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Lily Whites are Long Gone

Any reader of this site knows I am a fan of oil stones... One of the finest quality oil stones out there are by the Norton company are known as "Lily White Washita" stones.  These are the type of stones I learned how to sharpen on - I had one of these stones for many years, and lost it through a mishap 10 or 12 years ago now - and I have missed it. They had gone out of production many years ago and were no longer available, but still command a hefty price for a vintage one on ebay and the like when you found a used one. 

Then, a couple years ago, Joel Moskowitz at Tools for Working Wood worked his magic with the Norton company (the manufacturer and owner of the quarry where they are mined) and got them to resurrect their Lily White Washita line of oil stones. 

When I heard they were available again I was ecstatic.  But of course I didn't buy any right away - I always had something else that was more important to get first, as I now have a hard translucent arkansas that's been serving me quite well.  However - I nearly waited too long...

Well - it was too good to last.  Recently Joel received a call from Norton saying that "Lily White Washita would be discontinued because there was too little demand for it, and it took too much time to quarry for the effort" and as a result Tools for Working Wood inventory was it - and "when we run out of what we have that's it".

Unfortunately, these are not inexpensive stones (good quality natural sharpening stones rarely are) and though I wasn't planning on it, I managed to save enough money to buy two stones (a 6" x 2" x 1" and an 8" x 3" x 1") before they ran out.  As of this writing, they were out of all but the multistone size (11 1/2" x 2 1/2" x 1/2"), but I don't imagine those lasting much longer.  I think the two I ordered were among the last of those sizes to be sold...  [P.S. 8/21/08 - all sizes now appear to be sold out]  As I've said before - if I could have only one bench stone, it would be a Lily White Washita.  They are a truly fine sharpening stone. 

Thanks to Joel and to toolsforworkingwood.com for getting Norton to resurrect them - if only for a short while - and offering them to the masses.  I sincerely hope they become available again someday.

Lily White Washitas

Photo courtesy of Tools for Working Wood - whom I seem to be mentioning a lot lately... but it's purely by coincidence, I assure you!  I have no connection to them other than recognizing they are a fine company.

Leif

Comments

Comment: 

 

have you tried Dans Whetstones? 
Dan and Steve Kirschman have a novaculite quarry which they harvest the sharpening stone from - along with flintknapping grade novaculite to make arrowheads with - you  might take a look at their stones....
 

Comment: 

 

Thanks for the reference.  I've heard good things about Dan's Whetstones, though I have no personal experience with them (and I have oil stones coming out my ears, so it's doubtful I'll be needing any soon).  
 
I should note (as to not give the wrong impression) that they do not have the "Lily White Arkansas" stones - first of all, that is a trade-marked name (by Norton) so even if they did they could not market it as such - but even so I do not believe they have a directly comparable stone.  I may be wrong, of course, but I don't think so...  However they may have fine quality Arkansas stones without having that particular kind...
 
Leif

Comment: 

I happen to have an original one of these that I purchased (80 cents as I recall ) as a teenager more than 50 years ago. It's my go-to stone for final work, but is not as flat as it once was. Can you recomend someone to resurface this stone? 

Comment: 

Nice!  Proves just how valuable and long lasting they can be!

Sorry these comments are hard to differentiate, the database upgrade has messed up how they display - I'm working on getting that fixed.

You don't need to send it out to be re-surfaced.  Just take some sandpaper (60 then 100 grit) on a flat surface (jointer or table saw, a glass plate) and work the stone over it until it's flat.  For cleaning, see this article on cleaning oil stones.

EDIT:  Also, many people use a coarse diamond stone...

Good luck!

Leif