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Dave Martell
03-23-2011, 09:27 PM
OK folks it's time to break the ice and have our first talk about jig vs free hand sharpening. Here's my (very general - not at all specific) take on this subject....

In the past I've been a very vocal proponent for free hand sharpening. I've also been an opponent to certain jig systems as well as being critical to list the restrictions of many jigged systems. For this I've been somewhat mis-understood and incorrectly labeled as a free hand or die type of person - an individual who expects everyone to do as I see (and say) and to judge others based on what they do with this. Some of this is true but not all.

For the record - I am not at all against jigs however I am very pro free hand.

The reason why I've been so boisterous in discussions on this subject is because many people refuse to admit the limitations of their jigged systems. The thing about this is that both jigged and free hand systems have limitations - BOTH.

Free handers, no matter who you are, will always wobble a bit and can not achieve a perfectly flat bevel - it'll never happen.

Jig systems reshape knives to suit their parameters to which they can operate in and can not roll through changes in bevel angles (like seen on yanagibas and distal tapered double bevel knives).

For positives, the free handers can easily address angle changes along the blade length and for jig users they have perfect angle control.

So I see each as having limitations and positives. Going with one or the other should be a decision that you make based on what's more important to you.

Anyone have anything to add?

I wouldn't mind talking about the merits and limitations of each jig system as we do we each stone used free hand. Some systems seem better than others and we can discuss these differences here.


PS - I'm not starting any crap, just stating my position which I hope helps to clear the air.

maxim
03-23-2011, 09:31 PM
Jig :dance:

EdipisReks
03-23-2011, 09:33 PM
a friend of mine bought an edge pro and, while it makes for a pretty sharp knife, i don't care for the edge it puts on a gyuto. we both agree that my freehand sharpening puts a better edge on, but he also doesn't have water stones for the system yet (relying on the fine tapes at the end), so i can't say for sure. on the other hand, he's never scratched the edge of his knives, and i have. :) on the gripping hand, freehand is a lot more fun. i'm not sure that the edge pro works would work for a single bevel knife?

Dave Martell
03-23-2011, 09:34 PM
Also, if you're using a jigged system please know that you're as welcome to post on what you use as any free hander is. I'm sure that there's a whole ton of people out there using jigs that would love to read about them as well as free hand sharpening. You should not feel un-welcome here, this forum is for everyone.

maxim
03-23-2011, 09:42 PM
I think even with a Jig you cant put perfect flat edge because of different pressure along the edge i think Jigs is good for tools chisels or planes where you dont have curved edge and with those Jigs you can put even pressure on hole blade but for knifes i feel that its easier and faster to do it free hand and you will learn to feel how strong you edge have to be for you knife.

Dave Martell
03-23-2011, 09:44 PM
a friend of mine bought an edge pro and, while it makes for a pretty sharp knife, i don't care for the edge it puts on a gyuto. we both agree that my freehand sharpening puts a better edge on, but he also doesn't have water stones for the system yet (relying on the fine tapes at the end), so i can't say for sure. on the other hand, he's never scratched the edge of his knives, and i have. :) on the gripping hand, freehand is a lot more fun. i'm not sure that the edge pro works would work for a single bevel knife?


I used to be an EdgePro user myself (I owned 2 Pro models & 1 Apex) and I used to love the edge off of the tapes. I would increase the angle by about 1deg and finish with a wet tape.

Do you think that you feel the shoulder (transition from edge bevel to blade face) of the bevel as you cut, could this be the difference? I found that the shoulder was so crisp off the EP that I could feel it wedge. I would have to thin the edge a lot to reduce this effect which was a lot more work than I liked it to be.

Cadillac J
03-23-2011, 10:13 PM
Freehand baby - love the process...love the connection...love the edges I achieve...love no 'set-up' required

Not against jigs at all, I just don't need them.

However, at some point I wouldn't mind getting some type of sander/grinder to help with some of the rough work and reprofiling from time to time.

EdipisReks
03-23-2011, 10:23 PM
I used to be an EdgePro user myself (I owned 2 Pro models & 1 Apex) and I used to love the edge off of the tapes. I would increase the angle by about 1deg and finish with a wet tape.

Do you think that you feel the shoulder (transition from edge bevel to blade face) of the bevel as you cut, could this be the difference? I found that the shoulder was so crisp off the EP that I could feel it wedge. I would have to thin the edge a lot to reduce this effect which was a lot more work than I liked it to be.

the shoulder may very well be what it is. i always round off and polish the shoulder when i sharpen, and i doubt my friend does that with his edge pro. that is something that is really flippin' easy to do freehand, of course.

apicius9
03-23-2011, 10:26 PM
I am a lazy and a lousy sharpener, just don't have the patience. And I haven't found a good setup that doesn't cause my back to feel like it is breaking apart half way into the first knife. So, I keep thinking about jigs occasionally. The perfect jig would be a box where you push a button, and a little Dave jumps out and sharpens my knives for me :happy3: After that, maybe something that can use full sized stones would come to mind. Mind you, this is only for double beveled knives. I haven't followed the developments very closely, not even sure if anything like that exists. I wasn't all too excited about the first 'gadget' (or something like that :evilgrin: ). i am not on a quest for the sharpest knife ever. For me it's between not sharpening at all because I don't like it or compromising and keeping my knives below their potential but way over what the usually are... So, I would love to hear about experiences with jigs. And, yes, I know that hand sharpening would be better, faster and cheaper...

Stefan

kalaeb
03-23-2011, 10:46 PM
For me sharpening free hand is a catharsis of sort, I will be the first to admit that I suck at it, but I also enjoy being able to see and feel the progression as I get better. Do my blades have errant scratch marks and uneven bevels? Yup, you bet, but I sure enjoy doing it, and I am getting better at it. Plus I'm poor, and jigs cost money that I could be spending on knives and disaster releif efforts.

mainaman
03-23-2011, 10:53 PM
free hand for me.
But I am always curious what a jig can do, not spending a ton of money on one though.

riverie
03-24-2011, 12:13 AM
Free hand without a question for me too. I believe with free hand you can feel your knife much better. The characteristic, hardness, edge, etc... For me it's part of the fun besides cutting stuff with it.

JBroida
03-24-2011, 01:14 AM
i'm also a freehand guy... i would be all for jigs if they did what i wanted them to do, but so far, i cant find one that allows me the flexibility to do what i need... that and sharpening is like zen for me ;)

Marko Tsourkan
03-24-2011, 01:32 AM
i'm also a freehand guy... i would be all for jigs if they did what i wanted them to do, but so far, i cant find one that allows me the flexibility to do what i need... that and sharpening is like zen for me ;)

Free hand for knives, a jig for my saya chisels. Those have tiny bevels, so keeping a constant angle is next to impossible.

M

JBroida
03-24-2011, 01:39 AM
Free hand for knives, a jig for my saya chisels. Those have tiny bevels, so keeping a constant angle is next to impossible.

M

i guess i should have specified that i was talking about knives... i think for tools, etc. there are tools that work very well. My bad. Clearly i'm a knife guy ;)

mr drinky
03-24-2011, 06:23 AM
I was all prepared to go the edge pro route, then I went onto KF and was talked out of it (in a good way). There were both people who liked it and those who liked free hand. In the end it came down to looking at my personality. I love doing things precisely, whether that be in sports, mowing the lawn, exercising, cooking etc. and I don't like using contraptions/jigs hardly ever (in whatever I do). Why would knives be any different? And even though I cook a lot I still don't own a food processor or stand mixer -- but there are times it would be nice to own one and I think about getting one quite often.

An edge pro is the same way. A friend of mine has one and he loves it for reprofiling knives, and I could definitely see times that I would appreciate it and use it. I was wowed by the consistency of his bevels on jobs that would take me hours. There are a couple of 'labor of love' knives in my drawer right now that I would probably have in better shape if I had an edge pro or some other jig.

In the end, I decided to go the stone route and said to myself that I would invest in a jig when the time comes and the utility was there -- but I have also been saying that with a kitchen aid mixer for 10 years now. And even though I am a precise person, I love the imprecision of sharpening by hand. It was my first mistake in reprofiling where I learned more about asymmetric bevels. And if I didn't have those scratches in my blades, I would not have invested in learning about polishing blades. Each misstep is a new learning opportunity about the blade -- and another opportunity to get some kit ;)

I'm free hand for now -- and probably until my back gives out.

k.

Dave Martell
03-24-2011, 08:57 AM
On the jigged side....

Even though I don't care for where they come from :) , something that I think is a good thing for the user is the recent addition of Shapton stones cut to size to fit the EP. I see these stones as being a perfect fit for this because they are very hard and ungiving with a slow wear rate.

Choseras are also offered in this application but I don't think they will make such a great fit here because they wear fast (in comparison to EP stock & Shapton Pro stones) and the power of their cut rate is largely obtained through the use of mud sitting on the stone which is reduced by a stone hanging upside down.

Even worse of a thing would be......gasp.......the cutting of natural stones to use on the EP. Seriously, this should be punishable by law. :yuck:

Marko Tsourkan
03-24-2011, 08:58 AM
I like to use analogy that sharpening is like cooking. If you always following a recipe, you will not be a very confident and a creative cook. To learn something, you have to mess things up a few times and to experiment. I remember re-polishing knives after every scratch I put on them sharpening. Now I just shrug and move one. :) The knife is sharp and this is all I care about. A few good knives I have, I take extra care when sharpening.

I also got to say that I am relatively immune to the sharpening obsession. I don't need to achieve a maximum sharpness (I leave my obsessions for other things. It used to be woodworking, now it's grinding metal). I haven't bought every possible diamond spray, powder, felt, leather strops just to get my knives a little bit sharper. I usually finish a knife on a natural stone and it's plenty sharp for me. I sharpen, use a knife for a while, then sharpen again. I like the cycle. It helps to maintain my sharpening skill.

M

monty
03-24-2011, 09:13 AM
I have an Edge Pro and loved using it until I began sharpening knives for other folks. Unless you tape each knife that Edge Pro will really scuff a blade up. I found that by the time I put painters tape on each blade, then went through switching stones, etc., I was spending a lot of time NOT sharpening. Up to that point my water stones were used exclusively on my 2 Japanese knives, but one night I was looking down the barrel of 20 knives and I decided that I just didn't want to go through the hassle of taping them all. I do appreciate the precision of the Edge Pro, but due to the amount of sharpening I have been doing I only use water stones now. I should say that I am the farthest thing from a purist. I really have no opinion about which method is the best. I only care about which method is best for me.

Dave Martell
03-24-2011, 09:29 AM
I only care about which method is best for me.

I like this.

shankster
03-24-2011, 09:52 AM
http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?

anyone have any experience or thoughts on this handy dandy sharpening system? probably overkill for most,but for someone with a ton of knives and tools to sharpen it could be a viable option.
I myself am a freehander and thanks to forums like this,I learn something new everyday.
edit: sorry the link just takes you to lee valley.It's the Tormek water cooled system.

Dave Martell
03-24-2011, 10:14 AM
I owned a Tormek for awhile, used it professionally too. I love the quality of the machine - second to none in it's class. What keeps me from loving it for knife sharpening is that it's such a general use system that does some things good and not much great and knife sharpening isn't it's strong suit. Although today there are better wheels available for the system so without trying them I should reserve some judgement.

chazmtb
03-24-2011, 11:39 AM
I was wondering how you would use a jig like an edgepro on a single bevel knife? Would you use it to put a secondary bevel on the knife only or use it on the entire blade road. Seems that single bevel knives require free hand sharpening, since a lot of it is also the feel of the knife, the getting of mud to polish the hagane and to give a contrast on the jigane.

I kinda want to know because I have only used free hand

monty
03-24-2011, 11:59 AM
When I was an undergrad I took a course called Zen and Japanese Culture. One of the interesting insights I picked up about Japanese culture, especially art, is the concept of asymmetry. For example, in Japanese calligraphy you notice that brush strokes begin with bold solid color but by the end of the stroke you can see trail marks from the individual fibers of the brush. The idea, as it was presented to us, is that the lack of perfect symmetry is part of how Japanese craftsmen approach their individual art. In fact, perfect symmetry would be seen as somewhat problematic and uninteresting.

Compare that to a western style of looking at the world in which circles are always full, and repeatable utility is part of the way we recognize value in any endeavor. I don’t wish to suggest that the western view of the world is less “spiritual” or “artistic” as many folks tend to believe. But clearly there is a difference in the ways we approach life, knives and knife sharpening included.

Imagine how surprised I was when I first started getting into Japanese water stones and Japanese knives, to come across the word "asymmetrical." It made perfect sense to me that the Japanese ideas about symmetry would find their way into the way knives are produced and maintained.

How does all this relate to sharpening? Well, a fixed unit like an Edge Pro provides a repeatable utility that is perfectly in keeping with the spirit of knives produced with the same idea in mind. Perhaps one of the issues at stake in choosing jigs or stones is whether, and to what extent, you can deal with asymmetry – literally and philosophically.

I realize I am making some really broad generalizations – but these are the ideas I came up with in my commute to work today so I thought I’d throw them out there for you to consider and attack! :poke1: :biggrin:

iceman01
03-24-2011, 11:59 AM
In the beginning, I regarded myself a freehand dyslexic, so I built a gizmo like Ken's. But I never used it on single bevel traditional blades, they come with the wide bevel, that acts as an angle guiding system. What else can you expect?
Though, for (very) asymmetric western style knives, the gizmo or other jig systems work great. Use the finest stone and magic marker if you don't know which angle the bevel has and then sharpen on the front and deburr the back off the gizmo. Esp great if I want to set a new bevel, it is much more consistent than my freehanding in this regard.

Pensacola Tiger
03-24-2011, 12:32 PM
I was wondering how you would use a jig like an edgepro on a single bevel knife? Would you use it to put a secondary bevel on the knife only or use it on the entire blade road. Seems that single bevel knives require free hand sharpening, since a lot of it is also the feel of the knife, the getting of mud to polish the hagane and to give a contrast on the jigane.

I kinda want to know because I have only used free hand

There's nothing to be gained in using an Edge Pro on a single bevel knife. The concavity of the back side of the knife presents some major challenges to angle control because the knife will not be consistently supported on the table. Besides, the blade road pretty much provides all the angle control you need.

My experience with an Edge Pro Apex on other knives is that it is very useful for thinning, or for accurately changing a bevel angle. It also lets someone new to sharpening work on their knives with the confidence that they won't ruin it.

I agree with Monty that taping the blade is necessary to prevent scratching it, and this can be a real PITA if you sharpen a lot of knives.

The Shapton Pro stones for the Edge Pro that Tom Blodgett of Jende Industries offers are worth every penny. For most sharpening, a 1K and a 5K is sufficient. The 6"x2" DMT plates he offers will make thinning a pleasure.

Eamon Burke
03-24-2011, 01:09 PM
First off, the stones cut for jigs can save some dough! That really opens up the chances for that 30k people(like myself) want, but can't afford.

At work, we have a Mannhart chopper that can really put loads of food through in short order. It is accurate, but not considerate. The pieces of food will be the same size thickness-wise, but it creates a lot of tiny hacked up pieces and some are just too wide. The blade is fast, but oxidizes veggies quickly. And it's messy and a pain to set up. I can grab my knife and do most jobs in less time than I can fiddle with that thing.

I feel the same way about jigs. The videos of people using jigs are like 70% fiddling with the jig itself. I also cannot figure out, for the life of me, why anyone would want a perfectly flat edge bevel. Who cares? This will seriously create no benefit, and if you want to get hyper-analytical, a perfectly flat, polished bevel would causing sticking on some microscopic level.

I can just grab my stones and go to town. Machines, like sanders, are great if you have a huge volume because that kind of repetitive motion is not good for you. Since knives aren't made on fixed jig-systems, the profile design and edge characteristics are not conducive to jig-based alteration and maintenance.

It just seems to me that jigs just remove the natural human wobble. I cannot figure out why this matters.

obtuse
03-24-2011, 01:41 PM
When I was new to knives I was enticed by the perceived ease of jig sharpening. I convinced myself to skip the jig and freehand sharpen—I haven't looked back.

SpikeC
03-24-2011, 01:51 PM
I think that the natural human wobble creats a slight convexity that results in a more durable edge. It becomes a fine microbevel that supports the cutting edge.

mikemac
03-25-2011, 12:31 PM
....analogy that sharpening is like cooking. If you always following a recipe, you will not be a very confident and a creative cook.....M

Freehand? Jig?
For me the answer is YES!
I've used both methods for probably over 15 years, and they each have a place. I just added the EP, and that has to be one of the most versitile and "bang for the $$" jigs around. I find it very useful for re-setting bevels and angles - correcting mistakes of the past and setting a path for the future. I've also used it side by side with freehand. And I find it really convenient for throwing a great edge on either beaters or daily users when I don't really have the time to concentrate on freehand (which in my house is most of the time) Lately, I've had to tame my OCD for all things sharpening, tame my OCD for knife lust, and instead try to put a meal on the table to enjoy with the wife and kids before one has to go sports practice, another to a friends house and the third wants to sit and watch tv with me.

IMHO, the EP is a great solution for someone new to sharpening, new to J-knives or someone who thinks that steel rod thingy or a chefs choice are sharpening options.

