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Volume 46/Issue 4

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Clean Cuts - Pt. 1
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From the Shopsmith Woodworking Academy
Clean Cuts -- Part 1
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Aluminum Oxide: Also called “India” or “Aloxite”, you can purchase these brown colored stones in various double-grit configurations (fine/medium - 280-240-grit) -- (medium/coarse - 240-100-grit) -- etc. Also man-made stones and classified as “oil” stones, since they're cleaned with light oil. Arkansas: Made from novaculite quartz found in the Ozark Mountains, “Arkansas” stones are more costly than the previous two previously mentioned categories. One way to save on these is to buy smaller sized stones. Arkansas Stones are cleaned with light oil or kerosene.

  • cartoon 2“Hard” Arkansas stones are available in both white and black forms and would be best classified as “Ultra-Fine Grit” stones (900-grit for Black Arkansas and 700-grit for White Arkansas).
  • “Soft” Arkansas stones are available in gray and green forms and would be best classified as “Super-Fine Grit” stones (typically 500-grit).
  • “Washita” stones are available in a multitude of colors and would be best classified as “Fine Grit” stones (typically around 350-grit).

Arkansas stones don't cut steel as quickly as some stones, but they produce edges that are amongst the keenest attainable.

Waterstones: Made from Aluminum Oxide or Silicon-Carbide abrasives, Waterstones are available in a broad range of grits from 180-grit through 1200-grit (on the American Grit Scale) - which translates to 250-grit to 8000-grit on the Japanese Grit Scale. As their name suggests, Waterstones are cleaned with water.

Many people prefer these stones because they're among the fastest-cutting of all stones, minimizing the sharpening times for most tools. However, this comes at a price. They must be used carefully, since they're very soft and easy to gouge.

Diamond: Diamond stones are made from finely granulated diamond dust that's been embedded in a soft metal such as nickel, then fused to a steel plate. They're available in grits from 250-grit through 1200-grit. Used dry, they require no lubricant and may be cleaned with a damp cloth or a fiber pad and scouring powder.

Diamond stones are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and are your best choice for sharpening carbide-edged tools such as router bits, shaper cutters, etc. Diamond stones are very expensive.

Ceramic: Ceramic stones are made from Aluminum Oxide abrasives that have been embedded in a ceramic material and fused at very high temperatures. Available in grits from 600-grit to 1200-grit, they're also used dry and require no lubrication. To clean, just wipe with a damp cloth or scrub with a fiber pad and scouring powder.

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