Stones and the colours of sharpening sc(r)atches

I am inspired to write this by the number of people new to the craft looking for a help with sharpening. So here is another piece of the puzzle you can find through the internet that hopefully helps though one’s own experience and the sharpening skills developed on any kind of abbrasive are more important.

There’s another reason to make the post and that is – sharpening is a joy, or can be.. do not shout please, yes i know it can be tough sometimes too still i say i find it after few years a great opportunity to refine hand skills and also a work with a few nice aspects and meditative too. Let me express one of the fine aspects by the colorful pictures around please.

It would mean to write a book perhaps to cover all the possible best combinations of what is available these days. Quite a big difference by the way compared to a situation a hundred years ago. It comes in all the various price levels. Natural, manmade, ceramic stones..diamond plates that eat the steel away, just good old rust is the same. There’s a range of products labeled under various numbers of grits and it gives one a hard time as to buy a stone can be a no small investment. Well so far i have put my blade on about twenty or even more different stones. Some of them i have bought and some i have borrowed for a while at work or during some event. I still gather my own experiences but i’ve been resharpening tools on the stones for about past nine years frequently, and so i know a bit how to go about it at least.

When i started buying my first tools i wanted a good quality but far from the extra expensive. I wanted to make my experience though and my choice was to get a natural Rozsutec from Slovakia and a japanese waterstone. I like the colours these stones have. Two toned calm Rozsutec and the vivid or even bright japanese ones. I soon learnt the stones are excellent and important for the work with hand tools but i was terribly slow as my skills were poor. And i knew i needed at least one more, not just two grits.

That’s when you have about five stones it gets pretty colorful!

Now, what i write here is good for other tools for joinery as well as for carving with knives. There are more ways how to resharpen knives and cheaper, but lets suppose you like stones, perfectly sharp blades and you just buy a new Mora knife and a spoon knife both ready.

Keeping your blade razor sharp it could be a nice idea to use a white, blue or green compound paste on a leather strop or a piece of wood. You use it every now and then but as it is just for a very fine polishing you will need to go to stone pretty soon. Around the 3000 is just perfect for this i think. I go to this grit very often.

You can’t just strop all the time anyway as the bevel on your knife will develope a convex shape especially if you strop on a leather.

You can also use super fine stone 5000-8000 for this final stage. It is not the same just another way lets say. Made my experience with the beige/brown 1000/6000 combination Kingstone and an extra quality 5000 wine Shapton.

You still use that coarser grit (around 3000) pretty often. The more the blade gets dull before you bring it on the stone again the more work it means and eventually even coarser stone you need to be effective.

It is a good time to write a note on how the waterstones work: The loosely bonded abrasive grit is washed out very quickly, especially from some soft stones as it blunts during the sharpening process; this exposes new, sharp, particles that can get to work on the blade. Stones with a magnesium binder need just a little water and do not wear so quickly. As coarse grit has bigger particles it wears off faster Water stones are lubricated only with water! Never use oil!

The fact that a beginner still can’t use the right moves and techniques means the sharp edge of the knife will go through some extremes often and when you look on the bevel of the blade at the right angle letting the light reflect on the very edge it can show a lot. Once you see few little chips along the edge you know it is a good time already to remove some material using another stone.

And i would recommend 800 grit i do not have. I use japanese yellow 1000 ceramic whetstone and sometimes a german blue/white combi 600/1200 (Missarka stones have a different grading! A 1500 means the honing quality.)

I have some coarser stones too. That is important especially when you want to restore old tools or repair the edge of those heavily damaged. It is possible to remove 2mm from the 28mm chisel or change its geometry in about half an hour. The lowest grits and some quality, harder abrassive recomended. Or using a diamond plate you can use to reflatten your stones too.

And sometimes it is even crazy artistic, don’t you think? ..

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