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What's the difference between Arkansas VS Ceramic Stone?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I'm just curious, is it a preference over which one to use for polishing?
post #2 of 17
Arkansas is natural stone, considered by traditionalists to be the best. IT requires lubrication and that you clean it after use. There are at least three grades sold. For a mirror finish its the best way to go.

Ceramic sharpens without need of a lubricant. They are man made and as such are more consistantly grit rated.

I have a metal file, diamond files, and a surgical grit Arkansas stone.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank you
post #4 of 17
Most "Arkansas" stones aren't that good according to a very thorough treatise on knife sharpening I read recently. As I understand it, the original high quality deposits have been picked over pretty well and what is left is either very expensive or of lesser quality.

I think there is a peculiar focus on polishing ski edges. First, you do not finish edges like a mirror; AFAIK carbon steel doesn't do the whole specular reflection thing no matter how badly you may want it to. Second, I think there is too much attention paid to the tools and the aesthetics and too little attention paid to the basics. I can't count the number of times I've seen very nice looking yet very dull edges.

I've never seen much evidence that an edge with a superlative surface finish is any better on the snow or any more durable than one that is merely average. There might be an argument to be made for using the finest naturally occurring abrasives to finish knives, but the bluntest knives are far more acute and sharp than the sharpest skis...
post #5 of 17
Garret,

I'm sure you know this, but the finer the surface finish, the more rust resistant the material becomes. Once you set a good edge, polish it up as much as possible and it will last longer, from an oxidization standpoint.
post #6 of 17
In addition, a polished finish has less friction and better gliding properties.
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by INDY GS View Post
In addition, a polished finish has less friction and better gliding properties.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but this only applies in certain situations. On the base, for example, we need some sort of a structure to break the suction bond when there is wet snow.
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by krp8128 View Post
I'm sure you know this, but the finer the surface finish, the more rust resistant the material becomes. Once you set a good edge, polish it up as much as possible and it will last longer, from an oxidization standpoint.
Sure, but where is our point of diminishing returns for carbon steel ski edges? Is it all the way to a black hard Arkansas, which might be similar to a 1200-1600+ grit abrasive?

Obviously the abrasive is only one factor, process makes a huge difference as well. My concern is that people talk a lot about what stone they should use and very little about how they should use it, which is IMO far more important. I'm all for good tools...just think the emphasis is misplaced.

For instance, I have some edges on an old SL ski here that I skied a few days on last season after tuning them in January. I put them away wet and never summer waxed them. I finished them with a 120 grit wheel. Sorry about the photo quality, but this is as good as my point and shoot will do. The fuzz is from my fingernail. Clearly you can see the beginnings of rust (and what look like a couple burrs) and polishing the tool marks out probably would have delayed that...but again I skied on these several days last year and haven't looked at them until now. Why should I have spent more time finishing them last year?

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by INDY GS View Post
In addition, a polished finish has less friction and better gliding properties.
We know less steel edge is better for glide. Best is none at all. Skis with most of the edge prepared off actually ski like crap though, and I call BS skiing rumor mill on surface finish of edges outside of huge curling burrs from rocks making any difference for mortals. Actually, I'll be more specific and call BS on it mattering for anyone not running speed events and losing by hundredths...which should include all but about half a dozen epic posters.
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by krp8128 View Post


Correct me if I'm wrong, but this only applies in certain situations. On the base, for example, we need some sort of a structure to break the suction bond when there is wet snow.

Yes the base needs to be structured properly to break suction which enhances glide. A polished edge is better than an edge with striations from tool marks. The edge will be less grabby especially on icy surfaces.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
We know less steel edge is better for glide. Best is none at all. Skis with most of the edge prepared off actually ski like crap though, and I call BS skiing rumor mill on surface finish of edges outside of huge curling burrs from rocks making any difference for mortals. Actually, I'll be more specific and call BS on it mattering for anyone not running speed events and losing by hundredths...which should include all but about half a dozen epic posters.

