I have been working to swap over to oilstone and freehand sharpening in my shop. Overall I really like oilstones and sharpening with oil. However one thing continues to bother me…
Take a look at these 2 chisels. The smaller one shows a very nice mirror polish. It was taken up to 6000g king waterstone, the polish appears almost as good off the 4000g stone though. The larger chisel was prepped using a black Arkansas stone. It has a dull appearance, but still some amount of mirror to it. The finish is less uniform.
This is a stupid thing to split hairs over, but it has bothered me. My first sharpening tools were waterstones. At this point my skill level has improved, yet I can’t get my oilstones to produce a sheen like that of the waterstones.
I am starting to think it is just a result of the slurry that builds on top of the waterstone. The fine abrasive that breaks loose must be of a finer particle size and leads to a higher polished appearance than an equivalent oilstone. Does this agree with anyone else’s observation? Or am I just stretching here?
The funny part is that the blade is just as sharp if not better off the oilstone. It just doesn’t look as pretty. Off the 6000g king the blade still needs a stropping. I used to go straight off of an 8000g norton to work, but since I started stropping me definition of sharp has changed slightly :D
So at the end of the day the blades are sharp. I have gotten decent enough at freehand to be able to freehand on my waterstones. I found that the quality of the cutting edge is about the same despite looks of the entire bevel and back being a bit different. So I guess I just have to be content knowing that despite the lack of mirror polish on my oilstone-sharpened tools they are still very sharp. Oh, and of course I still think waterstones are a mess to work with :p
-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama