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View Full Version : Sharpening 52100 steel? How to get it super sharp?



jgraeff
01-14-2012, 02:15 AM
Ok so I'm using a gyuto right now in 52100. I can already tell it is pretty hard steel as i worked this knife very hard two days about 12 hour shifts without any touchups and it pretty much the same as when i started using it.

However the edge on the knife is not near what I'm use to using, so i decided to refine the edge some more.

I went through my normal progression and decided to keep the bevel as it was and i tend to like a 60/40 so slightly right bias, started with my 400 Gesshin, took quite a while even on this stone to raise a burr the entire length of the blade especially the heel. Once i got there i swathed the other side and flipped the burr back over I did this while lightening pressure each time. Finally i stropped on the stone and sliced through some cork to remove all the burr.

I then progressed to my 1k, 6k stones and repeated the same process. I then moved to my Takashima and started with a lot of pressure to build up mud, however i noticed that with this knife i could not get quite as much mud as i do with my other knives. Not sure why exactly maybe that its not removing as much metal because the steel is harder?

Anyways i finished on the j-nat. I didn't add a micro bevel as i believe the steel is strong enough without one.

Although it is very sharp and definietly useable i find that i can get my Kono quite a bit sharper. I feel that the steel has the potential to get sharper, am i missing anything? I do the same with the Kono HD, and i think the edge thinness is about the same on both knives as well.

wsfarrell
01-14-2012, 03:01 AM
I use a Kalamazoo 1x42 belt grinder on my 52100. 320, 600, 1000, then CrO on a leather belt. Glides silently through newsprint, which is just a hair sharper than my HD.

jgraeff
01-14-2012, 10:46 AM
Do you think I'm not grinding enough at the 400?

using a belt grinding i would think that removes quite a bit of metal right?

Marko Tsourkan
01-14-2012, 12:28 PM
I find 52100 a little harder to sharpen, than say, White or Blue, but once you get it there, the edge stays there for weeks with minimum stropping or touch ups.

I got one of my 52100 back from a review and it came with one of sharpest edge I have ever experienced (I am still working on my sharpening). I asked the person what stones he used and I am posting his response here:

...
Gesshin 400
Bester 1200
Rika 5K
Dave's hard felt strop with his poly diamond
I also stropped in-between each stone with the loaded felt as well.

He widened the bevel a bit and sharpened at a more acute angle. I have used this knife for a few days now on an engraind board and have not noticed any edge degradation yet.

Knives that don't need to be thinned, don't require starting on a belt grinder. One can start with a diamond stone in same grit.

M

ThEoRy
01-14-2012, 03:23 PM
Hahahaha :happymug: That knife was a dream to sharpen so thank you. Though I've had a bit of trouble sharpening the Fanatic cleaver. Same steel, same progression... :scratchhead:

NO ChoP!
01-14-2012, 04:23 PM
52100 holds a pretty steep edge. I don't like it much past 3 or 4k, though.... it loses its toothiness quickly, and gets real slick.

ejd53
01-14-2012, 05:12 PM
Send it to Dave:lol2: (sorry, couldn't resist).

Marko Tsourkan
01-14-2012, 05:52 PM
Hahahaha :happymug: That knife was a dream to sharpen so thank you. Though I've had a bit of trouble sharpening the Fanatic cleaver. Same steel, same progression... :scratchhead:

The proof is... in the pudding. :)

Dave Martell
01-14-2012, 06:11 PM
I've heard many accolades put upon 52100 knives from makers that work with it for years and really dial in the heat treat and I've also heard from many people who have failure making knives with it. I often wonder if this is a steel that is best utilized by the advanced knifemaker versus something that a factory can churn out?

ThEoRy
01-14-2012, 06:30 PM
The proof is... in the pudding. :)

I see what you did there. :D

http://troll.me/images/joseph-ducreux/ayyy-i-see-what-you-did-there.jpg

deanb
01-14-2012, 06:33 PM
I've heard many accolades put upon 52100 knives from makers that work with it for years and really dial in the heat treat and I've also heard from many people who have failure making knives with it. I often wonder if this is a steel that is best utilized by the advanced knifemaker versus something that a factory can churn out?
Dave - Have you run across a Zwilling Kramer yet?

Mike Davis
01-14-2012, 06:40 PM
As much as it is toted as a beginner steel, it really is not. 52100 really is a fairly complex alloy steel, and i think that some have issues bringing out the full potential of it. 52100 with a proper heat treat can be quite a great steel, but if it isn't done right, it will only be mediocre. Here is Kevin Cashen's recommended heat treat information.
http://www.cashenblades.com/steel/52100.html
I know that each maker does stuff a little different, just thought i would share :)

Dave Martell
01-14-2012, 09:57 PM
Dave - Have you run across a Zwilling Kramer yet?


No I don't think I have.

Eamon Burke
01-14-2012, 11:56 PM
It might be the Heat Treat, who did it?

