Some Information On Arkansas Stones
Our Stones have been cut and supplied by Richard Hall, owner of Halls Arkansas Oilstones since we started our company. The three inch bench stone widths that are now popular were first offered here when Mr. Hall agreed to cut them for us. With the exception of our new translucent stones our site deals only in the wide bench stones, for smaller stones and slips pay a visit to Halls Arkansas Oilstones and say hello for us. If you like in depth info visit The Arkansas Geological Commission for reliable facts regarding novaculite and the areas where Arkansas stones and Ouachita (Washita) stones are mined.
Arkansas stones are considered among the finest honing stones in the world, A true Arkansas stone is mined within a 15 mile radius of Hot Springs and is composed of novaculite which is 99.9% silica. This material is desirable for its ability to polish as it sharpens. The silica crystals that make up the four types of Arkansas stones are all about the same size, 3-5 microns, which translates into 4,500 - 8000 US standard grit, but that really doesn't tell the whole story.
Generally speaking the difference between the four basic types - soft, hard, surgical black, and translucent is the density or compactness of the micron particles making up the stone. Translucent stones have more micron particles per square inch than surgical black. Surgical Black stones have more microns per square inch than the hard and soft stones.
While the color of the stone provides a visual distinction, measuring 'specific gravity' and/or 'relative density' are more definitive ways of determining a stones classification. We've been searching for information on these two measuring devices in order to present them in non mind boggling form. Once we're satisfied that we have what we need we'll post the info.
One of the questions people ask is just when do you use each type of stone. The first thing to bear in mind is that arkansas stones are not aggressive at all. You cannot take a piece of raw steel and shape a blade edge with one. The soft and hard stones are used when you've created a good working edge on a blade but are striving for perfection. Soft stones which are normally rainbow colored have a slight bite and will bring an edge to the next level. Hard stones which are normally white have a bit less of a bite and they too will bring the edge a little further. Surgical black stones provide optimum results. If you are working on a knife that you intend to use for cutting rope Arkansas stones will not help much because the knife will not have a bite. If you are using knives for skinning or carving then they're probably your best bet. By the time you have progressed through the three types of stones your blade edge will be smooth and polished and should slice easily through materials such as wood and flesh.
Are older Arkansas stones better than newer ones? For the sake of argument lets say the sedimentary rock that the finished stones are cut from are at least a million years old. I suppose some folks would have you believe that a stone cut from a rock that was one million and ten years old is better than one cut from a rock that's a mere million years old. I think what people mean by good and bad stones has more to do with the fact that there are some bad stones offered for sale. They can be cut wrong, they can have chips and cracks, you can be misled as to the type, and they can be poorly finished.. It really comes down to who you purchase from. These stones are indeed national treasures, they can be expensive. It's worth taking a look at your needs and doing a little research before making a purchase.
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