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Maintaining oilstones?

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  • Maintaining oilstones?

    Might seem a daft question but is there any methos or need of maintaining an oilstone? I have one here I just got in and it has particles embedded in the surface - looks like aluminium but could be anything. The stone is approx 8"x2.5" a brown colour and in a wooden box. I managed to clean it by wetting with WD40 and rubbing a hardened steel shim up and down it. It seems to be pretty flat - no grooves etc just this contamination in the surface. Most of it has gone with my cleaning but some specks remain stuck fast.

    I took a HSS tool and honed the cutting edge on it slightly and it did seem to give a very nice sharp edge, but I gather this would create grooves in the stone?
    Peter - novice home machinist, modern motorcycle enthusiast.

    Denford Viceroy 280 Synchro (11 x 24)
    Herbert 0V adapted to R8 by 'Sir John'.
    Monarch 10EE 1942

  • #2
    Have a look at this:


    • #3
      That's great dp thanks, though judging by the condition of some of those in the link mine seems to be in pretty good nick
      Peter - novice home machinist, modern motorcycle enthusiast.

      Denford Viceroy 280 Synchro (11 x 24)
      Herbert 0V adapted to R8 by 'Sir John'.
      Monarch 10EE 1942


      • #4
        No Oil!

        Peter, I read this a couple of years ago and tried it. I don't use oil anymore and the stone washes out in water.

        Alternative Approach
        Never ever use oil on an 'oilstone'.

        Use strongish solution of liquid washing up detergent and water (say at a strength equivalent to one table spoon of detergent to 1 cup of water) - rinse stone in fresh water after use. (Even spit is better than oil!)

        This stops the pores of the stone from becoming clogged with a congealed amalgam of crushed stone, metal swarf and dried out oil. It will keep the stone in tip-top condition and will remain 'sharp' for it's entire life!

        (If you have a clogged stone, soak it over night in a strong hot solution of CLOTHES BIOLOGICAL washing detergent. You might have to repeat this a couple of times. Then never use oil on it again!)

        This is contentious suggestion, especially to craftsmen with years of experience in oiling an oilstone. But please try it. It really does make a vast difference - I have used both methods and will never use oil again!

        ALL oils will eventually dry out, dragging in the crushed stone & swarf into the stones pores. Thin oils could be worse in as much as they are more volatile and will dry out quicker.

        If you use detergent/water solution as a lubricant all you need to do is a quick rinse in water and then put it away. They can dry out completely and no special needs to keep it 'wetted' with oil!

        I have several carborundum stones which were my dads and have seen well over 50 years of service. Each one cuts metal as good as the day they were made. (Do you remember the delightful way a new stone 'bites' the metal - my 50 year old stone is like a new one every time!)

        I use the same solutions on my 'India' stones that I use as a hone for chisels. It even keeps the slip stones 'clean' that I use for polishing small surfaces.

        For your information, the 'wet and dry' paper that most DIY/car factors supply can be used as a 'sharpening stone'. (After all, it is carborundum powder of various grit sizes glued to paper with waterproof goo!)

        Place about quarter of a sheet of wet and dry on a very flat & clean surface and wet it with soapy water and sharpen the chisel or knife as if it were a proper stone! Use 240 grade to shape a very blunt/worn/damaged edge then sharpen with 400 grade. (scalpels can be honed with 600~800 grade). It is pointless to use finer grade than 800 because it in theory the edge of the blade is more perfectly formed, it will not 'cut' as well as an edge that has very slight imperfections. (The imperfections act like the teeth on a saw)

        I always have a sheet of 400 grade in my desk draw with a small block of Formica covered ply. If I need to sharpen my pen knives, I use them with a goodly dollop of spit - instant sharpener!

        Back to Contents Page

        It came from this site:

        About the bottom of the page.




        • #5
          Early time barbers used shaving soap on their stones when sharpening straight razors and we all know how sharp they kept them. They also used shaving soap on the leather strop but nothing on the canvas strop.
          It's only ink and paper