1. Flattening oilstones.
With time we all end up with a sharpening stone that has a hollow in the middle. How to get it flat again? There are 2 ways to go about it. If you have more than one stone, both stones can be flattened by rubbing them against each other, using paraffin as a lubricating agent. Keep at it until the hollow in the middle is worked away. An alternative way is to work the stone on a flat piece of glass, using valve grinding compound as a cutting agent. Although I’ve never tried it myself, I believe 150 grit wet-or-dry sandpaper will also work. Either way, with a bit of sweat your stones will be nice and flat again. Got to keep those edges keen!
2. Sharpening stone lubricants.
While it is pretty obvious that Japanese water stones need water as a lubricant, what about the other so called oilstones? They need oil right? Well, yes and no. The man made stones like the cheaper grey ones you find in every hardware store certainly needs oil. A stone like the Norton Fine India also does well with oil. Those expensive Arkansas natural stones are another story. They are beautiful stones and I have used oil on them for years. Then, recently I discovered that water works a whole lot better on them. I confirmed this with technical support at Woodcraft in the States.
If you thin your oil with paraffin, the results will be much better. The harder the stone, the thinner the oil. On a stone like my Wichita, I use almost neat paraffin.
To have a properly sharpened chisel, one needs to polish that carefully honed secondary bevel by stropping it. Make a strop by gluing some thick leather onto a piece of wood with contact adhesive. The wood needs to be around 75-100mm wide by at least 200mm long. If you want to be fancy, band saw a nicely shaped handle as well. Whilst all sorts of pricey polishing compounds are available, common rubbing compound as used in the auto industry, works just as well. If you want, turn it into a powder by letting some dry out in the sun. Apply some rubbing compound to your strop and give that edge a few polishing strokes. Any one for a shave?