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.
The stone is 200mm x 60mm (8" x 2 1/4") and about 25mm thick (1").
Japanese and European Combination Stone
The Combo Imanishi Amakusa / La Lune Natural Stone is a particularly exciting sharpening stone. 1Stone takes a natural Japanese stone and affixes it to a natural La Lune European stone. The resulting combination stone is versatile and enjoyable to use. The Japanese Imanishi Amakusa is the coarser of the two sides and is typically used first to establish an edge on your knife or tool. The European La Lune is a refining and finishing stone. Used after the Imanishi Amakusa, it leaves a cutting edge with a hint of toothiness.
The Imanishi Amakusa places as a medium-fine to fine stone in our Grit Chart, comparing to a water stone in the 800 - 1000 grit range. This milky white stone is flecked with cream, gray and brown spots and has a chalky feel to the touch. It gives excellent feedback. You can really feel the grit and it makes a most satisfying sound as well. It is harder than a typical man-made water stone, but not as hard as most of the Arkansas stones grades. It has a "just right" feel when gliding a blade across it, neither slick and glassy nor muddy and soft. It leaves a cloudy finish on the metal. It is a satisfying initial grit for knives and tools that still cut, but which are in need of sharpening, or it can be used to continue refinement after establishing an edge with a coarser stone.
The Imanishi Amakusa come from the Kumamoto region of Japan. 1Stone obtains them in large slabs, then cuts and surfaces them in their shop in France. The sides are coated with varnish in a traditional Japanese method to protect from excessive moisture absorption. A smaller piece of the same stone is included as a nagura (or bout or dressing stone if you prefer) which can be used for light cleaning and dressing or for forming a slurry. If flattening or resurfacing is required, it can be done with a diamond stone, something in the 325 grit or finer range will leave a nice surface texture on the stone.
Use With or Without a Slurry
The Imanishi Amakusa can be used with or without a slurry for varying levels of abrasiveness. When used with a muddy slurry created by using some water and the included nagura, the stone is more aggressive, comparing to an 800 grit water stone. The slurry can be thinned by progressively adding more water to the stone surface. When the slurry has been replaced by straight water, the stone compares to approximately a 1000 grit water stone.
The La Lune is an extremely fine stone in our Grit Chart, comparing to a water stone of about 6000 grit. This dark red stone has a smooth, hard feel to the fingertip and can contain inclusions of lighter color. This stone does not absorb a great deal of water and like the Imanishi Amakusa gives great feedback, smoother, but still with slightly gritty feel. It also makes a satisfying sound when moving a blade over it. With a hardness comparable to the softer end of the Arkansas stones, it leaves a hazy finish and a smooth cutting edge.
Compared to the other 1Stone offerings, the La Lune is similar in grit to the Pierka, but a bit softer and coarser. The La Lune is also softer and not as fine as the Green Shadow or the Black Shadow, and works nicely as a lead in to these finishing stones.
The La Lune, or "The Moon", was a trademarked whetstone in Europe for many years before fading away. 1Stone revived the trademark in 2021 and follows strict protocols to maintain the same level of quality found in the earlier stones. A smaller piece of the same stone is included as a bout (or dressing stone or nagura if you will) and it can be used for cleaning and smoothing the surface, or for creating a slurry. When necessary, the La Lune can be flattened with a diamond stone of 600 grit or finer.
The La Lune can be used with or without a slurry. The included bout is used with water to form a slurry on the surface. When used with a muddy slurry, the La Lune performs roughly equivalent to a 6000 grit water stone. The slurry can be thinned by progressively adding more water to the stone surface. When the slurry has been replaced by straight water, the stone compares to approximately an 8000 grit water stone.
The La Lune is also available as an individual stone.
Combination Dressing Stone
Whether you call it a bout, nagura or dressing stone, you will get a combination one with this combination stone. One small piece of Imanishi Amakusa and another of the La Lune are affixed to each other in what resembles a small duplicate of the larger stone. Each is used to work the surface of its corresponding larger stone.
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.