View Full Version : What did you learn recently?

Don Nguyen
12-03-2011, 12:25 PM
About your knives or anything about you about knives.

I recently learned about wire edges, but never quite understood whaaat they were. Knew WHAT they were, but never really had the mental picture of what it was.

Until I finished my first knife. Sharpened it; pretty sharp. Used it for thanksgiving; it was not bad. I thought I got it working pretty well. No glimmer when looking down the edge. Passes 3 finger test, slices paper, obliterates hair. Does OK on tomatoes, needs a bit of movement.

Then I started reading more and more about wire edges. Lots of Dave Martell info, and I read through the Sharpening Olympics too. So I took a look at my knife again to see if I could locate a wire edge (which was most probably, definitely, absolutely going to be there; I was sure of it because of my skill level and experience).

Noticed at the edge that there seemed to be some small chips, but instead I had the revelation of a wire edge. They were not chips, they were just sections where the wire edge had come off! I had this BIGGO wire edge on there! I've probably been putting them on every single knife that I have sharpened. No wonder the actual edge looked a little different. It wasn't reflecting light as if I had real dull spots on there, but looking at the edge on the side it was almost a bit shinier. As if the patina wasn't showing itself on the wire edge. Dunno what I was seeing, but now I know what what I see there is a wire edge.

It was also ridiculously, ridiculously hard to get off. Banged it on the cutting board, stropped it a bunch, sawed into soft wood (super aggressive Murray Carter approach). Still there.

Soooo, now I knew. I thought I had a pretty decent understanding of sharpening, but I've only scratched the surface.

More practice time soon to come. Hopefully what I am seeing is an actual wire edge, and not chips in the blade. How embarrasing would that be :sad0:


Details on the knife/process:

-Forged from a old Nicholson file (probably 1095 or W1)
-About 0.6 mm thick at the spine (from the heel. Yes; it's that thin. It was an accident :O) Slight taper to tip
-Single bevel grind. Flat left, slightly blended partial flat on the right
-About 7 degree angle on right side, with small ~10 degree microbevel on left.

So it was a thin thin narrow narrow knife. Lots of mistakes bringing this one to life, but I learned a butt-ton of stuff.

12-03-2011, 03:37 PM
Recently I did a refinish WIP tojiro cleaver and decided to sharpen at a very large angle just for kicks. I discovered that the burr, wire edge or whatever you want to call it becomes very weak by doing so, maybe you should give that a try. The process is large angle edge like 20 degrees per side and then thin the knife without touching the cutting edge. In essence its pretty much like forming a micro bevel and then sharpening... rather than sharpening and then micro beveling.

This is still something I am messing around with so take it with a grain of salt, but the burr did come off super easy.

Dave Martell
12-03-2011, 05:54 PM
Eyes wide open - good for you Don! :)

I know it doesn't seem like a good thing but now that you recognize it you can solve the problem.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.....anyone can make a precise sharp edge that looks pretty (even I can) but it's the edge that lasts the longest at scary sharp that is what defines high performance.

12-03-2011, 06:06 PM
The biggest revelation recently was how a few min of grinding can make or kill the geometry of a knife. Utterly shocking... Last week, I took a Carter that someone had ground on a bit, perhaps to refinish and was not cutting well at all. Anyway, I spend a couple of sessions 5 min each? on a 500-ish grit stones. I can't say it feels any different or looks any different (other than the finish) and I didn't think to measure the thickness anywhere or the weight to see how much it had changed but it sails through onions almost like a new Carter. Craziness...

Marko Tsourkan
12-03-2011, 07:30 PM
Hand-finishing (hand-rubbing) a knife if a long and tedious task... but it it worth it.


12-03-2011, 07:45 PM
...but it it worth it...Why? I've been resisting hand-finishing my blades. Should I just give in?

Don Nguyen
12-03-2011, 08:21 PM
I definitely know how 5 min of grinding can kill a knife... :sad0:

EDIT: Or rather, 5 seconds.

Marko Tsourkan
12-03-2011, 08:45 PM
Why? I've been resisting hand-finishing my blades. Should I just give in?

If I can get a machine finish that looks as nice as hand-rubbed, I will stop hand-finishing. :)

12-03-2011, 09:34 PM
Learned that if you wrap tiled damascus billets in heat treat foil with a little bit of kerosene, the foil survives just long enough to give you two good welding heats with a nice 10 minute soak in between and near perfect welds and no nasty borax scale.

Citizen Snips
12-04-2011, 12:56 AM
i remember when i first found the wire edge, it was quite the revolution in my sharpening skills. i remember how long the edges were in spots. im not sure if it was my sharpening style making for a weird result, but a few times i was able to pull the wire edge off with my fingers. after i did, it looked like a string from a metal scrubbie. kinda wierd.

anyway, recently i have learned that stropping with newspaper instead of felt/leather/balsa refines a working edge better than anything else i have tried including all different kinds of microbevels. ive used all kinds of stropping devices loaded with all kinds of stuff and i found out recently after putting off trying it for so long that the newspaper really works well with my sharpening method of 400 and 4k. i get the toothiness i desire but for some reason, the newspaper just refines it more rather than smoothing out the edge.

12-04-2011, 01:24 AM
I learned(knew) that WA handles are a PITMFA!!!! I just hate to throw away a beautiful piece of wood.

Don Nguyen
12-07-2011, 11:44 PM
I learned just recently that I should be using fresh belts more often. I'm stuck with clogged, worn ones at school. Not too fun at all.

Also, I thought a patina was easily removed with some sand paper (like, swipe it and it's gone). It's actually a lot tougher than I thought, and I ended up refinishing my blade when I didn't like the forced patina I put on it.