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Dan's true hard or black Arkansas

Can someone chime in to share some wisdom on real differences between a true hard (extra fine) and the Black Arkansas (ultra fine) on Dan's whetstone website for razor finisher edge.

Is there a significant difference between the two in the end result as a finisher or is it just cosmetics? I found on a naniwa 12k right now and find yhe shaves be to pretty good at my amateur skills at honing.

I am looking at a 6x2x0.5 is this a good entry in to mastering an ark ?
 
I have a variety of Arkansas stones including one of Dan's ultra fine blacks. However, I rarely use them. Arkansas stones are unusual in that the way a stone is burnished has as much to do with the way the hone performs as the characteristics of the hone itself.

Although Arks are capable of producing a very nice edge, it takes time and patience to get there. I seldom use them because i do not have the required level of patience. If you do, more power to you.
 
I am not an Ark expert, but it is my understanding that you want to use a hard black or hard translucent for finishing, not a (plain old) hard. Confusing, right?

Hard black and hard translucent should be functionally equivalent, but hard translucent just costs more than hard black.

Sharpening Supplies sells house brand Arks that are sourced from Dan's for less $. The price of a Sharpening Supplies 6 x 2 x 0.5 hard black may surprise you. I own one and really need to spend more time with it.

I would be curious if people think it is easier to see what you are doing on a hard translucent (vs a hard black).
 
I own both the Black and the True Hard from Dan’s and for some reason the Black does seem to take the edge a bit further than the True Hard. More often than not a True Hard is what I would call a semi-translucent stone.
That being said what I use the most is a Translucent.
 
If you call Dan's and discuss what you are wanting they will personalize your request to what you need.
You can also purchase a (Primative) not a true rectangle and finished only on the top side very economical.
I have a 7.5" X 4" Primative razor quality and IIRC it was $50, took some work to finish up but turned out brilliantly.

Frank
 
If you call Dan's and discuss what you are wanting they will personalize your request to what you need.
You can also purchase a (Primative) not a true rectangle and finished only on the top side very economical.
I have a 7.5" X 4" Primative razor quality and IIRC it was $50, took some work to finish up but turned out brilliantly.

Frank
I've written a few emails without any responses. I guess calling might do the trick.
 
I’d call. If you get Kim, she is pretty responsive.
So couple of thoughts - I am not an Ark expert, but I do own an 8x2x1/2” black from Dan’s that is typically my finisher, so it part of my established rotation. Note that when I say finisher, I mean prior to using pasted balsa. My black ark gives a great edge, its just that pasted balsa makes it better, for me at least. I don’t own coticules, Eschers, JNats or any of the other famous finishers, so I can’t tell you how they compare.

1) Keith Johnson (who is a member of B&B) has a bunch of YouTube videos on honing-related topics. That includes several that focus on Arkansas stones. Strongly recommend that you watch them.

2) I have seen a lot of comments stating that effectively Dan’s True Hard, Transluscent, and Black Arks are all ABOUT the same density and therefore should give about the same performance. Key word is ABOUT. So a given black may or may not perform better than a given translucent or another black. These are natural stones, so some variation should be expected. Ditto for True hard.

3) I also own a Dan’s True Hard (4x1x0.25”) and Dan’s Transluscent (4x1,0.5”). For me these are too small to be effective razor hones. I haven’t used enough to tell a difference between them. For me 8x2x1/2” is a great size for bench-top honing if you have a stone holder. I also hone in hand with this but 6x2” would be a better size for hone in hand. 4x2” is a little on the small side IMO, but might be OK, never tried that size.

4) As others have said, it seems like sometimes you can buy a Dan’s stone from other vendors for less than directly from Dan’s. I will say that Dan’s seems to charge a bit more for a translucent while true hard and black are the same price. That doesn’t mean transluscents are better, I put it down to supply and demand.

5) To me the plus with Dan’s brand is that his stones are lapped flat and ready to go. My understanding is that this is not always the case and flattening a Ark is not fun. That said you can always play with the finish. I try to keep one side a little rougher than the other to give a slight progression. A shinier surface may give a finer finish, but it also really slows down the action of the stone. I burnished one side at the beginning but I’ve now backed away from that a bit.

