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Tasmanian whetstone!

Stoked, stoked, stoked… I am so thrilled…

A few weeks ago I started asking some questions on the scythe forums about whetstones – shapes, suitable materials and so forth. Steve Leppold dug up some very good information and posted it on the forums, and more recently, at around the same time as Steve was uncovering what I think he reasonably described as “the motherlode of whetstone information“, I was scrabbling around a sandstone deposit on the farm.

Hop kiln

The blocks in the hop kiln, with my 11 year old daughter's hand for scale.

The blocks in the hop kiln, with my 11 year old daughter’s hand for scale.

There’s an old hop kiln on the original homestead that was built by my forebears in the days when the farm produced hops (in 1868 according to the date over the lintel, but there’s some dispute about that), using sandstone hewn from our paddocks. I can still see the auger marks in the rocks in the paddocks where the blocks were quarried.

Where the blocks were hewn.

Where the blocks were hewn.

I always recalled that deposit being quite flaky and soft, but over the last few days I’ve been thinking, “well, the hop kiln is still standing…”  So, after checking the cattle (who were tramping around in the bush with the sandstone) yesterday, I took a closer look at the sandstone to see what I could see.

And of course I couldn’t resist bringing back a ‘brick’ to play with, using a Rozsutec as a pattern:

Cut along the dotted line...

Cut along the dotted line…

So, today my son and I decided to give it a crack, so to speak. Out with the masonry stuff. I had no idea whether I’d even get to ‘first base’.


And yes, it works!  It brought a burr over nicely on my 90cm blade, and took it off nicely too. To my fingers, it feels like it’s somewhere between my coarse Styria stone and the Bregenzer (which is a very broad range), but because it’s relatively soft I suspect it’s far closer to the Bregenzer with regard to how it actually hones.  I’m not sure how long it’ll last – there was a slightly disturbing amount of grit in the slurry, but at the same time, a stone that wears quickly certainly won’t clog or ‘glaze’.  So I’ll be using this one now to see how it performs. It may even be of good enough quality to make some to offer for sale.

But the short story is, even if this wears away in a week, I’m confident we’ll find something in Tassie that will do the job of a whetstone just fine. And it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that when things in the world go pear-shaped, we’ll still be able to find stones to do the job.