Is there a difference between water and oil stones, and can you use one as the other?
John Carmona: Because natural stones are not quite as porous, oil stays on the surface longer, and those are usually the ones used as oil stones. You can actually use water on most oil stones; however, some of the Norton oil stones come with oil already in them, and once you use a stone with oil, you cannot really use it with water. The main difference in the stones themselves is that the binder on a water stone is much softer, which makes it fast-cutting. Water helps wash away the abrasive to expose fresh grit. People newer to the hobby prefer water stones, probably because they cut more quickly and do not require messy oil and because water is cheaper and available. I don’t see any advantage to using oil on water stones.