Thought you might like some light reading. Couple days ago, a fellow B&B'er PM'ed me, asking about my experience with the surgical black Arkansas stone that a different not-to-be-named evil heathen sadistic B&B'er sold to me. Here are some thoughts that I PM'ed the requester back, tidied-up and updated. Note, I'm not shilling for or against the purchase of these from anyone in particular, nor for the honing solution mentioned below...its what they had at the hardware store. ---- I opened the box and the thing is glossy, but looks like black water turned solid...really really solid...there was a slight waviness to the surface, so it was clear it wasn't out-of-the-box ready to use. That was fine, as I didn't expect it to be lapped, no biggee, but I'd never seen a surgical black with my eyes before. I picked it up, and was just amazed at just how hard it is...it rings if you tap it on something. I looked it up, and the hardness is about the same as a solid chunk of garnet. So yes, it needs lapping. DONT use your DMT. You will not have the same DMT grit you started with. It laughs at DMT. I tried it on my 325, and now I have more like a 600. So I moved to 400 wet/dry using the DMT as a backing. For hours. Gave up on that, moved to 220 dry. Gave up on that, moved to 150. Gave up on that and just got out my hand-carry belt sander loaded with 80 grit and went after it. Got it flat enough that I was then hoping to just slap it on some 400 wet/dry and polish it up, working out the non-flatness that the sander left behind. Wrong. Went to 400, it thought it tickled a bit. Went to 220, then 180, then 100, all with the DMT as the backer. Stayed at 100 until it was scratching all the areas, then went to 220...foresaw another long night ahead. yuk. I looked around the shave den and found an ancient (my Mom's dad's) 2-sided barber hone that I'd lapped before. What the hey. I verified the flatness with a grid, then spent a minute or so grinding the rough-side of the barberhone on the Arkie. To my complete astonishment, upon checking the Arkie, the dang thing had gone from a scratched-up 100-grit mess to a hazy, no-scratches, nearly perfectly uniform (though not reflective) surface. The barber hone was like magic...the only thing I could think of is that it's slurry (and it made a lot) helped a ton. This is my best advice for the whole deal. If you have one, grab your 2-sider BH and use that once the Arkie is fairly flat. Here's a sideshot of mine: I then gridded the Arkie, spent 5-10 more minutes alternating between verifying the continuing flatness of the barber hone and ensuring the flatness of the Arkie, rubbing the two together. THEN, I slapped 400 grit wet-dry on the DMT, polished away for 5-10 minutes until the surface was not mirror, but decently reflective at a severe angle. I certainly could go more to get finer (its nowhere near as glossy as surface was when I opened the box), but I figure I'll leave it there for now and see how it works out on a few blades. Couple other pointers Make darn sure you choose the flattest side to start with! it gets hot on the beltsander. don't say the words "slurry stone" nearby it...it makes it mad after laughing at you. edit: though it likes eating other rocks for slurry I have some Smith's Honing Solution, so after rinsing off the Black, I slathered that stuff all over it, and ran an otherwise shave-ready blade over the hone for ~150 times. I looked through the 'scope at the bevel as a pre-view, then looked after as a post...the post-view showed that indeed the scratch pattern was markedly different and much finer. Stropped linen and leather (~50 each), and then looked at the bevel again. The fine scratches from the post-view were gone, leaving just a fine haze. Maybe the fine scratches were ridges in some honing solution still on the bevel? No idea. Edit: I looked again this morning and the lighter/finer scratches were still there. It was just that I had the microscope tilted in such a way that I couldn't see them before. Anyway, the blade now is popping a hair with some, but not much, regard to root-out vs. root-in, for what it is worth. I've gotten this before with some careful honing work + CrOx/FeOx and one time a couple weeks back with lapping films. Shave test soon and looking forward to it. So, lotsa work, but maybe this will be useful for others by having this in the archives. Hone pics: Image of the back...you can see a ridge at the bottom where the DMT started in on it. I decided not to do this side. Image from yesterday...it's now glossier, flatter, and sanded with 400, working the 600 now. That little ridge of contrast there at the bottom left is (was) real...musta been a few atoms shallower than the main face of it. It's gone now I think.