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Welch slate?

Legion

Staff member
Yep. I'm pretty sure the Cwt i Bugial / Shepherd's Hut would never have been used as a honestone in the past. It's too fine for anything apart from the last very last stage of razor honing.

Just something I found at Inigo Jones and asked Roger to cut me up few hones from. And he raised a very quizzical eyebrow because of how fine grained it is.
Yes, certainly niche, but it's great at what it does. And really easy to use.
 
I had a few of the Welsh Thuringian stones from him. They weren't very consistent from stone to stone. For sure, a natural stone really can't be given a synthetic grit assignment. But every edge off those WT stones were easily and significantly improved by honing on a 10k or 12k SS or similar.

That’s wild. Two units is not a large enough sample size for me to be able to speak definitely about those welsh thuringians I guess—but then again the odds that I would get two really good ones at separate times seem pretty low. Both of mine behaved exactly the same and they improved my edges from a 12k super stone. Weird. I’m not saying I don’t believe you—I’m just saying you and I had a different experience.
 
I will say, I've had a dozen or more of the black Yellow Lakes (all vintage), and while I don't love them (or even like them well enough to recommend them more than occasionally despite being 8x2x1" stones you can easily get around $50)... they are ok finishers for razors and some razors actually shave really well off them.

That said, the two modern (10 years ago) Dragons Tongue I owned were definitely not. 3-5kish I'd guess. I remember finding them similar to the Mueller stone at that time. Much softer than any vintage Yellow Lake I've owned.

I don't believe I've owned an AJ stone... unless I got one second hand without being told what it was. I felt his listings (lots of Uk stuff listed as "Bought from a vintage german collection!!!!" etc), and some of his other practices were fishy enough I didn't want to send him any business. I've always operated off the assumption that best case it's as good as the vintage stuff... and the prices weren't sufficiently lower to make me buy his stuff over a Yellow Lake, Lynn idwal or Dragons Tongue... all of which are pretty easy to get affordably still... with none being stones I really look for ever.
 
Best slate like hone I ever had was from Eastern Europe. Was a fleabay purchase, bought by a known seller at a 'boot fair' in Romania or something like that. There was no cork sniffing to be had.

I say slate like because it wasn't analyzed. Slate is a stage in a process that starts with clay mud at the bottom of a pond or ocean and that prolith morphs into harder stones over time while under pressure. There is no light switch effect, the process is slow. With time and compression, particles and minerals change from one thing to another, and particle sizes increase. Phyllite is more coarse than Slate, Shale is finer than Slate, and so on. Proper slate is fine grained compared to Phyllite or Gneiss, but in the grand scheme of things it's still just Slate.

Point is, my fleabay stone may have been shale. Dunno. Aside from good edges, the main stand out feature was that it was greasy. Not like oil Shale, but still greasy. Not like it was soaked in oil either, it seemed to be naturally greasy. It did not leak or stain things.

That stone actually sharpened, it did not smear or burnish like hard indurated slates do. It made good edges from great ground work. I still wouldn't say it was equal to a 15k stone because it wasn't that at all. A real 15k synth makes an incredibly fine apex when the early work was done correctly. How well the stone is honed before the finisher has a tremendous impact on the finisher's physical fingerprint. The difference between a Norton 8k edge finished on an Escher might not be much different than a Norton 8k edge finished on the back of a glued Coticule. But if that Norton edge was polished further, lets say a real 8k then a 10k Glass Stone and then finished on that same Escher, IME those results are way better. In the latter progression, the edge width will be much thinner unless the laws of physics cease to exist on your stove.

The Romanian Slate produced edges I liked better than those finished on whatever else I had in that class of stone. Couldn't say for sure that it made any edge technically sharper than an Escher or Thuri or even a 12k SS, but when used after a high grit synth the edges seemed to cut at least as equally well but were less aggressive and they possibly cut better.
Even so, I couldn't see using it to finish a razor when I have a Translucent Ark that does such a way better job. Same for the Purple slate, I like those stones for some inexplicable reason, maybe because they are purple. I have bought many of them over the years and I nearly bought another one recently. But after 6-7 shaves I'm done and go back to better options. About 10 years ago I had one of AJs purple stones listed on the BST; @Bayamontate inquired about it and I told him there were better fish in the sea.
 
Prior to a finishing attempt on my WS I added a second layer of tape for a micro bevel speed test.

I never observed the secondary bevel form even after 100 or so strokes.

Not sure what to make of it…
 
Prior to a finishing attempt on my WS I added a second layer of tape for a micro bevel speed test.

I never observed the secondary bevel form even after 100 or so strokes.

Not sure what to make of it…
The slates I have seem to burnish if the surface gets glazed too much.

How was the surface condition?

