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Finding the Burr

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I recently finished reading An Edge in the Kitchen after getting a Norton 1000/4000 water stone.  I made my first attempt at sharpening my Henckles 8" knife and for the life of me do not think I created a burr.  I thought maybe the knife had been dulled down too far and need to create a new edge but still no luck after several passes.  I then tried on my Messermeister boning knife, which is a much newer knife and not used as much, but I still dont feel like I created a burr.  

 

Is the burr obvious and hard to miss or something much more subtler? 

 

I'm thinking of getting a Forschner are just starting from scratch and learn on a new knofe.

 

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

post #2 of 14
How many is "several passes"? How dull is the knife?
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

About 10 sets of seven-10 strokes per side.

post #4 of 14
You're not hitting the very edge. Use the Magic Marker trick to see where you're abrading steel.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hey Ben,

 

I did try doing that and as far as I could tell the angle I was sharpening at was taking off the area colored by the pen.  Of course, I certainly could have doing that trick the wrong way.

 

Are angle guides worth it or just a gimmick.

post #6 of 14
Don't use angle guides. What you may do, though, is cutting a few corks with an inclination that corresponds to common sharpening angles, just for reference. Put the blade on it to verify your angle before a stroke.
About the Marker Trick: I guess you've almost been at the edge, and probably touched it once or so by accident. Use the Marker trick with very little pressure on a fine stone. Use a loupe. If you don't have one: a standard SLR lens works as well.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tips, Ill try both.

post #8 of 14

Before you feel with your fingers, be sure to wash off all of the oil from your hands and allow them to dry at least half an hour 'till you evaluate the edge burr.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #9 of 14
That might be an excellent suggestion in some other cases, but's this OP uses waterstones and should look for an obvious burr he may feel with his nail.
post #10 of 14

You may or may not be getting a burr.  If you're using the Magic Marker Trick in the right way, and you're taking the ink off the very edge, it seems likely you are.  However, because you're sharpening both sides instead of sharpening one side at a time, you're making it very difficult to detect. 

 

I think that swiping the entire length of the knife in one pass is one of the more difficult ways to hold an angle, and isn't something I ordinarily recommend to noobs.... However, one thing at a time.  Let's start with learning how to create and detect a burr. 

 

There are several different kinds of burrs.  The easiest to feel are the "bending burr" which occurs as a result of impact, and the "deposit burr" which is a product of sharpening.  The most difficult kind to detect is the "wire," also a result of sharpening.  

 

Start by picturing the ideal cross section of the edge of a sharp knife as a V.  The cross section of an edge with a wire would be a Y, and the cross section of an edge with a bending or deposit burr would be a y -- with the tail of the burr bent over; or in the case of a severe impact burr, it could bend over on itself in the shape of a J.  Note that the capital Y wire is not bent over -- and that's why it's so much harder to detect.

 

There are a lot of good ways to feel for a burr.  The two easiest ways for most people are the thumb drag and the thumb push.

 

Thumb dragging means drawing your thumb across the edge of the knife.  You probably already do this already as a way of seeing if the knife is sharp.  If you've never done this, I can describe in more detail in a follow up post.  When you thumb drag a knife with a sharpening burr, one side will feel more aggressive than the other.  The more aggressive side will be the one on which the burr wasn't developed. 

 

Thus, if you want to know if you've developed a burr sharpening the right side of the knife, hold the knife with its edge up and thumb drag in multiple places along the edge on both sides of the knife.  If the the left side feels more aggressive you're detecting what you hoped for.

 

The thumb push is actually simpler -- or at least it is if you have a long enough thumbnail.  Hold the knife edge up.  Put your thumbnail against the face of the knife on the side you didn't sharpen, and very gently push up.  When your nail hits the edge you feel should the burr's bend snag it. 

 

In your specific case it's quite possible you developed a burr but then straightened it out, so you couldn't feel it.  Because you didn't "chase the burr" in such a way as to facilitate deburring, it would mean that you "pulled a wire."  That isn't a good thing, but it's easy enough to deal with as we move on down the road.  

 

Your next step is to sharpen the knife on one side only, while using the Magic Marker Trick, until you can feel the burr with thumb drags and thumb pushes.  Once you can do that, we'll move on to chasing the burr; and then to deburring. 