Are you sure the performance difference is the edge and not the grind? I mean, some knives just cut better than others.


:offtopic:

Hahahaha :happymug: That knife was a dream to sharpen so thank you. Though I've had a bit of trouble sharpening the Fanatic cleaver. Same steel, same progression... :scratchhead:

The Fanatic is AEB-L, not 52100.

Bryan G.
01-15-2012, 12:47 AM
Unless Mark gave him the prototype for testing. Fanatic is coming out in 52100 very soon as the carbon version.

ThEoRy
01-15-2012, 12:50 AM
It might be the Heat Treat, who did it?

Are you sure the performance difference is the edge and not the grind? I mean, some knives just cut better than others.


:offtopic:


The Fanatic is AEB-L, not 52100.

Oh good I thought I was going crazy trying to figure that out. Thanks for clarifying.

Eamon Burke
01-15-2012, 12:59 AM
That also explains the stubborn patina. I keeeed.

Bryan G.
01-15-2012, 01:18 AM
Now that's funny

obtuse
01-15-2012, 04:11 AM
I think he uses petter's HT

jgraeff
01-15-2012, 08:54 AM
I do agree with the edge retention of this steel. Not that its not sharp it is quite sharp by all means. I just feel that it has more potential than i have been able to achieve granted i only sharpened it once although if anyone has any tips on what to try let me know.

I have heard that above 10k is better and 4k is the highest you should go with stropping. I have a feeling that the high angle and small bevel is once cause of it not being quite as sharp. however I'm not going to change the bevels on this particular knife.

tk59
01-15-2012, 01:11 PM
I've sharpened a number of flavors of 52100. Sometimes it's a dream to sharpen (not unlike any other nice carbon steel) and others it takes a long time and the burr just won't give up. If that is the case, I'd suggest going with a "microbevel" with a very fine, hard finishing stone on just one side to try to remove the burr.

RRLOVER
01-15-2012, 01:27 PM
Did I miss on who made the knife??? If you are getting a great edge on your other knives and this blade is giving you a hard time I would say it's the knife.

Marko Tsourkan
01-15-2012, 01:30 PM
Mario that is one of mine knives. It should have a decent (though earlier) heat treatment. It's 62RC and was HT to maximize wear resistance. It was tested in a pro environment before this trial.

Two of other 52100 knives that came back razor-sharp were finished on strops (felt and leather) with either diamond or boron carbide. I wonder if this is a must-have step for 52100, as I never was able to achieve a razor edge myself on the same knives, just using the stones - starting with synthetics and finishing on j-nats. Getting to 5-7K edge is not an issue, it is the higher grit finish that is hard to get to. I attributed it to my sharpening skill, rather than equipment, but might have to look into the stropping option.

Jared, put a wider bevel and sharpen on an accute angle if you like. Don't worry about changing bevels.

M

RRLOVER
01-15-2012, 01:39 PM
If a knife is not properly stropped after hitting the stones I would not even consider it "finished".

wsfarrell
01-15-2012, 03:30 PM
No love for belt grinders here. Understandable I guess. There is a bit of a learning curve, but once you've mastered it it's a wonderful sharpener. And no, in the right hands it doesn't remove any more metal than stones. If for no other reason, try one for stropping. You'll never have to say the words "stubborn burr" again.

tk59
01-15-2012, 03:54 PM
There are people with experience in using belt grinders here. I've done it myself. They are nice when you have piles of blades to grind, esp. the stubborn burr varieties, mainly stainless. The problem is they are more expensive, less precise, take up more space, noisier, and dirtier, in general. I also don't get much personal satisfaction from it. It's more of a meditation thing for me.

jgraeff
01-15-2012, 06:20 PM
Thanks for the replies guys just trying to figure out how to achieve a razor sharp edge on this.

I gotta say i love how well it comes back from minimal stropping on newspaper. I mean this edge barely degraded at all after 3 long hard shifts and i was really working it. I stropped it maybe 5 strokes and its back to normal I'm pretty sure if i do this after every shift i doubt it would ever dull. pretty impressive compared to what i have been using.

Going to keep working it a bit before i hit the stones again, really want to put the edge retention to the test. So far love the profile as i thought it would be a bit too curved for my liking it actually work very well.

Great work on this knife Marko really love this knife! Thanks again for sending it out to me.

jgraeff
01-15-2012, 06:21 PM
If a knife is not properly stropped after hitting the stones I would not even consider it "finished".

I don't really strop my knives, i use newspaper on my stones but i don't have any compounds too expensive for me...

SpikeC
01-15-2012, 06:58 PM
You don't need compounds to strop. It's the action, not the media.

Marko Tsourkan
01-16-2012, 01:20 AM
JC is coming over tomorrow and we will sharpen some 52100 to razor edge. Will report tomorrow.

