What is your (favorite) sharpening method?

Mike Jones

Google Master
I wanted to start a thread here about how knifemakers sharpen knives. I have been using the paper wheels to get very sharp knives (still need practice though) but the knives knock hair off when I'm done. While I love the edge these things put on a blade, I would hate to think what would happen to me if I had no way to power the grinder. (Or out in the woods camping with only a stone to sharpen with) because I lack the ability to sharpen very well.

Another argument against paper wheels it that the very edge heats up and the molecules doing the cutting are tempered too far.

So basically, what are your methods of sharpening steel?
 

James Terrio

Well-Known Member
My favorite sharpening tip is to get it SHARP once then touch up often.

I like belts quite a bit. Zip, zing on a 400 or 600 grit belt and I've got a great working edge with a little "tooth" but it will still shave and slice paper into skinny little ribbons. I use a slack belt with very little pressure, so the edge isn't perfectly flat but not really a true convex either ( much like my bevel grinds! :9:)

It can't hurt to learn to sharpen well with a stone. Mind you I do it all catty-wampus, holding both the blade and stone up where I can see them, not laying the stone on a bench. But it works.

I've been using a lansky recently though, and I like it a lot. Almost idiot-proof.
 

Dan Pierson

Well-Known Member
I've been using an Edge-Pro Apex for the last year and getting better edges than I have with anything else. While I'll sometimes start an edge with a 220 belt, I don't do anything more on the grinder (or anything else dry) after hearing about Roman Landis' test tests with micro-thermocouples and fine dry sandpaper.
 

rob45

Well-Known Member
I like using the belts.

Sometimes I'll use the Tormek if I'm really worried about heat buildup, but it's slower since it's coarse wheel, condition to "fine" wheel, then leather.

If watching the news in the kitchen, it's hard to beat the Lansky-type setups.
Gotta be careful though- sometimes the news is not conducive to concentration needed while sharpening!:lol:
 
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sergeant69

Guest
james- using a slack belt doesn't give you a lot of "roll over" on the edge?
 

Josh Dabney

Moderator
Mike,

I still do my final sharpening on stones the Ole Fashioned way. It's not really difficult to do but it does take some practice.
The hardest part is understanding whats actually happening to the edge as your sharpening so you know when to go to a finer stone.

I'll Sharpen to a burr like James described which makes quick work of finishing up on a stone. Once you've got your technique down it generally only takes a few minutes at most to tune the edge back up.

-Josh
 

wdtorque

Well-Known Member
I am not a maker and don't sharpen on a belt.
I've used carborundem (sp) stones, Arkansas stones, spyderco triangular ceramic rods, and diamond stones, been sharpening since I was 10 or 12, a long time.
But there is plenty I don't know. No matter what you use, an expensive diamond stone or sandpaper, I think keeping a constant blade / medium angle is the key.
Different things work for different folks, but a constant angle will get er done. Like grinding, you can mark a cutting edge with a sharpie and "see" what you are doing.
Dan, where can I find more information on Roman Landes test?
Dozier "occasionally wrong, seldom in doubt"
 
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James Terrio

Well-Known Member
james- using a slack belt doesn't give you a lot of "roll over" on the edge?
It depends on the steel and how it's HT'ed. "Plain" steels like O1 or 1095 that are HT'ed to moderate Rc (say, 56) will pick up a burr as soon as they start to get sharp. Higher-alloyed steels like D2 or CPM-154 at 59Rc do not develop a burr so quickly. Burrs also tend to come up quicker when sharpening edge-down on a belt or pulling the edge backwards across a stone instead of "slicing" into it.

A burr isn't necessarily a bad thing; if you don't let it get out of control, a small, fine wire burr is easily stropped or steeled into alignment and can give a very fine edge.

Please keep in mind, when I say "light pressure" on the slack belt, I mean just barely kissing the blade, not grinding away at it. I sharpen edge-up when using the belt-grinder. I try to do it so I can't see the belt deflect "around" the edge. Unless the edge is really beat-to-hell, a GENTLE pass or two on each side is all that's needed. A little touch up after that on a fine stone, strop, or honing steel can't hurt.

I'm also a fan of slight micro-bevels... setting the basic edge bevel however you like and then touching up with a higher angle to keep the very edge clean. This works great in the field or on the work-site when you don't have a bench full of gear. I learned this from woodworking shows and sites, it's a common technique for sharpening chisels and plane irons. Fanatical "hair-splitting" knife guys like it, too. I've employed this technique on convexed edges, just so clients can easily touch up their edge without learning how to convex-sharpen.

