Whether it is at home or out in the field, the quest for a sharp knife is never ending. Many options exist for putting that fine edge on your blade. Materials and form factors range from stones, ceramic, carbide, diamond, rods, plates, and more.
Our friends over at Let’s Talk Survival published a detailed review of the Schrade multi-function Arkansas tactical sharpening stones in both the 4 inch and 6 inch sizes.
The SCTS6 is 5.80″ long and weighs just shy a little of 5 ounces. The SCTS4 is 4.0″ long and weighs only 3 ounces. Each of the stones are 1.55″ wide, 0.4375″ thick. One side has a rounded edge, one side is set at a 45° angle, and the end of the stone is set at a 30° point. Along the flat area on the top of the stone, there is a shallow groove running end to end for sharpening hooks and catching some of the swarf. The heal of each stone has a .25″ lanyard hole with a black braided paracord lanyard 6″ long to hold on to while you are using the stone.
Whetstones are an effective way to sharpen knives, especially on some of the more challenging to sharpen like those with flat and Scandinavian grinds with no secondary bevel. They are not called whetstones because they are typically used with oil or water. The name actually comes from the verb, to whet which means to sharpen by rubbing on or with something such as a stone [To whet a knife].
Whetstones can be made from natural minerals like Novaculite quarried from the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas. The most common of the traditional Novaculite whetstones are Arkansas Stones, often referred to as oil stones or bench stones due to their fine grade.
Unlike other sharpening stones, Arkansas Stones are graded by density and hardness rather than by grit.
Sharpening a Blade
If you are using honing oil, the first step would be to place the Arkansas Stone on a solid surface and rub a liberal amount of honing oil into the stone. For the best results, keep adding oil until it is no longer absorbed and the entire surface area remains slightly wet. In addition to lubricating the cutting process and keeping the blade cool, the oil lifts the swarf and prevent it from clogging the stone.
The swarf is a paste-like substance consisting of fine chips and filings of stone, metal and other material produced by a machining operation like sharpening a knife.
If you happen to be using water, you would be rubbing a liberal amount of water into the stone instead. You can add a small amount of dish soap to the water for the best results.
The next step is to determine the grind angle. It is the part of the blade that angles toward the edge of the blade. Sharpening a blade with the correct grind-angle minimizes the loss of metal during the sharpening process and will lengthen the life of the blade.
To find the correct angle, I always draw a line along the edge of the blade with a permanent marker. Then I make a few test passes across the surface of the stone.
I typically start with a 20° angle for most kitchen cutlery and a 17° for most survival and tactical -style knives. If the ink is gone, then you have the correct angle. If not, either you are holding the knife at too steep or too shallow of an angle as you make each pass. If so, simply adjust accordingly.
I found these Arkansas Stones to be incredibly hard… After completing the process of sharpening a few knives, I saw little to no wear on the surface of the stone at all.
Cleaning a Stone
Simply place it in a container with warm to hot soapy water deep enough to fully submerge the stone. You can also scrub the stone with a scouring pad or a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser if the pores are extremely clogged.
The quality of these stones is very high. They are lightweight, compact, and they do their job quite well. The challenge is keeping the mess to a minimum if you choose to use honing oil. I prefer to use water myself. I find it so much easier to deal with. Just dry it and move on.
I like to use ceramic rods or stones like these in the field when my blade needs more than a quick strop. Arkansas Stones like these are definitely high-up on the list for maintaining my blades in the field.
Article via: letstalksurvival.com