India Stone Impressions / Why Aren't These Things More Popular!?

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    I’ve been using diamond, and before that I had tried both sandpaper and Japanese waterstones.

    The diamond stones are okay, and I preferred them to waterstones because I don’t like having to flatten them constantly, or let them soak in water before use. However, I just don’t like the feel of diamond when I’m sharpening, and I don’t find the coarse stones to be that fast at removing material actually.

    Then, just recently, I picked up an old double sided Norton India stone (Fine/Coarse), and I have been truly impressed! The coarse side removes material faster than anything that I’ve seen, including sandpaper — I was finally able to re-profile the bevel of a hatchet I had which had proved resilient to everything else I had thrown at it. And the fine side gives very good feedback, and a decent edge ready for stropping.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share with you all my discovery! I really like the feel and function of my India stone, and I feel it’s probably the most cost effective sharpening media for a new woodworker. I really don’t understand why they’ve fallen out of favor. I wish I had known about/tried them before spending so much money on diamond and water-stones, and will hence forth be recommending them to anyone getting into woodworking.

    I think I’ll be making a box for it following Paul’s instructions, glue some leather on the top for a strop, and I’ll have a single, self-contained sharpening station 😀

    PS. My only recommendation for someone considering such a stone is to make sure it’s not cupped. Mine is vintage and pretty flat on both sides, but it seems that modern Norton stones have a tendency to be cupped (like a board); concave on one side, and convex on the flip side. For a double sided stone, that can make sharpening next to impossible, as I can attest to from my own experience using cheap stones. Not really an issue if you get a single grit stone, though, because you can flip it to the concave side and just use that side consistently.

    • This topic was modified 6 years, 1 month ago by lukedupont.

    I agree I have one and still use it from time to time and usually take it with me when I travel. However I still like my Eze – Lap Diamonds for everyday use.


    Steve Massie, I live in the great State of Florida, US

    Matt McGrane

    I wish I could try something before buying. I bought the diamond plates based on Sellers’ recommendation and I like them, but for some things they take a long time. Like when you need to change the bevel angle a bit (I have no grinder). I’ve read about the India stones and others. One concern is with keeping them flat and that’s just another thing you need to buy with them that you don’t need with diamond plates. A lot to think about.

    Matt, Northern California - Started a blog in 2016:

    Richard Senior

    I still use Norton India stones (coarse -> medium -> fine). If they become badly cupped or grooved, I flatten them with a really cheap coarse diamond plate (which must be flat, obviously). The diamond plate gets clogged eventually and needs cleaning under running water with a toothbrush and a drop of detergent. Rinse the plate with water and repeat until the stone is flat.

    IMO, although the coarse stones (grey/black silicon carbide) are quite fast, the medium and fine (orange/brown aluminium oxide) are much slower.

    John Meaney

    I don’t like the coarser diamond stones, they just don’t last. I use the Norton Combination stone 100/320 Coarse/Fine and a Superfine diamond stone for finishing. I flatten the back with the superfine diamond stone before and after bevel sharpening on same stone.

    I use a 400 diamond stone to flatten the Norton fine stone maybe 20 strokes occasionally but always find the middle high in both directions after.

    The rough side of the Norton is soft/wears easy so I only use for correction etc but it does cut through steel fast. The oil can be messy so I thinks a box is necessary and it maybe why people don’t like it.

    Anything I make will be better next time.

    Eric Lundholm

    its amazing, my grandfather was a finish carpenter and retired in the early 70s, india stones were all he had to sharpen on and he made fine furniture, trim, etc. As Paul Sellers notes in one of his videos if your only going sand to 250 why do you need finer on your plane blade? I like Arkansas stones also for another old time solution. Only problem is they and the india stones are oil stones and not as handy to clean up as easy water stones or diamond.

    as an aside great honing oil can be made from equal parts of non detergent 30 weight motor oil and kerosene or lamp oil.


    I find the wear induced cupping/hollowing to be the main issue. Since most stones I see are less 400 grit, and most diamond hones above 400, this seems to be the were the speed difference is in metal removal. I am looking for about a 100grit diamond for this reason.

    I still use my India/Arkansas stones on my knifes, and after reading through the Razorsedge years ago, find they really do work just fine with out oil or water.

    Tuscloosa, Alabama
    Lung T'an Hu Huesh Kung-fu Woodshop

    Roger Evans

    I’m still using both a single- and a double-sided Norton stone that I’ve had since the 1960s. Granted, they haven’t been used continually over that time as my woodworking has been only a part-time hobby, but they still work very well and give a really sharp edge to plane blades and chisels.
    I’m now 76 years young and have recently inherited what was originally my grandfather’s oilstone and it too still cuts beautifully, though it is a bit dished. The thing that amazes me about this stone is its size; it measures 10″ x 2″ x 3/8″ thick! (thin?) And it’s fitted snugly in a box similar to the one Paul shows on the video, including the snipped-off nails on the underside to stop it slipping around on the bench top.
    The throwaway society doesn’t stand a chance where our family is concerned!

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