View Full Version : Arkansas stones and India stones

03-22-2007, 06:25 PM
What is the difference between Arkansas stones and India stones? I have plenty of man made stones and diamond abrasives/blocks but no natural stones and I want to get some. DavidH.

Your Old Dog
03-22-2007, 07:06 PM
The india stone is a first/fast cut stone and the hard arkansas is hard like glass and puts on a polished edge.

Don't forget "Water of Ayre" stones. They break down rapidly with water and you can get a lot accomplished with them.

03-22-2007, 07:22 PM
Thanks YOD. I did some reading and am under the impression that India Stone is refered to any block of natural or man made stone unlike Arkansas stone that referes to the particular stone type mined in Arkansas USA. IS this cortrect or is there a source (India??) for and a natural stone called India Stone? DavidH.

03-22-2007, 07:36 PM
I haven't just looked this up, but I was under the impression that India stone was also a manufactured product. All the ones I've seen I'm sure were not natural. Whether there is or ever was a source in India used in commerce I don't know, but I doubt it.

03-22-2007, 07:58 PM
The wood carving group my parents are members of are following the lead of wood carvers now using unpolished marble as a polish or strope stone. I have grey and pink which seems to be a little coarser than the pink. And they are selling Japenese water stones in the 6000 grit numbers.

03-22-2007, 08:14 PM
India Stones are man-made from Aluminum Oxide.

Arkansas stone, or "Novaculite" is a type of flint -- microcrystalline quartz. It is very hard, and very dense, and makes an excellent finishing stone.

03-22-2007, 08:30 PM
AFAIK, Japanese water stones use a Japanese grit designation which means something different than what 6000 grit would mean on American grit scales. I don't know the constant of proportionality but the American number for the same grit is much lower. It's accepted among woodworkers to use the Japanese grit system for these stones.

03-23-2007, 02:22 AM

I really don,t know about the India stones, never have tried one. I recently purchased a Arkansas stone and have been using it on HSS lathe bits. The differance is remarkable. I used to just touch up the cutters on the grinder, and call it good, but now I wouldn,t think of not using the Arkansas stone to finish the job. Surface finish has improved for me, big time.

The main thing that did amaze me with the Arkansas stone was, its hard as hell, and does not get grooves in it from sharpening HSS lathe cutters.
I should have got one years ago.

If you havn,t tried one yet,,try it, you,ll like it.

Cheers Paul

03-23-2007, 07:57 AM
mcmasters.com has a pretty good discription on the subject. Search their website for "stone" and click on "About sharpening Stones". They have a lot of these -metals, plastics,insulation...

03-23-2007, 08:00 AM
I have heard there are crazy people who collect these things !
Here are a few of mine, picked up over the years at junk sales, evilbay (if the price is right).

The source of many of the natural stones is imposible to identify (unless the label is still there) except for the obvious ones like the mottled grey Water of Ayr (although there is also a black Water of Ayr seen on dual sided stones), Forest of Arden (usually greenish). Arkansas is often difficult as it comes in several colours from transluscent through to black.
They can of course be identified petrologically but in most cases this does'nt help as to identifying where they come from.
They all have different characteristics apart from the grit size, one nice thing about Water of Ayr (produced by ‘The Water of Ayr & Tam-o-Shanter Hone Co.’) is that it is soft enough to be filed to the shape required & is used a lot by jewellers to remove file marks before polishing.
Some years ago I visited their site, originally a quarry but by then a drift mine. The stones are kept underground until required for cutting to shape as the rock tends to weather if kept above ground. The paths around the site were made from broken pieces of the ¼ & ½ inch slip stones !
The term ‘India’ was probably used as this was one of the sources of natural carborundum before the synthetic came into production.

Your Old Dog
03-23-2007, 08:05 AM
I'm not sure how they got the name India stone but the thread is young yet, I"m sure someone will have the name of the 1837 fur trapper who sharpend his axe in front of the natives and dubbed it India Stone :D

I used India stones on my HSS woodturning tools and they work great. Thanks 8ntsane for reminding me my lathe bits shoud get just as much benefit in the finish left on the work.

Once read that the Hard Arkansaw stones come out of a specific quarry in, of all places, Arkansaw!

03-23-2007, 09:51 AM
The term ‘India’ was probably used as this was one of the sources of natural carborundum before the synthetic came into production.

Ahh, that explains it!

By the way, here's a good web page that describes the various sharpening stones: