New Opportunity in Natural Stones
We're excited to be working with 1Stone and their natural European and Japanese stones. Natural stones connect with a deep tradition in sharpening, and though they are less commonly seen these days than the man-made alternatives, they can be just as relevant today as in years past. Working with them may feel different if you are used to modern synthetic stones, but the results can be rewarding indeed. 1Stone in France is producing wonderful natural stones and we're proud to be sharing some with you. We're confident that you'll feel a connection with these natural stones and enjoy the process of sharpening with them.
Mirror Polish Stone
The Black Shadow is a mirror polish stone on our Grit Chart, comparing to a water stone of about 10,000 - 12,000 grit. This black stone has a smooth, hard feel to the fingertip and can have a mottled gray-black appearance. This stone does not absorb a great deal of water and does not need to be soaked before use. Compared to the other 1Stone options, the Black Shadow is harder and slightly finer than the Green Shadow. It is also finer than the Pierka or the La Lune stones and works well to refine the edge after either of them. The manufacturer recommends it for finishing razors and knives, or other tools such as chisels and gouges. It has a feel similar to a Hard Black or Hard Translucent Arkansas stone, but is a little softer and has a bit more grab in use. The Black Shadow leaves a fine polish and a smooth razor edge.
Dressing Stone Included
A smaller piece of the same stone is included as a dressing stone (or bout or nagura if you prefer) and it can be used for cleaning and smoothing the surface, or for creating a slurry. When necessary, the Black Shadow can be flattened with a diamond stone of 600 grit or finer. Coarser grits should be avoided to maintain the smooth surface texture of this stone.
Use With or Without a Slurry
The Black Shadow can be used with or without a slurry. The included bout is used with water to form a slurry on the surface. The stone will be a little more aggressive with a thicker slurry. Continually adding a little water as you sharpen will progressively reduce the slurry until there is only water on the surface. At this point the stone will be at its finest polishing stage.
1Stone says the following regarding the use of a fluid other than water on the Green Shadow. "The water-based finish will allow a shiny polishing, the use of glycerin/oil will allow a more homogeneous finish, it is possible to switch from oil to water-based use provided the stone is thoroughly cleaned." Soapy water can be used for cleaning.
Q. What is the difference between these natural stones and synthetic stones?
A. Synthetic stones are man-made by forming small bits of abrasive material into brick form using a resin or ceramic binder. These natural stones are rocks chosen for their abrasive qualities, quarried directly from the ground and cut and ground into shape for use as sharpening stones.
Q. The description mentions levels of grit such as medium-fine, fine and extremely fine. Where do these labels come from?
A. We have established a chart of relative grits of stones of various types to provide some comparison between all the options. See our Sharpening Stone Grit Chart for the full list.
Q. I received my stone and it doesn't look like the one in the photo. Why?
A. These are natural stones, formed in the earth. Slight differences in the conditions of the rock's formation will cause the appearance of different pieces of the same rock formation to be a little different. Differences in color especially are common. Minor differences are normal and expected and do not change the performance of the stone.
Q. Are natural stones better than man-made stones?
A. Better or worse is a very subjective thing. It depends on what you want out of your sharpening experience. Synthetic stones and natural stones can both give sharp edges, but the experience of getting there will be different depending on which you use. For instance, if you are looking to experience a connection to nature and tradition while you sharpen, then natural stones are a fantastic way to do that.