Waterstone froze but did not break and now won't sharpen

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Forum topic by Goodsh posted 02-14-2014 04:28 AM 1707 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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92 posts in 2978 days

02-14-2014 04:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: waterstone water stone freeze soaking

Okay so apparently I took my waterstone out to the garage when it was not quite dry… When I brought it back in to do some sharpening it had some ice on it but was not broken. Now no matter how long it soaks it will not hold water. Once I do a few passes with a plane blade it’s basically dry on top. No matter how much water I add as I go it dries almost instantly and I’m getting no swarf – to the point where after doing 30 passes and wiping the blade with a paper towel the paper towel is totally clean! No swarf at all. I’m using a 1000 grit so there really should be evidence of it cutting.

What the heck? I’d always thought that the issue with waterstones freezing was that they’d break but I’ve never heard of them not holding water anymore. Is this a thing? Any suggestions or do I just need to buy a new one?

11 replies so far

View lateralus819's profile


2243 posts in 2947 days

#1 posted 02-14-2014 04:37 AM

Is it thawed out? Could still be frozen inside.

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 3733 days

#2 posted 02-14-2014 04:39 AM

Still dry? I mean it froze dry on the inside and it needs to take in more water.

View Goodsh's profile


92 posts in 2978 days

#3 posted 02-14-2014 04:53 AM

Not frozen now. It’s been in the house for a couple days. It’s always been fine after just 10 minutes of soaking and I soaked it now for a hour. I’m going to try soaking it overnight and see if it makes a difference.

View JohnChung's profile


422 posts in 3132 days

#4 posted 02-14-2014 07:48 AM

did it touch oil? Try to gently heat up the stone. Which part of US are you from?

View msurvilo's profile


45 posts in 2623 days

#5 posted 02-14-2014 08:33 AM

Wow that’s wild. I second what those above have said, except I’d put it in a pot of water and heat that up. Maybe it would open up the pores again…

-- Matt, California.

View Tim's profile


3859 posts in 3019 days

#6 posted 02-14-2014 02:06 PM

Sounds like the expansion from the ice broke open all the pores. Seems odd that could happen enough to have it not hold water but not break the stone, but that seems to be what has happened. Maybe whatever binder components were in the stone were pushed aside.

View JohnChung's profile


422 posts in 3132 days

#7 posted 02-14-2014 03:00 PM

This puzzle bugs me. Why does water not penetrate the surface. Is it oil or the surface can’t absorb water? Try renewing the surface of the stone with diamond plate or sandpaper.......

View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 4422 days

#8 posted 02-14-2014 04:39 PM

Resurface the stone. The reason water stones work so well is because they break down quickly to renew the surface. If they froze, it is possible that the pores are now clogged with fractured material. If you are not planning to use the stones for a period of time, you can store them dry and soak them prior to use.

View Jim Baldwin's profile

Jim Baldwin

56 posts in 3416 days

#9 posted 02-14-2014 05:22 PM

Water absorbed within the stone froze, expanded and crazed the matrix composition of the stone. This left a completely porous stone rather than the designed semi-permeable composition. (Didn’t Tim just say all that?)

It’s probably ruined as a water stone since a surface slurry is no longer possible. Before discarding, try using it as an oil stone.

-- Jim Baldwin/[email protected]

View Goodsh's profile


92 posts in 2978 days

#10 posted 02-15-2014 02:29 AM

I’m in Canada (Calgary, Alberta). I think Jim and Tim nailed it. This sucker is toast. As a waterstone anyway. Maybe it has new life as an oil stone. Or a paper weight. I’ve had the stone in the garage lots in the winter and it was in the house for a day before I took it out this time (in a plastic case with holes in it) but the last week or two have been steadily below -20C so I guess a combo of extreme cold and not quite being dry. It looks perfectly fine but it’s totally porous and will not hold water. Nice tip on trying it as an oil stone Jim. Not sure I want to bother though as it seems like it might be a pain to switch from water to oil for sharpening one tool.

65 bucks for that lesson…

View ColonelTravis's profile


1976 posts in 2952 days

#11 posted 02-15-2014 03:21 AM

Ron Hock’s book doesn’t mention a stone freezing, but if you let the water freeze with the stone in it you will “thaw out a couple pounds of expensive gravel.” So I guess there’s not much of a difference there.

It’s not -20C where I am (that is insane!) but cold enough that I’m paranoid keeping stones in the garage, therefore they always stay in the house.

Sorry about the loss, brother, I’ve had worse lessons.

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