I bought a copy of Leonard Lee's "Sharpening" book with the expectation
that it would teach me how to properly use the dual-grit Japanese water
stone I just bought for my planes and chisels. It doesn't. I've also looked
for instructions on the Web, but without success. Perhaps someone here can
fill in the gaps.
The instructions that came with the stone said to soak it in water for
about 5 minutes. That I did. I also know that when I'm about finished with
the coarser side I should leave the slurry on the stone to reduce the
aggressiveness of the cut.
But, what I don't know is how wet the surface should be, how frequently to
wash off the surface and other operational details.
Pointers to such information greatly appreciated.
Do as you like. Some people wash the slurry off I do rinse it every so
often to both wash slurry off and to re moisten the stone. By the way,
NEVER store your stone wet where it can freeze.
On 14 Jan 2004 04:28:57 GMT, Rich Shepard
The surface needs to be wet. If the stone is too dry, then surface
water soaks into it. You need to soak the stone innards enough that
standing water poured on the top stays there.
1000 grit medium, or natural stones, need soaking. Coarse stones are
porous enough that they soak easily and quickly, fine stones are hard
enough that the standing water doesn't soak in anyway and they need
just a bare splash.
I don't usually wash the surface of my stones while working. I work
with them in a dry pond (the lid of the Tupperware box I keep them in)
on the benchtop and I splash on a little water as needed to keep them
wet. This is adequate to rinse the worn and dirty slurry off, as much
For heavy work, such as making a new knife from scratch or polishing a
long sword, I sit in a bucket. The pond is a plastic lid big enough to
squat in or sit on a treestump and the stone is supported by another
slab of tree trunk. I work barefoot, but I don't have enough toe
strength to clamp the stone down traditionally, so I use plastic nuts
and bolts from a kid's toolset.
When changing grits, I rinse the stone and pond out, then scrub my
hands and maybe even the ponds. Particularly if I'm polishing swords,
I don't want a "wolf" grain putting scratches in things.
Remember to flatten your stones, and working over the whole area of
the stone can reduce the frequency of this. I flatten mine on a
concrete paving slab. If you do this on the back step, rinse it clean
afterwards - waterstone slurry is slippery as weasel shit.
Toshio Odate's book is good on the use of Japanese tools, including
waterstones. Leon Kapp's swordsmithing book too, if you start to care
about aesthetic polishing, not just sharpening.
Do whales have krillfiles ?
Thanks, Andy. I have a bucket with water in it and put the stone (on its
plastic base) in a cookie sheet I use to keep water from getting all over
the place. When I see a lot of slurry on the top I rinse the stone in the
bucket which also re-wets the top. I like the idea of a pump spray bottle
and will try that.
I sense that the consensus is to figure it out by trial and error. :-) So,
I'll do that.
Keeping an old dish detergent bottle around filled with water, works great,
squirt a little on the stones for lube, and to remove the slurry.
I use a 1000 grit(not often), and a 5000 grit, and remove the slurry quite
often. Hate to admit it, but Lee Valleys stone pond is awsome, keeps your
stones in water, raised above the bottom to avoid contamination, and the lid
is a half decent work area.
It would be so much easier to watch someone or see a video. The stone
should have a constant slow drip of water if using a reservoir. I
soak waterstones under water until no more bubbles surface, maybe 10
minutes. Frequently I will use a water spray bottle for some stones.
When you are done using the stone for the day rinse it off. Japanese
stones are fragile and can be expensive, handle with care and store
them properly. I still have mine after 12 years of use.
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