What's new

Water of Ayr, Tam O'Shanter, and the Scotch hone

So, recently I got a scotch hone with WoA and ToS which is something I have wanted for a while. Some time ago I got a small razor sized ToS that is a fantastic stone. Feels so smooth and like a light baby powder and can do really a nice job on an edge. So much so it ruined me and has caused me to gather a few ToS (white and dark) that in the end are really no comparison to my first one which is cut more like a medium thuri. Beautiful spotted ToS. Then I finally get this Scotch Hone I have wanted for some time and the WoA side is identical to my nice ToS in feel and very similar in performance. This is a little perplexing to me in my understanding of the two stones. I have seen what I would consider to be a ToS called a WoA plenty of times and just considered it either mislabeling or an artifact from when I understand they used the name WoA for the spotted ToS originally (AKA snake stone). I have heard that WoA is from same quarry and contradictorily have also heard sold by same quarry but quarried elsewhere. I am not sure that I have ever seen a WoA alone that is dark and without spots like the one side of the scotch hone.

Does anyone know more about the facts behind these stones? Were first ToS spots and all sold as WoA like I have heard? The darker side of the Scotch hone labeled as WoA - does anyone know for sure where they were really quarried? Same spot or not?

Performance is performance. Names and provenance are just nice to haves.....but I like to have them when I can and there are a lot of knowledgeable folks here, so if anyone has more info or experience to share I am curious to hear it. Thanks in advance.
 
I had one a long time ago. Iirc the WOA were all quarried from the same place and I don't believe it is synonymous with where the Tam is quarried.
The WOA cannot be confused with a Tam, they look totally different.
 
Water of Ayr - Meikledale quarry
The problem with descriptions of these hones emanates
from the fact that in the early days the same name was used
for stones from different quarries and were sold by various
suppliers. As a result, also the quality was different. This
led to much annoyance.
In the early 20th century, the company announced that
henceforth the famous mottled beige stone would be known
as the "Tam O'Shanter". From that time the name "Water of
Ayr" should be reserved for the finer and scarcer dark stone
with black spots.
The dark blue one came from the Enterkine quarry.
Post a pic of your stone. They came from more than one quarry too so it gets confusing. Plus is your stone labeled? There are different Scotch dual hones not all had Water of Ayr on the other side.
 
No, scotch hone not labeled. Only Tam I had that was labeled was one of the little small safety blade sharpeners. I’ll get a pic up of scotch hone. Sounds like it was more complex than I realized. Would be disappointed if not WoA on this one because Tam is obvious looking and I thought sure way of knowing it was bone fide WoA without label was getting scotch hone - maybe not :)
 
There is a nice section in part three of Grinding and Honing including a site visit with pictures in case you haven't read it.

You get a few WoA stones cropping up on fleebay, often of different colour variants. I am never sure how they are authenticated. If they hone well then personally I don't care. If it quacks like a duck...
 
I have wanted one of these for sometime. I have a couple Tam O Shanter stones and love them. So I find it hard to justify paying the price for another one attached to a WOA since they go for a pretty good price. Haven't found one by itself for sale that can be verified for a reasonable price. There are also some old TOS labeled as WOA since they used to label them all that at one time, but those are easy to tell the difference on. Here are the two main variants I have seen that are the two they talk about in the H&G Part 3.

The first one has the classic look. The second is more of a black slate looking and more like a black escher as I have read it.

WOA.jpg
Water of Ayr.jpg
woastone.jpg
 
The ToS on this hone is not the prettiest but identifiable and very nice with steel actually. I have a lot of different slates and this darker side feels different to me, but I am open to experienced opinions on this. This dual hone is 7” x 1 ¾”.

Part of my problem is not coming across solo and confirmed WoA stones so being unsure what that stone is 100%. 90-95% but not 100. I have seen numerous speckled stones called WoA that I would call ToS. The scotch hones I have seen have speckled ToS and then darker stone for WoA and the WoA is what I was most curious about and wanted to try out.

Next to the scotch hone is my little honey ToS and I think I’ll never find a similar. I made the box and the label you see is not original, so it did not come labeled......although it is as ToS as the hat in my opinion.

