Sharpening Stones

Introduction of Sharpening Stones

When speaking to the best way to maintain cutting tools, honing and sharpening every specific duration is always the best answer. Among all the tools, sharpening stones are the best choice for this task.

Sharpening stones, which are also called whetstones, are the maintenance components that can be used to various kinds of sharpening cutting tools, from knife to cutting tools on machine tools, all the sharp tools or edges can be helped to keep their functions by the versatile stones.

That is, sharpening stones can be used in various fields, from families to factories, they can be found as well. Basically, sharpening stones are either naturally formed or artificial, and come in various materials, shapes, and sizes.

The sharpening stones can be flat, for working flat edges, or shaped for more complex edges, such as those associated with wood carving or woodturning tools.

Moreover, different sharpening stones can be used in different ways. For example, for knives used in families or restaurants, oil stones would be a good choice.

Sharpening stones would be categorized into several grades according to the grit size of the abrasive particles in the stone. Grit size means the spatial density of the particles, usually, they would be indicated by numbers. The higher the number is, the better quality the sharpening stone is because higher number means the higher density and smaller particles which can help to polish the surface of the cutting tools better.

Nowadays, artificial sharpening stones have been made with high quality and the naturally formed sharpening stones are gradually less popular on the market.


Types of Sharpening Stones

Sharpening stones can come in various materials, shapes, and sizes.

The most common categories are naturally formed and artificial.

The naturally formed stones are usually quartz, such as novaculite, and can be found in natural mines. The artificial stones are usually made of a bonded abrasive composed of a ceramic such as silicon carbide or of aluminum oxide.

Besides the forming, sharpening stones can also be categories basic on materials:
● Water Stones
This is a traditional Japanese method to use sharpening stones. While using these sharpening stones, water would be used to be the lubricated liquid because using oil on a waterstone would reduce its effectiveness.

Usually, the stone would be a type of stone which consists of fine silicate particles in a clay matrix which is softer than novaculite.

● Diamond Plates
Diamond plates, sometimes also called diamond stones, are steel plates mounted with diamond grit which can grind metals. Since diamonds are hard enough to grind or be grind by almost all kinds of materials, the lifespan of a diamond plate would be long enough to use for a long time.

Besides sharpening tools, diamond plates are also used to grind the surface of objects flat because of its excellent grinding ability and hardness.

● Oil Stones
Oil stones are the most traditional and most common sharpening stones on the market. There are both naturally formed oil stones and man-made oil stones.

The naturally formed oil stones are called novaculite or Arkansas stones.

The man-made oil stones are made of synthetic materials like aluminum oxide or silicon carbide. Oil stones of this type can be divided into three grades, fine, medium, and coarse.

● Fiber Stones
Fiber stones are one kind of man-made sharpening stones. These sharpening stones made of ceramic fibers are specially designed for dealing with the cutting tools, dies, and molds used on the machine tools. Because the materials they are made of, they can also be called ceramic fiber stones.

Fiber stones can remove unnecessary particles attached on the surface of the tools, and polish them shiny, especially doing well on the surface of engraving parts, slight ribs, radius ribs, corners, complicated area and details.

Above are popular sharpening stones, others like ceramic stones, sharpened ceramic water stones, and bench stone systems can also be found on the market.


Natural vs. Artificial

In the past, people tend to find the proper naturally formed stones as sharpening stones to use. However, nowadays, along with the development of technology, naturally formed sharpening stones are now less used.

The quality of modern man-made sharpening stones can be as good or even better than the naturally formed ones. It is because that the grit size in the artificial sharpening stones can be designed with consistency while the grits size in the naturally formed stones are not equal to each other.

Although the artificial ones can do better on the equality of grits than the naturally formed stones, the latter contains the finest grits that the artificial ones cannot reach.

Nowadays, the artificial sharpening stones are more popular on the market because of the practicality while the naturally formed ones are more valuable to the collectors due to their beauty.

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