How to Use a Sharpening Stone

A sharpening stone is an important piece of equipment if you are interested in sharpening a blade.

Many workers use a sharpening stone when they are optimizing an axe or knife. These stones can engender a sharper blade that makes each cut smoother and more precise.

In this article, some instructions for sharpening stone are discussed as well as five tips for using a sharpening stone. Towards the end of the article, some final thoughts are presented about sharpening stones.

man wearing black hooded jacket gray knit cap gray pants and black shoes holding brown handled axe while bending on snow

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Instructions for How to Use a Sharpening Stone

When using a sharpening stone, there are several steps you should keep in mind.

First, make sure you place your sharpening stone on some kind of damp towel. This ensures that it stays in place while you are using it, which will prevent injury. It’s also important to make sure the towel and stone are on a flat surface, as this will ensure stability as you sharpen your object.

Make sure the coarser side of the stone is facing up, as this is what you will initially use to sharpen your object. As it gets sharper, you might consider switching to finer stones.

After setting up your station, you can start sharpening your object, preferably at a 20-degree angle. You should do this on both sides of the blade to ensure a balanced blade. To do this, you draw the object across the stone in a smooth motion, starting at the heel of the blade and ending at the tip.

You can do this as many times as you want until the blade is at your ideal

Then, make sure you clean up all the metal filings that result from sharpening the blade. After that, you are ready to enjoy your new sharpened object.

5 Tips for How to use a Sharpening Stone

In this section, five tips for using a sharpening stone are considered in detail.

1. Acquire the Necessary Supplies

Acquiring the necessary supplies is critical when it comes to successfully using a sharpening stone.

The first decision you will have to make is what kind of stone to use.

Whetstones are often used for sharpening. Many whetstones are quite affordable, making them ideal if you are on a budget.

Whetstones can be constructed from artificial materials like aluminum-oxide, silicon-carbide or ceramics. Alternatively, they can be produced from natural materials like quartz. Novaculite is one
of the most common types of quartz that is used.

Many experts recommend using some kind of lubricant on whetstones in order to make them last longer. Water is an effective lubricant as is many stone oils produced specifically for sharpening.

Diamond stones are also used on occasion. These consist of steel with some kind of
diamond grit coating.

The main drawback of diamond stones is that they are quite expensive. Yet, you don’t need to use a lubricant with these kinds of stones, making them easier to manage. Despite this lack of lubricant, diamond stones last a long time, making them the ideal choice for someone who sharpens tools often.

2. Choose the Ideal Grit of Your Stone

The type of grit on your stone is another important consideration if you are interested in how to use a sharpening stone.

Grits range from coarse to fine. This nature is usually distinguished by some kind of number, with lower numbers indicating a coarser grit.

Many experts consider a coarser grit to be better when it comes to sharpening blades. A coarser grit could speed up the sharpening process and prevent you from spending hours in the workshop.

axe old lumberjack blade

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Coarser grits are ideal for axes that are not used for precision work. If you are sharpening a knife for precision work, then many experts recommend using a stone with a coarser grit initially before switching to a stone with a finer grit towards the end of the process.

3. Be Patient Throughout the Process

Patience is critical if you are learning how to use a sharpening stone.

The actual act of sharpening requires significant attention to detail. If your blade needs lots of sharpening, then this attention to detail could exhaust you quickly.

If this happens, you should consider taking a break and allowing your energy levels to replenish. This patience will pay dividends in the future, as you will avoid any errors related to exhaustion or carelessness.

Impatience can result in injury when you are sharpening your blade. Some people get frustrated that their blade is not sharpening perfectly, causing them to rush the process. Yet, a simple slip or accident could easily cause injury if you are not careful.

There are many ways to promote patience throughout the axe sharpening process. Focusing
on deep breathing
throughout the process is one way to prevent yourself from rushing. Many workers like to label each breath as "inhale" or "exhale", as this can be a calming experience that grounds you in the present moment.

Impatience results when you are too focused on the past or the future. In this sense, any activity that grounds you in the present moment will be beneficial. For some people, background music can have this grounding effect. For others, background music can be distracting and can force you to speed up your actions. 

brown wooden axe besides brown leather knife holster

Source: Pexels

Another effective technique is to use a sharpening stone when you have plenty of free time. This prevents you from thinking about some future engagement, which could rush your sharpening.

4. Nourish Yourself Before Starting

Proper nourishment is also vital if you are interested in how to use a sharpening stone. 

What you put in your body influences what comes out of it. Your actions can be considered as something that comes out of your body. Thus, if you want to maximize your actions related to using a sharpening stone, then you should properly nourish yourself before beginning.

This nourishment will prevent you from feeling hungry during your endeavors. This hunger could cause you to be impatient during your sharpening, which could negatively impact the work. 

In the same vein, you don’t want to burden your body before using a sharpening stone. This work is like an exercise, which means that your body should be light and nimble before beginning. If you feel heavy and bloated, then it will be difficult to maintain certain body positions that are necessary when sharpening blades.

The best way to nourish yourself while remaining light and nimble is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits are especially dense with calories, allowing you to eat several pieces and be satisfied.

Many people don’t realize that it’s perfectly acceptable to eat an entire meal of fruit. For example, there’s nothing wrong with eating a meal of bananas. This could be a great way to get sufficient vitamins and minerals before starting a sharpening job.

If you are working in hot weather, then you will probably sweat during the process of using the sharpening stone. In these situations, it’s critical that you stay hydrated. Luckily, fresh fruits and vegetables are water-rich foods that will hydrate you for many hours.

Some workers even like to make a smoothie from fresh fruits and vegetables so that they can consume it during the job. While this can certainly work, it’s important to not be distracted by the food, as this can result in a compromised sharpening.

5. Minimize Your Stress Levels

Minimizing your stress levels is another important consideration for anyone interested in how to use a sharpening stone.

axe wooden block wood chop firewood

Source: Pixabay

When you are stressed out, you are more likely to rush your sharpening process, which could lead to injury or more work in the future.

There are many ways to minimize your stress levels. Spending time with others is one way to do this, as humans are social animals that need validation and love. Sharpening a stone can be a very solitary process, so it’s important to balance this practice with spending time with others.

Spending time in the sunshine is another way to reduce your stress levels. The sun is very warming and will promote optimal happiness levels. If you are significantly unhappy, then these emotions could come out when you are occupied with sharpening. This could lead to a compromised job or some unfortunate injury.

If you are too stressed, then it might be best to temporarily engage in a practice that doesn’t involve sharp equipment. Then, when you feel more balanced, you can begin your sharpening.

Final Thoughts on How to Use a Sharpening Stone

Using a sharpening stone is quite easy when you integrate the tips discussed above into your practice.

On a basic level, you will need to acquire the right sharpening stone for your job, which includes choosing the material that the stone is made up as well as the level of grit.

Then, as you are methodically sharpening your tool, it’s critical that you be patient and grounded in the present moment. This is important, as each tool is unique and will require a different level of sharpening.

It’s also vital that you nourish yourself for this job. This might entail a light meal of fruits and vegetables before beginning. Alternatively, some people like to eat while they are working or eat directly afterwards.

Lastly, minimizing your stress is critical. If you are excessively stressed while handling sharp equipment, an accident could occur that has lasting consequences.

At the end of the day, using a sharpening stone will improve the performance of your tools and make your future work much more efficient.


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