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Reccomendations for sharpening tutorials? Also, maintaing a 70/30 edge?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hi all,


After doing much research on this forum and getting great input from the posters here I have ended up with a Norton 1k/4k stone and a Fujiwara FKM Guyoto.  I was pretty happy with how sharp this knife was out of the box, but the edge has been lost after my last couple shifts in the kitchen.  I tried to sharpen the knife with my waterstone, but I could not get it anywhere close to as sharp as it was when I first bought it.  So, now I am wondering, can anyone recommend some really great video tutorials on sharpening with waterstones?  I know I should be able to potentially make this knife much sharper than it was out of the box.....Please note that I also use a steel after the sharpening process.


Also, I know this knife has a 70/30 edge.  I have read that to maintain this angle I should divide up the number of strokes on each side of the blade in the same proportion.....Is this correct?  Should I also be sharpening at a different angle for each side of the blade? 


I'm sure all of these questions have been asked here before.....I am a knife noobie and I would really appreciate any and all help!  Thank you all for reading this



post #2 of 4

Video Tutorials.

The best, free video tutorial is the series in the video section at the CKtG site.  I have some reservations about Mark's methods and some of his recommendations, but this isn't the best place to get too deeply into them.  It is important to remember that there are a lot of excellent ways to sharpen.


Written Tutorials.

The easiest and most understandable way to learn to sharpen is something I call "burr method."  For a great many of us, it continues to be the best way to sharpen after we've become good sharpeners. 


You want to take a look at Chad Ward's FAQ on E-gullet.  Steve Bottorff's explanation is good, too, especially Chapter 3 (scroll down the home page, look on the left for the chapter links.  Both of these have some holes and you'll probably have questions.  This is a good place to ask them. 


As a preliminary, don't take Bottorff's equipment recommendations too seriously -- at least for the time being.


Chad Ward's book, An Edge in the Kitchen is quite good.  So is John Juranitch's, The Razor Edge Book of Sharpening


Both Bottorff and Juranitch (and a lot of other people) recommend using an edge guide, but like Ward (and a lot of other, other people), I strongly believe freehanding is the better solution for sharpeners who do knives of various lengths -- especially longer, kitchen type knives.  Another example of different ways to skin the cat. 


Counting Strokes.

No.  That's not a good way to preserve a given symmetry.  If you repeat the stroke ratio through several sharpenings you'll make progressively more asymmetry.  On the other hand, after you've created a burr on each side, using the same number of strokes in bunches on each side, decreasing the number in a bunch as you go, is a good method of chasing the burr to the deburring stage without doing a lot of testing. 


As to creating a desired ratio of asymmetry, looking at the bevels is a far better way of seeing what's going on than counting strokes.


Your Particular Problems.

Sorry, can't say without knowing a lot more.  They're probably a bunch of things in combination.  The most common beginner's combo includes bad angle holding, poor pressure regulation; and poor stone prep. 


Did you even know your stones needed flattening and chamfering out of the box? 


Magic Market Trick; Sample Angle Gags.

If you're not using the MMT, you absolutely should be.  There is absolutely no more powerful aid nor more powerful test.


A lot of people find it useful to draw several large samples of the desired angle and place them around their sharpening station as visual reinforcement while they're developing angle holding "muscle memory."



Ask lots of questions.  There's a lot of stuff to know.  None of it's very difficult, but it is a lot and it does take some time to put enough of it together to develop fair consistency.


Hope this helps,


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/14/11 at 10:13am
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hey BDL,


Thank you so much for the detailed response and insight. It looks like my knife has a double bevel edge.  So, will I have to sharpen both sides at a certain angle first, and then change that angle to create the second edge?  I hope I did not ruin this with my first attempt at sharpening....


In regards to maintaining a certain symmetry, how should I do this without counting strokes?  Should I just be sharpening at different angles for each side of the blade?


I did not know my stone would need flattening right out of the box.......I am assuming this is what a nagura stone is used for? Are there any items that can be used in place of a nagura stone to flatten the surface of a water stone?


