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Re: BOOK_ARTS-L Digest - Proper care and feeding of Japanese waterstone?



The only Japanese waterstones I've ever worked with are the unmounted type.  I've
heard that the problem with the mounted ones is the possibility of the wood mount
warping, and throwing the stone's flatness (or your orientation with it as it sits
on the table) off.  Here's the method I learned for stone maintenance in violin
making:

When getting a new stone the first thing to do is check the surface with a perfect
straight edge.  The stone should be perfectly flat.  I think they usually look
pretty good when coming straight from the company but it's good to have a look at
it.  The stone must be looked at on every point of the surface (both surfaces, if
you have a double-sided one of different grits... and even all sides if you plan to
use these for doing scrapers)   Hold the stone edge-on, up to the light, as if
you're looking through a telescope, and gently place the straight edge on various
points.  Check it all along its surface widthwise; check it with a longer
straightedge lengthwise from edge to edge to see if there's any scoop (which you
don't want); and check both ways from corner to corner diagonally for any
irregularities or scoop.  There should be no irregularities and no space between
the straightedge and the stone.  When the stone is wet it should sit against the
straight edge surface as if in a vaccuum.

The stone can be flattened by mounting a waterproof abrasive surface (such as that
from a belt sander) onto a very flat backing, such as a perfectly flat marble slab
or workbench.  The wet stone should be pressed evenly down (be careful to put even
pressure onto it as you work) and move the stone over the surface in a sort of
'figure-eight' motion.  Periodically re-check the surface of the stone at all
points to be sure it's progressing well.  It's best to first flatten the
rougher-grit surface, because the slurry created from this will help the finer-grit
surface work go a bit faster.

To store the stone, keep it in water which should itheoretically be changed from
time to time (though I had one stone stored in a sealed container for over a year,
and the water was still fine!)  One way to help keep your flattened surfaces
well-maintained is to keep the stone raised up from the floor of the storage
container, so that it isn't sitting in its own slurry.  I've done this by getting a
black rubber welcome mat from the hardware store... this is the sort which has a
surface of little regular bumps... and cutting it to the size of the storage
container.

When handling the stone always be sure not to get any oil on it, or it will be
ruined.   Try to work on the surface evenly so that one side doesn't wear down
faster than another.. it makes it more time-consuming to flatten in the future.
The stone should be flattened, according to the above method, before every session
in which it's used.   Also remember that the grit of the stone is very abrasive to
human skin, even though it may not feel very abrasive.  If you rub part of your
hand against it repeatedly while working, you'll eventually bleed everywhere!
(this is not bad for the stone but it's not very pleasant in general)

I've never heard of adding bleach to the water to keep it from going bad.  Regular
water changes should suffice, & it seems that *never* changing the water will
suffice too.. (??)

Hope this wasn't too boring.  If you have any trouble with any of this please let
me know & I'll be happy to help.

~Robin

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