It may not make much of a difference for mortals, but it does make a difference. I personally can tell when a ski has machine tuned edges or hand tuned and polished edges. I prefer the latter. Now as to what git you should finally finish with is up to the individual. I use 3 different grits of diamond when finishing my race skis, ending with a 1000 grit extra fine diamond stone. Now could I tell the difference had i used a 600 grit diamond. Prolly not. I use what I have.
post #11 of 17
I don't think the focus is as much on if it matters to most of us, as it is what we should strive to accomplish with our tuning. Whether one takes it to a WC level tune is up to them, if they go only half way its also up to them. But it is incontestable that the better the finish the better the performance and longevity of your edges will be. Just don't fall on those edges, look what happened to Svindal...ouch, too much of a good thing.
post #12 of 17
Posts in this thread prove my point pretty well. No one has posted even a little bit of reasoning as to why they use the stones they use, or how they use them to achieve a superior finish. The way you use the tool is incredibly important. That 120 grit wheel used on the edge in the pic produces a very usable edge in one pass, but it does so with lubrication and a speed of ~4500SFPM. With hand tools 120 grit is not going to provide adequate results.

Anyone who has spent time painting should know this. You can finish a body panel with a DA sander at a much more rugged grit than you'd finish it with a block by hand and not have sanding scratches come through the finish. Does this make it the ultimate way to do the work? No, but it does make it far less time consuming. Edges are something we tune frequently, so I'm confused as to why people think the improvement in durability they achieve by finishing edges with finer grits is worth their time.

I challenge anyone here to do a double blind test of a finely polished edge and a merely par edge on "grippy ice" (IMO the most likely place you'd notice a difference) and correctly and repeatably identify the better polished edge. The idea that machine tuned edges feel different is a no-****-sherlock comment: no edge should be skied as it comes out of the machine due to limitations of machines at some critical points, but the time spent fixing those defects is nothing compared to the time spent properly polishing an edge tuned by hand.

I'll do the work in finding and preparing the identical skis and I'll buy the beer if you prove me wrong...
post #13 of 17
There is always more than one way to skin a cat. Which is the best, probobly cutting around the neck and using a large pair of channel locks to peel back.

Sure vice grips will do the same thing, maybe even some run of the mill pliers. The important thing is to do it tip to tail.... :

I personally like using diamond stones in varying grits because i like their cutting properties. Can the same be achieved with quality ceramic stones. Yes. Do I sometimes use the Grindrite to edge and then finish with diamond stones, you betcha'. It's all about preference. I personally like spendgin time tuning skis, setting bevels, sharpening, polishing, waxing, etc. Gives me good Me time. and I like the final results.

So for the OP, it is really about preference rather than the superior tool.
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by INDY GS View Post
Sure vice grips will do the same thing, maybe even some run of the mill pliers. The important thing is to do it tip to tail.... :
Now that is funny.
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
As I understand it, the original high quality deposits have been picked over pretty well and what is left is either very expensive or of lesser quality.
I have read this too. that would explain why my little sliver of surgical grade stone cost me $21 and my dad's large blocks that he uses at work cost well over $100, even 20 years ago.
post #16 of 17
I use water stones (silicon carbide composition) for my skis, since I find the water slurry easier to clean up than the oil needed for Arkansas stones (and I like to use a lot of water to keep the stone clean). I've never used ceramic stones -- do they work & last well without a lubricant? Would they be similar to diamond stones? Some sources say that diamond stones don't need a lubricant, but in my experience, they still work better & last longer when dipped frequently in water.
post #17 of 17
Everything I have read on knife and chef sites say no lube needed for ceramic. I dont use straight oil, just a soapy mixture I bought from Artechski, its like Secret Sauce. Seems to be water, wintergreen and maybe some alcohol, comes off clean no oily residue
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Tuning, Maintenance and Repairs › What's the difference between Arkansas VS Ceramic Stone?