Instrumentation

To safely and effectively sharpen instruments, appropriate armamentarium is required. Gloves and a mask must be worn during the sharpening procedure to protect against sludge; safety glasses are necessary as shavings often become airborne. Cotton tipped applicators are useful to spread the lubricant onto the stone. Gauze is needed to wipe the blade and stone surfaces. A magnifying glass or loupes are needed to examine the blade. Plastic test sticks are needed to test for sharpness (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Armamentarium.
Illustration showing armamentarium required to effectively sharpen instruments
Safety glasses (side shielded), Mask, Gauze, Gloves, Lubricated Sharpening Stones, Cotton tipped applicator.

The work area should provide adequate space and light for comfortable operation. The counter top or other work surface should be wide enough to support the elbows and it should be high enough so that the instrument can be held at eye level.

There are four types of sharpening stones, each with unique composition and grit. These combinations are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Sharpening Stones.
Sharpening StoneCompositionGritLubricationShapes Available for Finishing
ArkansasNaturalFineOil/DryConical, Cylindrical, Flat, Wedge
CeramicSyntheticFine or MediumWater/DryCylindrical, Flat
IndiaSyntheticFine or MediumOilFlat, Wedge
Composition StoneAluminum OxideCourse GritOil/WaterRange of shapes and sizes for advanced sharpening needs

When using oil to lubricate, such as with the Arkansas, India, or Composition stones, spread oil completely over stone surface. Likewise, when using water to lubricate a Ceramic stone, cover the entire surface.