September 26, 2019
This hand-cranked whetstone was made by Harold Lee, Sr., ca. 1910. It sharpened tools and blade edges through grinding and honing.
To sharpen an edge, the wooden well was filled with water, providing lubrication and cooling for the stone and the item being sharpened. Then the object was held at an angle against the stone, and the wheel was cranked. Cleaning the stone of "swarf" --built up dirt and metal shavings--was necessary to keep it in good condition.
Many antique whetstones are made from novaculite--a hard-grained siliceous rock. Use of whetstones has been dated as far back as 79 AD.
Information and photos for this column are provided by the Clausen Memorial Museum.