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How do you decide that you've reached the ultimate sharpness a particular blade can attain?
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Thread: How do you decide that you've reached the ultimate sharpness a particular blade can attain?

  1. #1
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    How do you decide that you've reached the ultimate sharpness a particular blade can attain?

    Back in the old Kitchen several month ago, Jon essentially posted a survey of who thought what steels would achieve the sharpest edge. There and elsewhere, I continue to see people post about how certain steels just get way sharper than others and I'd like to ask a couple of follow-up questions:

    1. Do you all sharpen different steels differently? ie different stones, different amount of time on each stone, etc.
    2. How hard did you try to achieve whatever you consider to be an "ultimate" edge?

    The reason I ask is I spend a LOT of time working to achieve "ultimate" edges with all of the knives I ever lay hands on and it's been months since I failed to achieve that sort of edge with any steel regardless of hardness, comp, maker, ht, etc. The big difference I find is pretty much how much time it takes to get there and how long it lasts and that's pretty much it.

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    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    i've never attained what i think the steel can hypothetically do. a precise and powerful laser and an electron microscope would probably be necessary for that (i have access to the microscope, but not to the laser). i sharpen until the knife will push cut tomatoes and shave arm hair just by touching the edge to the hair. i find that a knife that can do those two things will stay pleasingly sharp through any amount of cutting i'm likely to do at home. i find this level of sharpness to be pretty easy to attain, not taking more than 10 or 15 minutes, starting from a knife that has an adequate bevel angle.

    i find going sharper than that level (the sharpness needed for the weight test that Salty showed off your edge with, for instance, which i got with my newest knife that i was re-sharpening from scratch anyway, so figured i might as well, but which i doubt i'll try to achieve with my others that stay at my preferred sharpness level) to take a lot of time and effort with the tools i have at hand (i polish with a kitayama and then strop for a minute or two on .5 CrO and then .25 diamond) and that level of sharpness isn't noticeably different from the normal level i'll accept when actually cutting food. i've become jaded, and i don't think i'll ever obtain that feeling of extreme sharpness that i felt the first time i used a Shun with the OOTB edge, after years of poorly sharpened (by me) German knives. i came to the same conclusion about hops, and i've quit chasing that initial bitterness i experienced upon my first good IPA. first loves are the most intense, in many ways, and can't easily be recaptured, so i've quit chasing them, even thought i know that what i accept as good enough really isn't, in all ways.

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    That's fair. I don't sharpen like that often either but I feel the need to do it once on each blade I get my hands on. I know what you mean by the "feeling" you described trying out your first really sharp edge. It's been a while since I thought about it.

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    Senior Member rockbox's Avatar
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    How do I decide that I reached the ultimate sharpness a particular blade can attain? When I can convince someone like you or Mario to sharpen my knife.
    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." --Albert Einstein

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    I'd sharpen your knives anyday, Rock. I go around asking people for knives to sharpen all the time. I did that to a local sushi chef yesterday and he looked at me like I was ***** crazy. BTW, I know what you mean about Mario. That Heiji Mario sent was hair-whittling sharp and it wasn't even a fresh edge.

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    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    Yeah, the Shigi he sent me was damned sharp, too. I didn't really need to put my own edge on it, I just like using my own work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdipisReks View Post
    ...I just like using my own work.
    Me, too. I made dinner with it and then sharpened it...

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    Senior Member stevenStefano's Avatar
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    I think the first time you use or sharpen a good knife, it seems to be much sharper than any other time, even though it isn't. I think I'm going to spend a lot more time in the mid-range grits of my knives, I spend a lot less time there than I do at the coarser stages, and I want to see if it makes much difference to the edges

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    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tk59 View Post
    Me, too. I made dinner with it and then sharpened it...
    that's what i did, too.

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    Senior Member Cadillac J's Avatar
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    TK, I feel like we have the exact same outlook and passion for sharpening(although I don't take anything past a 10K SS). After two years and hundreds of knives sharpened, I still get excited to do so each and every time.

    I've never agreed with comments like "white gets much sharper than blue", etc. Each knife is different and I think it is hard to talk in general terms like that, as I'm sure my Takeda could make someone re-think that white#2 can get 'the sharpest'. My aogami super, white#2, 19c27, semi-stainless knives all have amazing edges on them, and although different from one another, I consider them to be a similar league as far as performance is concerned.

    Not sure if I reached the ultimate edge, but I know that I'm really happy with the edges I produce...they make cutting/cooking so much fun.

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