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Arkansas Progression

I’m really loving honing and wanted a variety of stones. I love the look of Arks. I actually already have a trans Ark from Dan’s that is burnished. I wanted a progression of Ark stones. Which ark is good for bevels? Mid range work?

I assume I’ll only need 2 more stones for this progression since I already have the trans. Or could I use the black ark after the trans for extra keenness? Love these! Thanks Gents for your help.
 
I’ve had great difficulty with full Arkansas progressions. In my limited observations it seems that the Soft tends to leave deep scratches that the following stones struggle to remove completely or at least to a satisfactory degree.
Soft, hard, Trans/Black don’t seem to work in the same linear way that a synthetic progression does.
I do know that the Washita stones are known to be fine bevel setters which has been my experience at the bench. But I’m puzzled with what Arkansas-only options fit in between the Washita and a Tanslucent or Black.
Yes, a soft or hard would fit in between the two but the question is whether or not it’s effective.
 
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Can it be done? Yesish.

If you go down this road, remember my words. You will probably be unimpressed by a lot of work and find many other ways to get over 8k range and where you can focus on finishing with a good ark. They can be great finishers. They can be used to set bevels and work up to a finer edge but most everyone who has done this agrees that the edge is really sort of mediocre and not the best. Use and quick synth progression and finish on a good ark and you will find the sweet spot they have in the razor world. My two cents.
 
One thing you CAN do is set up reference trials. For example set the bevel on a 1K then jump to a soft. Really stay on it for a while so that #1- you can verify surface integrity of the stone (no loose stone/grit from lapping), & #2- you simply stay on it long enough to get dialed into your progress and this can take a fair amount of time on the stone. You can repeat this process going from a 1K to a hard, a 5K to a trans or black and so forth.
You basically just have to figure out the limits of each stone individually and in sequence.
 
A soft ark for bevel set is... well doable if the razor isn't bad off. If it needs a lot of work prepare to spend hours on a hone. I have done a progression from soft to hard, hard to black a couple times. Bevel set on the soft ark, if the razor is really chewed up and dull, just takes forever. I also found that you need to spend a good long time on the hard ark to smooth the bevel out from the soft stone. I got impatient when I first started and would only do a couple hundred strokes, thinking this was good. The shaves were... well often I went back to the hones. My edges improved when I started spending a lot longer on both the hard and black Arkansas after the soft stone. Once I get a razor shaving arm hair smoothly and effortlessly on a soft ark, I usually do about 400 laps each on the hard and the black. This produces a pretty good result that is smooth and tree tops arm hair. I can say with authority 200 laps each isn't enough. At least for me, with my stones.

I finished a razor clean and restore yesterday using a course synthetic bench stone for bevel set and then an Arkansas progression. It can be done, but it's a labor of love and not time efficient.
 
I’m really loving honing and wanted a variety of stones. I love the look of Arks. I actually already have a trans Ark from Dan’s that is burnished. I wanted a progression of Ark stones. Which ark is good for bevels? Mid range work?

I assume I’ll only need 2 more stones for this progression since I already have the trans. Or could I use the black ark after the trans for extra keenness? Love these! Thanks Gents for your help.
Three stone ark progressions are the easiest for me, but a simple two stone progression is doable too. I usually do a three stone progression if I start with a soft and a two stone progression if I start on most of my Washitas. If you have a vintage Washita I don't think you will need a soft ark.

I don't add a black after a translucent but that don't mean you shouldn't try it.
 
So this thread has peaked my interest in a full Arkansas progression once again. Here’s where I’m at so far:
-Bevel setting with either a soft or a Washita on a blade that requires chip removal has proven problematic in my hands so I’ve resigned myself to a synthetic bevel setter.
-Going from 1K to a hard Arkansas stone has shown promise but the lap count borders on the absurd to get the edge ready for the translucent.
-The translucent is by far my favorite finishing stone but once again I’m finding the need for a lap count north of 500 strokes just to get the edge in a testable range.
I’m working on a very old near-wedge Joseph Allen (Sheffield) right now and I still have a ways to go on the last stone before I can test-shave. But when I do I think I’ll be in a position to better calibrate my approach going forward.
So in conclusion it seems that a 1K, Hard, & Translucent is proving to be a plausible progression.
 
Ok so shave results are in:
-Excellent shave for sure. The sensation was noticeably muted and a new shaver might mistake that for a lack of keenness. But the shave was exceptionally close with very little cutting sensation. I really can’t tell if that’s due to the stone choice or if it’s more a byproduct of the grind.
-My approach was four “sets” per stone. One set is 40 half strokes, 40 circles, & 20 X-strokes. I also incorporated some spine-leading work as well. So that put me at approximately 400+ strokes per Arkansas stone. As an aside I had to change tape A LOT! I’m tempted to bump it up by 2 sets per stone just to see where I land.
Now I have a true reference point to go by and I know with a great degree of precision as to how much work I have on both stones (bevel setting not withstanding).
 
I struggled with the full Ark progression for about 3 years. I always felt there was too big of a jump from soft to Trans/Black. I remedied this for a while with a Dan's regular hard which kind of worked. It quickly changed it's cutting ability without giving any feedback clues. That drove me nuts. I didn't find happiness until I replaced it with a Coticule and later I found an unidentified slate (most likely a silk stone, it improves a 5k edge ) which bridged the gap. Many happy shaves with an all natural progression if not a full Ark progression. I may have had better results with more surface refinement experiments.

