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 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 frosted finish and a cutting edge with a hint of toothiness.
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.
Use With or Without a Slurry
The La Lune can be used with or without a 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 When the slurry has been replaced by straight water, the stone compares to approximately an 8000 grit water stone.
1Stone says the following regarding the use of a fluid other than water on the La Lune. "Using oil or Glycerin will result in a shinier finish than water. Changing from oil to water use is not a problem provided the stone is cleaned well." 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.