Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Lake Gaston, NC
Last I heard, Dan's and Halls were still slicing Arkansas stones. I bought a set from Halls a couple of years ago, before they sold the company. I bought my first set of oilstones from Smith's in 1973 or 4, and the new ones are as good. Both sets include the Black Translucents. As far as I know, the only kind that is used up is the white Wa****a. You can still find them, but they go for good money. The finer cutting stones are still as good as they used to be.
The Smith's stones were smaller than I like these days, and a couple of them were broken when a tornado took out a wall in a shop.
Definitely compare the two. Oilstones will do a fine job on 01 steel and softer, but are really too slow, to impossible, on A2 and harder steels. I like 01, so I still use oilstones if we are on a job where it's too cold to get hands in water.
The waterstones are manmade. You pay more for better quality. Better quality means that they cut faster, but still last longer. You can get a sharp edge with all of them. Kings are good to start on, because they are soft and forgiving. If you gouge one, it can easily, and quickly be fixed because they are soft. They have pretty good feel, but are slow cutting relative to more expensive stones. The good thing about slow cutting for someone just learning, is that you can't screw up an edge very quickly with them.
Tools from Japan probably has the best prices, and the best service and advice, but shipping can sometimes be a bit slow, since it's a one man show. I'd still highly recommend dealing with them. If you can afford Stu's three stone set, you will be set up fine for a couple of decades. It's probably a few dollars over 200, but includes a flattening plate. Sigma stones sold by Stu, and also Lee Valley are really nice stones.
Stu has a combination stone with something like a Sigma 1200 on one side, and 13000 on the other for about 75 bucks. It's a pretty big jump in grit, but will produce a really great woodworking edge with a minute of extra time over having a middle stone. If the 200 for the three stone set is too much right now, I'd suggest this stone, and add a middle stone recommended by Stu some time in the future.
Last edited by Tom King; 12-22-2014 at 09:17 PM.