Do you have any recommendations as to how I should go about sharpening this particular knife? What angles I should start with, etc.


Also, in regards to sharpening.  When you are using a water stone, do you like to sharpen smaller sections of the knife individually, or go for one full stroke to cover the entire length of the blade?


Thank you for all your help!



post #4 of 4

Double bevels.

The term "double bevel" can be ambiguous.  When Phaedrus uses it, he -- like a lot of the other people -- means the knife is sharpened on both sides.  You used it the same way I do.


A double bevel -- the way we mean it -- can do wonders for lots of knives; but isn't that big a deal or doesn't matter at all with others.  


It's not easy to do freehand unless you're a very good sharpener or are doing the cutting bevel as a fairly obtuse micro-bevel.  Micro-beveling has about as much probability to dull as to work, on the other hand, a lot of people end up accidentally deburring.  In any case, new freehanders should focus on consistency and getting the flattest bevels possible.


If you're using some sort of "precision" system like an EP, you can do double bevels very easily.  It just means sharpening the knife twice.  


Sometimes people "thin" their knives at a fairly acute angle, then sharpen over it at a more durable, usable angle as a way to prevent wedging.  For knives which are ground thick, or thick at the heel, that's not a bad idea at all.  But thinning requires moving a lot of material and you really ought to wait until you're a very consistent sharpener.  Like other coarse stone work, it's not a "just jump in," area of sharpening.


Don't worry, you didn't ruin anything.  It's a helluva lot easier to add a double bevel than to take one out. 




Flattening means just what it sounds like.  Stones dish from use.  Also, stones are frequently shipped with convex surfaces.  In any case, you can't really keep a consistent angle if the surface of the stone is anything but flat.  Stones tend to chip along their edges and at the corners because of the lack of support there and the way the forces of sharpening are transmitted.  Counter-intuitively, they also tend to develop rails along the edges.  All eight edges should be chamfered before the stone is used (or ASAP, anyway), along with all four corners.  You can do it at a 45* angle if you like.  Chamfering acts like a buttress, moving the vector of stress to a stronger part of the stone.


A nagura can't flatten, it's too soft.  The purpose of a nagura is primarily to speed the production of "mud," and secondarily to do some minor lapping.  As to lapping, I think rubbing the benchstones against one another does a faster, better job.  You do have to be careful not to let them stick together.


As your flattening tool, I recommend 3M Drywall Screen (available from Home Depot, Lowe's, etc.) if you're trying to save money -- two packs should last decades.  If you don't care about expense, get a DMT XXC.


Worth mentioning that stones should well be soaked and everything should be very wet when you flatten.


Maintaining Symmetry.

If you want to know the symmetry, look at the bevels and compare their widths.  In order to see them clearly, use the Magic Marker Trick (MMT).  The MMT will show you a lot of other things too -- like whether you're sharpening at all, whether you're developing high and low spots, etc. 


Don't worry about overly technical ratios like 70/30.  Your knives were shipped with a symmetry born of cheapness, not calculation.  The maximum asymmetry which can still be productively maintained with a rod will have one side's bevel twice as long as the other's (actually pretty darn close to 70/30). 


Start by heavily marking the entire length of the edges on both sides of the knife with marker.  Start sharpening on the dominant side of the knife, and sharpen until you can just feel the burr.  Turn the knife over, and chase the burr until you can just feel it on the second side.  Now compare the bevels' widths.  As you learn to sharpen, it's more likely that you'll see all sorts of horrible flaws which its more important to correct than any given symmetry. 


For the time being, you'll end sticking fairly close to what the maker ground on because that's the way the knife is going to burr anyway as long as you start each new grit with the dominant side of the knife.  It makes mathematical/physics/engineering sense if you have some idea of what's going on -- but would take forever to explain at this stage.


Note:  Hold the knife by the handle, point out, edge down.  If you're sharpening right-handed asymmetry, the right side of the knife is "dominant."  Left-handed asymmetry, the left side is dominant. 



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