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"Natural Whetstone Company" Arkansas Stone Review

I purchased the 1,200 grit "black Arkansas" item number NW82HBL which I assume stands for Normal Width 8" (length) 2" (width) HARD BLack.

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It is listed as equivalent to 1,200 grit.

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Every single site says that a 1,200 grit black Arkansas stone should have a VERY high specific gravity (density) and that wasn't the case here.


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By all accounts and measures I should have received a VERY hard black Arkansas and that isn't what was sent. The scratch pattern I am getting is closer to 600 grit.
Yeah it is described as a finishing stone, sucks that it is that soft. They have one that is rated by them as 1400, that is the one I bought, and it is really hard. Don't know the reason they call that a 1200 grit and this a 1400 grit other that they deem the 1400-stone finer. Abit laughable to put grit rating on natural stones, but maybe needed to get buyers.
They do have a finer stone (according to them) which is finer than the 1200 black one, so a black at Dan's may be this 1400 stone at nwc.
 

duke762

Contributor
Welcome to the forum! Sorry your first thread is such a bummer.

A couple years ago I purchased a Woodcraft Black Surgical new in the box for real cheap. When I got it, I was hot. Burned again. Obviously a carborundum and not a nice one at that. I stewed and pouted about it for weeks. I couldn't even look at the darn thing. Twice I had it in my hand to drop in the Goodwill box, just to hide my embarrassment of being ripped off on the Bay again. Then I started lapping it. I still wasn't positive until I got into it a ways. It did feel a bit heavy for a carbo but the light didn't come on right away.

A really nice Black Surgical came out of that little misadventure.

Couple of things...

Slice is correct on the pitted surface point. Arks are lapped with loose grit at the factory that can be quite course. The lapping media does not cut the stone but rolls around and flattens it with a pitting action. Little micro fractured pits are doing all the work at this point. These residual pits will produce a rough texture that can be pretty quickly knocked down by a fixed abrasive like the 220. But he pits will still be a prominent feature of the stone resulting in a courser scratch pattern. Things won't start to happen until most if not all factory pitting is removed and you get up to around 400 on the loose grit and finish it up on 600 W/D paper. Fixed media (W/D paper), will actually cut the novaculite, for a little while.

Give up on diamond plates for Arks. Arks eat diamond plates. They actually wreak havoc on the binders that the plates use. Diamonds can also stubbornly embed in the Ark causing unpleasant surprises later. It's best to stay away from diamond compounds also.
Harbor Freight diamond plates for corner rounding or beveling but no diamonds for lapping.

And it's always possible that someone put the wrong stone in the box.....
I kind of hope that's the problem but I'm afraid it might not be.

Biglo13 posted in the "Just Bought a Black Ark" thread a similar experience with his supposedly hard Ark from them and I bought a Hard Ark slip that are almost definitely Arkaram type stones. Advertised as hard Arks. I see 1200 grit black novaculite in the ad but the word "hard" is suspiciously missing....a lot.. in the ads.
 
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Dan's ther only one i buy! Sorry to hear of your misfortune. Always was tempted buying the black/trans... but reviews weren't stellar. Greg B.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
 

SliceOfLife

Contributor
Got a great stone out of their black translucent, but the big price drop ($120ish to $50ish) from that to the black hard worries me. Still, definitely try to smooth it more. It could surprise you for the reason Duke gave.
 
Try taking it to a finer grit. If you lap arkansas on coarse SIC powder, they get a cratered surface that makes them seem much coarser than they are. I wouldn't be surprised if coarse sandpaper did the same.
I actually tried doing this a few weeks before I recorded this recent video. I took the stone up to 1500 grit silicon carbide sandpaper and the stone still did not perform.

After I finished it on 1500 grit and it still didn't perform... I figured it needed to be used extensively to reveal the true characteristics of the stone. The stone became dished from use and it still left a coarse scratch pattern.
 
Finally flattened my black ark. It killed my 200 grit diamond plate from harbor freight and another couple sheets of paper. Went straight sic 120 on the granite and that did it. My ? Mystery turkey washita is almost done straight on the granite. Could smell oil doing it even after cleaning it. Will report back after I flatten the trans and lap them all to 600 sic.

