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Low-Cost Waterstone Delivers Super Shine

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From: Woodcraft Magazine Issue 23

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Unlike most finishing stones that are kept dry and then wetted just before use, instructions call for soaking the Natural Polishing Waterstone for 30 minutes before use. However, I found that this waterstone worked fine with just a splash of water on its surface prior to use, and only a splash or two to keep it wet during moderate honing.

TRIAL RUN: Beginners
grit stone is usually sufficient for most chisel and plane blades. But if you'd like to take your tools to the next level, such as for paring chisels, specialty carving tools, and smoothing planes, this stone is worth adding to your sharpening arsenal.

TESTER'S TAKE: An 8000- grit waterstone's polish is fine for most of my edge tools, but this stone's superior polish makes it a keeper for times when I need

Waterstones are fast-cutting, provide good feedback, and are popular with pros and amateurs alike for honing chisels and plane irons. But synthetic stones don't come cheap, and natural stones are even more expensive—over $100. And the highest-grit stones, those used for ? nal polishing, are typically the most expensive. At $30, this natural polishing stone sounds like a real bargain. So, does this budget-priced stone deliver?

THE SETUP: The stone was plenty flat right out of the box, but the surface was somewhat rough, necessitating smoothing before use. Although you could smooth and reflatten the stone with another stone of similar or lesser grit, this stone is so hard that the quickest approach is to rub the surface with a medium- grit diamond stone. (Medium-grit sandpaper adhered to a flat surface will also work.) Incidentally, at 1-1/4" thick x 2-3/4" wide x 8" long, this is an extra-thick stone which means longer wear and life. (Note: stones are cut and polished by hand so sizes may vary.)

will need practice to master this stone because it is so hard that it more closely resembles an oilstone's feel, providing very little 'grip' as you rub. Also, unlike many finishing stones that allow you to skip a few grits in the sharpening process, with a polishing stone it is important to work your way up. For general sharpening, I recommend starting with 1000 grit, then moving to 6000- 8000 grit before finishing on the polishing stone. Compared to my other stones, I noticed that there's very little slurry build-up, even when the stone is rubbed with a nagura (a small stone used to prepare waterstones and create a slurry). This lack of slurry makes the tool want to skip over the surface, which can scratch the tool and the stone. The trick is to use a light touch, rubbing gently and with less pressure than normal. Although this process requires more strokes and takes more time, the resulting super-shiny surfaces and keen, sharp edges are worth it.
BEST APPLICATIONS: For everyday sharpening, finishing an edge with 6000- or 8000-
the best possible edge, such as for my delicate carving chisels and thin-bladed knives. This stone does not quite deliver the finish I can get with the micron-grade sandpapers and diamond pastes on the market. However, for a fraction of the cost of comparable stones, it does produce a wonderful mirrored