The Natural Whetstone Company of Royal, Arkansas, produces this set of three good 6-inch by 1-5/8-inch whetstones mounted in a simple but practical wooden stand. Arkansas novaculite quarried from volcanic rock in the Quachita Mountains provides two of the stones on the triangular rotating base, but the third and coarsest stone is silicon carbide — artificial and efficient.
Using the stones is easy enough if you have a steady table or workbench and good lighting. The framework holds the stones up high for full access without dragging knuckles on the tabletop. Start with the rough carborundum (silicon carbide) stone to shape the bevel and grind back nicked edges. Rotate to the white soft Arkansas stone for secondary polishing and refining the edge, and finish up with the hard Arkansas stone for a razor sharp polish. Stropping on a piece of belt leather quickly removes any bur, and sighting along the edge beneath a good light shows up any spots you missed.
Arkansas stones require a coating of light oil to cut cleanly without clogging, so the workplace will get a little messy. It’s a job for the workshop rather than the kitchen, unless you’re prepared for the inevitable cleanup. A vial of honing oil is included with the set, but if you’d rather save money and have plenty of lubricant to use, plain old kerosene works great.
Arkansas stones come in many different colors and grades, with the whitest usually being the softest and fastest cutting. Colored or grayish-black novaculite has much finer grain and produces a sharper edge without changing the shape of the steel.
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