1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hone

HONE (in O. Eng. hán, cognate with Swed. hen; the root appears in Skt. çána, ço to sharpen), a variety of finely siliceous stone employed for whetting or sharpening edge tools, and for abrading steel and other hard surfaces. Synonyms are honestone, whetstone, oilstone and sharpening stone. Hones are generally prepared in the form of flat slabs or small pencils or rods, but some are made with the outline of the special instrument they are designed to sharpen. Their abrading action is due to the quartz or silica which is always present in predominating proportion, some kinds consisting of almost pure quartz, while in others the siliceous element is very intimately mixed with aluminous or calcareous matter, forming a uniform compact stone, the extremely fine siliceous particles of which impart a remarkably keen edge to the instruments for the sharpening of which they are applied. In some cases the presence of minute garnets or magnetite assists in the cutting action. Hones are used either dry, with water, or with oil, and generally the object to be sharpened is drawn with hand pressure backward and forward over the surface of the hone; but sometimes the stone is moved over the cutting edge.

The coarsest type of stone which can be included among hones is the bat or scythe stone, a porous fine-grained sandstone used for sharpening scythes and cutters of mowing machines, and for other like purposes. Next come the ragstones, which consist of quartzose mica-schist, and give a finer edge than any sandstone. Under the head of oilstones or hones proper the most famous and best-known qualities are the German razor hone, the Turkey oilstone, and the Arkansas stone. The German razor hone, used, as its name implies, chiefly for razors, is obtained from the slate mountains near Ratisbon, where it forms a yellow vein of from 1 to 18 in. in the blue slate. It is sawn into thin slabs, and these are cemented to slabs of slate which serve as a support. Turkey oilstone is a close-grained bluish stone containing from 70 to 75% of silica in a state of very fine division, intimately blended with about 20 to 25% of calcite. It is obtained only in small pieces, frequently flawed and not tough, so that the slabs must have a backing of slate or wood. It is one of the most valuable of all whetstones, abrading the hardest steel, and possessing sufficient compactness to resist the pressure required for sharpening gravers. The stone comes from the interior of Asia Minor, whence it is carried to Smyrna. Of Arkansas stones there are two varieties, both found in the same district, Garland and Saline counties, Arkansas, United States. The finer kind, known as Arkansas hone, is obtained in small pieces at the Hot Springs, and the second quality, distinguished as Washita stone, comes from Washita or Ouachita river. The hones yield on analysis 98% of silica, with small proportions of alumina, potash and soda, and mere traces of iron, lime, magnesia and fluorine. They are white in colour, extremely hard and keen in grit, and not easily worn down or broken. Geologically the materials are called novaculites, and are supposed to be metamorphosed sandstone silt, chert or limestone resulting from the permeation through the mass of heated alkaline siliceous waters. The finer kind is employed for fine cutting instruments, and also for polishing steel pivots of watch-wheels and similar minute work, the second and coarser quality being used for common tools. Both varieties are largely exported from the United States in the form of blocks, slips, pencils, rods and wheels. Other honestones are obtained in the United States from New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Ohio (Deerlick stone) and Indiana (Hindostan or Orange stone). Among hones of less importance in general use may be noted the Charley Forest stone—or Whittle Hill honestone—a good substitute for Turkey oilstone; Water of Ayr stone, Scotch stone, or snake stone, a pale grey carboniferous shale hardened by igneous action, used for tools and for polishing marble and copper-plates; Idwal or Welsh oilstone, used for small articles; and cutlers’ greenstone from Snowdon, very hard and close in texture, used for giving the last edge to lancets.