Queer Creek stones are one of the many versions of Ohio Blue whetstone sold throughout the years. It is a medium to fine grit sandstone originating from Berea County, Ohio. The stone is suitable for most tool and knife work, with the very fine versions being capable of pre-finishing a razors edge. The vast majority of Queer Creek or similar stone is going to not be razor quality (look for Bear Creek if that is your purpose). The stones are fairly friable, porous, and most will readily generate a slurry on their own. Due to being both porous and soft, the stone does not speed up with oil as some other stones do but instead slows down. For faster cutting, Queer Creek / Bluestones should be used with water and slurry. For slower and finer cutting performance, oil will work better.
Queer Creek / Ohio Bluestones are largely overshadowed by Washita or Soft Arkansas stones which fulfill a similar role at a similar grit level while being substantially faster and harder. The primary benefit that the Ohio Bluestone offers is being incredibly cheap, with even modern day 8x2x1 whetstones going for ~$15. It can be an interesting stone for a camping whetstone or where you prefer a softer surface such as convex tool work.
Slabs of this stone are still mined today by both Berea and Pike/Norton primarily for the purpose of oil deposit exploration. This likely explains why you can get Queer Creek (Clear Creek) stones for so cheap, as they are essentially just a byproduct of an already profitable mining venture. You can purchase it new as a backorder product at certain retailers as they are order-only products.
Queer Creek stones along with the other similar options are traditionally marked as oilstones, but many of the manuals and labels from their historic production state that they could be used with water or oil. The majority of the samples you see floating around were obviously used with oil and will need to be degreased if you want to use water only. Luckily though, the porous nature of the stone lends itself to being degreased easily.
The different varieties of stone which are all classified as Ohio Bluestones are as follows:
- Queer Creek – The most widely known name/brand for blue stone from Ohio mined by Norton. The more modern cut versions go by Clear Creek. The Queer Creek and Cleer Creek stones are identical except for production dates. The name change was specifically for palatability of the modern customer.
- Berea Stone (Waverley Geological Group / Berea Abrasives) – Extremely consistent and considered in the middle of the bunch. Used often in wheel format. Generally considered to be better performing than the Queer Creek variety via faster cutting performance but not necessarily finer.
- Bear Creek – A bit finer than the standard Queer Creek / Berea stones and likely went through more strict QA processes. These may have been sourced from Berea, Pike/Norton, or from a third party mine in the region (though less likely). Generally regarded as the best type of Ohio Bluestone you are going to be able to find. These are no longer in production.
- Euclid Stone – Supposedly a little coarser than the standard Queer Creek stone. There is a good chance it is functionally the same cuts of stone but just not under the Norton brand-named and the reputation is from limited anecdotal experiences. They are quite rare, and not much information is left on them.
These stones perform in the x1000-x2500 analogous grit range depending on the specimen and how they are used (water, oil, slurry, etc.)