While I truely prefer to freehand, my freehand experience makes me appreciate and do a better job using the EP...and the EP improves and makes me do a better job freehanding.

I like Marko's analogy. When I first started to cook, I followed a recipe for french toast. No I don't. But if I'm cooking something new, say a tagine or Indian, I follow a recipe first.

mattrud
03-25-2011, 12:42 PM
I am a free hand guy myself, my life is built around connection to what I am doing. Working with my hands, with products, with people. Connection is my life, so using a jig or something like that i feel disconnected. I love to sharpen and the feel of sharpening, as Jon said it is a bit of a zen thing.

JohnnyChance
03-25-2011, 02:53 PM
Some years ago, I broke my left wrist and it still gives me trouble. I can pick up a stack of saute pans without a problem, but when having to do more precise work, sometimes it acts up. When I owned german knives I also owned an oil tri stone. When using the tri stone, it would take me at least 30 minutes to sharpen a knife, with applying pressure and holding the angle my wrist would act up and I would have to keep taking breaks. That is why I originally went with an Edge Pro. I used to be annoyed at the "setup time" like someone else mentioned. But now I have mine permanently set up on a half sheet pan, and my stones in a tupperware container perma soaking. I do not tape the blades, and I do not slide the knives back and forth on the edgepro as I sharpen. I sharpen ~3" section at a time, pick it up, move it, and do the next section. It isn't as tedious as it sounds. It doesn't scratch the blades, and on the sheetpan I can sit on my couch and watch TV while I sharpen if I like. I have chosera stones for it and I do not have trouble with them. The slurry I get off of them is thick and sticks to the stones even when they are upside down.

I do own some freehand stones now, and have been sharpening single bevel knives on them, and practicing on some of my double bevels that I don't mind if I mess up. The japanese water stones are easier to use freehand than the oil stones. and the single bevel helps me hold the angle and not aggravate my wrist.

Vertigo
03-25-2011, 03:02 PM
I'm a freehand sharpener, though I'm strongly considering picking up an Edge Pro for "assistance" with the more risky tasks.

j6ppc
04-04-2011, 08:45 PM
I'm still learning. Freehand worksforme(tm)

tgraypots
04-04-2011, 09:13 PM
This rock I found out in the yard, and a felt belt loaded with chrome oxide work pretty well for me, provided I don't let the edge get totally outta control dull.
http://www.tomgraypottery.com/storage/moritake-stone.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1301839222944

Eamon Burke
04-04-2011, 09:16 PM
:what: Tom, is that stone flattened? It might be sideways swish marks, but it looks wavy.

tgraypots
04-04-2011, 09:27 PM
Yep, I hit it with a belt sander. I guess it's an optical illusion 'cause it's real flat.

Dave Martell
04-04-2011, 09:45 PM
What the hell is that Tom? :biggrin:

I wonder if we can cut that down and mount it in an EP? :biggrin2:

SpikeC
04-04-2011, 09:50 PM
What the hell is that Tom?

I wonder if we can cut that down and mount it in an EP? :biggrin2:


:biggrin:
:rofl::haha4:

Dave Martell
04-04-2011, 09:59 PM
All joking aside, there was a pretty good discussion (well kind of a discussion) over at FF this weekend regarding "innovation" and "opening up a yanagiba" using a jig system. The point of how a jig is limiting for use on single bevel knives was made repeatedly through some great descriptions from many people. Not to send you over there but there is some pretty good stuff on the subject that's worth reading in those threads.

If you'd prefer the cliff notes > the premise is that single bevel knives are shaped in such a way that jigs can't sharpen them correctly. They can get them sharp but will have to do so outside of how the knife should be dealt with.

mikemac
04-04-2011, 10:42 PM
Kinda like watching "Real Housewives of ..." You can't help but look and the whole time you know its just wrong.

So two questions....would someone who is equally proficent with a jig system, freehanding and single bevel knives be able to use a jig system to sharpen a single bevel blade as good as or better as freehand?

It sounded like the problem with using a jig system on a single bevel blade was the inability to properly account for variance (convex-ivity ?) in the blade path (either from the shinogi to the start of the edge bevel or the whole kiriba/blade path....from Gators' diagram here: http://zknives.com/knives/kitchen/misc/jbladeant.shtml )
But I thought one of the 'atributes' often sited for freehanding single bevel blades was that the blade path was a built in angle guide? Any chance the cliff notes can sort out that mess of thinking?

Dave Martell
04-04-2011, 10:58 PM
Hi Mike, I like your analogy regarding those threads. :D

I'm not actually inline with saying that the blade road of a single bevel knife is a built in guide, in fact I feel quite different about that. I view it as easier to control wobble because of a wider contact patch to the stone, that's about it for me. The thing is that there's actually 2-3 bevels on a single bevel knife, along the blade road. There's the bevel (generally hollow ground) from shinogi to about the beginning of the hagane (core steel), then there's the bevel from there down to the cutting edge bevel. From factory new this is how we see single beveled knives arrive. So if we lay the knife down on the blade road we only touch the stone just below the shinogi line and just above the edge bevel - we are no where near the cutting edge at this point so it's unrealistic to expect this to be a built in guide for sharpening. The blade road can eventually become a flat single bevel down to the edge if the user wants to do the work to convert the blade road to this shape and then it becomes a built in guide.

As to using a jig on these knives I'm going to stick with no as the answer. I used an EP for years and I know it can't do what I want to do to single bevel knives. There's two components that contribute to this....first there's the issue that a jig can't roll through angle changes while making a sweep and the second is the lack of ability to employ the subtleties of touch required to make the mist/haze be appropriate for both appearance and food release.

Salty dog
04-05-2011, 12:05 AM
I just couldn't read it all or much for that matter. All I know is that if you don't freehand you're half a man. Or quarter woman.

Salty dog
04-05-2011, 07:04 AM
Warning! The above was posted under the influence.

UglyJoe
04-05-2011, 08:06 AM
Sup, Salty! Good to see you again.

tgraypots
04-05-2011, 08:35 AM
Someone previously mentioned that sharpening by hand, on stones, was a zen thing for them. I agree with that, but as nothing more than a home cook, walking into the kitchen in general is a zen thing for me. It's a contemplative, almost meditative time. Deep huh? I can't think about all the other daily issues and stressors while preparing meals for my son, friends and myself. For that short piece of time, everything else takes a back seat. Sharpening knives on stones is part of that process. Plus I like the satisfaction that comes with it. It might not produce a perfect edge, but it creates the best edge I can produce with my skill set at a given time.
http://www.tomgraypottery.com/storage/stone.jpg

Cadillac J
04-05-2011, 11:08 AM
All I know is that if you don't freehand you're half a man. Or quarter woman.

hahaha, this general idea has always been in my thoughts, but I never wanted to come out and say it...

Not that I think any less of people that use jigs, I just believe almost anyone can learn to sharpen very good freehand if they keep at it. Granted, some people might lack the dexterity or they favor scientific 'perfection' with exact angles, in which I completely understand a guided system...but I think a lot of people just give up too easily on learning freehand (this is by no means a generalization of jig users, and I understand a good portion are also good freehanders and use both).

Almost 2 years ago I was just starting out...my edges were sub-par and I constantly got frustrated with it all. Part of me contemplated getting an EP at the time, but I decided to stick with freehanding because I told myself that I should be good at something like this. Really glad I stuck with it, because I've built up a skill that I'm confident with and can achieve awesome edges on each knife that cut exactly the way I want them to...I just have a sense of pride in freehanding.

sashae
04-05-2011, 12:17 PM
I ended up picking up an Edge Pro Apex to basically teach myself what to expect in terms of generating a burr, pressure, what the angles looked like, etc. I expect in the long run I'll go back to individual stones (I had been maintaining my knives as best as I could with a King 1000/6000 combo stone, and did alright.) Without anyone around to really 'show me the way' per se, this seemed like the best way to get a better technical understanding of things.

Eamon Burke
04-05-2011, 01:26 PM
I think Japanese blades were designed to an extreme of performance maintained through traditional means--hands on stone. The inherent wobble, pressure control, and considerate manipulation of freehanding on a stone are qualities that the single bevel knives were designed to benefit from. Modern western knives often have been marketed and even crafted with the idea that a machined, perfectly symmetrical design is somehow superior.

I still fail to see how a jig creates any kind of benefit unless you have a handicap that prevents you from maintaining any semblance of muscle control or endurance.

Which proves what a jig is--a crutch!

