How to Choose a Sharpening Stone, Part 2: Oil Stones

oil stones

Oil Stones

See our previous post on water stones.

Now we move on to oil stones. There are many different types of oil stones available, from man-made to natural oil stones.

They’re harder than the water stones but they also wear out. They also do need to be flattened from time to time, especially the coarser ones as they are a little softer and tend to dish out easier. They also take longer to flatten, but you don’t have to flatten as often. In fact, if you freehand sharpen it allows you to use the whole stone, enabling you to get away without hardly ever having to flatten. If you use a guide when you sharpen it tends to limit the area of the stone you can sharpen on and that tends to hollow it faster.

I have used oil stones for several years, before moving to a different method (next post!) They can be a little messy because you’re dealing with oil, so make sure that you don’t have oil residue on your hands when you’re handling your work.

The one oil stone I use every day is a hard translucent oil stone, which is one of the finest oil stones there is. (There’s also a “hard black” one which, like the hard translucent, is a natural stone, but the hard black just doesn’t cut as well.) As said, the hard translucent is actually one of the finest of the oil stones and cuts very well, too.

I prefer to use oil stones for sharpening carving tools because they’re not as soft as water stones so the tools won’t dig into the stone. In addition, they are not as hard as a diamond stone, so they are easier on the thin edge of a carving tool.

Be sure to post any questions or comments you might have!

Next post: Diamond Stones.

Frank Strazza

See our sharpening stones video and full sharpening video course.

2 Responses to How to Choose a Sharpening Stone, Part 2: Oil Stones

  1. Larry Bevill October 20, 2014 at 3:47 PM #

    What do you use and how do you flatten your translucent and other oil stones?

    • Frank Strazza October 24, 2014 at 9:49 PM #

      Hi Larry,

      I have not had to flatten my translucent stone because it is pretty hard and I use the whole stone when I sharpen, so the wear is pretty even. When I was using all oil stones for sharpening, back in the day, I used a diamond stone for flattening them. That really works well.