Stonewash Finish

I have a personal obsession with "inset" scales. This particular blade, still a work in progress, does well with the stonewash. This steel is reclaimed saw blade steel which was heavily rust pitted. The texture from the pitting on the flats contrasts extremely well with an inset scale style handle, all the while remaining simple and rough but stark. Once the scales are highly polished it'll really pop

I have a personal obsession with "inset" scales. This particular blade, still a work in progress, does well with the stonewash. This steel is reclaimed saw blade steel which was heavily rust pitted. The texture from the pitting on the flats contrasts extremely well with an inset scale style handle, all the while remaining simple and rough but stark. Once the scales are highly polished it'll really pop

 

There's a number of possible blade finishes, from machine, to hand-sanded satin, to polished. A slightly less common one that you've likely seen is the stonewash finish. The stonewash finish is basically a matte "utility" finish, especially useful for a knife that is likely to be heavily used and likely to get scratched. It looks closest to stone slate, from which the term "stonewash" comes from. 


As with all features, aspects, and possibilities with knives, whether you should stonewash or not of course depends on the design. Some blades lend themselves to it (especially utility and EDC knives), others do not. That's up to you. Some people absolutely hate it, some love it. 

I saw it, thought why not, and tried it out. Here's what I did. 

This particular finish is technically an Acid Stonewash. After finishing a few belt knives to 220 grit and a medium surface conditioning belt, I put them in standard household vinegar for an hour or so, taking them out to wipe off every fifteen minutes. The blades took on a gray finish, interesting in themselves but I had better plans. 

Next was relatively simple. I took a small bucket, filled it halfway with coarse sand (gravel is usually used), and stuck the blades in there. Then, I put on the lid and spent a good five minutes shaking vigorously, quite a workout in itself. The gravel marks and evens the acid-induced oxide, speckling the gray with silver. 

Have you ever tried to do a stonewash finish? Have any tips and insights you found out in the process? Email me and I'll share it next article!