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Thread: Best tips for water stone use please!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2021
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    Toronto
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    Best tips for water stone use please!

    Hi All,

    I got my first two water stones from Lee Valley (King 800 grit and King 4000 grit). I figure this is a good upgrade from using the scary sharp system (which was great to start with). I've been reading about water stones and noticed a lot of conflicting information out there so hoping to get a few ideas here please!

    Question 1: Storage:

    The instructions that came with the water stones suggest storing in water. I'm assuming this means fully immersed in water? If I only sharpen every 1-3 weeks should I still do this?

    Question 2: Use

    I'm assuming if it's stored in water I can spray a little extra water on top and start using it. If I don't store in water do I soak for 5 minutes and then start using?

    Question 3: water stone holders

    I saw a video of David Charlesworth suggesting to use a kitchen rubber sticky mat. I'm assuming that's good enough? Do I need to make a wooden stone holder?


    Please let me know if there's anything else I should be thinking of!

    Thanks

    Luis

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    SF Bay Area
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    Hello Luis,
    I'm sure others will chime in, but here are my answers:
    1) You certainly can. It would probably be worthwhile to add a couple of drops of bleach to the water to keep microorganisms at a minimum. You can also take them out let them dry and re-soak them before using them
    2) Probably closer to 20 minutes.
    3) You do not need a wooden stone holder. What you are trying to accomplish is to hold the stones still when you work on them- that's all
    Best tip: Have fun, don't make yourself crazy
    Howard
    Last edited by Howard Pollack; 06-27-2022 at 9:24 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    A plastic container with a folding lid gives quick easy access and reduces evaporation. I change the water weekly and rinse the stones. It is far more convenient to have the stones wet and encourages immediate sharpening when required.
    My sharpening table is a granite off cut so the non slip mat is the fun part, not as easy as you imagine.
    Try to use the stone surface evenly to make flattening very quick and not wasteful. A CBN plate does a great job.
    A leather strop on wood with green compound will add a final hone to the edge.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  4. #4
    Should you decide on keeping the stones in a water bath, be sure to store the container in a non-freezing environment. If not stored in water, be sure that the stones are throughly dry after use and kept from freezing because the residual water can freeze and expand your stones. I live in a cold area of the country and wrap my stones in newspaper and store them in the utility room until use. Yes it is inconvenient to soak them before each use.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luis Reyes View Post
    Hi All, ...
    Hi!

    Quote Originally Posted by Luis Reyes View Post
    ... Question 1: Storage:

    The instructions that came with the water stones suggest storing in water. I'm assuming this means fully immersed in water? If I only sharpen every 1-3 weeks should I still do this? ...
    It depends on the stone(s). Some you can soak and others will be damaged. The stones you have are OK and, I find, permanently soaking is most convenient because you're ready to sharpen at anytime. Do keep an eye on the water, you don't want to create any biology experiments, but over time you should get a feel for if or how often you need to change the water.

    The real concern is drying the wet stones without cracking them. The advice I was given and has worked for me, is no heat (or sun), limited airflow, at room temperature. The trick is to let them dry evenly as a dry exterior with a damp interior will stress the stone and eventually cause cracks.

    (An alternative is "splash & go" stones. They are designed to not need soaking, in fact many won't tolerate it. Shapton Pros are the classic example. Spritz and sharpen, no real drying required. People who don't like them tend to complain they are hard and scratchy, making them unpleasant to use. I'm going to get around to trying some someday.... )


    Quote Originally Posted by Luis Reyes View Post
    ... Question 2: Use

    I'm assuming if it's stored in water I can spray a little extra water on top and start using it. If I don't store in water do I soak for 5 minutes and then start using? ...
    If it's stored in water you should be able to just start sharpening. Add a little water to the surface if, but only if, it starts to dry out.

    If you've dried the stone, I generally soak them until the bubbles stop plus a little. That can be a few minutes to the hour range. (IIRC- the Kings are on the quicker end of the range, but it's been a long time so just experiment as you start out.)


    Quote Originally Posted by Luis Reyes View Post
    ... Question 3: water stone holders

    I saw a video of David Charlesworth suggesting to use a kitchen rubber sticky mat. I'm assuming that's good enough? Do I need to make a wooden stone holder?
    I have and like a Suehiro stone holder, for it's stability and because it raises the stone and gives me more clearance around the stone, but it's more than you need.

    Yoav Liberman wrote a blog at PopWood's website about outfitting an entire shop class. He found silicone place mats intended for feeding young children on Amazon. As I recall, they come in two packs and worked well (enough) and were cheap.

    Relax and have fun!

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    I store my 800 and 1200 in a rubbermaid container. I put the lid on my bench and the stone on it when I use it. It doesn't slide, but I don't push down really hard either.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    In use, spritz with soapy water (just a little liquid soap in a spray bottle). This prevents any stiction and keeps the stone (and your hands) clean.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  8. #8
    As mentioned, some stones are not to be stored immersed. Check the mfg'ers recommendation.

