The Japanese sharpening stone manufacturer Matsunaga, in Osaka, makes the brands King und Sun Tiger is the oldest- and best-known maker of Japanese waterstones in the West.
King-Stones are relatively soft and have a comfortable feel in use, because one can see and feel the stone cutting the surface. These types of soft stones must be resurfaced relatively often however, as a hollow quickly develops in use.
The 240-grit grinding stone from Sun Tiger is also fairly soft and so can develop a hollow fairly quickly. But one is recompensed by the fact that it cuts very quickly and is useful for grinding out chips and nicks in the blades of chisels and knives, for instance. One can grind out a chip in a knife in a few minutes, but with chisels or plane irons, one must be careful to check often that one has not ground a hollow into the relatively soft stone. When sharpening a knife, if one moves the flat blade evenly over the entire stone, this will tend to keep the stone flat. But if one has a bunch of chisels to sharpen, for instance, the stone can start out flat, cutting a nice even bevel on the first chisel, but by the last chisel be so cupped that one would have to flatten the stone, and start over. The softer the stone, the more it needs to be watched, and the more often it needs to be flattened. This is not everyone's cup of tea, but if one accepts the need, one can have a wonderfully quick-working stone. The SUN TIGER 240-grit stone also needs much less pressure than, for instance, the SHAPTON 120-grit stone. The softer stone simply grabs and starts cutting from the first stroke.
Waterstones do wear concave with use and require periodic re-flattening. Our flattening stones will do this job. A flat stone is indispensable for effective sharpening, especially with flat blades like chisels and plane irons.
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