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Grinding down the Sabatier finger guard

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I've been reading a lot on the subject and have referenced a couple of external sources for additional info. I think I have the process understood and would like to make an attempt at it sans-power tools. What I'm stuck on is the choice of course stone for the grinding. What would be a relatively cost effective stone for this? I'm assuming such a focused grind would dish the stone excessively, so I'm prepared for plenty of flattening afterward.


I've attached an image (courtesy of BDL's blog) annotated with my residual questions. What I haven't noted on it was a question around the "chin" of the finger guard. The chin is mentioned in several posts with regard to the subject, but I'm not exactly sure what it references. If someone can clarify that for me, I'd appreciate it.




Many thanks.

post #2 of 11
You don't have to remove the entire finger guard. You can obtain easy sharpening and slicing by make it flush with the relief bevel (@ some 10 degree). Don't use waterstones for it, they won't survive this exercise. Use instead coarse SiC or coarse sandpaper with linen backing, e.g. P120. If you have a SiC stone flattener, its sides will do as well.
If you care about a nice finish, the worn sandpaper with some waterstone mud may be helpful.
French carbons are far from abrasion resistant, with vintages you may encounter some surprises, though. Good luck!
post #3 of 11

Swing by a hardware store and pick up a cheap coarse/fine stone and use that and save your waterstones. You would probably wear away as much of your waterstone as you would spend on a cheap coarse oilstone.


Reducing a bolster is not hard but will take a fair amount of elbow grease and time without machine assistance.


Get some SiC sandpaper in the auto parts body work section to clean up with.


post #4 of 11

To elaborate a little on what KnifeSavers is bringing up:


Since you're not trying to sharpen a long stretch of edge, you don't need a big stone.  In fact, having a small stone which you can hold in your hand will be easier for you to work with and will be easier for you to control.  To safely control the knife, you can hold the knife by the spine in one hand and move the stone in the other hand, keeping the hand holding the stone next to the handle area of the knife.


I would also put down some black (plastic) electrical tape on the blade for a few inches next to the bolster, so that any of the inevitable inadvertent contact between your handheld stone and the face of the blade will impact on the relatively tough black (plastic) electrical tape and save you the aggravation of seeing and later removing any undue gouges on your blade face.


As KnifeSavers noted, get some SiC sandpaper.  Start with 200 or 300 grit if the bolster area is really rough, then progressively work through 500 to 600 grit, and finish off with 1000 to 1200 grit for your final polish.  Using a sanding block will really work better than freehand holding the sandpaper, as well as being safer (you don't want your fingers next to the probably sharpened end of the bolster when the sandpaper slips).


Galley Swiller

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the feedback. Seems like I already have the necessary resources to get the main material removal done (access to a high-end and well stocked machine shop) before refining with appropriate stones. Being my first truly western (French or German) chef's knife, I'm looking forward to getting it dialed in and comparing it against my gyutos.

post #6 of 11

Besides the handle being different a well tuned carbon Sab is a pleasure to use.  I have several Sab carbons I'm restoring - Chef Au-Ritz 10" chef, 5-1/2" boning and 3-1/2" paring knives. 

post #7 of 11

Anyone who can grind down a Sab fingerguard with sandpaper is my hero. 


I used to use a coarse India, but it takes too long.  Now I use a drum attachment on my dremel.  You want to grind enough off the sides of the finger guard so the finger-guard doesn't fight you when you sharpen.  That's easiest done if you also grind enough off the back to expose at least 1/4" of cheek. 


Either use a vise or at least clamp the knife to the table, and hold the dremel with both hands; or alternatively, you can hold the knife if the tool is mounted in a table.  Wear eye protection and take your time.   



post #8 of 11
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Anyone who can grind down a Sab fingerguard with sandpaper is my hero. 



LOL, there's something strive for.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

I was able to grind down the bottom of the finger guard and angle it sufficiently on a belt drive, but it took some hand sanding with 400 SiC to get the edge even (when looking from the back of the blade) then 3000 grit for refinement. The sides of the finger guard down by the heel proved to be a bit more challenging. I may give it 1 more go to try and clean up the angles a bit...they're not as uniform as I'd like. Otherwise, this was a great modification. The heel's now functional!

post #10 of 11

Why not start with a file?

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Mostly because it doesn't give me the control required, nor the fine enough surface to cut cleanly. Plus, I have access to a belt sander.

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