The Way of Sharpening
Happy 2018. I managed to catch a horrible cold so my new year is starting a little late. My
energy is pretty low, but I miss you! What I have been up to is YouTube binging.
Let me share about the ones I’m obsessing over.
There are hundreds of videos online about rehabbing rusty, seemingly destroyed knives
through waterstone sharpening.
Waterstones are not the same thing as whetstones (although the name seems to imply that).
Waterstones do their thing through a slurry of fine mud that is created by sharpening the knife
on the stone with a little water.
My favorite video starts with showing a knife that looks like it was left in the rain for about 20
years. Completely covered with rust. The notes in the video stated that this was originally a
high-quality, hand-made knife. Still, it was abandoned and degraded over time.
What can you do with something that that?
First, the video focused on bringing old junk back to looking like a knife again—cleaning off the
rust with sandpaper, removing the handle and getting rid of the rust there, and finally putting a
new handle in place. A fresh start.
Once the blade was cleaned of all its rust and looked like a knife again, the real work began.
Through repeated sharpenings, the blade began to transform.
The first sharpening brought back some of the edge—at this point, the knife was probably as
sharp as the knives we all have in our kitchen drawers. Not really sharp, but good enough.
With each successive sharpening, finer and finer stones were used. The video showed the
progress by timing how long it took the knife to slice through a rolled napkin.
After the first sharpening, the knife had to saw for several seconds to cut through.
With each sharpening, a little less sawing was needed.
When the final sharpening was complete and the grit washed away, the edge reflected the
stone, the counter, and the hand that sharpened it.
The knife easily sliced through the napkin with a single smooth cut.
Then a tissue was laid on the edge. With a puff of air, the tissue parted neatly in two.
When I was a young girl, I remember my Dad telling me about the legendary swords of
Damascus. They had the reputation of being so sharp that silk scarves landing on the blades
would part effortlessly.
I thought my Dad was exaggerating. Even the sharpest knives I’d ever seen needed to be
pushed through the material. I can only say now, those knives weren’t very sharp at all.|
A properly sharpened knife doesn’t need force to do its work.
Sharpening reveals a blade’s true nature.
Honestly, I don’t think many of us really understand the process of sharpening especially as it
applies to ourselves.
Instead of sharpening our gifts, we bash ourselves. We overwork ourselves. And then, when we
fail, we abandon ourselves and allow rust to gather.
Sharpening isn’t overworking. It’s a refinement process that happens in stages.
Even sharp knives need refinement. And dull blades need to be brought to sharpness through
the most basic processes.
Like a knife, what is most true about you is always there waiting to be revealed.
Before you set off on another “self-improvement” excursion, I invite you to better understand
what your native talents are and to consider where you could be in a year if you invested in
sharpening your own strengths.
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