What Are India Sharpening Stones? Guide for Different Grit Levels

What Are India Sharpening Stones?

As your love for knives continues to grow, so will your love for sharpening them. Keeping our knives razor-sharp is something we all want. That’s why if you have a lot of knives, knife sharpening is sure to become your hobby. It’s something that happens to all knife enthusiasts.

What you might not expect though, and I certainly didn’t, is that you will also learn to love the sharpening stones you use. As I’ve said before, sharpening stones have a world of their own. It’s a wonderful world where there is a lot to learn and try.

We’ve already had a look at carborundum stones, now we’re going to have a look at India stones. This is easily one of my favorite sharpening stones around, and you’ll see why. So without any further adieu, let’s dive in and explore the wonderful world of India stones.

What are India Sharpening Stones?

Contrary to their name, India stones don’t have anything to do with the South Asian country. It was not invented there, nor is it produced there today. Instead, this is the trade name of Norton’s aluminum oxide sharpening stones. These are one of the most popular sharpening stones around. They’re so popular, you may even have one without knowing it!

India stones come in orange, tan, or brown. And unlike some other sharpening stones, India stones are manmade. It is made by chemically combining aluminum with oxygen. These stones are generally considered to be the middle ground between soft and hard oil stones. On one end is the soft Arkansas stones, while on the other is the very hard carborundum stones. In the middle of both of these is the India stone.

What does this mean? It means that India stones can cut quite fast, but they are also very good at polishing. If you have a hard sharpening stone, this can sharpen your knives in no time. But the finish won’t be very fine, there will always be some coarseness. On the other end, soft stones can give a very smooth and sharp finish. The only problem with them is that they have a hard time sharpening dull blades.

India stones are in the middle ground. You can use them for both sharpening and polishing as well. They aren’t the best for both of these, but they hold up very well. If you could only have one sharpening stone, this is the one I would recommend.

The best part? India stones are not expensive. For stone collectors, getting expensive stones is not a problem at all. But if you are looking for a stone that can do it all and not cost so much, the India stone will be perfect for you. Despite having a dozen of different stones, my India stone is still one of my most used ones. In terms of performance, few are as all-round as this one.

Another great thing about India stones is how long they last. Being oilstones, they will always last longer than water stones. Even if you sharpen a lot, you won’t need to flatten your India stone anytime soon. They aren’t the hardest stones around, but they are hard alright. They are hard enough to withstand anything you throw at it.

What Grit are Norton India Stone?

Whenever you shop for sharpening stones, you’ll usually find grit levels on the stones. Grit levels can go anywhere from 100 all the way up to the thousands. The lower the grit level, the coarser the stone is. Low-grit stones can sharpen very fast, but they also leave a coarse finish. On the other end, the high grit level stones have smooth surfaces. These are the stones that can leave a very smooth and sharp finish on your knives.

These grit levels are helpful to understand what you should use the stone for. However, when you are buying India stones, you will find that they don’t indicate the grit level by these numbers. To make things even more confusing, Norton offers 3 different grit levels for their India stones. They label these levels as coarse-grit, medium-grit, and fine stones. So you’ll surely be wondering, where do these stack up in the numerical grit level?

Grid Score

The coarse-grit India stone has a grit score of around 150. It is quite coarse, and you can use this to quickly sharpen dull blades. The medium-grit is at about 240, making it the middle ground of middle grounds. Finally, the fine stone India stone has a grit of 400, making it great for polishing work.

What I like to use are double-sided India stones. These stones have a coarse grit on one side, and a medium on the other. This makes it very easy to sharpen and polish your knife. Once I’m done getting the sharpness back into the blade, I can flip the stone and work on the finishing touches. A double-sided India stone makes things a lot easier and faster.

You Can check Our Recommended Norton Sharpening Stone Kit Here

How do you sharpen a knife with a Norton stone?

One of the reasons why some people believe that all sharpening stones are the same is because they are all used the same way. If you have an India stone, you can use this just like you would any other stone. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when you are doing this. Let’s have a close look at how exactly to sharpen using India stones.

The first thing you should keep in mind is that this is an oil stone. This means that before every sharpening session, you need to oil it first. This brings up the question, what oil should you use?

When it comes to oiling oil stones, the general rule is that you want to use thin and odorless oil. What I like to use is honing oil. Honing oil is perfect for India stones because this is exactly what this oil was made for. It is thin, it won’t clog your sharpening stone, and it is completely odorless as well.

If you don’t have honing oil around, mineral oil is your best option. Any mineral oil that isn’t too thick and doesn’t have an odor will do. If you have baby oil around, this is one of the best mineral oils to use for your India stone. If you don’t have any mineral oil either, any kind of oil will work, but there are some risks. The problem with using something like vegetable oil though is that it can clog up your India stone. Also, it could give your stone a terrible smell. You’ll have to sharpen your knives with your nose closed if this happens!

Once your Norton India stone is oiled, you can begin sharpening. Place your India stone down on a flat surface. You want to make sure that your stone doesn’t move around while you are sharpening. Then take your knife with two hands and gently stroke this against your India stone. As always, use slow and gentle strokes. India stones are not the hardest of stones, but you still want to be careful.

After a few strokes, feel for a burr. Once the burr appears, your knife is now sharp and ready to go. Wipe your India stone clean to avoid clogging and prolong its life. Then store it away until you need to sharpen once again.

sharpening stones

Every time you find that the stone is rather dry, add in some oil. You should never sharpen on a dry India stone. If you do, this will not only damage the stone but also the knife as well. That’s why make sure that your sharpening stone is always full of oil whenever you work on it.

One thing that I have from time to time are very dull blades. These are blades that have been neglected for so long, and they have completely lost their edge. My process for getting these blades back to top condition is a three-step process. I start with the hardest stones, such as carborundum stones. These get the blade to a decent sharpness very quickly. Then I move on to my India stones. These reduce the coarseness and give it a sharper edge. Finally, I finish it off with an Arkansas stone, which applies the finishing touches.

You can Check our Full Guide to Clean and Maintains Your Sharpening Stone and Sharpening Rod.


India stones are truly one of the best sharpening stones to have around. Being the middle ground, they can do everything that you need to be done on a knife. From sharpening to polishing, your India stone will get the job done very well.

That’s why despite having a lot of different knife sharpeners, the India stone will also be special to me. It is one of my most frequently used sharpening stones of the bunch. It is not only very effective, but it is also long-lasting and affordable. So if you’re looking for one sharpener to meet all your needs, the India sharpening stone is for you.


I’m Ahmed, the guy behind Knifepulse.com. I’ve owned several types of knives and sharpeners over the last few years and have become obsessed with everything to do with knives. I’m always trying to improve my cleaning and sharpening process, and always on the hunt for the next best knife. But when I’m not spending time with my hobby, I’m here, writing about Knives and Sharpeners on KnifePulse to share with you what I learn along the way.

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