Wow! Thanks for all the great information everyone! To answer some of the questions that came up (and ask some more of my own):
Douglas: I'm definitely looking for something freehand. I'm interested in (and motivated by) developing the skill needed to effectively sharpen freehand. It seems the discussion went this direction organically.
Also Douglas: I hadn't considered the 'sharp enough' idea, or the idea that a knife could be 'too sharp'. That's really good information and will help guide my sharpening journey I suspect. Thank you for sharing that.
Ben: I'm intrigued by the idea of using a natural stone, but I've also read - and you mentioned - that they should really be used with a sharpening oil instead of just water. I'm not sure what sharpening oils are derived from, but for food prep knives I expect I'd feel more comfortable with water. Can a natural stone be used successfully with just water? What are the differences between oil and water with these stones or sharpening stones in general? There's also the issue of oil mess as mentioned in a video posted in the PEP Knife sharpening BB (https://permies.com/wiki/105867/pep-tool-care/PEP-BB-tool-sand-knife).
Also, what are the general qualities of natural/synthetic/diamond? I gather that diamond lasts longer, and cuts faster, and that natural stones have some variance in grit. I assume there's more nuance than this though.
I'm looking to buy a whetstone for sharpening kitchen knives and pocket knives and the like (and for working on my PEP knife sharpening toolcare BB). Doing a quick web search about the subject turns up a dizzying array of choices. There seem to be many different grit options, stones with multiple grits, natural and synthetic stones, stones mounted in plastic housings and loose stones, new and used stones. What do you all find useful in a whetstone? What factors are most important when buying one? Do you prefer different stones for different jobs? Why? What kind of stone would you recommend for a beginner?
I hope this discussion will be helpful for others looking to buy a whetstone in the future.
Thanks Nicole and Mike. Our kids don't spend much time licking hinges, though some might? I mostly brought it up because it seemed like it could be a violation of the 'toxic gick' theme that is ever present in Paul's work (something that I really appreciate. Thanks Paul.). Thanks for adjusting the requirements. I'll plan on trying some animal fat based grease when I get the time. I'll post back when I do.
Nicole, out of curiosity, what oils have you used? Have you noticed any differences in performance, longevity, or application ease? With some oils I worry about them 'gumming up' over time, like the gunk that collects near frying pans. Maybe this only happens when oils are heated?
Does anyone know about the toxicity of white lithium grease? I'm hesitant to apply something like this to our door hinges (which are within reach of our children) without first checking for toxicity. Or for that matter, does anyone know of obviously non-toxic substitutes for this application? I'm thinking that some mixture of animal fats might do the trick. I remember reading somewhere that beef tallow was the go-to lubricant for steam engines back in the day. My first guess would be a mix of beef tallow and lard might work well, though I don't know how it would age.
Swept the kitchen floor last night. Figured I'd take some pictures for this BB. This was one or two days of accumulation. It's honestly a little impressive how much food the kids drop/throw onto the floor every day.
Oh, I also forgot to add: I used coconut oil. It wasn't mentioned in the text of this BB, but was referenced in the videos as a suitable wood oil. This is what we've always used for spoons, knife handles, cutting boards, and such as my partner has had allergic reactions to tree nuts in the past, and coconut isn't a true tree nut.
It was time to oil our wooden spoon, so I grabbed some pictures while doing it. As you can see, some of these spoons did not get regular oiling for quite some time, and have cracked. Hopefully regularly oiling can keep them alive for a while before they break.
The action shot was hard to get with the phone camera, and shows a rather large amount of coconut oil. I used less on other spoons.
Mike, for longer term storage, Scotch tape does make more sense because of residue. Not as convenient for short term though, which is what I'm usually doing.
Nicole, paper between the lid and rim is a great idea for main jars. Maybe if I had pre-cut pieces I could make that work just as fast as masking tape. Yeah, I'm usually more concerned with the date, though sometimes I label contents for things that are less self evident.
We also have many Pyrex containers with plastic lids, and the occasional plastic takeout container (though I'm not as concerned about these long term). Any thoughts for these type of containers?
What do y'all use for marking containers? We currently use masking tape and a sharpie marker. We're usually marking glass containers for leftovers in the fridge. The smell of the markers tell me they shouldn't be in my home, let alone near my food, and I imagine the tape has loads of gick in it too. I'm looking for a less toxic solution.
A marking method would need to be easily removable during normal dish washing (hand or machine) and high enough visibility on glass to read at a glance in the fridge.
My current thought is some kind of wax pencil or crayon. Though the crayons I've tried don't seem to leave a dark enough mark on the glass.
Back when I was making bread regularly, I'd wrap my extra loaves in dish towels and give them to friends I wanted to see more often. It was a great way to get others to initiate get-togethers so they could give back the towels.
Shane here from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Just wanted to introduce myself to the community. I'm 28, partnered with 2 kids (2 yrs, 4 wks), living in cohousing (renting). Got my PDC in late 2015 with Midwest Permaculture, but haven't really practiced. Every time I try to start a garden I get caught in the "we're not going to be here for very long, so shouldn't invest to much in this land/place" trap.
Currently working outside the home at a decent-paying tech job (software/robotics). Contemplating next steps towards a situation better suited to homesteading. Hurdles include money to buy land, as I'm quite debt averse. But also the fear of being isolated, and just not really knowing what we want.
Thanks for building such a great place to talk about this stuff. I look forward to getting to know you.