I usually lap the surface with a diamond plate and dress the surface with a nagura each time I use these stones.
I don't have much experience with these stones. My Black shadow and my unknown vintage stone seem to give quite similar results.

I probably get a sharper edge from something like a 10k synthetic stone. However, a razor with an acute bevel angle works just fine for me with a slate edge.
 
The slates I have seem to burnish if the surface gets glazed too much.

How was the surface condition?

I usually lap the surface with a diamond plate and dress the surface with a nagura each time I use these stones.
I don't have much experience with these stones. My Black shadow and my unknown vintage stone seem to give quite similar results.

I probably get a sharper edge from something like a 10k synthetic stone. However, a razor with an acute bevel angle works just fine for me with a slate edge.
I definitely need to re lap the stone and re test.
 
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I'll explain a few things, given it's a subject I know quite a bit about...

4.) There are quite a number of different stones sold as 'Yellow Lake Oilstone'. What I've said above refers only to the most common type. There are purple Yellow Lakes, there are Green novaculite Yellow Lakes, &c.
I saw in your post that it’s hard to tell the type of yellow lake stone from an internet pic but would seeing the box help? Can you tell the generation of the stone by the type of logo on the box? As I looked at yellow lake stones on eBay I saw a lot of different looking boxes from very antiquey looking to fairly modern. Also the thickness of the pictures one appears to be one of the thinner type. Would you be able to tell if this would be one of the good type or one of the bad type?
 

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I saw in your post that it’s hard to tell the type of yellow lake stone from an internet pic but would seeing the box help? Can you tell the generation of the stone by the type of logo on the box? As I looked at yellow lake stones on eBay I saw a lot of different looking boxes from very antiquey looking to fairly modern. Also the thickness of the pictures one appears to be one of the thinner type. Would you be able to tell if this would be one of the good type or one of the bad type?

Put a drop of vinegar on it as see if it reacts. Some do and those are the most desirable ones.
 
About 10 years ago I had one of AJs purple stones listed on the BST; @Bayamontate inquired about it and I told him there were better fish in the sea.

I hear you. It’s not always about having the best fish in the sea but the fish that you like. I did my ancestry dna and found that my ancestry goes back to England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales in that order (and like 2% from Sweden). I have an affinity for things from that region of the world. Fish from Japan, Germany, or Belgium don’t interest me as much even if they are better fish. I would like to get good examples of stones from England, Scotland, and Wales for sure and would even like a razor stone from Ireland and Sweden too if there was such a thing—but I can’t say if I ever heard of such a thing.
 
I hear you. It’s not always about having the best fish in the sea but the fish that you like. I did my ancestry dna and found that my ancestry goes back to England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales in that order (and like 2% from Sweden). I have an affinity for things from that region of the world. Fish from Japan, Germany, or Belgium don’t interest me as much even if they are better fish. I would like to get good examples of stones from England, Scotland, and Wales for sure and would even like a razor stone from Ireland and Sweden too if there was such a thing—but I can’t say if I ever heard of such a thing.

One reason I’ve been collecting UK stones. We have similar ancestry, mine being English, Irish and Scottish in that order. A touch of Scandinavian tossed in.

I have almost most of the stones. Don’t think I’m missing much.
 
I am a slate fan. I got a few from that fella. They were inconsistent. I did get a black one that is a great finisher, one of my favorites. I gave a large purple one to my brother in law, He is a chef, and uses it on knives. He says it's for showing off.
 
Would you be able to tell if this would be one of the good type or one of the bad type?


Well this kinda depends on your PoV of course, I imagine back in the day the coarser and faster versions were considered ‘better’. Being less flip though - I know what you mean obviously. So in answer to your q.s…

No I don’t think you can tell the difference between the two yellow boxes, I believe they’re identical.

I’ve never seen one of the finer types in the thinner red box size though. And from the look of the stone too - I’d say with pretty much complete certainty that’s not one in your picture.

I’ve had quite a lot of YL stones, and they’re genuinely pretty much impossible to tell apart without having both of them in hand. As Rick said - an acid test seems to be a reliable indicator.

The finer version is not common though, I’ve only ever had one. So you’d need a fair bit of luck to get one.

It’s worth noting also - slate is inherently a very fine-grained type of rock, coarser slates are less common. The reason it might seem the other way round is that it’s the coarser stones that would’ve been selected for whetstones historically.

If you want particularly fine grained slate - just ask a wholesaler to cut you some. It may be a touch more expensive because it tends to have less fissility which makes it more difficult to quarry, and is more likely to be used for decorative indoor purposes. But very fine slates are not uncommon, and a decent size hone should still set you back no more than $20, cut to spec.

You can email Inigo Jones and they’ll cut and send you whatever you want fancy if you ask nicely. Penryn Heather Red, Cwt y Bugail, and Dorothea (Nanttle Valley) stones would be a good place to start.
 
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