SpikeC
04-05-2011, 02:17 PM
In my years at a jewelers bench I have assisted in the training of quite a few people. The thing that I learned is that everyone is wired a little differently. A thing that is just obvious to me can completely baffle someone else. An emploer that I had said that he could take anyone off the street and make a competent bench jeweler out of them, and after spending almost 14 years in his shop I saw that he was full of hubris and very wrong!
In highschool geometry class I just had to look at something once and I had it. Others in the class could not get it no matter how hard they tried.
For many of us sharpening freehand is just plain obvious, for others no amount of practice is going to make then proficient. Many people just do not have good hand eye coordination, it is just the way they are wired. While everyone can improve to some extent, not everyone can excel. Otherwise Dave would have a hard time finding work!

jaybett
04-05-2011, 03:50 PM
Popular opinion is sharpening should be left to the pros. An article on sharpening that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Norman Weinstein, the author of Mastering Knife Skills, stated that knives needed to be sharpened by professionals.

It was more common a few years ago, on the other forums, pictures of knives were posted by new sharpeners, that were over ground. Additionally posts made by experienced users, about sharpening problems, appeared to reinforce popular opinion.

When I got into sharpening a jig system was a very attractive option. Jon Broida posted that there are all sorts of sharpening jigs in Japan.

The main reason I went free hand, is that forum members that I trusted, kept recommending it. After taking a number of baby steps in learning to sharpen, I don't know if I'll ever reach the point, where I can say I got it. There always seems something more to learn about free hand sharpening.

Learning any subject requires experience, which means practice. How much a person practices depends on how much they care about the subject. No matter the subject, eventually a person will hit the wall. They are stuck until there skill set improves. At this point many people will quit and move on. To break through requires passion or drive.

Anybody can put a poor bevel and crappy edge on a knife. It takes a person with passion to learn how to sharpen an edge to 10000 grit, leave no scratches and easily slice a tomato.

Jay

spaceconvoy
04-05-2011, 04:17 PM
Anybody can put a poor bevel and crappy edge on a knife. It takes a person with passion to learn how to sharpen an edge to 10000 grit, leave no scratches and easily slice a tomato.

Yes, but it's relatively easy to sharpen with a single 1k stone, maybe make a few scratches (who cares) and still easily slice a tomato.

That's my biggest problem with stone recommendations on the forums - most beginners who don't need to slice sashimi would be much better off with a single 1k stone. Very few people actually benefit from going higher or lower.

The beauty of 1k is it cuts fast enough where you can wobble for a few strokes, taking two steps toward and one step back from the edge. Once you get close enough, you can hit the edge with one good steady stroke. Higher grit stones are harder to use because they're slower, need more strokes and thus more consistency.

Sharpening really isn't that hard, but we forum nerds tend to over-complicate it. In Japan, where you can buy a 1k King in every local hardware store, lots of housewives (less and less so today, but still quite a few) sharpen their own knives. And if you're cutting normal everyday human food, why exactly do you need to go past 1k?

Cadillac J
04-05-2011, 04:52 PM
I don't know if I'll ever reach the point, where I can say I got it. There always seems something more to learn about free hand sharpening.

Just speaking for myself, I don't necessarily agree with this statement. Yes, we are continuously improving, but I think I've reached the point where "I got it"...the simple part is understanding the mechanics or the concept, but the more important part is exceeding expectations consistently. My edges are way better than I would of imagined they would be...can get them ridiculously sharp with ease, they cut effortlessly and work exactly how I intended, and they make using them a joy. This is my own personal definition of "getting it"....now it is more about refining my skillset, rather than trying to gain it.

Andrew H
04-05-2011, 05:11 PM
Just speaking for myself, I don't necessarily agree with this statement. Yes, we are continuously improving, but I think I've reached the point where "I got it"...the simple part is understanding the mechanics or the concept, but the more important part is exceeding expectations consistently. My edges are way better than I would of imagined they would be...can get them ridiculously sharp with ease, they cut effortlessly and work exactly how I intended, and they make using them a joy. This is my own personal definition of "getting it"....now it is more about refining my skillset, rather than trying to gain it.

I'm pretty sure jaybett wasn't saying that no one can master the art of sharpening, I think he just meant he's not sure if he will personally get there.

Cadillac J
04-05-2011, 08:04 PM
I'm pretty sure jaybett wasn't saying that no one can master the art of sharpening, I think he just meant he's not sure if he will personally get there.

Right, and I just posted my thoughts based on something that Jay said, which is why I preceded with "just speaking for myself". I am not trying to start an argument...he stated his opinion and I replied with mine, just as I thought we were supposed to on a forum. He has been inspiring my threads/posts lately...thanks Jay!

And I also don't think I've mastered anything...I just know I get my knives to perform just like I want them to.

JBroida
04-05-2011, 08:28 PM
Popular opinion is sharpening should be left to the pros. An article on sharpening that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Norman Weinstein, the author of Mastering Knife Skills, stated that knives needed to be sharpened by professionals.

It was more common a few years ago, on the other forums, pictures of knives were posted by new sharpeners, that were over ground. Additionally posts made by experienced users, about sharpening problems, appeared to reinforce popular opinion.

When I got into sharpening a jig system was a very attractive option. Jon Broida posted that there are all sorts of sharpening jigs in Japan.

The main reason I went free hand, is that forum members that I trusted, kept recommending it. After taking a number of baby steps in learning to sharpen, I don't know if I'll ever reach the point, where I can say I got it. There always seems something more to learn about free hand sharpening.

Learning any subject requires experience, which means practice. How much a person practices depends on how much they care about the subject. No matter the subject, eventually a person will hit the wall. They are stuck until there skill set improves. At this point many people will quit and move on. To break through requires passion or drive.

Anybody can put a poor bevel and crappy edge on a knife. It takes a person with passion to learn how to sharpen an edge to 10000 grit, leave no scratches and easily slice a tomato.

Jay

its true that many types of jigs exist in Japan, but not that many are used. The most common things you see used are a wooden board to make gripping the blade easier while sharpening on wheels and a wooden board for mounting the knife to keep it steady while polishing.

With woodworking tools, scissors, etc. there are other jigs that are commonly used.

mhlee
04-05-2011, 08:43 PM
I just couldn't read it all or much for that matter. All I know is that if you don't freehand you're half a man. Or quarter woman.

This is why I miss Salty's posts. :lol2:

Good to see you here.

Eamon Burke
04-05-2011, 11:26 PM
I had a huge post earlier that got lost to the internet. But I'll try to boil down my challenge/dissertation here.

Basically, I still have never heard an argument in favor of a jig that washes with the rest of the real world. I have heard plenty of "works for me" kind of thing, but I've never found out why jigs are better than the other two options: Freehand sharpening, or Professional Servicing. Jigs, compared to both, are more expensive. Some of you may think "oh freehanding gets pricey too, and EP stones are cheap" kind of thing. But let me explain both pro and home settings for the price. I'm using current prices on what are considered the best overall brand options by the knife community I've been exposed to.

You are a home cook, with a run-of-the-mill J-knife, like a Shun/Misono/Global. You need it sharpened, but don't want to freehand. Sending it to JKS will cost $25(for the most basic service), which is a 10k finish. Or you can get the EP that is on red-hot sale at CKTG for $265 with up to 10k Choseras. If you get your knives sharpened 2-3 times a year like most home cooks need, it will take you 3.5-5.3 years to start saving money. And Dave has master skills.
You want to save money in the long run? Well, a stone setup like mine cost me around a grand all told, but we're now talking a lifetime investment in myself. Just buying a good jig, like the EP or WEPS, will cost you several hundred dollars, and then you have to buy specially cut stones, because your hundreds of dollars got you a set of levers, clamps and swivels. If you buy EP stones, they are cheap--sticker price. But here's the breakdown of the 10k Chosera, priced out by wear(I.E. how much it costs to use up the stone):
Chosera 10k: Price: $265 Size(sq mm): 441,000.0 Stone per dollar(sq mm): 1,664.5
Chosera 10k for EP: Price: $50 Size(sq mm): 19,354.8 Stone per dollar(sq mm): 387.1

Now lets say you are a pro cook. Then the question is about work, which is time/effort vs dollars. It is not profitable for a person who gets paid $25 an hour to spend 3 hours sharpening a knife, because getting Dave to do it will only take you one hour(to make the money to pay him). If you don't make that much(say you make $8/hr), then you can sharpen yourself and save money. But buying a jig will cost you the price of 1-2 really great stones, or an entire set of serviceable stones, and may not do all your knives(like your traditional single bevels).


Money aside, if you learn to use a jig, you become a master of the jig, and not much else. You may get the concepts that are working, but you don't get the muscle control or experience from mistakes/accidents. If your shiny toy breaks, and the company is out of business, you must realize that you don't actually have any skills or abilities to speak of, you have to shop for another toy. Meanwhile, if you learn to freehand(which I really believe everyone with enough muscle control to write clearly can do), you can do like that yahoo earlier in the thread and sharpen on a rock from your yard if you want.

