View Full Version : How hard to press?

06-03-2011, 12:58 PM
Hi all,

I've been working on my knives a few times, and I'm pretty satisified with the end result. But I do feel like I need to press the blade really hard against the stone to create the burr. Now ... is this normal, or should I be taking a more relaxed motion and letting the stone do more of the work? I'm using three stones, a 500x/1200x/5000x.


06-03-2011, 01:46 PM
This is difficult to answer since I'm not sure what your "really hard" is. You shouldn't be using enough force to move a couch. :D

The stone should do most of the work for you with a little pressure from your fingers.

What knives are you sharpening?

06-03-2011, 03:03 PM
Misono UX10s (kitchen knives), and a Roselli carpenter (puukko)

06-03-2011, 04:22 PM
When I was newer at sharpening I would always press hard and it seemed like sharpening would take me forever. Thats till I realized I was a. not properly feeling the burr and B. did not have my angles right. If you are just doing some basic sharpening and bring back the angles that are in place raising a burr should be quite easy on a 1k stone, I rarely go down to a 1k stone these days. Granted stainless will take a little more time than carbon i would focus on feeling for a burr and the angles of your bevel. Magic marker trick is a great tool to use.

06-03-2011, 08:07 PM
BIG +1 on the magic marker. I still use it on new knives and other people's knives just to make sure I'm hitting the edge. On some steels you can grind the shoulder on the bevel for 30 min before you generate a burr. As for pressure, I also started with quite a bit of pressure. My edges got sharp but didn't last very long (concave edge) and burrs would be a PITA to remove. Now, I start with some pressure maybe 5+ lbs and then lighten up as I go until I'm just using the weight of the blade (approximately). I do not deburr during the sharpening process and I do not make any extra effort to work-harden the burr. When I'm finished with the stones, I get a nearly burr-less edge that is very sharp. A few passes on a strop or newspaper (or fine stone) and the remaining burr pretty much always comes off. I'd estimate that these edges easily last 5x what they used to.

06-03-2011, 09:02 PM
i use a combination of really hard and not really hard, and pretty light, and very light. it depends on the stone, and the knife, and what you're looking for.

06-04-2011, 09:56 AM
I agree with the magic marker as it is singularly the most important accessory to sharpening IMO. How hard you press is dependent on the steel of the blade and your stone. And also to some extent, your technique. For example, if you are only hitting the edge about 5 times or so out of every 10 strokes, it's gonna take you much much longer. That's why the magic marker is so important.

06-04-2011, 05:45 PM
...How hard you press is dependent on the steel of the blade and your stone... I was thinking about this statement, which I believe is true, but seems to be contrary to my less-pressure-is-better philosophy. The fact of the matter is some wear-resistant steels would take forever to sharpen with light pressure on certain stones. It's a trade-off. More pressure = faster. Less pressure = better. We each find a happy medium on our particular knives and when we can't, we switch knives or stones or both.

06-05-2011, 12:02 AM
The best answer is whatever pressure you need to achieve your desired results. Knowing what that is only comes through practice and familiarity both with your knife, the steel. the stone, and most importantly understanding exactly what you are trying to accomplish at that precise moment of your sharpening.

06-05-2011, 11:11 AM
I've never even thought about pressure when sharpening. I just concentrate on maintaining my angle and checking the progress regularly and everything else seems to take care of itself.

06-05-2011, 07:35 PM
This is an interesting question. There are several variables here e.g. Stones, steel, etc. I've never thought about this in a quantitative way so I decided to try and measure it. I have a kitchen scale so I applied the pressure I normally use to sharpen with a knife on the scale and came up with 1.5 - 3 pounds. I use Shapton Pro stones for all my sharpening.