Once you've got your technique down it generally only takes a few minutes at most to tune the edge back up.
Different things work for different folks, but a constant angle will get er done. Like grinding, you can mark a cutting edge with a sharpie and "see" what you are doing.
Well said, gentlemen!
 
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Sean Cochran

Well-Known Member
I use the slack belt, 220, 400, 600 then a leather belt with white rouge. Leaves a nice polished edge and I can go from no edge to polished in just a few minutes.
 

Dan Pierson

Well-Known Member
Dan, where can I find more information on Roman Landes test?
I don't have a reference handy because this was from one of his talks at Ashokan in 2009. However he is
present on http://www.hypefreeblades.com/ and may be
able to give details.

Background: His work on knife edges concentrates on the last 30 microns of the edge. A sharp edge in
his terms is where the flat at the end of the edge is less than 1 micron.

Basically, he was involved in an experiment where they attached microscopic thermocouples right at
the edge then stroked the blade across fine sandpaper (roughly 600 grit I believe). With dry sandpaper
the edge reached 600 C! (yes, C not F). With water it reached about 100 C.

This test indicates that any form of dry sharpening is enough to completely ruin the heat treatment of
the actual edge of the knife. I've been assuming that I can still get away with using a belt grinder for
forming the initial edge bevel because I'll grind off the damaged part in later sharpening but have given
up putting real edges on with the belt grinder.
 

James Terrio

Well-Known Member
Dan, that is fascinating information. At the risk of playing Devil's advocate, I must say that I haven't noticed any difference in how long my edges hold up whether sharpened dry or wet, by hand or on the grinder. With all due respect, I think it might be sort of an academic argument.
 

Dan Pierson

Well-Known Member
It may well be academic. Since my own change is to using my new EdgePro enough variables have
changed that I'm not able to draw conclusions on just wet vs. dry. I'm certainly much happier with
my EdgePro edges than with my belt grinder ones but there are a lot of likely reasons for that.
 
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sergeant69

Guest
james--thanks for the infor. and a question. when i sharpen on my slow 1x40 belt sharpener ( i took a grizzly and put on 3 groove pulleys so i can slow it down to about 700-800 and not heat the blade) i can for instance start on a knife thats in fair shape and with a 400 belt, to 600 to 800 to 1000 to 2400 to 4000, raise burrs and polish em off, and its still not hair popping sharp. BUT, when i lightly run a few passes on the leather strop belt it really gives me a sharp edge. it bothers me that the edge basically suks until i use the leather. and i'm using trizact belts, not the wood sanding ones. why won't it shave until after i use the leather and not say at the 1200 stage?
 

James Terrio

Well-Known Member
why won't it shave until after i use the leather and not say at the 1200 stage?
Maybe you're knocking the burr back and forth without removing it? It's hard to say without watching you do it. A well-done 400-grit edge should shave... not perfectly but enough to know it's sharp. Regardless, if the leather belt is giving you the edge you want, try it earlier. I've never gone to 1000 grit on a grinder, in fact it never even occurred to me.
 
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Mike Jones

Google Master
This is turning out to be a great discussion! What I think I will try is putting an edge on using a belt or paper wheels, then going to stone finishing to see if I can improve my hand sharpening ability.
 

baddog

Well-Known Member
Free hand. Norton combination stone works for most knives, I recently added a Spyderco ceramic (fine) to sharpening arsenal.

Ric
 

Mike Jones

Google Master
Free hand. Norton combination stone works for most knives, I recently added a Spyderco ceramic (fine) to sharpening arsenal.

Ric
Ric, how do you keep the stones from getting filled with bits of metal, and clean them? I have a few stones that I had used (or bought used) that need to be cleaned out.
 

wdtorque

Well-Known Member
Mike, I read something by Wayne Goddard I believe, (? CSR) and he suggested soaking in Simple Green I believe? I think it is worth a search.
I'm a big fan of Simple Green and gets most things I've tried it on clean, I'm a fan of WD-40 too for various things, not the guts of fishing reels though, YRMV.
Spyderco recommends warm soapy water I think on their ceramic and and think DMT does also on their diamond stuff.
Dozier
 

James Terrio

Well-Known Member
I've used hot soapy water and/or Comet with a stiff toothbrush to clean my stomes, both natural and diamond. Simple Green sounds like it would be worth a try. Seems to me the main thing is to use a cleanser that will break up the residue of whatever oil you use, so the steel particles can "float" out of the pores of the stone.

BTW I prefer a lighter oil for honing, and not much of it. 3-in-1 oil works, diesel fuel and charcoal lighter fluid work better. I think many commercial honing oils are too viscous and actually impede the cutting action of the stone.

Mike, thanks for starting this thread. There's sure more than one way to skin this cat and I'm learning as we go along :thumbup:
 
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