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Sharpening Tips & Tricks


Joshua States

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  On 4/3/2019 at 10:11 AM, Adam Weller said:

Honestly, if the edge geometry is right it should be as "sharp" as it going to get with the coarsest stone... Everything from there is just refining the edge, making it smoother. After the coarsest stone the bevels should be set and the edge should be sharp, but it's like a serrated blade on a microscopic level. The subsequent stones and even the strop is just refining those original bevels.

I don't know about other people, but if I can't effortlessly cut paper after my coarsest stone, I'm not done with that stone yet (make sure your not fighting the burr).

Hope that helps.

Edited by Joshua States
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“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

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Josh

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Oh good! This is a topic now, I think this should be pinned, it’s gonna help a lot of people.

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Strangely enough this has become a very real problem for me as things have progressed.  Due to my equipment, knowledge and experience limitations I went from Scandivex to saber with convex zero edge to full flat with convex zero edge.  This was mostly thanks to sharpening on a 400 grit 1x30 baby belt grinder.

I'm a firm believer in FFG with a convex edge bevel, thickness behind the edge determined by the intended use of the blade (or sometimes by mistake :P)

Problem with that comes in when you start selling knives and you're not Bark River Knives :ph34r:

I've tried to go a more conventional route since getting a 2x72, not mastered freehand sharpening on stones yet.  The Lansky is an endless hassle, and I killed my Extra Coarse Diamond stone sharpening my first 14C28n blade.......it was a set of 2 steak knives so the second blade I gave a nasty recurve sharpening on the belt grinder......

.......and I always manage to cut myself when using the Lansky.......and drop, and try to catch knives :ph34r:

This is very much an issue for me.

I understand the process, I've gotten good results, comes down to equipment and experience that's lacking. 

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I always find it a little odd, that somewhere between my 800 and 1000 grit stone, I seem to lose the edge all together (bur just gets worked over?).  I wonder back and forth with my Lansky sharper how this happens? The bevel angle never changed.  I've almost given up on that tool. 

However if I take a good old cheapo bench stone and by hand run it over the course and fine side things are fine. 

I would get stones for all the levels of grit, but recently when I was making gravers, I found that wet dry paper backed on a ceramic glazed tile works wonders.

 

I also don't use paper as much as I use thin cotton rags to test from where the blade is sharp and not.  If I can place an old tee shirt on a wooden table top and draw the knife across it and it cuts clean - that's sharp.  It can also tell me where abouts the knife is dull as it will just drag from that spot.

 

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I don't use jigs, angle setting tools, or other mechanical aids, because I don't make one size and shape of knife.  Your edge has to be appropriate for what you're sharpening.  I don't use the same angles on tomahawks and axes as I do on kitchen knives, and swords have their own issues.  

I tend to set the secondary bevel with a 400 grit belt on the platen, then move to stones.  I use oil stones.  The first one is a big Norton combination India stone that is pretty coarse on one side and medium fine on the other.  If it won't cut paper ( or shave hair) right off the belt it doesn't go to the stone.  You can feel the hair being cut at this stage, as a slight pull.

From the India stone it goes to a hard Arkansas stone, then I finish it off with a translucent extra-fine Arkansas stone.  These are very hard to find, but they'll finish off a fine edge like nothing else.  The only problem is they tend to be tiny (about an inch wide by four inches long), so on larger blades I use them rather like a Japanese finger stone, moving the stone along the edge rather than the edge along the stone.  At this point it should be able to pop hair without you feeling it. 

Finally, depending on the intended purpose of the blade, it may get stropped on wood-backed leather charged with white diamond buffing compound.  This puts a mirror polish on the edge and guarantees scary shaving sharpness.  So why don't I do that to every blade? 

There are two schools of thought about how polished the edge needs to be, and I have found that for some jobs a stropped edge is actually not as good a cutter as a stoned edge.  These jobs are slicing tomatoes and cutting free-hanging rope.  The ever-so-slightly rough edge left by the stones actually seems to act as micro-serrations to make the cut on tomato skin and hemp rope go easier.  So much so on rope that if I were sharpening only for a rope cut competition I wouldn't even use the fine stones, I'd stop after the fine side of the India stone.  The grooves left by the stone seem to grab the rope and cut, whereas the polished edge from stropping seems to slide off the fibers.  

For things like woodworking chisels and pocket knives I go full-on polished, for the chisels and gouges because it leaves a polished cut that needs no sanding, and for pocketknives because I can.  A stropped edge works better on leather for fine controlled cutting.

I think waterstones are fine, but not really necessary unless you're doing Japanese-style polishing.  Plus they're messy and easy to wear out of flat.  But that's just me.  

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I use the NZ made Scary Sharp system with 4 grades of stones but generally only use 2 or three for working knives and finish with a hard backed strop  https://www.scarysharp.co.nz/

Edited by Garry Keown
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Von Gruff

http://www.vongruffknives.com/

The ability to do comes with doing.

 

 

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9 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

I don't use jigs, angle setting tools, or other mechanical aids, because I don't make one size and shape of knife.  Your edge has to be appropriate for what you're sharpening.  I don't use the same angles on tomahawks and axes as I do on kitchen knives, and swords have their own issues.  

