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I am planning to sharpen and polish by hand for a while. Any recommendations on product/manufacturers for this?

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There are many different types of sharpening stones, and I've found that they all can work. I personally tend to avoid oil stones because I just don't care to work with oil. Right now I mostly use a coarse and super fine diamond stone and then a leather strop. The diamond stones are nice because the stay flat and they cut fast. Also if you use steels with hard carbides they make life a lot easier. I think the brand I use is Dia-sharp

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Have you ever done any sharpening by hand?  

 I use King and Naniwa synthetic waterstones.  The Naniwa are better stones, but you will pay for that better.  

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I have not. I haven't forges one blade yet. I have been reading books, trying to educate myself as much as possible. I am now in the planning stages of putting my own forge together. I should have a shop built in my yard by July. I don't want to do any of the work in my garage. I am currently looking for the tools of the trade.  it's a bit overwhelming,  but I am very excited.  I am blown away by the skill of the members of this forum. Absolutely mind blowing. So I am going to tap into the wealth of knowledge here as much as possible!

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I've got a few stones, one at a time- started with the cheap and readily available coarse/medium grey stones you can get for $8 at Walmart in the hunting department. Decided I didn't like that too much.

 

Picked up a 600 grit DMT diamond stone from Home Depot for $30, works great, and is my regular maintanence stone for my kitchen knives. It's not great for setting the initial edge though- I plan on ordering a coarse one when I have some cash, but in the mean time I got a 4 sided diamond block from harbor freight for $12. It works great to start but wears out rather fast.

 

For a finer edge, I got a Belgian blue stone. They are fairly cheap, I think $30-40, cut great, and depending on pressure and how wet it is, it runs the 2000-8000ish grit range. 

Im usually super limited on budget, so the high priced waterstones that I would like to try are still out of reach for me for a while.

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On 5/24/2017 at 6:44 PM, R. Thiele said:

I have not. I haven't forges one blade yet. I have been reading books, trying to educate myself as much as possible. I am now in the planning stages of putting my own forge together. I should have a shop built in my yard by July. I don't want to do any of the work in my garage. I am currently looking for the tools of the trade.  it's a bit overwhelming,  but I am very excited.  I am blown away by the skill of the members of this forum. Absolutely mind blowing. So I am going to tap into the wealth of knowledge here as much as possible!

If I can make a humble suggestion.

Learning to sharpen good by hand can be challenging.  When I first started, I bought a 5 stone Lansky sharpening kit, which are dead simple to use, and put a great edge on knives.  It will teach you what secondary bevels should look like, and what angles are good.  I then bought a combination 1000/6000 grit waterstone, and would set the edge on the Lansky.  Once that was done, I would use the waterstone to refine and hone the edge.  Since I had already set the edge, I had something to guide.  Once I got comfortable with that, i did away with the Lansky, and just use my waterstones now.  If you have the means, I would suggest doing something like this.  

 

Edited by Wes Detrick
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8 hours ago, Wes Detrick said:

If I can make a humble suggestion.

Learning to sharpen good by hand can be challenging.  When I first started, I bought a 5 stone Lansky sharpening kit, which are dead simple to use, and put a great edge on knives.  It will teach you what secondary bevels should look like, and what angles are good.  I then bought a combination 1000/6000 grit waterstone, and would set the edge on the Lansky.  Once that was done, I would use the waterstone to refine and hone the edge.  Since I had already set the edge, I had something to guide.  Once I got comfortable with that, i did away with the Lansky, and just use my waterstones now.  If you have the means, I would suggest doing something like this.  

 

I was planning on sharpening by hand. Your info is exactly what I was looking for. There just seems to be so many options out there, this helps narrow it down.

 

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I'm sure I'm the odd-ball out on this one, but I hate the Lansky system.  Due to the numerous suggestions/recommendations for it by well respected people on this site (such as Wes above) I put it on my Christmas wish-list a couple years ago and some friends got it for me.  I doubt I'll ever use it again, as the first several times I tried it was just so unnatural/awkward for me to use.  I'll keep it in the tool kit, just in case anyone ever needs to use it.  Enough people say it is helpful that surely it must work well for some.  I mainly just wanted to share my experience with not liking it in case there is someone else out there that gets frustrated trying to use it.  I learned on flat stones so that is what I am best on and can get arm-hair shaving sharp pretty quick.  Just don't lose hope if you struggle at all.  It takes time and practice.  Find what works for you and work at making that work even better.  

Also, study edge geometry and what the bevels should look like.  Get that firmly in your mind before you start shaping.  At least I found that that helps me out.  

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I agree with both Wes and Jerrod!

When i was a kid, my dad taught me how to sharpen my pocket knife on a wet stone.  I used to be very good at it, and was always sharpening knives for someone. (Including my dad)  Somehow, I got away from it, and 30 years later I was finding that I simply sucked at sharpening.  I don't know why.

