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Using Stones to Sharpen Knives

| 12/3/2008 11:37:00 AM got nice stones to me quicklyA little over a month ago, the editorial team here at GRIT was engaged in a fairly spirited debate – they usually are spirited in my experience – regarding the proper manner in which knives are sharpened.

The discussion stemmed from one of the pieces in the January/February issue of GRIT, entitled, “How to Have the Sharpest Knife in Your Drawer,” written by Tom Larson.

Although a couple of us had sharpened knives before, the difficulty arose with trying to craft the words and sentences so people would know exactly what was being done, especially since being right and left-handed plays a big part in this skill.

This led us all to agree – after four of us editors spent a considerable amount of time sitting in a circle with props, sharpening plastic spoons and such on our personalized bench stones (our hands) – that the package for our online edition of the story should include a video.

The need to sharpen my skinning knife was imminent, so the timing couldn’t have been better for me, and I set about trying to acquire a bench stone that would sharpen a skinning knife.

I sprung for it last year and bought myself a new Gerber knife since I’d always used a grinder to sharpen knives. Come to find out, sharpening with a hand stone, and even a strop, is much better than grinding. Grinding your knives can overheat and damage the temper of the steel, and knives once able to shave hair off your arm are rendered dull. The worst thing that can happen to your knife through grinding is for the blade to become curved in places, making it completely ineffective. I was ready to try manually sharpening my blades.

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