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Knife Sharpening

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Good day to all you sharp knife lovers ! I have been reading a lot of posts on sharpening chef knives and for the most part I see either sharpen to 20/22 degrees and some who include a double bevel with a 15/20 (ala Chad). I have mostly been a 20 degree guy for chefs knives with a small micro bevel on my finishing stone (surgical black Arkansas). My grandpa used to call this micro beveling cleaning up the edge and I never really gave a thought to micro beveling until reading some of these forums on knife sharpening.
A question: Do you think cleaning the edge by raising the knife very slightly is enough of a micro bevel or do you think results would be better by actually trying to get as precise of a 5 degree micro bevel as possible? My current burr removal probably adds 2 to 3 more degrees to the final edge.
Also I have recently changed the bevels on a couple of Forschner fibrox and rosewood stamped blades to 15 degrees instead of the traditional 20 on info read on this forum and man what a difference it has made in there performance!
I also find steeling softly between stones aides burr removal. I think I am going to take some of my old hi carbon knives, Sabatier, Old Hickory, Old Forge and Regent Sheffield and bring them down to a 15 degrees also.
I use three stones in my sharpening a Norton India combo course/fine,
a Halls combo soft and hard Arkansas and a surgical black Halls Arkansas.
All stones are 2" x 8" except the black which is 3"x 8"(a great deal for 50 bucks at the local cutlery store as no one wanted a stone that big).
I use an old F-Dick steel which used to have fine grooves ( 25 years ago my chef gave it to me as it was almost smooth and wore out in his opinion) so Ive just hurried the smoothing process with some sandpaper and now its a pretty smooth steel.
Also does anybody use a strop for a final polish and if so what knives do you use it on?
Thanks and stay sharp, Doug..............
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post #2 of 12
The precise 5 degrees doesn't matter very much, in my opinion. The question is just what sort of final edge you want. If you're starting with a base of 20, and adding a few degrees, you've got a final angle on a given side of about 23, for a total included angle of 46. That seems rather high for anything but what I think of as a brutality knife, the sort of thing you use to shear through bones and stuff. Most high-quality knives will take a much finer edge without difficulty.

It seems to me then that you could either stop "cleaning up" the edge, leaving you a 40 degree edge, or you could start with a more acute base angle and then "clean up". So if you started with a 15 degree base, and then "clean up" to about 18, you've got a total of 36 which is quite a bit finer than the 46 you have now. That profiling at 15 will also make it easier to maintain this edge. And unless you're using junk -- which from what you list you are certainly not doing -- a 36 degree included angle is not going to be a problem for your knives' stability. The only problem with reprofiling like this is that it's quite a bit of work to reset the edge -- you know this, having done it, and you've read Chad Ward's article. If you're willing to do the work, you'll get better results in the end.

The rest of your questions are things on which I can't really comment competently, so I'll leave it to someone else.
post #3 of 12
There might be a seemingly small thing you do that benefits us all. I'd like to hear your thoughts and discuss your procedures.
post #4 of 12
The OP's questions had to do with specific stones and knives that I know very little about. I am not a sharpening guru in any case -- that's you more than me, by a long chalk. What I have is a passable competence with the Japanese lore on the subject, and a lot of modern discussion by enthusiasts to clarify and develop this information. Somebody starts talking about Arkansas stones and I'm, well, if not lost, at any rate just taking notes until I have some serious base for comment.

I'm happy to discuss whatever you like, but it's got to be a bit more specific.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply.
Chriislherer said
The OP's questions had to do with specific stones and knives that I know very little about. I am not a sharpening guru in any case -- that's you more than me, by a long chalk. What I have is a passable competence with the Japanese lore on the subject, and a lot of modern discussion by enthusiasts to clarify and develop this information. Somebody starts talking about Arkansas stones and I'm, well, if not lost, at any rate just taking notes until I have some serious base for comment.

Arkansas stones cut much slower than Waterstones but they cut. Arkansas stones last much longer than waterstones.These stones work better with knives less hard than Japanese hardened steel . This is about my knowledge on the subject as I have never used a waterstone . What are your thoughts on sharpening for a great edge? I am looking to change to harder steel knives soon (60 RC+) and would like to hear your thoughts on staying sharp with these knives. Thanks for your input, Doug............
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post #6 of 12
When I cook, I cook, and don't like to sharpen daily, especially not in the kitchen. (messy, gritty) I've got maybe 20 knives, of which only 3 or 4 see daily use.

What I end up doing is taking the dull knives back to "my lab" a.k.a. my garage, and have a beverage and spend some time getting my fingers black.

