These days you find them under foot


If you’re looking for a grind-stone its not hard to find one. You can find them prominently displayed in more than a few yards, unused for any utilitarian purpose but apparently not forgotten.

These old grind-stone, that for many generations were an essential part of any homestead, have been turned into lawn ornaments or been consigned to foot paths as stepping stones.

Turning the grind-stone was always one of my favorite chores.

Whom-so-ever was wanting to sharpen an axe, hoe, chisel or whatever was the person who held the item.

Art of grinding. Grinding an axe was almost a science, requiring exacting skill and experience to acquire the best angle of the cutting edge. The axe edge was often different for each desired chore.

A “splitting” axe was ground thick behind the cutting edge in order to act as a wedge in splitting wood, similar to a chisel. Some farmers even preferred a very dull edge.

Other axes had a very thin cutting edge with enough thickness to support the thin edge and complete the cut, and resist the axe becoming stuck.

The broadaxe had only one side ground sharp, ground on both sides it would cut straight, this resulted in a cut similar to a broad chisel. The sharpened edge was on the outside of the cut when applied.

A secret to grinding any edge, especially an axe, is to roll the edge on the stone, instead of holding it steady and moving it back and forth.

The grind-stone I worked at was fitted with a pair of bicycle pedals, others had a hand crank.

The drip can. Over the stone hung by a metal rod, was a food can with a hole punched in the bottom for a drop of water to fall every second or so onto the stone.

Close to the stone most often used was one a bit larger that had a trough of water into which the stone was about a quarter submerged when it was being used. This was for scythe and large bladed items.

Water was not permitted to soak the stone all the time. When not in use the stones were stored under the lean-to part of the barn. Exposure to the elements naturally softened the sandstone.

Expertise was required in grinding chisels, plane blades, sickles, mower blades, etc.

Remember the rollers used to wring clothes out after a scrub board was used?

These rollers could be removed and placed on a board with a holder on the other side to attach certain cutting blades onto.

This device could then be used to bring the cutting edge into contact with the turning large grind-stone at any chosen angle. A desired bevel could be obtained. Honing the edge on a flat stone was the last operation.

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