Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: Sharpening with a pedal stone/pedal wheel?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    NC (USA)
    Posts
    1,651

    Question Sharpening with a pedal stone/pedal wheel?

    Hello all,
    I was wondering if anyone's done any sharpening with a old pedal stone, aka pedal wheel? These were very common on farms across the country from the nineteenth century until well into the twentieth century - and they're not really all that hard to fine today (antiques, that is).

    Obviously, one would have to find one that was still operational, still functional, and not likely to collapse and crumble beneath you (there are many out there that are just "antiques", to be placed in the corner of one's living room for atmosphere). The frame must be strong and serviceable. The pedals must be functional. The stone must be uniform, in good condition, and clean (I found one that was waaaay assymetrically worn - t'would be quite hard to keep a blade in consistent position).

    Anyone have any experience with one of these? Any thoughts? Any lessons learned, suggestions, pointers?


    preeeeeesch,
    Jesse
    Jesse D. Zinn
    North Carolina

    Hwt w Gr-Dena in ger-dagum
    od-cyninga rym gefrnon,
    h elingas ellen fremedon."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    NY State
    Posts
    3,366
    I have one and have used it a bit. You sit down and pedal it and the big wheel slowly [compared to electric] rotates. The old stones tended to sag , i've heard just sitting unused. It's a slow process and the only advantage is that you don't tend to overheat the steel.

  3. #3
    You ALSO don't make disastrous mistakes that ruin your edge and/or your whole sword. I found that out first hand more than once.

    Slow grinding wheels make for great results.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    now in Tampa, FL USA
    Posts
    224
    I haven't found one yet, still want one, but I have advice anyway: Don't store the stone in water, if it's the kind with a water reservoir under the stone. It will tear up the stone, especially if it freezes.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    State Evergreen
    Posts
    4,766

    Hold It!

    They might work fine for axes, but will ruin a good sword blade. If its a blunt sword, then work it over with a hand-held stone. A quick pass with a belt grinder will also work fine. There is not much control with a solid spinning wheel of stone, since its surface will never be completaly flat or even.
    I'm lost---- I've gone to look for myself. If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait.

    If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

    I work for Keyser Sze.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    NC (USA)
    Posts
    1,651

    Re: Hold It!

    Originally posted by D. Opheim
    They might work fine for axes, but will ruin a good sword blade. If its a blunt sword, then work it over with a hand-held stone. A quick pass with a belt grinder will also work fine. There is not much control with a solid spinning wheel of stone, since its surface will never be completaly flat or even.
    Interesting point. It does beg the question then, however, how armorers and cutlers sharpened steel sword blades throughout antiquity, especially during the increasing martial mass production of the high middle ages and renaissance...
    Jesse D. Zinn
    North Carolina

    Hwt w Gr-Dena in ger-dagum
    od-cyninga rym gefrnon,
    h elingas ellen fremedon."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    central New Mexico
    Posts
    3,250
    The use of crank powered grindstones to sharpen swords is first documented to the 900's, (see "Cathedral Forge and Waterwheel", Gies & Gies) coincidentily it's the first documented use of the "crank" and is shown as a drawing on the side of a manuscript of the devils and the angels getting ready for battle.

    The angels are using the "new" grindstone to sharpen their swords while the devils are shown using the "old-fashioned" whetstone to sharpen theirs. God is on the side of "higher technology!

    Remember that you used to be able to get grindstones in a wide range of grit sizes and the typical "farmyard" grindstone was not the same grit as the knife and scissors sharpener's stone---which are rare to find nowdays.

    If you look through engravings of the knifemakers in sheffield or in Diderot's encyclopedia you will see them using *large* grindstones to shape and sharpen blades.

    A grindstone in mint condition running in *GOOD* bearings can be dressed to surpassing smoothness. Most 100 year old stones are trashed and the bearings are trashed---but then it's like saying that cars can't go over 50 miles an hour cause cars from the 1900's that you found in a barn last year can't.