 

BDL 


Edited by boar_d_laze - 4/3/13 at 5:30pm
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 

Boar,

 

Thank you for the in-depth response, much appreciated.  I started off by doing ten passes on one side then checking with a thumb push but detected nothing.  Thinking that perhaps I needed to get the edge angle back on track, perhaps it had been dulled down to far and the edge angle was too obtuse, I began with ten on the other side, and back and forthswitching after ten passes for about ten sets.  I have no idea how long it would take to get the edge back to even be able to develop a burr - if I am thinking about this correctly.  I got that from the Ward book - which being such a thorough book I was surprised that he didnt offer any approximations as to how many passes for different knoves in dfferent states it might take.  So I after another ten passes on one side I checked for a burr again and do no think I detected anything, hence, my reaching out to the CT community.

 

What's a safe estimate for how many passes it should take on one side for a dull knife to develop a burr?

post #12 of 14
What's a safe estimate for how many passes it should take on one side for a dull knife to develop a burr?

 

You're going to hate this, but...

 

The answer is highly contingent.  It depends on the speed and size of the stone, the condition of the knife, the knife alloy, the length of the edge you cover with a stroke, how much pressure you use, how much metal you have to move to get to the edge (sharpening a " very dull" knife usually means at last some thinning, which translates to moving a lot of metal), etc.

 

If your knife is not only dull but made of tough steel, if you're using the wrong kind of stone, if you're not using your stone properly, and if you've got to overcome any one of several other obstacles singly or in combination, it could take you hundreds and hundreds of strokes.  

 

Roughly speaking, you have to move enough metal to get the "handed" bevel edge to the center of the knife before you'll begin to develop a detectable burr.  That means that if you're sharpening right-handed asymmetry, the bevel you want to sharpen first is on the right face of the knife (edge facing down, handle facing you).  The good news is that you'll be able to move the burr to the other side much faster than it took you to draw the first one, even if you're sharpening 50/50 symmetry.  

 

In your case, a 1000# grit (JIS) water stone surface is a slow start for a knife made from tough steel (which includes just about everything Euroopean).  More specifically, the Norton 1000 is slow even as those things go.  At least your Norton is a full size stone. 

 

My friends and family members often give me very dull knives to sharpen.  I use fast, mostly up and down strokes; sharpen about 3" - 4" of knife per complete pass on my 8" x 2" (oil) stones, or 4" - 5" on my 8" x 3" (water) stones.  It usually takes me about five minutes on a fast, coarse stone (Coarse India oil, Beston 500 water) to get appropriate bevel angles all the way down to the edge on both sides; and another two or three minutes on a medium/coarse stone (Fine India oil, Bester 1200 water) to draw a burr on the first side, and flip it to the second.  But that's after four decades of sharpening experience.

 

BDL 


Edited by boar_d_laze - 4/7/13 at 9:31am
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 

Boar,

 

Thanks for the info, do you thik that if I just take the knife and get done by a professional that that will guarantee a better starting chance afterwards?

post #14 of 14
Do you think that if I just take the knife and get done by a professional that that will guarantee a better starting chance afterwards?

Don't know about "guarantee," but, assuming your pro knows what he's doing, at least you'll have the luxury of starting with more confidence the next time you go to the stones.   And because your problem is as much self-doubt as it is competence, it's not a bad idea at all. 

 

Before you do that though, you might want to give your stones one more try.  Take a look at the CKtG sharpening videos and use the motion Mark teaches instead of the full-length blade swipe.  Then, using the Magic Marker Trick, keep sharpening one side and don't switch until you can detect a burr.  If that doesn't work or you feel like you've already had enough frustration -- a perfectly valid feeling, as far as I'm concerned -- then move on to the next step.

 

FYI:  Most professional sharpeners don't sharpen on bench stones, but use machines.  Not that one machine is exactly like another, but you might want to think about getting one for yourself as an alternative to mastering freehand sharpening.  Chef's Choice electric sharpeners are the best for home use.   CC makes several models.  Their two stage machines run around $80.  Although they're far from perfect, but the learning curve is almost non-existent, they're very convenient, your knives will be acceptably sharp, and you won't have to go through the agony of not knowing if you're doing it right.

 

Cooking should be fun,

BDL  


Edited by boar_d_laze - 4/13/13 at 8:16am
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