    I used to keep my water stones immersed in water, but I no longer do that. When I'm getting ready to sharpen, I dunk them in water for a minute or two.

    I spray water to the stone surface as needed, I've always thought soapy water would decrease cutting but I'm probably wrong about that.

    I use a Nagura stone to remove metal scurf & maintain a slurry on the surface.

    I use the stone holders for my DMT plates, but you should make a holder which can be customized to a preferred height, with either a silicone grip pad, or some type of adjustable clamping method, like wedges.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2021
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    Toronto
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Bassett View Post
    Hi!



    The real concern is drying the wet stones without cracking them. The advice I was given and has worked for me, is no heat (or sun), limited airflow, at room temperature. The trick is to let them dry evenly as a dry exterior with a damp interior will stress the stone and eventually cause cracks.
    I think you just saved me some money as I hadn't thought about them potentially cracking. I probably would've dried to dry in the heat or sun during the summer!


    Thank you everyone for the tips! Lots of great stuff here! I thought the water bath would be more work but now that I'm worried about cracking maybe I'll do the water bath!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Columbus, Ohio, USA
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    I purchased some silicone mats from Amazon 15.7" x 11" that I use for sharpening. They protect the surface of my table (or whatever) and they do not slip. Oh, and inexpensive.

  11. #11
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    My water stones sit on a small automotive floor mat when in use. This works well and was inexpensive in the automotive section of a department store years ago.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luis Reyes View Post
    I think you just saved me some money as I hadn't thought about them potentially cracking. I probably would've dried to dry in the heat or sun during the summer! ...
    Glad I thought to mention it. Some stones are more fragile, some people are lucky, but... YMMV and a little extra care never hurt me.


    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Pitonyak View Post
    I purchased some silicone mats from Amazon 15.7" x 11" that I use for sharpening. They protect the surface of my table (or whatever) and they do not slip. Oh, and inexpensive.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    My water stones sit on a small automotive floor mat when in use. This works well and was inexpensive in the automotive section of a department store years ago.

    jtk
    Lots of options and variations on that theme. (BTW- specialty shops sell similar, often identical, mats for more money!)

    Quote Originally Posted by David Bassett View Post
    ... Yoav Liberman wrote a blog at PopWood's website about outfitting an entire shop class. He found silicone place mats intended for feeding young children on Amazon. As I recall, they come in two packs and worked well (enough) and were cheap. ...
    I searched "silicone placemats for toddlers non slip" on Amazon and got many hits. I think these are the ones he used:

    Munchkin Silicone Placemats for Kids, 2 Pack, Blue/Purple

    They've gone up! (But, I guess, what hasn't recently.)

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
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    One more tip for waterstone use ..

    Always work on a flat surface with as little “give” as possible. A thick, soft surface will allow the stone to be depressed in the centre, and it runs the danger of cracking. DAMHIK! An once of prevention …. epoxy the stone to a 8-10mm thick section of perspex or lexan. This is especially important as the stone is well-used and becomes thinner. It will enable longer use as the stone is reinforced and stiffened.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  14. I have those Kings + #300. All great stones I really like them. They are old fashioned soakers, 5-10 mins, soft and muddy.

    Light to moderate pressure and trailing strokes.

    Storing in water "permasoak" is controversial. Some report softening. I dry mine out at the end of the day. Once properly soaked, they only take a min or so to wet up if they've been out for a couple of hours.

    These stones are grippy and heavy. They don't need much help to stabilize. You can spend $$ on a fancy holder but most use something like a paper towel. I like a piece of non slip shelf liner. Depending on the tool you may need knuckle clearance on the side - I sit mine on a piece of 2x4. If the stone won't sit still on a wet paper towel, you are likely using too much pressure.

    They are more effective with some slurry worked up. You can buy a nagura - mostly I use cheap diamond plates from HF.

    The most common reasons for disappointing results are 1. Failure to apex on the coarsest stone ( I recommend the #300 for this) 2. Failure to properly deburr.

    Don't be distracted by shiny bevels - not nearly as important as those two. You can get shaving sharp on a #300 if you meet those first two requirements.

    Do you have a strop? Stropping is cheap, easy and can greatly enhance the edge.

    Enjoy

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio, USA
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    Follow the manufacturers recommendation for storing the stones in water. I think that I stored my King Stones in water with no problems, but that was years ago. I decided to move to something that required less water so I went with Shapton Glass stones, Norton Ceramics, Diamond, and Arkansas Stones depending on my mood. If you lived closer we could have a sharpening party and try out all these stones!

    Every stone feels and acts differently. The King Stones are well liked / popular.

    Much on the problems with soaking / drying / cracking... I think is probably related to the binder. I believe that King uses a Clay binder and water usually does not affect the binder for Clay, Ceramic, and Vitrified stones. Soaking can cause a Magnesia binder to leach out into the water so the stone can crumble. I am a bit unsure about Resinoid binders.

    Shapton I think is a Ceramic with a Magnesia binder and you are not supposed to soak them.

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