    Putting the final edge on a blade probably still was reserved for the finest of whetstones and then the strop, read about sharpening a straight razor---ground on a grindstone to get the "hollow ground" edge geometry, then touched up on a whetstone and then stropped to "razor" sharp.

    Thomas

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    State Evergreen
    Posts
    4,766

    Re: Re: Hold It!

    Originally posted by Jesse Zinn
    Interesting point. It does beg the question then, however, how armorers and cutlers sharpened steel sword blades throughout antiquity, especially during the increasing martial mass production of the high middle ages and renaissance...
    To be fair, it will work, but don't expect a flawless edge, and the after work with a hand held stone will be manditory.
    I'm lost---- I've gone to look for myself. If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait.

    If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

    I work for Keyser Sze.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    2,217

    A side note, for the movie buffs around here...

    ...in the movie The Duellists, the protagonist has his sabre (French Hussar pattern) sharpened the night before his duel by a man with a pedal-powered stone.
    Provided both the stone and the working mechanism are in very good order- we are NOT talking about a creaky old wheel you just picked up at an antique shop- I can't see why it wouldn't work. Some familiarity with this equipment would be a must, though, I'd practice first on something non-critical. In A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain descibes the sharpener using a foot-powered stone to put the edge on the student's duelling swords in a German university, and the cutting edge is described as "razor-sharp". Of course, you have to allow for a slight bit of exaggeration with Twain, but considering the man who did this was probably sharpening blades of various types this way his whole working life, he likely wasn't too far off the mark.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Duluth and Twin Cities, MN
    Posts
    5

    Find a grindstone?

    So, are there places I could go and bring my seaxe to get it sharpened, or any place I can shop around and find a round grindstone? I just got this 17 inch viking scramaseaxe, made from EN-45 high carbon spring steel, and the part of the blade that is supposed to be sharp is not yet sharpened, but the blade is about 1.5 to 2 mm thick, so it doesn't cut anything yet. Any leads?

    -Brother John
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Keeping Sharp,
    Brother John of Darkwood

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    central New Mexico
    Posts
    3,250
    Al, In starwars the swords were not sharpened by a pedal grindstone or to put it another way---anything in hollywood cannot be used to document anything in the real world---remember the forgewelding scene in return of the king?

    You can find medium sized motorized grindstones in high end woodworking catalogs used to sharpen plane irons. This might be a good place to start to get a set up for doing blades.

    Thomas

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    2,217

    Sorry, but swords, as well as axes and knives...

    Originally posted by Thomas Powers
    Al, In starwars the swords were not sharpened by a pedal grindstone or to put it another way---anything in hollywood cannot be used to document anything in the real world---remember the forgewelding scene in return of the king?

    You can find medium sized motorized grindstones in high end woodworking catalogs used to sharpen plane irons. This might be a good place to start to get a set up for doing blades.

    Thomas
    ...were historically sharpened at various times on pedal, crank or water-driven stones. The depiction of this being done in the 900's is just one of many instances- and Twain's description of this being done with dueling blades is a first-person source. If both the stone is true and there is an experienced sharpener, very little dress-up work will be needed- and this was usually done by the sharpener himself. I recall a man going around the neighbourhood with a pedal-powered setup which had both stones and leather belt strop on it, and doing shears, knives, axes, scissors, machetes etc. quite well. The advantage of this gear is that the risk of removing temper or too much steel was minimal. And both hands are free to steady the blade and control the angle.
    Last edited by Al Massey; 02-02-2005 at 03:04 AM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Cincinnati,Ohio
    Posts
    235
    I think I remember some illustrations in Diederot's where the cutlers lay on their stomachs on an inclined plane & use a sliding wooden jig of some kind to control the angle of the grind. Anyone have any amplification on this?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    4,548

    Re: Sorry, but swords, as well as axes and knives...

