Inside Sharpening Stones
Discover the differences between natural and man-made products
Synopsis: Garrett Hack delves into the history and manufacture of natural and man-made sharpening stones. He offers suggestions on which type of stones to get, along with tips on maintenance. A helpful grit chart details the grading nomenclature for synthetic oilstones, natural oilstones, diamond plates, synthetic and natural waterstones, and sandpaper.
Walk into Norton’s manufacturing plant in Littleton, N.H., and the smell is reminiscent of a bakery. Arranged like so many pastries on cooling racks are row after row of fresh Crystolons, Indias, and waterstones— just some of the dozens of different sharpening stones they bake daily.
Just down the road, the Pike Manufacturing Company has quarried its world-famous stones for well over a century: “1,100 different abrasive products, a whetstone for every purpose.” Holding a hunk of this mica schist in one hand and a fresh manmade India stone in the other prompted me to learn more…