If you don't want to miss out on the experience, but aren't good at sharpening freehand, you can still send your main knife off to a pro for the the year or two that it will cost you to get your skills up on any other knives you have around. If you don't have the drive to learn to put a great edge on a knife in a year or two(especially with forum resources like this!), sharpening clearly isn't an interest of yours!

Add that up with the fact that you can't sharpen any traditional single bevels on it, can't sharpen non-knife things(like scissors) on them without other attachments, and that the slight convex of a freehanded edge creates ABSOLUTELY no performance draw, and you have got me stumped as to why anyone buys a jig.



When I was a kid, in boxing, we knew a guy we called "ADIDAS" because he had all ADIDAS gear, even underwear, and couldn't box for crap. We called that stuff "Tin Cup gear". You can buy fancy doohickeys all you want, and they might be a fun toy if you are the tinkering type, but they won't actually endow you with anything other than a lot of stuff to carry around.

I really would like to hear any reasons why anyone ever should buy a jig as opposed to sending it off to someone professional or learning to freehand other than "cause it's fun", "cause I like it", or "works for me".

FryBoy
04-06-2011, 11:33 AM
It seems to me that by your logic, it makes little sense to buy stones, either -- just send off your knives to the professional sharpener and be done with it. Of course, that ignores two factors: most of us, home cook or pro, have a dozen knives or more, so the pro services would add up, and second, there's the convenience factor -- I don't want to wait a week or more to get my knives back if I have to ship them off to a sharpener in another city, nor do I want to spend a couple of hours in traffic if I have a local guy (using the L.A. definition of "local").

JBroida
04-06-2011, 11:44 AM
(using the L.A. definition of "local").

Hermosa Beach is a different planet as far as i am concerned... heck... even the valley is like a different state ;)

Pensacola Tiger
04-06-2011, 11:59 AM
Eamon,

People buy and use devices like the Edge Pro, the Wicked Edge and even the Chef's Choice because they want sharp knives, and these devices provide that for them. Not everyone has the patience or desire to learn to freehand sharpen.

Even if you freehand, the Edge Pro is useful for thinning and reprofiling.

Rick

mikemac
04-06-2011, 03:22 PM
Hermosa Beach is a different planet as far as i am concerned... heck... even the valley is like a different state ;)

aahhh....imparted wisdom from the center of the universe - Berverly Hills.

;>

JBroida
04-06-2011, 03:38 PM
aahhh....imparted wisdom from the center of the universe - Berverly Hills.

;>

hahaha

Eamon Burke
04-07-2011, 12:42 AM
It seems to me that by your logic, it makes little sense to buy stones, either -- just send off your knives to the professional sharpener and be done with it. Of course, that ignores two factors: most of us, home cook or pro, have a dozen knives or more, so the pro services would add up, and second, there's the convenience factor -- I don't want to wait a week or more to get my knives back if I have to ship them off to a sharpener in another city, nor do I want to spend a couple of hours in traffic if I have a local guy (using the L.A. definition of "local").

Very true. However, there is no stated reason why personal sharpening is done better with a jig.



People buy and use devices like the Edge Pro, the Wicked Edge and even the Chef's Choice because they want sharp knives, and these devices provide that for them. Not everyone has the patience or desire to learn to freehand sharpen.

If you just want a sharp knife, and don't have the patience, skill or desire to learn how to do it, then why not send it to a professional? You are going to have to become a journeyman sharpener to learn to use a high end jig anyways, so there is a decent level of personal and financial commitment. Even if you sharpen a huge quantity of knives, 1) the guy might give you a bulk discount, and 2) you are going to burn through those 5mm stones sharpening all the knives in a pro kitchen.



It may seem that I am being obstinate, but I still don't see what it DOES, and that kind of thing tends to bother me.

I know why people buy them--the same reason anyone buys anything: they want one. But what does it DO that is so fantastic?

Paying $300 for a slow re-profiling tool seems a bit overkill for the non professional sharpener, and even then, you can get a belt sander, an air compressor, and an Exair Spot cooler for less than the price of an EP Pro.

Pensacola Tiger
04-07-2011, 12:14 PM
If you just want a sharp knife, and don't have the patience, skill or desire to learn how to do it, then why not send it to a professional?

Probably because it is prohibitively expensive and inconvenient. Using your previous example, sending your knives out to a professional sharpener at $25 a knife three times a year will cost $225 for just a basic set of gyuto, petty and sujihiki. If you bought a high end Edge Pro Apex, then early in the second year, you've recouped your investment. Not to mention avoiding the huge inconvenience of being without your knives for at least a week three times a year.



You are going to have to become a journeyman sharpener to learn to use a high end jig anyways, so there is a decent level of personal and financial commitment.

I challenge that assertion. There is a small learning curve associated with the Edge Pro, but a tyro can put a perfectly acceptable edge on a knife the first time they try, at least in my experience. Granted, it is not the equal of the edge that Dave can put on a knife, but the edge is more than acceptable.



Even if you sharpen a huge quantity of knives, 1) the guy might give you a bulk discount, and 2) you are going to burn through those 5mm stones sharpening all the knives in a pro kitchen.


When did we start discussing sharpening all the knives in a pro kitchen?



It may seem that I am being obstinate, but I still don't see what it DOES, and that kind of thing tends to bother me.

I know why people buy them--the same reason anyone buys anything: they want one. But what does it DO that is so fantastic?


As I said, people buy and use devices like the Edge Pro, the Wicked Edge and even the Chef's Choice because they want sharp knives, and these devices provide that for them. If you can freehand sharpen, I can understand why you would have trouble accepting this, but I assure you it is real.



Paying $300 for a slow re-profiling tool seems a bit overkill for the non professional sharpener, and even then, you can get a belt sander, an air compressor, and an Exair Spot cooler for less than the price of an EP Pro.

Belt sanders require space to set them up and make an ungodly mess; they also require some modicum of skill to use.

NO ChoP!
04-11-2011, 01:47 AM
Stones are therapy...
After a balls-to-the-wall busy night with tons of commotion, a quiet kitchen and an hour or two with the stones keeps one sane.
Plus, its exciting to go in the next day, knowing your knives are all freshly sharpened.

TomQ
04-12-2011, 12:47 PM
Other than 'weird' , not sure what to call my method which seems neither free-hand or jig. I sharpen with Panavise, digital angle gauge, bullseye level, and a range of waterstones up to 8k. As a home user and sharpener, I tend to wait until a number of knives need sharpening and then it takes a few strokes to relearn the process. This always seems to produce good paper tests and attractive one-pass, ripe, tomato slices. :thumbsup2:

Seems like a midpoint between the two categories posted, but is the only way I feel confident with any blade over 200mm. Love to watch those impressive YouTube performances, but I also play keyboards so prefer to keep all 10 digits with no scars beyond band-aid size !:oops:

Tom B

mikemac
04-12-2011, 05:07 PM
I've got that set up as well - it's freehand.

BrianM
12-21-2011, 11:32 PM
I really would like to hear any reasons why anyone ever should buy a jig as opposed to sending it off to someone professional or learning to freehand other than "cause it's fun", "cause I like it", or "works for me".

Yes, I know I'm bumping an old thread, but this caught my attention.

First, I'm just a home cook with ~4 knives (plus my Leatherman). The last time they were sharpened was also the Only time they were sharpened.. and that was when they were made (back in the 90s). As my wife and I are finishing up on building our new home, I'm wanting to buy better knives AND care for them. I've been looking at the various jigs out there for the sharpening solution.

I don't know if this qualifies as a "should", but it qualifies as the thought process of a decidedly more "average" person. You know, one who had no clue there were mail-order sharpening until reading this particular thread (I've been reading on jigs and sharpening for about a week now, trying to build up a knowledge base). There are several reasons why I've been looking at the jigs. The first, and most important, is that I'm confident that I can have workable knives with less than 2 hours self-training. I don't need another "takes 10 years or 10,000 hours to become proficient" activity in my life, I'm a pistol shooter on the verge of breaking into the international level and that takes enough time, and provides all the "zen" I need. As for sending off my knives, it was an unknown option until less than an hour ago. I knew that having it done "locally" would be a 3-hour round trip drive to drop off and pick up if it couldn't be done the same day, that was never an option. I drive into the city roughly once every other year, and only then when I have no option otherwise. Mailing off knives sounds to be a headache too (I'm in the boonies of GA, everything takes 2~3 times longer and costs 2~3 times more), though it may be technically cheaper. But if I buy a jig, I can do it right now. If that jig ends up sitting around or I hate it, I'm confident that it's going to be worth 80% of what I spent when resold used. Money spent on having someone Else do the job is 100% lost, I learn nothing and lose time.

