stone flattener.
about the same size as a japanese water
stone - diagonal grooves for slurry to
escape into. about $26 US. works well
and quick - at least on japanese waterstones.
haven't had the need to try it on hard]
Which one did you have in mind, may I ask? Because every other one I have seen
anywhere online, other than this model by Norton, is HUGELY expensive. Besides
that, these Norton are really not all that hard, they chip a bit easily and are
for Norton's water stones, which I have. It works great for them tho... I just
not even attempt to flatten an Arkansas stone on one, the Arks seem to be much
harder in all reality, seriously, but it is your money. Ark stones are a highly
compacted silicate sand, which is rock, not ocean sand which is sea shells. The
Norton flattener is lightly compressed aluminum oxide or silicon carbide. Not a
good combo IMO.
Alex - who is learning woodwork
Which is why I jumped into the thread. The one I saw at Woodcraft
really looked nice, and maybe it should for $80. Not aware of other
flavors of the stone I thought maybe I was overlooking a bargain.
Anyway, as you say, if $18 (price I just saw at Craftsman.Com) does the
job, what the hey.... Larry
So, what kind of stones do you need to flatten? Because if they are Arks I
consider thick glass and abrasive paers such as AO. Even dry wall screen
that is tougher than the stone itself.
After a busy weekend I've finally gotten a chance to read the responses to
my initial inquiry. Dry wall screen is something I hadn't even considered...
got a bunch of that in the shop in anticipation of rerocking the family room
and living room. Think I might give that a try with some of the big soft
Arkansas stones simply because they are big and a diamond stone large enough
to accommodate them would be hugely expensive--it would be cheaper to buy
new soft stones once in a while!
The silicon carbide lapping paste sounds interesting too as does the granite
block with wet and dry paper. Maybe I'll try all three approaches to see
what I like best!
Thanks for the interesting responses! DAGS was making me nuts as the threads
deteriorated fast in many cases!
How long does a glass plate last before it's too dished for flattening?
The folks who grind their own telescope mirrors use elaborate patterns
to get the dish shape they want. Seems we'd be well advised to look at
their methods--then do something different--to keep our glass plates
I'm guessing that one new glass plate would stay flat long enough to
flatten at least a couple of Arkansas stones.
Along with the silicon carbide lapping grits, Lee Valley sells 8 x 10 sheets
of thin soft clear plastic with a peel-off back. You put the plastic down on
the glass sheet and then put the grit on top of that. The plastic is soft
enough that the grit embeds itself in the surface, and leaves the underlying
glass untouched. I've used it on a couple of stones and it works just fine.
Takes a while though, even if you work your way through the grits from the
coarsest. At least that was true for my stones, which had never been
flattened in their lives.
Use three stones and grind them against each other and you can obtain
optical flatness if you're persistent and careful and have a reference flat
to test against <g>. Would help to obtain a book on lensmaking that goes
into the hand grinding of optical flats before you start though.
... maybe a dumb question, but why can't you use a good sized diamond
hone to do the job? I know, you'd have to clean the crud/residue
periodically, but I don't think a stone is gonna degrade it's flatness.
I've used wet/dry paper on glass, loose grit on glass and a coarse
diamond stone. I haven't done it in some time- I don't use the natural
stones much these days- but if I needed to flatten one now I'd use the
diamond stone and finish with wet/dry paper on glass if it wasn't
smooth enough for me.
There is a less tiring method of flattening old garage sale stones
and ones worn from long years of use/abuse.
Nail up a 4 sided frame large enough to contain all the stones.
Install an eye bolt or similar to one face of the frame.
Find a grand kid, neighbor kid, or young relative with a tricycle.
Multiple operators are a plus.
Attach frame to tricycle with an appropriate piece of rope.
Find an suitable expanse of concrete drive or patio surface,
preferably with shade available.
Beer cooler optional, but sure helps the process. You can water
the slab to accelerate progress.
Install all stones in the frame(s) and let the grinding begin.
This method can take up to a full case of beer to properly
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
DanG (remove the sevens)
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