BC3FD1FD-0384-4C51-B8B3-94EB3A952F0D.jpeg
9417FD47-6364-47BD-9F57-5968A6EED0BF.jpeg
949E5B92-CFF9-4F0B-B303-A2C41E600F3A.jpeg
DE9A5644-AA92-46FD-841D-4838ECD9748D.jpeg
4B7D3F7F-159F-42CA-B19D-A88F669AED2A.jpeg
745FD3EA-9AEA-4EEF-9A64-9C2222F8A840.jpeg
 
That looks like a TOS WOA dual scotch hone to me and the dimensions are how some came too. Now which mine that WOA stone side came from not fully sure.
 
Also nice catch on that stone. You outbid me glad I kept it low for ya. To address your question yes I have different TOS and one is superior to the rest. I am sure the same goes for WOA. Is the Tam that is attached to the WOA less fine than the WOA. You may just have a really fine tam in the box. That is just how Naturals roll. In which case you may not need the combo one. There maybe also finer WOA out there.

On another note not sure about the dual hones, but I know TOS came in different varieties of fineness for tools or razors and such. It maybe this combo was marketed for tools, but I believe the WOA labels I have seen all say razors.
 
Last edited:
Yea, went for much less than I expected really. I wanted it and was ready to go all in :)

Totally agree on naturals. Part of the fun for me is just that.

I need more time with the scotch hone to say. The ToS side is pretty good actually and much better than some of my nice but very mid-range ToS stones. The WoA is quite fine and very similar to my little honey ToS but clearly different stone and looks. With only a little time trying this out, it would appear both sides were selected for finer honing. So far, certainly happy with it. Just wanting to further my knowledge and all this has been very helpful so far.

I am not familiar with "Grinding and Honing". I googled it along with book (assumed is a book?) but what came up was a rather new publication so not sure if that was right.
 
I have wanted one of these for sometime. I have a couple Tam O Shanter stones and love them. So I find it hard to justify paying the price for another one attached to a WOA since they go for a pretty good price. Haven't found one by itself for sale that can be verified for a reasonable price. There are also some old TOS labeled as WOA since they used to label them all that at one time, but those are easy to tell the difference on. Here are the two main variants I have seen that are the two they talk about in the H&G Part 3.

The first one has the classic look. The second is more of a black slate looking and more like a black escher as I have read it.

View attachment 1032390View attachment 1032391View attachment 1032392


Is that your Dual Scotch Hone or just a photo from elsewhere?
 
That is a nice specimen S&S. I think he has it for sale in the BST if you are looking to pick it back up. Mine has seen some rough times in comparison and no where near as nice aesthetically. But I am pretty happy to finally get my hands on one. Like I said before, it is the true WoA that seems to have eluded me previously. And the company and quarry info on them was something I wanted to know more about.
 
I have white and black tam o's. They are 100% the same rock with subtle differences... like soft ark vs a slightly harder ark. I also have an "ayrstone". Nothing like the Tam O's whatsoever.


Tam O's are really similar to hard lily white washitas. My Ayrstone is like an ultra hard and fine coticule (in action and feel, not resulting edge).

Water of Ayr was used to refer to at least 2, and likely more, stones over the past century or two.
 
Yeah the names have flipped around a bit over the historic life of the stones. I have a notice from a trade magazine from way way back that mentions this. I'll see if I can dig it up.
 
I have white and black tam o's. They are 100% the same rock with subtle differences... like soft ark vs a slightly harder ark. I also have an "ayrstone". Nothing like the Tam O's whatsoever.


Tam O's are really similar to hard lily white washitas. My Ayrstone is like an ultra hard and fine coticule (in action and feel, not resulting edge).

Water of Ayr was used to refer to at least 2, and likely more, stones over the past century or two.

Well now I want to see pics. Is your WOA by itself not attached to a TOS? Is it labeled or boxed?
Here is one of my Tam O Shanters.

Tamo1.jpeg
 
Here’s a white Tam, black Tam and my Ayrstone. The Black Tam up close looks like a White Tam with the colors inverted.
 

Attachments

  • 975476D5-59C7-4957-AC0A-B8D62D449C09.jpeg
    975476D5-59C7-4957-AC0A-B8D62D449C09.jpeg
    1.7 MB · Views: 70
So, that paddle is your Ayr stone? Either the pic or I have never seen one that color called WoA. You know way more than me so I am not doubting you. But that certainly opens my eyes a bit and I realize I know less about visually identifying WoA that I even thought I did.
 
Top Bottom