Primary bevels are established by.... (force sheilds up, full alert) an electric 1" x30" belt sander. Granted the belts used are no ordinary belts, but very fine special belts availbe at wooodworking places (leevalley.com) for sharpening. Simple wood angle blocks placed against the platen of the sander and the tool rest give me an accurate bevel angle. Then a swipe or two on my 4,000 stone, and if I'm in a good mood, the sanding belt is replaced with a leather belt charged with very fine honing compound.

Micro-bevels are great, originally dreamed up by woodworkers who had limited tools but very different woods with very different working characteristcs. By altering the bevel you can change the behavior of the tool to suit your purposes, and it doesn't take much to restore the edge back to it's orginal configuration. I have sufficeint knives to give me the characteristics I need for the job each knife does. I do not like to spend time establishing microbevels on knives because they (microbevels) require more attention than the primary bevel.

Before I lower the force sheilds, let me say that what I have described for my sharpening set-up is a fairly common set up for many professional sharpeners.

I do not enjoy sharpening, but realize it is very important and do it with the care and attention it deserves. I do not like harder materials (RwH 58 and above) because:
(1) I will spend more time and energy sharpening when I need to sharpen, as opposed to less time and energy with softer metals, and

(2) Hard metals are more brittle and will chip and crack much more easier than softer ones. Yes, they hold an edge longer, but that doesn't matter if the edge is chipped. Don't care if the the blade is laminated/ encased with softer steel, it's the fraction of a millimeter which constituates the cutting edge that I care about, and this is the exposed, unprotected, brittle and very prone to chipping and breaking hard material.

There are maybe a half-dozen fast and set rules that everyone--regardless of background-- follow when sharpening.

After that, anything goes, and no one's right or wrong.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey Foodpump, your set up sounds fast and very efficient.
I have read that Lee Valley has some great belts for the 1 x 30 sander you describe. Where do you get your sander and angle blocks?
Do you ever freehand on the sander?
I am considering getting one of these down the road as it sounds very fast and accurate. Im like you in the fact that I have many knives but use about 3 each day a chefs, paring, and z serrated . Yeah sometimes the slicer for roasts & a filet for fish . I also play with cleavers occasionally.
Keep cookin, Doug.............
The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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post #8 of 12
Sounds good to me. You won't get any photon torpedoes from me trying to break down those shields!

I enjoy sharpening, so freehand with stones is the way to go for me. You don't, and you've got a great setup for getting the edges you want, so you're all set.

What mystifies me is why anyone gives anyone a hard time about either choice.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
What mystifies me is why anyone gives anyone a hard time about either choice.


Well I would guess that whatever set up a person has that is working for them is the best for them so naturally it should be that way for every one! There are many paths to the same destination so take the one you like best. Of course by investigating the other trails you can only expand your knowledge. I like my whetstones (I use them dry) and I have also used diamond stones as well as a ceramic dexter tri-hone, Automotive sandpaper , leather strop , smooth & grooved steels(no more grooves for me though). I have yet to use a belt sander or water stones but both have so many positive things said for them from there users I know I am going to have to learn both. Water stones seem to me the most intimidating of the methods but I know down the road I am going to learn it because I just love a good sharp knife. My only fear is that with the belt sander I have a feeling I just might get hooked as it just sounds so quick, and the polish with the charged leather belt must be quite nice on knives used for garnish and displays. I will be changing careers soon so will not have to worry so much on the volume and day in and out of knife prep but I am sure I will still be doing some catering for friends , family and even my new work place. What I want to do is really dial in my sharpening technique and get some good harder steel knives as well as learn how to use them.
I do enjoy sharpening a knife and playing with steel if you cant tell!!!!Doug....
The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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post #10 of 12
Alright, so this is a somewhat unrelated question to the others in this thread, but I thought I'd just ask it here rather than starting a new one:

I'm going to be purchasing a Tojiro or Tojiharu Gyutou in the near future, and was wondering if it would be ok for the knife to be sharpened on a spyderco sharpmaker or if it is necessary to use waterstones.

This seems like a very basic question (and it is), but I've had a hard time finding an outright answer.

Thanks in advance
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
I had a Tojiro DP and it is very hard steel. I dont think you will have a problem with the sharpmaker if you do not let the knife get to dull. I think spyderco is a ceramic kit (correct me if wrong) and I used a ceramic dexter tri- hone at the time on the Tojiro with frequent touch ups so as to not let the knife get dull because the tri-hone cuts pretty slow. I think you will be just fine with the spyderco. Doug...........
The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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post #12 of 12
cool, thanks for the info.

I would love to take some time to learn to sharpen on a stone sometime, but as a full-time college student (not culinary arts), I'm just worried I wouldn't be able to take as much time as I would like to get my technique down.

If anyone else has any input I'm definitely happy to hear it.
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