I bought a Lansky style kit on a whim and out of desperation.  (Mine is actually made by Smith's)  I was humbled and embarrassed to have to use one, but have been surprised at what it has re-taught me about edge geometry.

However, the thing is clumsy, and very awkward to hold.  It took me a while to find a way to hold everything that is comfortable for me.  Now I like to use a relatively coarse diamond stone with the Lansky to put the initial secondary bevel on a newly made knife blade.  Once I establish the bevel with the jig, I am more comfortable taking it to my Norton water stones.

 

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I have been watching this thread for some time. I was taught by my Dad as a kid how to sharpen a knife. Now let me say sharpening by hand is a learned talent! IMHO 

The one thing that I know about sharpening is what my Dad taught me. A cheap water stone will throw a quick edge on pretty much any knife, he then came behind that with an oil stone to get a good edge, or as he called it a fine edge. Oh and one other thing do not put oil on a water stone or water on a oil stone. Although that one took me a mix up of stones when I was young to fully understand.

My Dad was sharpening his knife one day when I hear, ................who used my water stone with oil. Of course that would have been me. However in my defense I could have sworn he said that was an oil stone, (or I could have been having one of those kid moments when you lost me after, don't ever............blah blah blah)! Do you get that, "sure thing Dad", wink wink, nod nod!!!

Now having said the I know there are a variety of water stones now-days, that you can get basically the same results as the finest oil stone!! So all you connoisseurs of Japanese water stones, please don't throw them at me, Get it, pun intended,  please don't stone me, laugh, laugh!

Now as for the Lansky system it is a little clumsy getting used to. Think of it as a first date that you got a kiss. Kind of awkward, but rewarding. I guess they still consider it good if you get a kiss on the first date!! Not sure, I have been accused of being behind times by my Grand kids!!! LOL

I bought and used it on one of my first sales. The guy wanted a knife for his Grandson and I made him one, as well as the sheath for it! When I finished the knife. I decided to try the Lansky System on it! So started with the roughest grit and carried it down to the finest. I did not like the edge it produced. So I went back thru the whole procedure again and when I finished the second time, I loved the edge. You could shave with, and I am not talking about the hair on your arm. You literally could have shaved with it!

So I took it out side and abused the edge and tried it on the hair on my arm and it would still shave, but it did pull ever so slightly. So I decided before I sent it out to touch up the edge. Since the edge looked good I decided to only go about halfway with the order of the stones. In other words not the roughest stone but about halfway thru the group. When I finished I reached for a paper towel and wiped the oil from the blade. I looked down and I had blood pouring from my finger. I looked at the paper towel closely and their was a line where it had cut through the paper towel! So now I am wondering do I have a wire edge and that is what cut me. I grabbed my magnifying glass and stepped out into the sun to look at the edge. No wire edge it was just the most beautifully honed edge I had ever seen. It was so sharp I never felt it cut me!!

Then the thought hit me this is for the guy's Grandson. I emailed him and forewarned him that this knife was extremely sharp and since I did not know him or his Grandson's level of experience with knives, to please be careful with the knife!! I also asked him to please email when the knife got there and he had a chance to look it over and was pleased with it to let me know.

The day it got there I got an email that evening. Love the knife and sheath but how did you get such a good edge on it?? He said I have been an avid sportsman all my life and I thought I knew how to sharpen a knife. How ever this may the sharpest knife I have ever used. 

I explained I had used the Lansky system on it. Well then he had to know more. I told him that we all know that the best sharpening job means you have to be consistent with your strokes on a stone. In other words lets say you make two stokes at exactly the perfect angle and then you make that next stroke and you let then angle change slightly, you may have destroyed the first two perfect passes. So if that happens through out your sharpening, you may just finish sharpening to find out your blade is not sharp.

The Lansky system takes all the guess work out of sharpening a knife, lets say two passes on one side and two passes on the other side and then get it down to where you are making one pass per side.  You keep track in your head how many passes you make total. You do this with every grit of stone, till you get down to the final honing stone!! 

I don't always use the Lansky System when sharpening a knife for myself but, usually when I am sending one out to a buyer it will be the last thing I do before I send it out. It is a little hard to get use to but it works and works well!!

My first knives were all made with doing the rough profile down to finish size with a file, a 4 x 24 belt sander that I could lock the switch on lay it in a cradle I had built to hold it in place. Files cut in the initial bevel, which was then worked down with finer and finer files, drawfiling! The final bevel was initially cut with one of the finest files I own.  From there I went to sandpaper and then stepped down grit by grit till I got to the finest grit and then and only then did I sharpen the cutting edge. Before I bought the Lansky System this was always done by hand. Starting with a coarse grit stone and stepping down until I got to my favorite oil honing stone!

Buy the best stones that you can afford. It will pay off in the long run!! Just don't cross up whether they are water stones or oil stones, and if you have two that are similar in look, write on one end in a sharpie, H2O or OIL!  

Edited by C Craft
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