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Thread: On the road at Dan's Whetstones

  1. #1
    Senior Member Longhaultanker's Avatar
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    Default On the road at Dan's Whetstones

    I've been intending to stop by and visit Dan's Whetstones for quite some time. About 30 miles north of Interstate 30, and just west of Hot Springs, Arkansas, today was the perfect day for the visit.

    Here's how it came about. I was fueling my big rig at the Loves truck stop in Little Rock this morning about 08:30, not needing to be back in Houston till Saturday morning. Lots of time. As I say, I've been wanting to go by, but now I had a motive. (More about that in a bit). So I called, spoke to Mary S., said I wanted to come by, told her I was driving a big rig tanker, checked on parking and turning space, and she said come on. I was about an hour away.

    Upon arrival and parking the rig, Mary greeted me in their business office area. I'm not going to reherse things you can read from their website, except a couple of things later on. Let me say that Mary was warm and welcoming, and ready to give me the grand tour complete with introductions and thourough explanations.

    There are three buildings. The grand saw room, the main production facility, and the office. Here's a picture of the grand saw.

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    How's that for a saw? Now here's the main production area.

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    As Mary and I moved to the production area we were joined by Steve Kirschman, the eldest son of Danny Kirschman, the founder of the company. Steve is a wealth of information all things Arkansas novaculite stones. How would you like to have all this in your garage?

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    Here's both Steve and Mary.

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    From the production area we moved to the finishing room.

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    Notice the grinding machines in the background. There are four of these in here. Here's a closer picture.

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    The bin above the grinder dispenses grit for grinding and lapping.

    At the end of the tour I got to meet and chat with a true American entrepreneur, Mr. Danny Kirschman, founder of Dan's Whetstones.

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    I told Steve and Mary I was going to do a little write up for SRP. They asked me to emphasize two points. First, all of Dan's Arkansas Whetstones are genuine novaculite; and second, color does not determine grade or classification of the stones. The grade and classification is determined by density and gravity.

    It's on this last point where my motive for wanting to stop for a visit today comes in. It became evident in my conversation with Steve Kirschman there are three grades/classifications of novaculite: Soft Arkansas, Hard Arkansas, and True Hard Arkansas. This last category carries a density/gravity rating of 2.5+. For marketing and commercial purposes, the True Hard Arkansas is sub-divided Colored Translucent, Translucent, and Black Arkansas. Additionally, the descriptions extra fine and ultra fine are marketing and commercial terms and have no specific application except in certain technical and scientific uses. Even then, the differences among the True Hard Arkansas category are inconclusive.

    While some straight razor users use the softer grades for beval setting and mid-range uses, I dare say most of us use the higher density/gravity stones as finishers, (i.e. Translucent or Black Arkansas).

    So why the sub-division of the True Hard Arkansas clasification? Marketing. There are those, Steve said, who think the Black Arkansas is denser and produces a finer edge honing for their specific application. Others want a pure Translucent. In our discussion of straight razor honing, Steve said the inconclusive distinctions within the True Hard Arkansas category make any claim a "distinction without a difference."

    I can say from my own use of the Translucent and Black Arkansas, they are superb finishers.

    The Dan's Whetstone family is True Hard Americana. If you use, or are thinking of using an Arkansas whetstone, make sure you use a genuine novaculite. Check out their website and give them a call. It was a delightful visit.
    A little advice: Don't impede an 80,000 lbs. 18 wheeler tanker carrying hazardous chemicals.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member doorsch's Avatar
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    Thanks for that little nice write up and that view into Dans Production Area!!!
    MichaelS and Steel like this.

  4. #3
    Senior Member Iceni's Avatar
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    Oct 2013
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    I'm really impressed, Having cut my own stone a few times I can't believe how clean and dust free they keep everything!
    Geezer and doorsch like this.
    Real name, Blake

  5. #4
    Compulsive frankensteinisator Thaeris's Avatar
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    Many thanks for sharing !

  6. #5
    Senior Member blabbermouth rolodave's Avatar
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    Thanks for your visit and write up.

    This ranks with the post one of the members did to Martin de Candre.
    ScoutHikerDad and Geezer like this.
    If you don't care where you are, you are not lost.

  7. #6
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Nice write up! Gonna have to remember to revisit this when I'm on the computer later so I can see those photos on the big screen.

    I suspected that the distinction between True Hard, Translucent, and Black was all marketing. Folks love the homogenous colored translucents, and the idea that black is the finest of fine is fairly pervasive. Which would leave the perfectly good, but imperfectly colored banded translucents and mottled blacks out in the cold. I guess they still kind of are, since the True Hard classification exists and to move them the prices are knocked down a bit.

    Looks like a fun little trip, I might have to put a visit out that way on the bucket list.

  8. #7
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    Outstanding write-up LHT! It is good to hear straight from the horse's mouth that there really isn't much distinction to separate translucent and black Arks from the true hard category. I have always said that it seems this way to me - all my Arks from this category finish with pretty much no difference as long as the stones are prepped the same. Nice pics too! Thank you for sharing.
    Steel and Longhaultanker like this.

  9. #8
    Giveaway Guy Dieseld's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for the pictures and a great write up. You're lucky to have gotten to get there
    Look sharp and smell nice for the ladies.~~~Benz
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  10. #9
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    What a Great Story,, That last Picture Says it All, Ty

  11. #10
    Senior Member kelbro's Avatar
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    Good info. Bet that was a cool visit. I would agree on the grading.

    I have some blacks that are finer than some trannies that are finer than other blacks that are finer than other trannies. They are all over the place but I would be hard pressed to say that one REALLY improved on the other.
    ScoutHikerDad likes this.

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    Steve56 (02-18-2017)

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