I know nothing about single bevel, asymmetrical, blah, blah, blah... (sorry, no disrespect to anyone, I'm just ignorant about it all) I probably won't spend more than $100/knife (would you even recommend it with my background?) A jig is a tool that helps me do a job. It's like using a stand mixer with dough hook to kneed your pizza dough for 15 minutes rather than sprinkling the dough with your sweat for the same 15 minutes (I like chewy pizza dough). Same end result, Much less time and effort. Seems like there are an Awful lot of very happy jig users out there across the internet (though, to be fair, I have been looking for threads on jigs so my viewpoint could be biased).

So, I'll ask a question.... it's what I've been trying to answer myself over the past week (and probably forward into the future). For the person who wants control over when knives are sharpened, doesn't want to deal with them having to leave the house, has zero experience and wants workable results in short order... what's your solution? Oh, and if I sharpen knives and do a passable job, I'm sure I'll have 5 other households (in-laws that live within a 5 mile radius) who'll ask me to do theirs, which is something I'd like to do for them. I honestly don't care if it's a jig, I just want the best solution for me. I have no horse in this race. :biggrin:

Brian ~ worst knife owner posting on the forums (today)

PierreRodrigue
12-21-2011, 11:39 PM
Brian, there all all kinds of people useing jigs, the EP and likely others, will do exactly what you want. Give you a wicked sharp knife, the same way, every time. Period. If that is all your looking for, look no further.

jmforge
12-21-2011, 11:55 PM
I'm glad this thread got resurrected. I have an Edge Pro setup that I got from a customer and I have not used it yet. I have no clue how to hand sharpen other than just smoothing things out after setting the edge on the belt grinder and some light stropping a leather on wood strop that I got from Woodcraft and some Starkey blue compound that I got from a buddy in the UK. Can I set a decent set of bevels with the EP and can I get a kitchen knife sharpened up enough so that I would not be embarrased to send it to one of your lunatics?:D In my case, time will definitely be money.

mr drinky
12-22-2011, 12:01 AM
Thanks for the honest post. It's refreshing to hear about 'normal' knife owners who don't obsess about the minutia of knives and aren't crazy ;)

I looked at the EP before starting sharpening when I was in your position and was convinced I would get it, but I decided on stones instead. You could probably find a stone setup or EP system and do just fine either way: both will work. For me, I knew I would be less likely to haul out the EP system and set it up than to pull out a couple of stones. The sharpening probably takes about the same time, but I can't vouch for set-up time (I don't own an EP). If you think setting up a jig with more control suits your 'sharpening' personality, then go with that. If you think pulling a stone from water and freehanding it suits your personality, then go with that. Either way you will soon have sharper knives that 99% of America.

k.

jmforge
12-22-2011, 12:04 AM
I actually have a two sided King which I have used once. it is a 1000/6000 or 8000. It's at the shop and I can't remember. The coarse side is rather hard, but the fine side is quite soft and I "cut' into it a couple of times with my old Henckels. Kinda scary. In my case, I would attach the EP to my bench and leave the base in place.
Thanks for the honest post. It's refreshing to hear about 'normal' knife owners who don't obsess about the minutia of knives and are crazy ;)

I looked at the EP before starting sharpening when I was in your position and was convinced I would get it, but I decided on stones instead. You could probably find a stone setup or EP system and do just fine either way: both will work. For me, I knew I would be less likely to haul out the EP system and set it up than to pull out a couple of stones. The sharpening probably takes about the same time, but I can't vouch for set-up time. If you think setting up a jig with more control suits your 'sharpening' personality, then go with that. If you think pulling a stone from water and freehanding it suits your personality, then go with that. Either way you will soon have sharper knives that 99% of America.

k.

Mingooch
12-22-2011, 12:13 AM
Not a pro here. I both freehand and have an Edge Pro Pro. Freehand is surely more relaxing. It is almost a way to take away the stress of the day. However, in that still learning process, it is harder and involves more concentration to not make a mistake. The EPP is almost automated. Count the strokes, keep pressure even, measure the angle, change the stone, repeat. I certainly think the EPP gets a better edge with less experience. I cant comment on single bevels as I have not tried one on the EPP. Now Dave, dont cringe, but I have some natural j-stones for the EPP. Just got them and have not used them yet, but certainly cannot wait since they go from a nice nat aoto to a nice finishing stone in the 15k-20k range. I look forward to playing with those for sure. No Dave, you cant throw things at me for that sacrelige.

On EPP set up time vs freehand. That is a matter of perspective. My EPP can be set up in just a couple minutes and the stones are splash and go. The brands that need soaking, take less time since they are thinner. So vs freehand, it is fairly close. I dont permasoak my stones. If I am using a bester or bestone, freehand is slower since I soak those longer. With choseras, the EPP is faster since it is thinner. Dont have the shaptons .....yet.

Dave Martell
12-22-2011, 01:10 AM
Now Dave, dont cringe, but I have some natural j-stones for the EPP. Just got them and have not used them yet, but certainly cannot wait since they go from a nice nat aoto to a nice finishing stone in the 15k-20k range. I look forward to playing with those for sure. No Dave, you cant throw things at me for that sacrelige.



:nono: :lol2::D

ghideon
12-22-2011, 02:48 AM
I think my knife collection is around $1000-$1500 total, for about 10 knives. It's not a crazy amount, but by my standards it is very nice. I've only been cooking at home for the last two years with my (now) wife.

After the first few 'nice' knives, I decided on an Edge Pro Apex w/Chosera stones. I could have bought another great knife for that kind of cash. The ability to place a good edge on a knife with little or no practice (I practiced first on crap knives) is amazing. I may yet switch to freehand, but not now. I don't get enough time really to work on my knives with the Edge Pro. Also, the prospect of rotating out knives to a professional sharpener doesn't appeal to me either; I use these knives every day, and some are 'my' knives and others are the 'wife' knives.

I freely admit I'm not hardcore enough. I've been prowling these forums, chow, egullet, knifeforums and FF for 2 years. In the end, I want more time sharpening, but I have to weigh that against prepping/cooking time. Especially when I'm the wrong end of a 50/60hr work week.

compaddict
12-22-2011, 12:36 PM
I love my EP Pro. I don't have whatever it takes to keep a steady angle by hand.

bcrano
12-22-2011, 02:40 PM
What are your guys typical EP routines like for a new knife? Or just generally?

memorael
12-22-2011, 08:36 PM
The main problem I see with a jig is that ALL of them can only do one thing, that is make either a perfect plane or a series of perfect planes or using a mouse pad a perfect convex bevel. Using my hands I can do all of those things with infinite variance on any knife with any bevel or any shape. Get it as sharp as a jig and never achieve perfection. Besides I still have to see a jig that can sharpen round chisels, or a birds beak paring knife. The problem with jigs is that IMO they are a poor replacement for two hands and a brain. Besides I like the idea of infinitely trying to achieve perfection and never getting there, makes me try harder.

SpikeC
12-22-2011, 09:16 PM
I sue jigs to sharpen chisels and plane blades that have very small registration planes. Learning to sharpen chisels free hand makes free handing knives pretty easy.

Mingooch
12-22-2011, 10:21 PM
What are your guys typical EP routines like for a new knife? Or just generally?

bcrano, depends on how the OOTB edge is. Depends on how much I need to change the bevel. On harder steels, I like to use either a 13 or 11 deg edge per side. So much like with freehand I start with my low grit set the bevel and work my way up to whatever level of polish I want or need for that knife and its given use. On a knife I have an established bevel, it is just touch ups when needed. Usually 1-2k grit and up on those.

jmforge
12-22-2011, 11:28 PM
It turns out that I have the EP Apex kit. So what should I do? Would you guys suggest buying the entire kit of Shapton stones? I need to be able to set the initial edge on kitchen knives without the wobble of the belt grinder if possible. Would one of the diamond plates be good for that initial operation in addition to using it for flattening stones?

Mingooch
12-23-2011, 10:11 AM
*******, I have set a bevel with the stock stones just fine. I have not used the shaptons, but have read good things on them. I havent needed diamond plates so far, but on certain knives I bet they could make it easier as well. I sometimes use diamond plates when I freehand and know they are helpful.

Pensacola Tiger
12-23-2011, 10:35 AM
It turns out that I have the EP Apex kit. So what should I do? Would you guys suggest buying the entire kit of Shapton stones? I need to be able to set the initial edge on kitchen knives without the wobble of the belt grinder if possible. Would one of the diamond plates be good for that initial operation in addition to using it for flattening stones?

I found that the only Shaptons I need for kitchen knives are the 1k and 5k . If you want a super polish, get the 15k.

For edge repair and bevel setting, get an Atoma 140 cut for the Edge Pro rather than a DMT 120. The Atoma's scratch pattern seems to be a lot easier to polish out. Using the full size plate to set a bevel freehand defeats the purpose of the Edge Pro.

