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Knife Sharpening

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi all!


Apologies in advance if this is an inappropriate topic for the forum - I honestly don't know if sharpening knives are things that chefs do, or if they just send it to the shop so they can focus more of their time on actual cooking/prepping.


But in the event that sharpening is a daily part of your routine, I wonder if my limited rookie experience is familiar to yours, or if it's just me.


I use a series of whetstones, on my set of Globals and Dexters. The whetstones have the following grits: 180, 600, 1000, 3000 and 8000.


I generally start off with 600 as my coarse grind. I usually get a pretty good result from there on. I run my fingers perpendicular to the blade, and I feel a very reassuring bite. No problems there. The problem is when I jump to the 1000 grit, for some strange reason, I lose that feel! On a technical perspective, I am going to a finer stone to begin polishing the blade. I have not changed the grinding angle (not intentionally anyway). Eventually I give up and give it a few more rubs with the 3000 followed by the 8000. At this stage, I rub my knife along my forearm like a razor, and do observe a few hairs come off. Nowhere near as good as a razor, but still reasonably sharp. When I do that finger print test, my thumb simply rolls off as if it was a blunt knife though.


Can anyone suss out what I'm doing wrong? I know it's probably pointless having a razor sharp knife (would go back dull after a few uses), but I have a lot of time to resharpen regularly, and really appreciate maximum sharpness.

post #2 of 5

You might be dulling the edge on the higher grit stones.   You should be using less and less pressure as you go up the stones.

post #3 of 5
Marker/Sharpie trick so you can see where you're abrading.
Are you doing large sweep motions? Might help to somewhat section the blade to focus on one part at a time.
Roughly what angle are you trying to hold?
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys. It might be due to me always being too rough. I'll definitely try and see if I could limit myself so that I do apply softer pressure as I go up in grit. That sharpie trick sounds like a plan. I don't think my sweeps are large - I do generally use up the whole stone length along the whole knife length. I did think about doing one section at a time but I was worried about producing uneven wear along the blade.


My chef's knife is 20cm, so the length of that along the face of my whetstone shouldn't produce too large a sweep. That said, I do the same with my 12" Dexter steak knife, but surprisingly, it hasn't been so bad.


For the Dexters, I generally go around 30 deg, and I usually stop giving it love at 1000 grit (sometimes I might give it a few rubs on the 3000). It's the globals that I go all the way up to 8000 on. With the globals, I tend to try and achieve a more acute angle of 20 deg. So far, I haven't been able to get it so sharp that I can slice a tomato horizontally without holding it. That's probably an achievement I'm striving for subconsciously.


As for honing, I can't find a steel that I like. Back in the day, the butchers had very smooth steels. They were probably just very worn out, but they had virtually zero abrasion. All the steels I have are ribbed. If I wiped the blade on a clean damp paper towel, I do see some metal filings. I could not find anything otherwise. There was a relatively expensive one by F.Dick at my local shop, and it was advertised as "ultra fine", but was still rated at 6000 grit. That would seem meaningless if it was more abrasive than the stone itself.


I ended up getting a cheap ceramic steel from Ikea, just for giggles. I would definitely prefer a metal steel, but at least the ceramic one didn't feel as though it was taking metal away, which is what I looked for in a steel.

post #5 of 5

I do blended sections (pull+push / fwd/back motions to generate burr) and work continuously up (usually) from heel to tip. With the full length sweep, I find it hard to apply even pressure along every instance of the bevel and edge along a curved blade during the whole motion of a sweep. 

Both techniques can lend to uneven wear/blade profile changes over time, so it's important to be aware of your blade shape and how it is cutting/whether is it changing/if that change is in line with how you cut or not.


How are you deburring?


30 degrees per side? Or adding the two sides together?

Global may need to be thinned depending on how long you have it. But you might also have better luck doing a tomato slice without going up to 8k grit.


I don't know very much about honing steels. As a home user I just do quick touchups on my finest stones. 

I believe that butchers steels/packing steels are still made? See the polishing steels on this page ,if this is not what you already have. If your steel really is 6k grit that's plenty fine. If it seems like a textured surface but not lines, might be possible to take very very fine sandpaper and sand it down smoother.

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