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Sharpening - how do you "check your work"?
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Thread: Sharpening - how do you "check your work"?

  1. #1

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    Sharpening - how do you "check your work"?

    So as I try to get better at sharpening, one of the problems I find myself encountering is the lack of a quick feedback loop. What I'd like to be able to do is sharpen up a knife, then test it somehow, and then either resharpen it or call it a day depending on whether it passes.

    The internet is full of all sorts of folk tests: Shaving your arm hair, taking a curl off your thumbnail, slicing paper, cutting a tomato with no pressure, whatever. The internet is also full of people saying that some or all of those are silly tests that don't make sense for a kitchen knife.

    So, my question in two parts:

    1. How do you test that a knife is actually sharp when you're done sharpening it?

    2. How do you do interim tests along the way, if you use multiple stones? That is, what convinces you that you've done a good job at the 1000 grit stone and are ready to move the knife up to a finer stone?

  2. #2

    JohnnyChance's Avatar
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    Feel the edge w/ your fingers. Not much help to someone who isn't very experienced, but with time, is one of those things you "get".

    Cutting paper. Pull and push cut.

    3 Finger test:


    And a few from Jon @ JKI:
    "God sends meat and the devil sends cooks." - Thomas Deloney

  3. #3
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    I look at the edge for changes in the way light reflects on the edge, feel the edge with my fingers for "stickiness" and then sometimes shave some hair off my hand just to see if it catches free-standing hairs. Sometimes I will cut paper or a tomato but these days, that's just for kicks. For razors, I will use the fingernail test before I do any polishing just to make sure the edge is free of major imperfections.

  4. #4
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    i look for burrs with my eyes and finger tips. if there are any then i strop on a fine stone or run through hard felt or cork, whichever's lying closest to me. then check again, if none are found then i strop 2x on each side on my finest stone then:

    arm hair, then paper then tomatoes.

    really depends on what kind of edge i want though.

  5. #5
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    An edge has many properties, not just 'sharpness', so I like to do as many tests as I can to gather data about the edge.
    #1 Three finger test
    #2 Cigarette paper cut
    #3 Tissue cut, in both directions
    #4 Printer paper cut (newspaper for euro knives), along all areas of the edge
    #5 Loupe, if I can feel chips with the paper cut
    #6 Microscope
    #7 Hair whittling testing
    #8 Rolled tissue paper cut, depending on the type of edge I'm after

    It's rare that I will use all of them on one knife that's being sharpened, but at least 2 or 3 get used. Always the three finger test though, unless they're numb or overly moist.

  6. #6
    Senior Member WiscoNole's Avatar
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    considering I sharpen 2-3x/week for work, I don't even bother. at this point I know it will be at least "good enough".

  7. #7
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    um, cut random stuff up!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Jmadams13's Avatar
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    What Panda said. I almost always have potatoes around, and I sharpen at night, so I dice some for hash in the morning, or grab a tomato or something.
    "This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption.. Beer!" -Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, Friar Tuck

  9. #9
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    I have a few knives in rotation, I'll sharpen one, and take one that I know to be already sharp to work. I use the newly sharpened one throughout the day, if its good I keep using it, I can tell if its bad after about 30 mins, so I trade to my other knife and re-do it that night.

  10. #10

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    One thing I do that is foolish and perhaps a bit dangerous, is test the edge on the hair on the back of my head. If the blade grabs immediatly, the edge is good enough for use in my home kitchen, if it slides at all, I strop, ceramic rod or sharpen then try again.

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