Lately the Ark progression has given way to the Shapton Pro progression......with an amazing Ark finish. So much less trouble. The trick to a historical Ark edge is only bring your best edge to the Ark. It must be dialed in...but the Ark still does something to it. And it's good......
 
I struggled with the full Ark progression for about 3 years. I always felt there was too big of a jump from soft to Trans/Black. I remedied this for a while with a Dan's regular hard which kind of worked. It quickly changed it's cutting ability without giving any feedback clues. That drove me nuts. I didn't find happiness until I replaced it with a Coticule and later I found an unidentified slate (most likely a silk stone, it improves a 5k edge ) which bridged the gap. Many happy shaves with an all natural progression if not a full Ark progression. I may have had better results with more surface refinement experiments.

Lately the Ark progression has given way to the Shapton Pro progression......with an amazing Ark finish. So much less trouble. The trick to a historical Ark edge is only bring your best edge to the Ark. It must be dialed in...but the Ark still does something to it. And it's good......
I agree that an ark only or even synthetic bevel set to ark only isn’t really time effective but I just had to know once and for all if I could do it or not and if not, why.
To be as hard as they are I do find that the surface condition is constantly changing towards a polished condition (even the soft). This kind of works in your favor on a black or translucent but on either a soft or hard I should probably be refreshed on W/D fairly often and I set the surface more course than most and that’s at 220# on all of them. Even set that course they get to this semi-slick/velvet texture extremely fast for some reason.
 
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Can you describe what you mean by this more?
i make a slurry by rubbing worn out coarse DMT card on the true hard Ark, i hone with that slurry on true hard ark and dilute slurry to water only while honing. I would guess it gets me from approx. 2K to 8K+
 
I’ve been reading some of the threads on Jaspers and Jade. A conclusion I’m reaching is that this is a good SOP for a hard honing stone. Generate a slurry with a diamond plate (not too coarse), start by working the slurry, and slowly dilute with water. Between the water dilution and the stone surface polishing up or clogging pores with swarf, you end up with a nice progression that takes you to a shaveable edge. Somewhat following that philosophy with my black Ark, though I don’t see the need to redress with the diamond plate every single honing session.
 
Gents, I am on the opposite end of that spectrum and feel Arkansas stones are not the type stone one should ever slurry. The actual particle size of that type of stone is quite large and the fineness of arks comes from the density in which the same particles are packed. Soft arks, hard arks, trans arks all are made of the same “particles”. They work differently due to density. I appreciate the discussion and hope I don’t offend by being of the opinion these are terrible stones to slurry in that way. I will concede that if it works for you…great and just because it is not for me doesn’t make it wrong. But it surprises me this works for you.
 
Gents, I am on the opposite end of that spectrum and feel Arkansas stones are not the type stone one should ever slurry. The actual particle size of that type of stone is quite large and the fineness of arks comes from the density in which the same particles are packed. Soft arks, hard arks, trans arks all are made of the same “particles”. They work differently due to density. I appreciate the discussion and hope I don’t offend by being of the opinion these are terrible stones to slurry in that way. I will concede that if it works for you…great and just because it is not for me doesn’t make it wrong. But it surprises me this works for you.

OK, thanks for the comments. This is something I have been trying to figure out. With the Jaspers you hear about slurry. But your comment is what I have consistently heard, which is “no slurry on an Ark”. So to date I have not slurried. I’ve roughed up surfaces on the Ark to prevent burnishing, but then cleaned off the stone before using.
 
OK, thanks for the comments. This is something I have been trying to figure out. With the Jaspers you hear about slurry. But your comment is what I have consistently heard, which is “no slurry on an Ark”. So to date I have not slurried. I’ve roughed up surfaces on the Ark to prevent burnishing, but then cleaned off the stone before using.
Slurry on ark is not always necessary. The vintage washita is capable of lower grit work without slurry, but a little slurry speeds the process. of the few arks I have slurried the vintage washita produces the most results from slurry. I think about slurry use usually only once when working up a razor. also what you use to create a slurry makes a big difference; same ark “nagura” or different ranges of diamond plate.

using slurry on midrange is a pretty easy test , might as well try it
 
I think that slurrying on an Ark is a rare think and very few would do it. I don't believe it has ever been recommended as an approach to sharpening/honing anything by any supplier of them or anyone for that matter.
Can't say I would recommend it, but if it works for you, - great.
 
I agree with others that the gap from soft to hard/translucent/black ark seems large for razors, i tired it once and wasnt very satisfied. I would need multiple stones lapped differently to make it time efficient and predictable. Or perfect pressure control? I assume people in the past made it work for razors, atleast in America. Maybe a washita would help but i have none yet. Ive never tired to slurry an Arkansas and use that slurry on purpose, maybe ill try.

But I have experimented with using coticule, thuringian, tomo and different synthetic stone slurrys on top of my large translucent ark. Just a bit speeds up the translucent and you can "feel" how fine different slurries are. From grit to silk. I dont have a jnat bench stone yet and was just experimenting using similar process to how people use jnats. It seems to work but not amazingly. Ive also done this ontop of my Rozsutec. The Rozsutec seems to "like" having different slurrys on top more. Especially the thuringian slurry is satisfying to use. So i use it as my cheap slurry bench stone nowadays.
 
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