Sean Sanders asked:

Do you enjoy doing a bit of handy work around your home? If you do, you must have probably tried your hand at sharpening your kitchen knives. Either that, or you’ve had this nagging urge to. As you must’ve noticed, it doesn’t really take that much to get into it. With a little patience and a good sharpening stone you can do this task quite easily. Your dad still probably keeps one or two of these sharpening stones in the garage or the tool shed. During your younger years, you must have wondered how on earth such a primitive natural material can sharpen all these sharp things with the help of some water or oil. Your pops could’ve been listening to some good tunes and whistling to them while you watch him do this task.

To this day, knife sharpening stones are still used even though it may seem such a primitive thing to use. In ancient times, man discovered this technology of making sharp tools with the use of stones to sharpen the edges and tips of their crude weapons for hunting. Amazingly, this very basic principle is still being used by modern man in modern sharpening equipment.

There is a wide variety of knife sharpening stones that we can use in this day and age. Manufacturers have developed this into a thriving industry. They are available in a number of different types, sizes and material compositions. Carburundum is the most popular type of material used for knife sharpening stones. The others are made of diamond stones, Arkansas stones, ceramic wet stones and Japanese water stones. These sharpening materials are quarried and others are also man made. If you take a closer look at these, you will find varying grits relative to its sharpening function. Smaller grit numbers gives the stone a coarse surface which is initially used to get rid of the blade nicks and imperfections. Those with higher grit numbers on the stone will give you a finer finish or polish on your knife.

Not all tools with blades have flat edges and blades, thus sharpening stones are also made in different shapes to allow you the flexibility of using various knives and shears. Wood working tools have oddly shaped blade edges and these also require regular sharpening as it takes a good beating from hard wood. Knives with serrated edges need a different shape of sharpening stone as these wear quickly and are prone to damage when they are sharpened. You should only sharpen serrated knives when necessary. Use a cone-shaped taper sharpener for these kinds of blades as it is the best suited type of sharpening stone for them.

Always know which type of material to use for your sharpening stone. Diamond stones work best with water honing oil and natural sharpening stones are better used with petroleum based oils.. However, if you do not have any oil or water on hand, you can even just use spit if you own saliva or spit. That is if you have enough supply of it. Just remember that, once oil has been used on, it won’t take to water well anymore. Always clean the stone after each use with either oil or water, depending on which you work with for sharpening. It is time for clean up, once you notice gray streaks accumulating all over the surface of the stone. This means it has accumulated significant amount of debris.

Man has come a long way from his old crude ways. It is amazing to see how we have come to use old techniques and innovate man’s primitive tools to survive. It surely has made our lives easier!