Have an old wetstone that’s a little beat? Need to refresh your favorite knife hone? Here’s how.
Check out our instructional video, or read on:
I inherited this ‘Carborundum’ stone from my late uncle. I don’t know the history of the stone, but it clearly has a ‘trough’ worn into the coarse side, rendering it nearly useless when it comes to sharpening a straight blade, like a knife. But, fortunately, it’s pretty easy to refresh a stone like this. No need to throw it out. No need to buy a new one. There’s lots of life left in it.
You’re basically going to grind down the face of the stone until you get ‘beneath’ the groove. I’d love to tell you that there’s a magic pill to fix this. And there is, actually. It’s called ‘elbow grease’. It just takes time and some physical effort. It may actually feel like work.
Here are some tips.
- Grinding Surface – Pull out another surface that you can manually rub your stone against. An inexpensive diamond stone is pictured, but it could be a piece of sandstone or even concrete. Ideally, you want a flat surface that’s larger than the one you’re grinding down.
- Moisture – Early-on, it’s helpful to keep the surfaces clean. I like to use a spray bottle with plain ol’ H2O in it. Blast away the slurry paste left from grinding. Later, or with really fine stones/blades, it can be helpful to maintain the slurry. Makes for a better polish.
You may also be interested in our article: Choosing The Right Survival Knife That Will Last
- Labor – Grind. That’s pretty much it. Spray down the stones and then just rub the sharpener back and forth on your grinding stone. Focus on keeping the faces flat to one another so you achieve flat planar surfaces. Back and forth. Back and forth. Spray/rinse as necessary. Change hands. Take breaks. Again, the magic pill is elbow grease.
- Stationary grinding stone – In the sample pictured, I’m only holding the stone in one hand (and stabilizing the bottom stone with the other). If you have a lot of work to do, you’ll want to mount the bottom stone in one place. Bolt it down. Provide a stop block to keep it from moving, etc. That allows you to put two hands on the stone-to-be-refreshed itself. You’ll be able to bare down more. Be more aggressive. Make the process go faster.
- Time – The reality is, it takes time to wear down stone. Just ask the Appalachians. Put in a few minutes here or there, or spend a few hours all at once. It’s a decent arm workout. The stone pictured took 2 to 2-1/2 hours of actual grinding time (not counting breaks) to bring back to life. Yeah, you could throw power tools at it. But why?
- Other – Even if your stone isn’t damaged (like the trough pictured), you can clean off a slick, dirty, or oil face by the same process above.
Also Check Out: How To Make a Hook Knife In 4 Easy Steps
One last Tip: Just remember that anytime we sharpen/grind anything (knife, axe, saw, stone…) we are removing material and therefore shortening the life of the tool. Taking good care of your tools and not abusing/misusing them is always the best practice — and makes for less need to sharpen them.
We’ve also filmed a short video on the process of ‘Resharpening a Sharpening Stone’. Check it out here.
To learn more about primitive skills, bushcraft & survival, check out our online, place-based, independent study program THE PACK.