My experience with lapping my stones is the same. Loose Silicon Carbide works much much better than sandpaper!
 
Thinking I should have got a lower grit than 120 on sic pumice. It is taking me forever on this trans black. I measured the gravity as lower than the black but it isn't budging on getting perfectly flat. It's still off by about a sheet of paper at one end. The first 7 inches is flat then the last three is still showing light under the straight edge. Only got a couple ounzes of power left. It doesn't really look like the sic is doing a damn thing lol.
 

SliceOfLife

Contributor
I actually tried doing this a few weeks before I recorded this recent video. I took the stone up to 1500 grit silicon carbide sandpaper and the stone still did not perform.

After I finished it on 1500 grit and it still didn't perform... I figured it needed to be used extensively to reveal the true characteristics of the stone. The stone became dished from use and it still left a coarse scratch pattern.
That’s concerning. Almost sounds like it may be an Arkaram type stone.
 
I will send my black from them with return shipping if you want to look at it Sliceolife. It's definitely different from the trans black but I am no expert. Their hard I have read was questionable but most like their blacks they get. I have a small(pocket) trans and hard from Dan's that are completely different from the NW black.
 
That’s concerning. Almost sounds like it may be an Arkaram type stone.
I did notice that the stone produces a strong sulfur odor whenever I am lapping it. I'm not familiar with Arkaram stones but I'm guessing it is a ground Novaculite stone that is glued together with some sort of binder?

I should have known it was "too good to be true" based on the price but I figured it could have been a new company trying to get their name out there.
 
And it's always possible that someone put the wrong stone in the box.....

When I initially received the stone and spoke with the company, they assured me that the stone they had sent was the stone I had ordered.

I understand that it is too expensive to test the specific gravity of every single stone but there should be some sort of quality control in place to make sure people aren't being sent soft stones when they offer soft, medium, and hard stones for sale. This stone should be of much higher quality than their soft, medium, and hard stones they have for sale.
 

SliceOfLife

Contributor
Yeah you definitely shouldn’t smell sulfur lapping an Arkansas.

And yes, what I meant was a stone made out of quartz dust from Novaculite mines in binder.
 
NW's black Arkansas stone advertised as 1200 grit is a Dunston stone. It is, most likely, not novaculite.
 
So what exactly is a dunston stone? I can't find anything besides what looks like name branding. Halls and a couple others have black Ark's they call dunston but also call them novaculite. I read that Dan's mentioned them as not being the real thing, I also have seen people state they love their dunston stones.
 
I had a long chat with Oscar, who owns Preyda, on the phone earlier this year. This particular stone came up in conversation. He told me that their regular Black Arkansas is not novaculite, it is a type of slate and it's the same Dunston Stone from the same quarry that Halls used to use.

If you search Knife Center - you'll find a discontinued listing for Halls # 30034, a Dunston Black 6x2.
If you search Preyda's site, they use the same cat number for the same stone.

I called NW - was told their 1200 grit black stone was a Dunston. I remember them selling it as a Dunston but they stopped using that name.

There is a lot more to the story but I'm stopping here.
What I wrote above should be ok with the Mods.
 
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Thinking I should have got a lower grit than 120 on sic pumice. It is taking me forever on this trans black. I measured the gravity as lower than the black but it isn't budging on getting perfectly flat. It's still off by about a sheet of paper at one end. The first 7 inches is flat then the last three is still showing light under the straight edge. Only got a couple ounzes of power left. It doesn't really look like the sic is doing a damn thing lol.
All other things equal, the larger the stone the more pain in the butt it will be to lap flat. There is a certain threshold of pressure that must be reached for efficient - or quick, if you will - cutting. Pressure is force divided by area. Going from a 2" × 8" stone (16 in²) to a 3" × 10" stone (30 in²) nearly doubles the surface area, which means you need to push down on the stone just about twice as hard to cut at the same speed. This is why the flattening of a stone always seems to go exponentially slower as the stone gets flatter - because it actually does! Certainly doesn't help either that as it goes fatigue is setting in, causing arm muscles to push down with less and less force.
 
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