You can flatten the Shaptons just fine with 220 grit wet/dry on glass or granite.

Justin0505
12-23-2011, 01:46 PM
I'm glad that this thread re-surfaced. I missed it the first time around and have actually been thinking about starting basically the same thing for awhile. However, I think that Dave said things much better than I would have, and set a great tone to the rest of the thread as well.

I'm perhaps a bit different than most of the posters here as I started freehand (sandpaper and oil stones as a kid, eventually waterstones 6 or so years ago) but then I also purchased a EP about 3 years ago.

Mikemac made a great post back on page 3 where he touched on a some of the benefits/ reasons behind using both jig and freehand.


Freehand? Jig?
For me the answer is YES!
I've used both methods for probably over 15 years, and they each have a place. I just added the EP, and that has to be one of the most versitile and "bang for the $$" jigs around. I find it very useful for re-setting bevels and angles - correcting mistakes of the past and setting a path for the future. I've also used it side by side with freehand. And I find it really convenient for throwing a great edge on either beaters or daily users when I don't really have the time to concentrate on freehand (which in my house is most of the time) Lately, I've had to tame my OCD for all things sharpening, tame my OCD for knife lust, and instead try to put a meal on the table to enjoy with the wife and kids before one has to go sports practice, another to a friends house and the third wants to sit and watch tv with me.

IMHO, the EP is a great solution for someone new to sharpening, new to J-knives or someone who thinks that steel rod thingy or a chefs choice are sharpening options.

While I truely prefer to freehand, my freehand experience makes me appreciate and do a better job using the EP...and the EP improves and makes me do a better job freehanding.

I like Marko's analogy. When I first started to cook, I followed a recipe for french toast. No I don't. But if I'm cooking something new, say a tagine or Indian, I follow a recipe first.

So I'll 2nd that notion but then add some of my thoughts and experiences too.

One of the biggest misconceptions that I feel people have about the EP is that there is a very short learning curve and very little skill or understanding involved in using it to it's full potential. I feel that there is less of a learning curve / motor skill development required with the EP than freehand and that you can be a "proficient novice" with the EP faster than you can be freehand. However, mastering the EP takes time and the same understanding of the mechanics of sharpening, steel, edge performance, and cutting application.

I had a pretty solid background in freehand sharpening and sharpening theory when I bought my EP so it was more a matter of learning the mechanics of the system than learning how to sharpen. My first day on the EP I put the sharpest, best edge on a knife that I had on any other up to that point in my life. However, almost 3 years later, I feel that I am still improving both my EP and my freehand skills.

For me the EP is BOTH
1) a "quick and easy edge-production system": the one I reach for when I've got a pile of junky, abused friends' knives to sharpen
and
2) a "scientific tool of edge geekdome": the one that I reach for when learning a new steel or knife, diagnosing and repairing a problem, or just really nerding out with thinning behind the edge, compound bevels, or maximum attainable sharpness.

I've also been playing around with some EP tricks. One is creating a changing or "rolling" bevel where the angle is more obtuse near the heel and more acute near the tip for a knife where the tip is used for detail work or vica versa where the belly is used for rocking. It's a bit hard to describe this method without pictures, video, or and understanding of how the EP system works, but to put it simply the edge angle on the EP is dependent both on the height of the pivot point of the moving stone arm as well as the distance of the edge from the table so by either hanging part of the blade off of the support table and / or adjusting the angle of the blade in relation to the arc of the stone arm.


However, once I've figured out the best combination of angles, convexity, and polish, I do most of my edge maintenance freehand with strops, hones, and stones. I recently purchased my first j-nat from Jon at JKI and I couldn't be happier with it. It's fantastic for finishing, smoothing out a compound bevel or quickly touching up an edge that's just past where a hone or strop can bring it back to 100%. Freehand sharpening might still be my favorite, but I also enjoy the EP. I have the "Pro" version which is largely hand built and assembled. There is an amazing about of care, thought and, pride that went into it's design and build. F&F is very precise and it feels like using an old, pre-CNC, machinists' tool.

If I had to make an analogy between EP and freehand I would compare swimming to rowing or running to riding a bike.

jmforge
12-23-2011, 04:19 PM
I jus dusted off my EP Apex and noticed that it does not have the adjustable height "ramp" that I saw in the video for the Pro. Am I missing a part or does the Apex not have that feature?

Justin0505
12-23-2011, 06:39 PM
It's been awhile since I compared the features, but from what I remember:
The apex's main table or ramp that the blade sits on does not tilt/adjust in height like the pro's and the stone arm length and max/min angle are slightly less.

However, you should have a little slidey piece that the spine rests against that determines how far over the edge of the table the blade edge protrudes.

I think Ben Dale has some videos of the complete apex setup on the edge pro site, but a quick google search returned this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY6DJ0PQxyA (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY6DJ0PQxyA)

edit note:
Starting off I also went at like 1/5 the speed of Ben. It took awhile to get a feel to get a full stroke and even pressure with the stone and to also not feel like I needed to hold the knife with a death grip.

bieniek
12-23-2011, 07:29 PM
I use only stones on the knives that I own, doesnt matter whats the job ahead.

I dont do it cause its the best method, I just enjoy every bit, actually dont like to end the job, would sit and just polish and polish and polish and then just start over again.

As to systems I use Tormek to knives we use at work.

Owner of the company allowed me to buy T7 system with the 4k grit extra stone and jig.
At the beginning I was sceptical on what the machine could do, but it cuts fast, leaves you with nicely set bevels, and similarly to freehand sharpening, its all in your hands, even with jig you still have to control it totally. Too much pressure and its going pretty fast to damage point on edge.
I mean it cuts fast, even very destroyed Tojiro SD/masahiro knives were brought back to shaving sharp after 10 or less minutes.

Before I learned how to operate the jig properly, I would make the same mistake on few knives and round the tip off, but cause its public knives from work I werent paying sooooo much attention to it, and I think here is the reason I like Tormek so much, but I wouldnt use it for my own knives - it leaves you with decent edge and decent bevel, but its not beautiful work, it doesnt allow you to impersonate your style to sharpening, though its working well.

Unfortunately on knives that are longer, lets say above 20cm, you cannot help it and not make a mess with water running off the wheel onto the blade and on your work surface outside machine. There is piece of plastic that should fix it, but its very unpractical to use it, you would have to take it off every time you change side of blade.

The 4k stone works nicely, leaves mirror polish and edge cutting nicely. Ripe plum tomato aint no problem

You can sharpen 15 knives in 2 or 3 hours, [from a completely dead state] while I could never get that much done by hand, partly cause I couldnt let go.

I dont get pay to advertise the machine, but I think it works tremendously well everywhere you dont care about the looks or is the tip perfect. So just if you take care of the knives you sharpen in work time in your company.

Dave Martell
12-23-2011, 07:39 PM
For the EP guys, you'll need to make some sort of build up for the table to be able to hit a really thin chef's knife at the correct angles. There's a name that people use for this (platform?) but I can't recall what it is. I always wondered why the company doesn't support this, I suspect that someday they'll make something available.

jmforge
12-23-2011, 09:11 PM
How thick should it be, Dave?
For the EP guys, you'll need to make some sort of build up for the table to be able to hit a really thin chef's knife at the correct angles. There's a name that people use for this (platform?) but I can't recall what it is. I always wondered why the company doesn't support this, I suspect that someday they'll make something available.

Dave Martell
12-24-2011, 12:38 AM
How thick should it be, Dave?


I don't recall, maybe 1"?

jmforge
12-24-2011, 02:23 AM
Dave, why would you need to raise the blade an inch to compensate for .100 or less? Are you saying that you need to be able to go well below the 15 degree indicated angle that the device goes down to?

ghideon
12-24-2011, 04:20 AM
One of the biggest misconceptions that I feel people have about the EP is that there is a very short learning curve and very little skill or understanding involved in using it to it's full potential. I feel that there is less of a learning curve / motor skill development required with the EP than freehand and that you can be a "proficient novice" with the EP faster than you can be freehand. However, mastering the EP takes time and the same understanding of the mechanics of sharpening, steel, edge performance, and cutting application.



You are very correct, and I'm not there yet. I want to be there, and if I do get there, maybe I'll go freehand. There's so much I'm missing (with the EP alone) because I don't have enough time in the saddle. Yet, I can get results that make me happy. I do need to 'understand' sharpening better, but the EP lets get get my knives sharp quick, right now.

Eamon Burke
12-24-2011, 12:58 PM
Isn't this what the drill stop collar is for? I've seen those are not only for sale, but wildly popular with EP users.