M

mattrud
01-17-2012, 03:08 AM
Very interesting stuff. I sharpened both Knives that marko sent me before using them so it was an "edge" I was familiar with. But I did not sharpen them before sending them back, they were still in quite good shape after all the abuse. They were the only 52100 knives I have sharpened. I experienced no issues with sharpening them but would like to try more steel, I always need more steel.....

Marko Tsourkan
01-17-2012, 10:10 AM
Point taken, Matt - :)

So, JC was over yesterday, and we sharpened a few knives in 52100 and AEB-L. We used JNS1K/Geshin 5K, and Bester 1200/Rika 5K. We compared sharpness to a knife Rick sent back with a razor sharp edge.

As suspected, loaded strops have pushed the 5K edge way past sharpness that I wasn't able to achieve on stones I have on hand, including J-nats. We didn't do as thorough a job Rick did (stropping on a loaded strop between stones), but the achieved sharpness was almost comparable.

It seems to me that stopping at 1K stone followed by stropping on a diamond loaded strop would produce an edge comparable to some sharpest OOB edges on Japanese knives.

Learned something new yesterday. :) Thanks JC for coming over and enlightening me about strops.

M

ThEoRy
01-17-2012, 02:17 PM
I'd just like to say that I reaaalllly enjoyed sharpening your blade Marko. The steel moved effortlessly and the burr was always raised evenly along the length and as small as possible. With your blade it just felt like I was able to tune in to it's needs rather easily.

Something to be said for that. Whatever you've done with that steel, you're definitely on to something. It was a real joy to sharpen for sure. I look forward to more of your craftsmanship in the future.

jgraeff
01-17-2012, 03:35 PM
Glad to know its most likely my sharpening skills :)

I will try it again tomorrow after another long shift still amazed by the edge retention I've been getting. The hardness I this steel is great!

I don't have any stropping compounds. But I do strop on each individual stone as well as using cork to help remove burr. If anyone has anymore suggestions on how to improve this please let me know. I am confident it's not the knife or steel but rather my skill level. I knew this from the start ;)

jgraeff
01-17-2012, 03:36 PM
Will try to upload a video of my sharpening so I can get some feedback from some of you guys out there.

Also is a stone worthless if it only produces swarf and water instead of mud?

ThEoRy
01-17-2012, 03:56 PM
I don't think so. From what I've seen, the JNS 1000 preforms like this. Maybe someone who has used it can comment further.

JBroida
01-17-2012, 04:17 PM
Will try to upload a video of my sharpening so I can get some feedback from some of you guys out there.

Also is a stone worthless if it only produces swarf and water instead of mud?

not at all... that generally means its a harder stone, but thats not a bad thing

bieniek
01-17-2012, 04:19 PM
Depends to me if you talk sharpening or honing.

For sharpening when you only work on bringing two bevels to that "infinity:)" point of contact, you shouldnt have any mud, and thats the reason I love JNS 1k over King 1K. Its just so much better, even lightly soaked. I just cannot get it clogged up! I used range of steels already and it just keeps on cutting at steady speed.

For honing when you want to remove loosely hanging metal and polish the edge i always use mud, cause when particles break down you end up with grit range, not a single number. Result of that is tooth of different size, which results in longer sharpness retention.

I sold all my honing synthetic stones so I dont really care can you break down synthetic particles. But I produced tons of mud for working on Naniwa SS stones and the edges I got were pretty good. Not as good as natural, but pretty close, just different

SpikeC
01-17-2012, 04:34 PM
"Also is a stone worthless if it only produces swarf and water instead of mud?"
Take a look at MC sharpening on a concrete block!

bieniek
01-17-2012, 04:37 PM
Do you really believe he got razor edge out of it?

Cause he does

stevenStefano
01-17-2012, 04:57 PM
I think for a 1k-ish stone it being hard can be pretty good because it is doing a lot of work so you don't want it to dish so much and you'll be going onto a softer stone anyway. I am far from an expert though

jgraeff
01-17-2012, 06:02 PM
It is my 6k stone i am referring to. If i soak it for a short time it will produce a slurry of swarf and water on top but will not produce any mud.

If i don't soak it very long i can get it to turn completely grayish along the whole stone and it seems to build up more mud like liquid as long as i slowly add water. Im not sure if its loading up or if thats how i should use it?

Or should i use it with the swarf? I find that with the swarf it tends to polish more and be more toothy, if i use i the other way it is duller looking and much finer edge.

Cipcich
01-17-2012, 10:34 PM
I'm not going to change the bevels on this particular knife.[/QUOTE]
I'd just like to ask if anyone else sees a possible correlation between the width of the bevel in question and the achievable sharpness.
There are a lot of reasons (edge retention, curviness(?) . .) to prefer one kind of bevel over another, but, just working on the back of an envelope here, it seems a wider bevel will yield a sharper edge, all other things (like sharpening skills, stones, strops, etc.) being equal. It may fold up under duress, but it should be keener. No? :cool2: