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View Full Version : Knife Maintenance - where to start



crimedog72
11-11-2012, 06:11 PM
Sorry for the long post...thought that providing as many details as possible might improve my odds of success here.

I'm looking to start upgrading my collection of (run of the mill) kitchen knives, and thinking that I should have a clue about maintaining them before investing in anything significant. So I got to work with some of the gear already on hand, which included:

- Sabatier Au Carbone 10-inch chef's knife. I've had this one for about 10 years, 4 or so of which were spent in heavy use as my primary knife in a restaurant kitchen. Relegated to much lighter use cooking at home for the past 5 years or so. Has been maintained over the years via various commercial sharpeners, pull-through sharpeners, and the occasional attempt at using a stone.

- Henckels Stainless 7-inch Santoku. Maybe 7 or 8 years old, gets a lot of home use by both my wife and I. probably never sharpened, honed on a steel as necessary.

- Some stones I have had around for a few years but rarely used: 2 labeled 'Splex Japanese water sharpening stone', 800 and 1200 grit, and one labeled 'Suehiro Ohka water finishing stone', 6000 grit

got the stones soaking, watched a couple sharpening videos I found on the web, and got started. Results were less thrilling than I had hoped. While the knives were marginally improved, they were nowhere close to being able to cut paper in the air like in the videos. I never did feel the burr that I was supposed to develop, unless it is much subtler than I was expecting. Possible reasons for this, in decreasing order of likeliness:

1. I'm really bad at sharpening. Either I need lots for practice, or am just going at this all wrong.
2. I'm grinding too much or not enough (I would say I spent 20-30 min on each knife)
3. The tools I'm using are inappropriate for the work I'm trying to do.
4. The knives I have are not going to take the edge I want regardless of how they are sharpened (I have a hard time believing this, as the santoku was quite sharp out of the box, and the sabatier took a sharp but short-lived edge after each of it's occasional sharpenings).

I'm willing to invest in different stuff if that's what it takes, and to practice in order to improve my skills. I'd like to have an idea that I'm practicing the right way, though. Thoughts?

Also, any thoughts on things like the Edge Pro that are supposed to help maintain a constant angle between the blade and stone?

Thanks,

Patrick

tk59
11-11-2012, 06:36 PM
Well, there's a lot of stuff to cover here but I think you should start by doing two things:
1. Get a knife sharpened by someone who knows how and does a good job. Work on maintaining that edge by using the magic marker trick to keep consistent bevels. It's tough to start from a completely messed up edge.
2. Get a lesson. Spending an hour or two with someone that can tell you what you're doing wrong can save you a lot of pain. Where are you at? There's probably somebody on here close enough to you to hook up with.

Benuser
11-11-2012, 06:43 PM
The two knives are very different animals. The French carbon will take quite a refined edge, the German stainless will take it as well, but it won't last.
I sharpen these Germans on a J400 or on coarse sandpaper - P320 or something like that. Deburr and strop on a J1000 or so. No refinement for these...
The French carbons, though, like all other carbons may be taken to the finest stones there are.
I understand at least the carbon one has suffered from some abuse. So there is some fatigued steel to be removed, profile and geometry to be restored, relief bevel to be set. This is to be done before you may even think about durable sharpening,
If you're not familiar with these tasks, send them in. Dave or Eamon or Jon will do a great job, and your knives will be better than ever before. And you will have a standard for future maintenance.

crimedog72
11-11-2012, 06:48 PM
Well, there's a lot of stuff to cover here but I think you should start by doing two things:
1. Get a knife sharpened by someone who knows how and does a good job. Work on maintaining that edge by using the magic marker trick to keep consistent bevels. It's tough to start from a completely messed up edge.
2. Get a lesson. Spending an hour or two with someone that can tell you what you're doing wrong can save you a lot of pain. Where are you at? There's probably somebody on here close enough to you to hook up with.

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm in Olympia, WA (~60 miles from Seattle, ~100 miles from Portland). Anybody know where I could go around here?

James
11-11-2012, 07:21 PM
One tip, make sure you're hitting the edge. Use a permanent marker and go over the bevel and take a look at it when you're sharpening. The marker should be removed from the bevel. If you're sharpening at an angle that's too low, you'll get scratches above the edge, but not at the edge. I would watch a few of Jon's videos (japaneseknifeimports) and just listen to the sound of him sharpening. There's a certain sound you'll get when you're hitting the edge; I can't really describe it, but if you watch some sharpening videos, you'll get it.

Benuser
11-11-2012, 07:39 PM
One remark: sound may be very different from one stone to another, and from one steel to another!

tk59
11-11-2012, 10:01 PM
Well, since no one is chiming in, I'll just say that Epicurean Edge is a ways out from you in Kirkland but you might contact them. Also, Jon Broida from Japanese Knife Imports sometimes does some online help. I'd give him a call, too. Actually, I think Dave Martell does, too.

crimedog72
11-11-2012, 11:31 PM
Well, since no one is chiming in, I'll just say that Epicurean Edge is a ways out from you in Kirkland but you might contact them. Also, Jon Broida from Japanese Knife Imports sometimes does some online help. I'd give him a call, too. Actually, I think Dave Martell does, too.

Actually, Kirkland is plenty accessible. I have a day off and would head out there tomorrow, but they're not open. Ever dealt with them before? Looks like they carry a pretty good selection, their web page had a left-handed knife section that had my left-handed wife salivating...

SpikeC
11-11-2012, 11:33 PM
Ask Lucretia.

The Edge
11-12-2012, 01:36 AM
Besides watching Jon's video's at JKI, or buying the Martel video's, not to mention the magic marker trick. Another trick I use to help me gauge the angle at which I need to hold a knife at the heel, midsection, and tip, is to take a softer flat piece of leather, lay it down on a flat surface. Then take the knife, lay it down completely flat on the leather, and slowly start moving it, edge leading strokes while slowly lifting the spine. When the edge bites into the leather, stop, and make note of what that angle is. Repeat the process for the entire blade, and the other side. You'll notice the approximate angle you need to be moving the knife as it moves across the stone. If you mark the edge with a magic marker, this should help you dial in how you need to hold the knife as it interacts with the wet stone. This also assumes that the edge isn't so dull that it won't catch on the softer leather, or that you want to lower the angle all together.

tk59
11-12-2012, 01:15 PM
Actually, Kirkland is plenty accessible. I have a day off and would head out there tomorrow, but they're not open. Ever dealt with them before? Looks like they carry a pretty good selection, their web page had a left-handed knife section that had my left-handed wife salivating...I haven't been there but I've bought a couple of knives from them. They have a holiday sale that I sometimes check out. Those are some good deals. They also have a forum discount, iirc. It isn't a lot but it's something. They staff is fairly knowledgeable and generally nice, in my experience.

keithsaltydog
11-12-2012, 07:00 PM
If you are not shy,go to a Japanese resturant in Olympia area & ask for their best sharpener.There might be a language diff.,but just watching a pro. do it helps alot.I did that when I bought my first Yanagi yrs. ago.They were more than willing to show me how to sharpen it.

I like Dave Martel's DVD,because he explains what works & why.He calls it taking the mystery out of sharpening.You can watch it over again till you get it.If you are interested in developing your freehand skills you will find a way.You already have a couple stones,all you need is some tech. & practice to raise a burr heel to tip & remove it.You are on your way watching online Tutorals & putting the steel on the stone.

keithsaltydog
11-13-2012, 01:20 AM
I just checked out EE site,says they provide knife sharpening classes.Might be worth a call.

crimedog72
11-13-2012, 03:14 PM
Thanks for all the advice, looking forward to trying some of the tips here. I'm going to get the knives sharpened so I have a baseline of my intended result, then get to work practicing using what I've learned here.

And just to make sure I keep myself motivated to practice, I ordered one of these:

Gesshin Ginga 210mm White #2 Wa-Gyuto

going to have to work on building some sharpening confidence before I get that near a stone...

keithsaltydog
11-13-2012, 04:09 PM
Congrads. on a nice new knife,now you will have 2 carbons to sharpen,Whetstones & carbon steel go together like peanut butter & jelly.

chinacats
11-13-2012, 09:39 PM
Congrats on the GG, let us know how you enjoy it!

Cheers

tk59
11-13-2012, 10:21 PM
Very good choice! Let us know how things work out for you. :)

crimedog72
11-15-2012, 07:03 PM
EE not offering classes until at least March 2013. Contacted Kramer Knives for suggestions, they don't offer sharpening services (or so says their website), but are local and I'm hoping they have some suggestions for local resources.

Self-study and practice in the meantime...maybe I'll check out Dave Martel's dvd suggested above.

GG at a USPS facility about an hour away as of 11:30pm last night...hoping I find a pkg in today's mail.

tk59
11-15-2012, 07:10 PM
Did you find out if Jon or Dave (or Maxim) will do an online sharpening lesson? Just curious.

Johnny.B.Good
11-15-2012, 07:16 PM
Congratulations on the new knife, I have read nothing but good things about the Gesshin Ginga line.

I assume you know that Jon has a number of "how-to" videos on YouTube about sharpening, but just in case:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEBF55079F53216AB&feature=view_all

crimedog72
11-15-2012, 07:25 PM
Looks like Jon does online lessons, haven't checked with the other two yet. I've watched number of Jon's (and others') youtube videos, that is a big part of the self-study I was thinking about. Looks helpful, maybe even better to work on it a bit myself before spending the $$ on an in-person lesson.

tk59
11-15-2012, 07:39 PM
I agree. Plenty of folks here learned off of youtube vids (myself, included). At some point, it is helpful to get a lesson and also to examine a bunch of knives in detail.

crimedog72
11-20-2012, 02:29 PM
Using many of the tips here, along with a little extra help from one of the forum members, I managed to raise a burr and get a decent edge on the Sab. I would say it is sharper than it has ever been, but...still doesn't compare to the GG. Suspect I can do a better job with some more practice. Considering getting it worked on by someone who knows what they're doing just to see how much gap there is btwn the edge I can currently get and the knife's potential.

keithsaltydog
11-20-2012, 04:52 PM
Sounds good progress,be patient,wt. practice you will get better.

franzb69
11-20-2012, 10:54 PM
i learned everything from people like jon, mark and the like. thank God for forums like these, youtube and the helpful people of the internet.

Notaskinnychef
11-21-2012, 03:14 PM
I thank God for the people around here and these forums, my wife and wallet on the other hand.... Not as thankful lol

tk59
11-21-2012, 06:33 PM
Using many of the tips here, along with a little extra help from one of the forum members, I managed to raise a burr and get a decent edge on the Sab. I would say it is sharper than it has ever been, but...still doesn't compare to the GG. Suspect I can do a better job with some more practice. Considering getting it worked on by someone who knows what they're doing just to see how much gap there is btwn the edge I can currently get and the knife's potential.I'm impressed you managed to be pretty consistent on your first go. Congratulations! It takes most folks a lot longer to get the hang of it and it'll only get easier from here. Just keep in mind those Sabs are exceptionally easy to grind so remember to be patient.

crimedog72
11-21-2012, 07:56 PM
I'm impressed you managed to be pretty consistent on your first go. Congratulations! It takes most folks a lot longer to get the hang of it and it'll only get easier from here. Just keep in mind those Sabs are exceptionally easy to grind so remember to be patient.

Thanks for all your help. Next up is the 7" Henckels SS santoku, will be interesting to see the differences there.

crimedog72
11-22-2012, 12:29 AM
Anybody have sugestions for removing the sharpie marks that weren't ground off? Tried soap & water, rubbing alcohol, and nail polish remover without much success. Maybe I shouldn't have used the industrial sharpie with super permanent ink.

Notaskinnychef
11-23-2012, 01:53 AM
damn, i would have suggested the alcohol, but if that didn't work, no idea, maybe goof off? that stuff takes off anything


EDIT: Anyone on Vancouver Island? I am in Victoria and would love to find someone who can show me. I have been watching the vids on Jon's site and they are great, but seeing it in person is always a help too, otherwise its off to a local Japanese place to ask them :pirate1:

tk59
11-23-2012, 02:46 AM
That's pretty funny, crimedog. :rofl: I actually have one of those markers. It's still NIB. I'm curious as to what ends up working. I guess I'd try kerosene or some other less polar or a halogenated solvent. Good luck!