    Originally posted by Al Massey
    ...were historically sharpened at various times on pedal, crank or water-driven stones. The depiction of this being done in the 900's is just one of many instances- and Twain's description of this being done with dueling blades is a first-person source. If both the stone is true and there is an experienced sharpener, very little dress-up work will be needed- and this was usually done by the sharpener himself. I recall a man going around the neighbourhood with a pedal-powered setup which had both stones and leather belt strop on it, and doing shears, knives, axes, scissors, machetes etc. quite well. The advantage of this gear is that the risk of removing temper or too much steel was minimal. And both hands are free to steady the blade and control the angle.
    There are low-speed grinders available from reputable sources including a 6 inch (too small and an 8 inch from Delta. You can also go online to any of the better woodworking equipment catalogs Such as Woodcraft, www.garrettwade.com and look for slow speed grinders. Get softer grade aluminum oxide wheels (they stay cooler) and work carefully. You could also spend the money on a Tormek unit. It uses a 10 inch water cooled wheel that can be graded to cut more coarsely or quickly smoothed for a finer grind. Very nice machines, but you can easily end up spending a couple grand on the machine plus jigs for every conceivable tool.

    If you've got a rebated edge on your sword, and 1-2mm sounds like a rebated edge, you should probably consider getting someone to do the work for you. Though you could do it yourself. Get a good "mill-bastard" file and draw file the edge down in long, smooth strokes. Try to maintain a stable and consistent angle. Actually establishing a straight edge is going to take some effort and care. Then adjust the shape of the edge with a coarse whetstone (choose your favorite type) then polish out the tool marks with progressively finer abrasives before sharpening for real, You can do it yourself, by hand, and do a good job, but you will need to take care and work slowly. If you feel that this might be beyond your patience, then find a knife or swordmaker in your area and have them finish up the edge for you.
    Non nobis Domine, non nobis sed Nomini Tuo da Gloriam
    "Not to us Lord, Not to us, but to Thy Name be the Glory"

    Adsum, Domine: Totus ingenibus meis ad pedes tuos proponeo.
    Duce et regere servum tui, Domine, ab omnibus temptationem, ita ut honor purus et donum meum incontaminatus sit.
    "Here am I, Lord: All my talents at Thy feet I lay. Guide and guard Thy servant, Lord, from all temptation, that honor may be spotless and my gift unstained."
    - Katherine Kurtz "Healer's Song"

  15. #15
    I've got a list and in some cases pretty good directions to some old whetstone quarries. I can't speak much to the availability of access for anyone interested in collecting stone. I'm going to Georgia soon and will be doing some investigation and try to find one.

    I believe the wheels turned on bushings. Most of the old ones I've seen are sandstone and in sad shape. I don't see any reason why one couldn't be repaired and trued up as long as its not cracked. Any round grindstone needs to be periodically trued round and have its face flattened, or thrown away. Yes, you have to make it do what you want it just won't happen. I doubt anyone is interested in making a large round grindstone of novaculite or even sandstone.

    the smaller the wheel, of course the more concave the grind will be, I think Andrew is on track with the best way for the hand worker. If the steel is soft enough to file start there or maybe a 120/180 grit stone then to 220 and beyond. A bevel edge is easy, blending it by hand is quite a bit more difficult, basically a repolish. It will certainly reveal how good the grinder who shaped the blade was at his job.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Auburn, AL
    Posts
    487

    Re: Re: Sorry, but swords, as well as axes and knives...

    Originally posted by Andrew W. Priestley


    If you've got a rebated edge on your sword, and 1-2mm sounds like a rebated edge, you should probably consider getting someone to do the work for you. Though you could do it yourself. Get a good "mill-bastard" file and draw file the edge down in long, smooth strokes. Try to maintain a stable and consistent angle. Actually establishing a straight edge is going to take some effort and care. Then adjust the shape of the edge with a coarse whetstone (choose your favorite type) then polish out the tool marks with progressively finer abrasives before sharpening for real, You can do it yourself, by hand, and do a good job, but you will need to take care and work slowly. If you feel that this might be beyond your patience, then find a knife or swordmaker in your area and have them finish up the edge for you.
    That's how I sharpened my father's MRL kindjal. It works quite well, you just have to have some patience and time.
    "Victory is won with the sword still in the scabbard"

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •