Monday, January 19, 2015
The whet rock
Grandpa called it an oil stone. Dad called it a whet rock or whet stone. They were found anywhere men were gathered to whittle or talk. Pocket knives sharp enough to shave was the pride of many men.
I have seen blades that had been sharpened for 40 years, they were about like a toothpick. I do not remember ever hearing an old man talk of losing his knife. The names of men’s knives that I remember were Barlow, Buck, Schrade and Case.
(You could always tell which blade was used the most)
On Sunday afternoon after church when family might gather to share dinner. While the ladies were visiting and preparing the meal, kids would play tag, hide and seek and such. The men would talk and pocket knives would come out. Whittling (usually nothing in particular) just an old piece of wood. Some had a small leather case with their whet rock to sharpen their knives. After using the rock would take to the side of their leather shoe to hone it to a shaving edge.
The stone was soaked in oil, and for the ‘Expert’ it took a little spit, to hone it to a peak on the stone.
Like every thing else, someone come up with the ‘faster way’ to sharpen. With the new gadgets you can have a knife razor sharp in less than a minute, but the old timer would tell you you are losing blade. And you are, the carbide bite, in the wedge or crotch is cutting metal off the blade as you pull it through.
These are mine:
I had never compared the sharpeners before, and I just did. Both those knives will shave, the small pocket knife took about 3 minutes. My favorite butcher knife took about 20 seconds. I seldom use the stone.
However today the idea is to get the knife sharp to use, part of the old way was the camaraderie or friendship as the stories were shared and memories drawn out. It was never about sharpening knives. Using today’s methods, a pocket knife wouldn’t last over a couple years.
How do you sharpen your knives?
Pocket knives have always served a useful purpose. I would be lost without mine.
Another Amphibian that never caught on. But a neat little thing.