Monday, September 19, 2016

Knife Sharpening Tools - The Whetstone, or Whet Stone

Knife Sharpening Tools Are MUST HAVE Items For Maintaining Quality Knives.

Listen, if you're like me, then you go absolutely nowhere without your knife in your pocket. Quite literally, I feel naked without my Kershaw Ken Onion lock blade in my pocket. No, I have no intentions of ever cutting anyone with my knife. Get the idea of a knife as a weapon out of your mind.

Knives are tools. Knives are NOT weapons. Knives can be used as weapons by violent persons, but anything can - just about anything can be used as a weapon by a violent individual.

So knives are tools, and if you're a blue collar skilled labourer type such as myself, then you always have your pocket knife of choice in your pocket, of course. If you are really like me, then you truly value that pocket knife, and you have a good one that you also maintain. I prefer Kershaw brand knives to the others that I run into, but I've certainly not seen many other high end brands of pocket knife, but oh boy I intend to, and given time and money, I'll own a few more great pocket knives too.

But the subject of great high quality knives is never limited to pocket knives!

Knives are tools with many uses, and from the machete that you use to clear your path to the fishing hole, to the fillet knife you use clean your fish, and the pocket knife you use to cut your fishing line, and then the thousand other applications and specific types of knives they all have one thing in common - they must be maintained or the use of the blade of a knife causes it to dull!

A Double Sided Whet Stone - The Standard Knife Sharpening Tool.


The Whet Stone or Whetstone

Whetstones are the older, more traditional, and most often used tools for sharpening knives, but most whetstones are of only one grade, and can only be used for rough sharpening, and for that reason should also be complimented by a finer stone for finishing up an edge on a fine blade. Traditional whetstones, of course, are not just used to sharpening knives, but are also used to sharpen other larger bladed tools like axes or hatchets, and even smaller cheaper metal tools such as scissors.

The grit of a whetstone is the determining factor in it's use. For a very dull blade one needs to start their sharpening of the blade with a coarse low density whetstone, and then by degrees according to the fineness of the bladed object in question, then proceed to another whetstone of a finer and more dense grit to either finish the sharpening, or then move it onward towards sharpening on a finishing stone.

In this modern age double sided whetstones are available, and pictured above is one where it's easily seen that the coarse darker side is for the rougher and duller blades, and the lighter, finer, and denser side for putting the finishing touches on the sharpening of a blade. I own such a stone myself, and most often I use just such a stone for all of my blade sharpening needs.

There are a few problems with whetstones and their use though, and especially with the coarser low density stones used for rough sharpening of dull blades - the low density material gets shaved off during sharpening, and this causes the stone to become misshapen, or curved instead of flat, and when this happens you can no longer sharpen a blade correctly.

In the instance of a misshapen coarse whetstone one must simply reshape the coarse thing until it is flat again - and this can be done (irony of ironies) with a large dull blade, or done most correctly with something like sandpaper.

I don't know how to tell someone how to actually use a whetstone - it's really fairly intuitive, or at least it was to me. I might see about shooting a very short video and uploading it to YouTube just for this article. There's one major concern that I do have for people using whetstones, however, and that is that the use of a whetstone is actually pretty dangerous so far as one's hands and fingers are concerned. I've been using whetstones to sharpen knives for at least twenty years, and last year during this same (late Winter) time of the year I was sharpening a long fillet knife to clean some fish with, and I nearly cut the tip of one of my fingers (you know, the finger that I used to wave at people in traffic? The longest one?) to the very bone.
I cut my finger so fast, so deep, and it all happened in such a surreal manner that even though my fishing bud was right there in front of me...nothing was said except us meeting eyes, and me saying something very quickly like, "I'll be right back."

Whetstones are dangerous. One must NOT be in a hurry to return to the fishing hole or to clean some fish, or to do any other sort of thing. When someone is sharpening a longer blade such as a fillet knife with a whetstone, that someone had better be sitting comfortably, in no hurry, and paying close attention to what they are doing.

Major whetstone knife sharpening tip!!!!!!!! You should ALWAYS dampen both sides of a two sided whetstone, or the side being used on a uniform density whetstone with oil! Any petroleum oil will do! I use motor oil, personally.


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