6) Bottom line, I’ve bought from Dan’s and I’m happy with the service. Its probably not the only place to get a quality Ark, and it might not even be the cheapest place to get a Dan’s Ark, but in my limited experience the vast majority of people who buy from them are happy with their purchases.
 
Here’s what my True Hard stone looks like.
Took me a long tome to get a stone from Dans,,,several months but was told this upfront
I think it is becoming rare and difficult to obtain a good ark,,,,
Having look at a few arks i am certain there are stone grades and cuts,,,

Top tier stones,,,would perform better than say same stone
Not all black surgicals are top tier and stones may perform differently in same class
This would apply to all stone types

While im still acessing arks, ( recently received a prime cut stone),,,,,,
My thoughts is to get a ark and just use it and enjoy

I own 3 jnats,,,, they are all amazing but certainly different but all get me to were i need to be

For razors seems blk surgical and trans are recommended by shavers

Still evaluating my ark

Came flat and been using as is with good results

Not sure if above helps

Cheers
 
I have a Dans black plus a Natural Whetstone black and translucent. All three can put a nice edge on a razor.

All three are close to the same density. The blacks are both 2.71 and the trans is 2.69. Dans come finished better but if you’re willing to put in some sweat equity the translucent stone from Natural Whetstone is actually a bit cheaper.

Dans on the left Natural Whetstone on the right


38465A64-042B-4E05-8AA3-8485FDBFD9B5.jpeg
 
I’m a big fan of Novaculite for razors. Not exotic in the US but a very capable and consistent finishers. Ark’s tend to give me the sharpest natural edge I can get. I don’t find them over complicated or overly slow. I even enjoy prepping them. In some ways they are very simple; no slurry and practically no dishing. There’s a technique to prep them for razors and there is no unanimous agreement on what that technique is. I’m only a ‘two stone expert’ so not an authority on the subject by any means. I do get great ark edges though.

Dan says that Black is there finest razor stone I would think Dan knows the stone from his quarry better than practically anyone and I take him at his word. My example of Dan’s Black is a fine finisher. Other sources may be different but from Dan’s quarry, Black seems to be the way to go for razor finishing.
 
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Can someone chime in to share some wisdom on real differences between a true hard (extra fine) and the Black Arkansas (ultra fine) on Dan's whetstone website for razor finisher edge.

Is there a significant difference between the two in the end result as a finisher or is it just cosmetics? I found on a naniwa 12k right now and find yhe shaves be to pretty good at my amateur skills at honing.

I am looking at a 6x2x0.5 is this a good entry in to mastering an ark ?
I like a 6x2 over larger ones but I generally prefer to hone stone in hand.
 
I’d call. If you get Kim, she is pretty responsive.
So couple of thoughts - I am not an Ark expert, but I do own an 8x2x1/2” black from Dan’s that is typically my finisher, so it part of my established rotation. Note that when I say finisher, I mean prior to using pasted balsa. My black ark gives a great edge, its just that pasted balsa makes it better, for me at least. I don’t own coticules, Eschers, JNats or any of the other famous finishers, so I can’t tell you how they compare.

1) Keith Johnson (who is a member of B&B) has a bunch of YouTube videos on honing-related topics. That includes several that focus on Arkansas stones. Strongly recommend that you watch them.

2) I have seen a lot of comments stating that effectively Dan’s True Hard, Transluscent, and Black Arks are all ABOUT the same density and therefore should give about the same performance. Key word is ABOUT. So a given black may or may not perform better than a given translucent or another black. These are natural stones, so some variation should be expected. Ditto for True hard.

3) I also own a Dan’s True Hard (4x1x0.25”) and Dan’s Transluscent (4x1,0.5”). For me these are too small to be effective razor hones. I haven’t used enough to tell a difference between them. For me 8x2x1/2” is a great size for bench-top honing if you have a stone holder. I also hone in hand with this but 6x2” would be a better size for hone in hand. 4x2” is a little on the small side IMO, but might be OK, never tried that size.

4) As others have said, it seems like sometimes you can buy a Dan’s stone from other vendors for less than directly from Dan’s. I will say that Dan’s seems to charge a bit more for a translucent while true hard and black are the same price. That doesn’t mean transluscents are better, I put it down to supply and demand.

5) To me the plus with Dan’s brand is that his stones are lapped flat and ready to go. My understanding is that this is not always the case and flattening a Ark is not fun. That said you can always play with the finish. I try to keep one side a little rougher than the other to give a slight progression. A shinier surface may give a finer finish, but it also really slows down the action of the stone. I burnished one side at the beginning but I’ve now backed away from that a bit.

6) Bottom line, I’ve bought from Dan’s and I’m happy with the service. Its probably not the only place to get a quality Ark, and it might not even be the cheapest place to get a Dan’s Ark, but in my limited experience the vast majority of people who buy from them are happy with their purchases.
I have to give this a +++, as this is the same experience that I had with Dan's. Kim answered all of my questions. All of my stones arrived flat and ready to go. I ordered a soft, black, translucent, and ultra hard, all in 8 x 2 x .5.
I also have a 6 x 2 x .5 Surgical Black I got from Best Sharpening stones that I convexed.

Of the two 8 x 2 x .5 finishing arks I got from Dan's I prefer the feel of the translucent to the ultra hard, the translucent being slightly pricier due to availability.

I also have a naniwa 12k that produces fine edges, but taking a naniwa 12k edge to a translucent or a ultra hard ark will really smooth it out.
 
Thank you all for the valuable inputs. I decided to call the vendors mentioned in all the posts here looking for a translucent ark 8x2x1/2 to get a feel of their perspective.

Kim was out of office and I would be able to talk to her only tomorrow. Someone else filled in meanwhile.

I spoke to three vendors.

One of the vendors surprised me when I asked for a dead flat translucent arkansas for razor finishing so I have to do minimal work with sic powder and glass.

He was glad to help me with a real flat one if I called him on phone for an order.

What he said next surprised me.

He said for razors the naniwa 12k are best stones and if I am looking for the translucent hard ark for an edge better than the naniwa 12k, I should not buy it as it would not be more than 4k grit which is not really a great shaving edge !

Now a question - wouldn't all translucent arks be the most premium stone for.a razor edge, given variation in stone to stone based on source and natural composition?

Would be happy if anyone guides me here.
 
There is no best finishing stone. It's a matter of preference. Different people like different finishes. One idea is to buy a wide range of stones to find out what you like. Another approach is to have a few of your razors honed by reputable honers on different types of stones. And remember that you can always sell stones you don't use on the BST. That's why I bought a 6 x 2 x 1/2 hard black from Sharpening Supplies before I bought my first JNAT and got hooked. I should add that I still enjoy the edges I get from my Naniwa 12k.
 
Thank you all for the valuable inputs. I decided to call the vendors mentioned in all the posts here looking for a translucent ark 8x2x1/2 to get a feel of their perspective.

Kim was out of office and I would be able to talk to her only tomorrow. Someone else filled in meanwhile.

I spoke to three vendors.

One of the vendors surprised me when I asked for a dead flat translucent arkansas for razor finishing so I have to do minimal work with sic powder and glass.

He was glad to help me with a real flat one if I called him on phone for an order.

What he said next surprised me.

He said for razors the naniwa 12k are best stones and if I am looking for the translucent hard ark for an edge better than the naniwa 12k, I should not buy it as it would not be more than 4k grit which is not really a great shaving edge !

Now a question - wouldn't all translucent arks be the most premium stone for.a razor edge, given variation in stone to stone based on source and natural composition?

Would be happy if anyone guides me here.

In my earlier post, I noted that with Arkansas stones the way the stone is burnished is as important as the stone itself. Arkansas stones are sold by density level, not by grit level. The black and translucent stones are similar in density level. The grit level is considered to be fairly coarse. A very dense stone can be burnished such that it will be suitable for finishing razors. Arkansas stones are a type of Novaculite which means razor stone. However, like Japanese naturals, there is a significant learning curve to optimizing the edge you obtain from these stones. Others types of stones are much easier to learn for beginners.

Synthetic hones are sold by grit level with grit levels of 8K and higher being considered suitable for razors depending upon your preference. Personally, even 12K is not fine enough to produce a edge to my liking. I purchased a Suehiro Gukomyo 20K stone which is a synthetic stone with a grit size of 0.5 micron. It makes a much finer edge than a 12K, but even then, I like using pasted strops with abrasives as fine as 0.1 micron to achieve an edge that my face really enjoys.

To learn more about pasted strops, search for Slash McCoys "The Method".

Many people advertise natural stones based on a comparison with the scratch pattern of synthetic hones such as the Naniwa. For example, Chinese Guangxi hones are often said to be 12K stones. Unlike synthetic hones which can be produced to a relatively consistent grit level, no two natural hones are identical. Some people have given the Guangxi hones the sarcastic nickname of PHIG (People's Hone of Indeterminate Grit). However, to be fair, all natural hones have indeterminate grit levels. I had one Guangxi hone that produced an edge I liked better than my Naniwa 12K, but I had another that was closer to my Naniwa 10K. I have three natural hones that I believe produce an edge that is significantly better than a Naniwa 12K. One is a GreeK Vermio, the second is a South African Zulu Grey, and one is an Imperia la Roccia. Even though the specimins I own are excellent, I cannot guarantee that one you might purchase would produce the same edge as mine. That is the reality of natural stones.

That is why many people recommend that newcomers start honing with synthetics such as Naniwa, Shapton, Norton, and King or some of the private brands such as those sold by Sharpening Supplies. One thing I like about Shapton hones is that their grit progression doubles from one hone to the next. They have 1K, 2K, 4K, 8K, 16K and 32K hones. However, the Shapton 16K hone is similar in grit size to the Naniwa 12K and the Shapton 32K hone is simlar in grit size to the Suehiro 20K. There are multiple systems of measuring grit levels, so it can be difficult comparing different brands.
 
Arkansas stones from different vendors are likely to be different stones. Some sell stones using the same names/grading as Dan’s but are much lower quality in my opinion.

Naniwa 12k is a good finishing stone, so whoever you spoke to is correct. If it was not Dan’s you were speaking to then maybe it is one of the other vendors from different mines just being honest.

Dan’s finest stones tend to be good razor finishers as well, but some do like to tweak them with finer polishing (using wet/dry paper) or/and burnishing them by using something like a carbon chisel or knife and sharpening with pressure.

Naniwa is a finisher and Arks can be finishers too. Slightly different edge feel but you are talking about two very keen finishers. The ark is a much harder and much more unforgiving stone for poor technique while the naniwa is pretty easy to use. You don’t really need both, but both tend to yield nice final edges.

If you want to really know it will be a great ark, then be sure and buy the Dan’s. Too many people unhappy with other vendors if you do a search here - others seem to be more of a gamble but certainly a bit cheaper at initial purchase. The color of the Dan’s in their finest categories is really not very significant - in that range I find the individual stone is more significant. I have two SBs from Dan that are in my highest top tier finishers, yet I have one that while is a good stone, not as good as a translucent Dan’s I have. The translucent Dan’s I have I go back and forth if it is as good as my two top SBs but is as good as my old Norton trans whites and blacks. So again, at this level they all probably perform great and it is more of a stone to stone variation with color not being an indicator of much.

By the way, I have one of those monster 12x3 surgical blacks and it is a dream edge maker.
 
[. . .]
Dan’s finest stones tend to be good razor finishers as well, but some do like to tweak them with finer polishing (using wet/dry paper) or/and burnishing them by using something like a carbon chisel or knife and sharpening with pressure.
[. . .]
This is a good distinction between polishing and "burnishing" as loosely used on the forum, although I would still prefer that "burnish" be applied to the effacing of metal scratches by a stronger metal, as in using a steel burin on a copper plate in engraving and etching. As for Dan's Arkansas stones as finishers, they go up in finesse depending on how high they are polished with sandpaper or smoothed with chisels or knives or razors. Given their density or hardness they even act as burnishers in addition to sharpeners on the razor's bevel and edge, thus acting higher than the lower grit ratings to which they are assigned. The lower grit rating may also assume that they are to be used with knives and lapped more coarsely.

Again, to the OP's first thread and title, Dan's true hard is a good stone, basically a translucent at the price at the price of a black hard. I find them and the translucent to be a bit more versatile than the black hard.
 
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