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Thread: Jigs vs Freehand

  1. #101
    Senior Member Justin0505's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ******* View Post
    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.

  2. #102

    me too, me too!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Justin0505 View Post
    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!

  3. #103
    What's a jig???

  4. #104
    Senior Member
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    Well here's a little Irish jig

  5. #105
    Quote Originally Posted by 99Limited View Post
    Well here's a little Irish jig
    Well I'm all freehand then

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