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Thread: Jigs vs Freehand

  1. #21
    Senior Member shankster's Avatar
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    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.

  2. #22
    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.

  3. #23
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    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

  4. #24
    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!

  5. #25
    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.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by chazmtb View Post
    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.

  7. #27
    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.

  8. #28
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    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.

  9. #29
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    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.
    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."
    Pirsig

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Marko Tsourkan View Post
    ....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.

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