Johnny.B.Good
12-24-2011, 02:11 PM
Isn't this what the drill stop collar is for? I've seen those are not only for sale, but wildly popular with EP users.

M.R. has a demo of the EdgePro drill stop collar trick on YouTube, where he says: "The drill stop collar compensates for the varying thickness between different stones - ensuring that the edge is correctly hit."

Eamon Burke
12-24-2011, 05:52 PM
Oh yeah, that's what it is. Why aren't EPs just being made to compensate for all of this? It's not like they are bargain products.

stevenStefano
12-24-2011, 08:49 PM
Yes the drill stop collar is for different stone thicknesses. The only places I've seen that sell EP stones, they are all twice as thick as the stock stones hence the stop collar trick and the need for it to compensate for the thickness differences. It would be nice if this sort of thing was sorta built into the device. In terms of riser blocks I haven never actually seen one, it would be interesting to see. Perhaps the lack of this feature is a way of getting people to buy the pro version?

Justin0505
12-24-2011, 10:29 PM
Yes the drill stop collar is for different stone thicknesses. The only places I've seen that sell EP stones, they are all twice as thick as the stock stones hence the stop collar trick and the need for it to compensate for the thickness differences. It would be nice if this sort of thing was sorta built into the device. In terms of riser blocks I haven never actually seen one, it would be interesting to see. Perhaps the lack of this feature is a way of getting people to buy the pro version?

There are 2 different issues being discussed here:
1) The drill stop collar, which is not really mandatory and just serves as a sorta "bookmark" or place saver if you are frequentry switching between stones of different thickness. A magic marker or piece of tape works too...
2) Using a thin shim block to raise the blade up and allow for very acute angles on the apex model (sub 5deg).

Both of these things are cheap, simple ways to extend the functionality of the system and only really needed or wanted by a handful of advanced users in specialized applications. I think that they speak for thru simplicity and versatility of the system; not a deficite or gimick to try to somehow up sell or make more money.

jmforge
12-24-2011, 11:09 PM
On a double bevel knife, what would you use the very acute angle settings for? Thinning/blending behind the edge? On my Apex, the red 15 degree mark is the shallowest indicated angle, but it looks like you could go down to 12 or 11 and I am guessing that the thicker Shapton stones would flatten that out even more.
There are 2 different issues being discussed here:
1) The drill stop collar, which is not really mandatory and just serves as a sorta "bookmark" or place saver if you are frequentry switching between stones of different thickness. A magic marker or piece of tape works too...
2) Using a thin shim block to raise the blade up and allow for very acute angles on the apex model (sub 5deg).

Both of these things are cheap, simple ways to extend the functionality of the system and only really needed or wanted by a handful of advanced users in specialized applications. I think that they speak for thru simplicity and versatility of the system; not a deficite or gimick to try to somehow up sell or make more money.

Eamon Burke
12-24-2011, 11:52 PM
There are 2 different issues being discussed here:
1) The drill stop collar, which is not really mandatory and just serves as a sorta "bookmark" or place saver if you are frequentry switching between stones of different thickness. A magic marker or piece of tape works too...
2) Using a thin shim block to raise the blade up and allow for very acute angles on the apex model (sub 5deg).

Both of these things are cheap, simple ways to extend the functionality of the system and only really needed or wanted by a handful of advanced users in specialized applications. I think that they speak for thru simplicity and versatility of the system; not a deficite or gimick to try to somehow up sell or make more money.

That makes more sense.

Justin0505
12-25-2011, 01:32 AM
On a double bevel knife, what would you use the very acute angle settings for? Thinning/blending behind the edge? On my Apex, the red 15 degree mark is the shallowest indicated angle, but it looks like you could go down to 12 or 11 and I am guessing that the thicker Shapton stones would flatten that out even more.

Yep! Thinning behind the edge of a double bevel, flat ground knife is pretty tricky. On my pro model I've gone so low (< 1deg)that the stone actually took the tape off of the masked portion of the blade without scratching the metal. I like to think that I've got above average control over my hands (like most people on here probably do) and there is no way I could have done the job as neatly or as well freehand.

I've talked to Ben Dale (EP inventor/ owner) a few times and he's a really great guy. It's clear that this is not a gimmick for him or that profit is his main concern. Even though he makes more money on the pro model (he only sells them direct, the Apex is sold all over by retailers) he actually sorta pushed me towards the Apex until I made it clear that I actually wanted(not needed) the pro model. Then I asked about buying more stones or different grit tapes and he actually talked me out if it saying that I'd be better off getting used to the standard range first. He's clearly a sharpening nut first, a knife nut second, and a salesman somewhere way down the list. He's clearly very passionate and opinionated, but he takes great pride in his products and, agree or disagree with him, it's hard not to respect him after talking to him for a bit.

gregg
12-25-2011, 12:51 PM
I'm glad that this thread re-surfaced. I missed it the first time around and have actually been thinking about starting basically the same thing for awhile. However, I think that Dave said things much better than I would have, and set a great tone to the rest of the thread as well.

I'm perhaps a bit different than most of the posters here as I started freehand (sandpaper and oil stones as a kid, eventually waterstones 6 or so years ago) but then I also purchased a EP about 3 years ago.

Mikemac made a great post back on page 3 where he touched on a some of the benefits/ reasons behind using both jig and freehand.



So I'll 2nd that notion but then add some of my thoughts and experiences too.

One of the biggest misconceptions that I feel people have about the EP is that there is a very short learning curve and very little skill or understanding involved in using it to it's full potential. I feel that there is less of a learning curve / motor skill development required with the EP than freehand and that you can be a "proficient novice" with the EP faster than you can be freehand. However, mastering the EP takes time and the same understanding of the mechanics of sharpening, steel, edge performance, and cutting application.

I had a pretty solid background in freehand sharpening and sharpening theory when I bought my EP so it was more a matter of learning the mechanics of the system than learning how to sharpen. My first day on the EP I put the sharpest, best edge on a knife that I had on any other up to that point in my life. However, almost 3 years later, I feel that I am still improving both my EP and my freehand skills.

For me the EP is BOTH
1) a "quick and easy edge-production system": the one I reach for when I've got a pile of junky, abused friends' knives to sharpen
and
2) a "scientific tool of edge geekdome": the one that I reach for when learning a new steel or knife, diagnosing and repairing a problem, or just really nerding out with thinning behind the edge, compound bevels, or maximum attainable sharpness.

I've also been playing around with some EP tricks. One is creating a changing or "rolling" bevel where the angle is more obtuse near the heel and more acute near the tip for a knife where the tip is used for detail work or vica versa where the belly is used for rocking. It's a bit hard to describe this method without pictures, video, or and understanding of how the EP system works, but to put it simply the edge angle on the EP is dependent both on the height of the pivot point of the moving stone arm as well as the distance of the edge from the table so by either hanging part of the blade off of the support table and / or adjusting the angle of the blade in relation to the arc of the stone arm.


However, once I've figured out the best combination of angles, convexity, and polish, I do most of my edge maintenance freehand with strops, hones, and stones. I recently purchased my first j-nat from Jon at JKI and I couldn't be happier with it. It's fantastic for finishing, smoothing out a compound bevel or quickly touching up an edge that's just past where a hone or strop can bring it back to 100%. Freehand sharpening might still be my favorite, but I also enjoy the EP. I have the "Pro" version which is largely hand built and assembled. There is an amazing about of care, thought and, pride that went into it's design and build. F&F is very precise and it feels like using an old, pre-CNC, machinists' tool.

If I had to make an analogy between EP and freehand I would compare swimming to rowing or running to riding a bike.

Same thing here; got the EP pro after many years of not-too-terrible-and-sometimes-downright-sharp free-handing, partially just intrigued by the descriptions of "easy" screaming sharp results, and also because some people actually wanted me to do their scissors and chisels for which I didn't have guides. So it was a bit of "why not"! The odd thing was, (or at least it seemed odd to me at the time), that I found it uncomfortably like being a beginner at something I "knew perfectly well" how to do. Your description of swimming/rowing, etc. is spot on in this case; perfectly at ease in the h2O, but having to learn a new way to move through it. The bit about changing angles according to distance of edge to the table is fairly intuitive, in the same way that lowering, (or raising) the spine is on the benchstones. I'll admit that I haven't worked up the gumption to try fiddling single bevels with it. (Maybe on my own blades, which I know intimately I might give it a try; I can always whack 'em back on the bench stones if I find myself in quicksand!
Just my 2 centimes worth!

Peco
12-25-2011, 03:01 PM
What's a jig??? :eyebrow: :razz:

99Limited
12-26-2011, 09:06 AM
Well here's a little Irish jig :dance:

Peco
12-26-2011, 09:24 AM
Well here's a little Irish jig :dance:

:eek2: Well I'm all freehand then :laugh: