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How bad are Norton Water Stones really?

My knowledge and experience with the Norton water stones is extremely limited, but when I hear of people lapping up to 1/8" of the surface away to get to the good part of the stone I give them a pass. I did try a new Norton 4k at a meet once and it had incredibly coarse inclusions/contaminants or what ever on/in the honing surface. It wasn't my stone so I wasn't about to lap away a large amount of material to get to the good stuff.
Thanks, did the feedback on the stone just feel grainy or did the coarse particles gouge the edge ?
 
Thanks, did the feedback on the stone just feel grainy or did the coarse particles gouge the edge ?
When I got my 4k/8k years ago, the 4k side would spit loose grit. It felt like sand on the surface of the stone and would tear up an edge. Someone told me to grind it down to get a fresh surface and that fixed the problem. I took off maybe 1/16", and it's been stable ever since. The 8k side has always been fine. I don't know if the new ones are the same way, mine is 12-15 years old. It's been a solid performer for me.
 
When I got my 4k/8k years ago, the 4k side would spit loose grit. It felt like sand on the surface of the stone and would tear up an edge. Someone told me to grind it down to get a fresh surface and that fixed the problem. I took off maybe 1/16", and it's been stable ever since. The 8k side has always been fine. I don't know if the new ones are the same way, mine is 12-15 years old. It's been a solid performer for me.
Mine is also in the same age bracket, and I happen to have lapped a good deal off the 4K side due to a lapping "accident".
Maybe that's why I never had the coarse grit problem.
I think if I had, I would have definitely ditched Norton for Naniwa.
 
Bottom line, it you bought all new synthetic stones, you edges would likely not improve.

The trick is to get your edge to a clean 8k. 8K is where the edge gets straight. From 8k you can go to a natural easily, film or paste for comfort. In your case to your 15k.

If you are fully setting a bevel and removing each grits stria up to 8k your edges will only improve with other finishers. How you get to 8k does not matter.

Spend your time on perfecting you 8k edge and try other finishers. Perfecting honing is not in the stones, it’s in the hands.
 
The Norton brand went through some changes. At one time a Norton set was pretty much standard for honing razors, at least in the US. Then they went downhill, and my understanding is it was when they moved production to Mexico. They sucked for a good while. Lately they seem to maybe be a bit better. I have a 1k (actually behaves more like a 600) that I actually kind of like. I haven't tried the 4k or 8k from recent production. The 1k is a nice big brute of a stone and it eats steel like it was your granny's cookies. It seems reasonably consistent and homogenous. It goes dry pretty quick, when honing with clear water or water slurry. I suggest honing with motor oil or a dish soap solution. It seems to stay flat fairly well.

Remember that there are several different grit scales and Norton uses the ANSI scale while Naniwa etc use the JIS scale. So adjust your expectations accordingly with the Nortons.

Definitely the Naniwa Superstone and Chosera are higher quality, but apparently the new production Nortons are not utter garbage.
 
Thanks @H Brad Boonshaft, that's great advice there. There is certainly a lot to learn at the bevel setting stage, and there is no point in polishing a badly set bevel.

Now, as @Slash McCoy pointed out, the Norton stones are graded according to the ANSI standard and the Japanese stones are graded according to the JIS standard which have different particle sizes for similar "K" ratings.

So the Norton 8K (ANSI) is actually similar to a Shapton 5K (JIS).
If an edge was polished on a JIS 5K stone, would it be fine enough to go to a finishing stone ?

I know people did it for years (Norton 8K to finishing stone or even strop :-0), but they also did pyramid progressions which I believe has also fallen out of favor.
Maybe a suitable JNat could refine that edge with the right Nagura progression, but I suppose you could spend a very long time on a Naniwa 12K to get to sufficient level of refinement, if at all.
 
Perhaps the grit “standard” may be different, but not enough to make a measurable difference, especially if you will finish on an even finer stone. I routinely go from a 1k King to a 6k King and finish on a Jnat. I can get a near mirror finish from the King 6k, pre Jnat jump.

Most Jnats can finish a 1k bevel set stria easily, under 100 laps with just Diamond slurry, no Nagura progression.

A 12k is way more aggressive than most give credit. I once documented removing a chip, about the size of half the bevel with a 12k Super Stone in less than 80 circles and about 200 half-laps to finish. From a Norton 8k, piece of cake.

You can produce a very good shaving edge from an 8K with Chrome Oxide, from a 12k even better.


Google (12K Chip Removal/Bevel Setting).
 

IMightBeWrong

Loves a smelly brush
I like the Norton 4k/8k for knives nowadays. I think the 8K is a great knife stone for the kitchen to keep things keen. For razors, I got my start with the stone and feel like it's okay but not a finisher for me.
 
Perhaps the grit “standard” may be different, but not enough to make a measurable difference, especially if you will finish on an even finer stone. I routinely go from a 1k King to a 6k King and finish on a Jnat. I can get a near mirror finish from the King 6k, pre Jnat jump.

Most Jnats can finish a 1k bevel set stria easily, under 100 laps with just Diamond slurry, no Nagura progression.

A 12k is way more aggressive than most give credit. I once documented removing a chip, about the size of half the bevel with a 12k Super Stone in less than 80 circles and about 200 half-laps to finish. From a Norton 8k, piece of cake.

You can produce a very good shaving edge from an 8K with Chrome Oxide, from a 12k even better.


Google (12K Chip Removal/Bevel Setting).
Thanks for sharing your experience, this is good to know.

I have a King (Ice Bear) 6K and 8K that found one day in a woodworking goods store. I have never used them for razors, but I may give them a go some time. They are relatively narrow too.
Looks like I need more practice razors :)
 
I like the Norton 4k/8k for knives nowadays. I think the 8K is a great knife stone for the kitchen to keep things keen. For razors, I got my start with the stone and feel like it's okay but not a finisher for me.
Yes, definitely not a finisher. I will still give the Norton a chance - It doesn't sound like they are terribly bad, as long as you don't have the extra grit 4K issue and bubbles etc and don't mind putting up with some of their quirks that the better quality stones don't have.
 
There is/was a King Icebear stone, pale yellow stone, that was sold and advertised as anywhere from an 8k to 12k depending on where it was purchased.

That is a great stone, I bought one in the 90’s from a woodworking site, mine will produce a bevel and edge equal to a 12k Super Stone.

If you have one of those stones, that is a finisher and great for razors.

Here is one I just found on UK eBay

s-l1600 (1).jpg
 
There is/was a King Icebear stone, pale yellow stone, that was sold and advertised as anywhere from an 8k to 12k depending on where it was purchased.
This is the 8K stone I have -assuming, of course the #8000 means 8K JIS. I bought the artificial nagura separately. I don't think it's supposed to be used as a slurry stone though. It's just for dressing the stone from what I have seen.
I will have to try it out and see how it performs.
IMG_7240.JPG
 
Fifteen years ago Norton were the "Standard". They were what people recommended. Then people tried Naniwa's and Shaptons, and since then, Nortons are the "Cheap" option that is still usable. But they aren't really any cheaper (or at least not much cheaper) than superior stones... so they aren't really recommended.
 
Fifteen years ago Norton were the "Standard". They were what people recommended. Then people tried Naniwa's and Shaptons, and since then, Nortons are the "Cheap" option that is still usable. But they aren't really any cheaper (or at least not much cheaper) than superior stones... so they aren't really recommended.
Thanks, that's what it's looking like to me;
If you have one, it's OK to use it as long as it doesn't have any of the serious flaws.
If you are buying new synthetic stones, then rather buy Shapton/Naniwa/Something else that's better value.

I was concerned that the Norton stones were found to have consistent major issues when compared to the better quality stones,
but it seems that apart from what was maybe a couple of bad batches, they are OK, just not worth the money when compared to the competition.
 
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