I tend to set the secondary bevel with a 400 grit belt on the platen, then move to stones.  I use oil stones.  The first one is a big Norton combination India stone that is pretty coarse on one side and medium fine on the other.  If it won't cut paper ( or shave hair) right off the belt it doesn't go to the stone.  You can feel the hair being cut at this stage, as a slight pull.

From the India stone it goes to a hard Arkansas stone, then I finish it off with a translucent extra-fine Arkansas stone.  These are very hard to find, but they'll finish off a fine edge like nothing else.  The only problem is they tend to be tiny (about an inch wide by four inches long), so on larger blades I use them rather like a Japanese finger stone, moving the stone along the edge rather than the edge along the stone.  At this point it should be able to pop hair without you feeling it. 

Finally, depending on the intended purpose of the blade, it may get stropped on wood-backed leather charged with white diamond buffing compound.  This puts a mirror polish on the edge and guarantees scary shaving sharpness.  So why don't I do that to every blade? 

There are two schools of thought about how polished the edge needs to be, and I have found that for some jobs a stropped edge is actually not as good a cutter as a stoned edge.  These jobs are slicing tomatoes and cutting free-hanging rope.  The ever-so-slightly rough edge left by the stones actually seems to act as micro-serrations to make the cut on tomato skin and hemp rope go easier.  So much so on rope that if I were sharpening only for a rope cut competition I wouldn't even use the fine stones, I'd stop after the fine side of the India stone.  The grooves left by the stone seem to grab the rope and cut, whereas the polished edge from stropping seems to slide off the fibers.  

For things like woodworking chisels and pocket knives I go full-on polished, for the chisels and gouges because it leaves a polished cut that needs no sanding, and for pocketknives because I can.  A stropped edge works better on leather for fine controlled cutting.

I think waterstones are fine, but not really necessary unless you're doing Japanese-style polishing.  Plus they're messy and easy to wear out of flat.  But that's just me.  

Ive been trying to learn with out jigs.  It’s rough going but at least in the long run I’ll be better off knowing how to do it free hand with out them.  It’s a difficult learning curve but it’s been fun.

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5 hours ago, Garry Keown said:

I use the NZ made Scary Sharp system with 4 grades of stones but generally only use 2 or three for working knives and finish with a hard backed strop  https://www.scarysharp.co.nz/

That looks like something I want.......

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21 minutes ago, Gerhard Gerber said:

That looks like something I want.......

He sells internationally Gerhard

 

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Von Gruff

http://www.vongruffknives.com/

The ability to do comes with doing.

 

 

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13 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

I tend to set the secondary bevel with a 400 grit belt on the platen, then move to stones. 

I'm assuming cutting edge down......just not managing that on the 2x72.....

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4 hours ago, Gerhard Gerber said:

I'm assuming cutting edge down......just not managing that on the 2x72.....

Nope, edge up.  No wire edge or burr that way.  Slow speed, of course.

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20 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

For things like woodworking chisels and pocket knives I go full-on polished, for the chisels and gouges because it leaves a polished cut that needs no sanding, and for pocketknives because I can.  A stropped edge works better on leather for fine controlled cutting.

There is nothing like that finish from planes or other wood working tools with a good polished edge.  With veiners, and a good edge, you can even get good cross grain cuts if your not aggressive with it.  And depending on what wood your working with. 

 

I'm remembering a post from another forum of sword collectors and remembering a general consciousness that sword edges should be honed down to a 4000 grit finish . . . I remember thinking - that's a little much.  Geometry cuts, level of finish depends on what you expect to cut. 

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4000 grit for a sword sounds like a full Japanese hamon show polish on a collector's katana, not a user.  On a using sword, in my opinion anything over 400 grit is wasted effort.  And to add to the comment about geometry,  somebody here used to have a signature line that was a quote from Roman Landis when discussing what the best steel for general sharpenability with the best edge retention: "Geometry says how sharp, steel [and heat treatment] says how long."

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4 hours ago, Gerald Boggs said:

Who's using swords?, did the apocalypses happen and I missed the memo :-)

Cutting competitions are not limited to bowies or tatami-slicing with katana.  Lots of European swords still get used for that.  Not actual battle, so much. ;)  

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For European sword sharpening, Michael Edelson has a good book (Cutting with the Medieval Sword) with a detailed section on sharpening.  He uses a 1x30 slack belt, sharpening up to 2000 grit and finishing on a board or leather up to 4000 grit.

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17 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Nope, edge up.  No wire edge or burr that way.  Slow speed, of course.

Over here the answer to that would be "EISH".....:lol:

Edge up I've never even come close to sharp without cutting the belt or some other mischief.....I'm definitely missing a trick here....

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I don't believe that there is a right or wrong to it, it just depends on what you are looking for.  Using a round wheel to sharpen with will give you a slight hollow grind on the bevel.  Probably not the greatest for something meant to chop with, but theoretically advantageous for a slicer or every day user.

Most of my knives get their final edge on the side of a 9" wheel of birch plywood with white rouge buffing compound applied to it.

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