shave a whetstone

  • laura0855

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Argentina
    Hello, It is an idiomatic expression , I don´t know what it means but I think it should read ¨ to shave a wet stone ¨. maybe it refers to people with no facial hair trying to shave something they don´t have.
    Let´s wait and see what natives have to say .
    Good luck
    Laura
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    A whetstone is the grinding stone used to sharpen tools (in the case of shaving, a straight-razor). I don't believe that one "shaves a whetstone" - a whetstone (lubricated by water or oil during the sharpening process) can be used to sharpen all manner of blades. Here is a link that may be of assistance:
     

    chesty

    Senior Member
    english
    Personally I've never heard of it. I would expect Foxfirebrand to have heard of it though!
     

    sazza

    Member
    English, Australia
    It sounds to me that it means to do something completely useless (because whetstones don't need shaving)
     

    LouisaB

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I suspect 'stingy' is the key. This is probably like 'squeezing blood out of a stone' - it's about someone who's so mean they try to extract the most out of everything, even objects with nothing to give.

    Also 'shave' in the 19th century is sometimes used to mean 'extract money from' - I think Dickens uses it that way.

    But I have to say it's not an expression I've ever actually heard.
     

    Nunty

    Modified
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    I had never heard this "proverb" before, and Google comes up with precisely one hit, which is giving English equivalents for, I believe, Japanese proverbs. It's a lovely and very expressive phrase, though.
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I've never heard of it.
    Google has never heard of it.
    Google has one reference to "shave a whetstone" from a Japanese website.

    It looks like an idiom or proverb translated from another language.
     

    cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    "(because whetstones don't need shaving)" Having spent a few hours in a past life using whetstones to sharpen chisels, I learned that they (the whetstones) occasionally need "truing," that is, rubbing one against another until they become perfectly flat again.
     

    chesty

    Senior Member
    english
    "(because whetstones don't need shaving)" Having spent a few hours in a past life using whetstones to sharpen chisels, I learned that they (the whetstones) occasionally need "truing," that is, rubbing one against another until the become perfectly flat again.

    Finally the logic behind the trope is revealed!
     
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