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Thread: Jigs vs Freehand

  1. #1


    Dave Martell's Avatar
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    Jigs vs Freehand

    OK folks it's time to break the ice and have our first talk about jig vs free hand sharpening. Here's my (very general - not at all specific) take on this subject....

    In the past I've been a very vocal proponent for free hand sharpening. I've also been an opponent to certain jig systems as well as being critical to list the restrictions of many jigged systems. For this I've been somewhat mis-understood and incorrectly labeled as a free hand or die type of person - an individual who expects everyone to do as I see (and say) and to judge others based on what they do with this. Some of this is true but not all.

    For the record - I am not at all against jigs however I am very pro free hand.

    The reason why I've been so boisterous in discussions on this subject is because many people refuse to admit the limitations of their jigged systems. The thing about this is that both jigged and free hand systems have limitations - BOTH.

    Free handers, no matter who you are, will always wobble a bit and can not achieve a perfectly flat bevel - it'll never happen.

    Jig systems reshape knives to suit their parameters to which they can operate in and can not roll through changes in bevel angles (like seen on yanagibas and distal tapered double bevel knives).

    For positives, the free handers can easily address angle changes along the blade length and for jig users they have perfect angle control.

    So I see each as having limitations and positives. Going with one or the other should be a decision that you make based on what's more important to you.

    Anyone have anything to add?

    I wouldn't mind talking about the merits and limitations of each jig system as we do we each stone used free hand. Some systems seem better than others and we can discuss these differences here.


    PS - I'm not starting any crap, just stating my position which I hope helps to clear the air.

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    Jig

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    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    a friend of mine bought an edge pro and, while it makes for a pretty sharp knife, i don't care for the edge it puts on a gyuto. we both agree that my freehand sharpening puts a better edge on, but he also doesn't have water stones for the system yet (relying on the fine tapes at the end), so i can't say for sure. on the other hand, he's never scratched the edge of his knives, and i have. on the gripping hand, freehand is a lot more fun. i'm not sure that the edge pro works would work for a single bevel knife?

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    Dave Martell's Avatar
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    Also, if you're using a jigged system please know that you're as welcome to post on what you use as any free hander is. I'm sure that there's a whole ton of people out there using jigs that would love to read about them as well as free hand sharpening. You should not feel un-welcome here, this forum is for everyone.

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    I think even with a Jig you cant put perfect flat edge because of different pressure along the edge i think Jigs is good for tools chisels or planes where you dont have curved edge and with those Jigs you can put even pressure on hole blade but for knifes i feel that its easier and faster to do it free hand and you will learn to feel how strong you edge have to be for you knife.

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    Dave Martell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdipisReks View Post
    a friend of mine bought an edge pro and, while it makes for a pretty sharp knife, i don't care for the edge it puts on a gyuto. we both agree that my freehand sharpening puts a better edge on, but he also doesn't have water stones for the system yet (relying on the fine tapes at the end), so i can't say for sure. on the other hand, he's never scratched the edge of his knives, and i have. on the gripping hand, freehand is a lot more fun. i'm not sure that the edge pro works would work for a single bevel knife?

    I used to be an EdgePro user myself (I owned 2 Pro models & 1 Apex) and I used to love the edge off of the tapes. I would increase the angle by about 1deg and finish with a wet tape.

    Do you think that you feel the shoulder (transition from edge bevel to blade face) of the bevel as you cut, could this be the difference? I found that the shoulder was so crisp off the EP that I could feel it wedge. I would have to thin the edge a lot to reduce this effect which was a lot more work than I liked it to be.

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    Senior Member Cadillac J's Avatar
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    Freehand baby - love the process...love the connection...love the edges I achieve...love no 'set-up' required

    Not against jigs at all, I just don't need them.

    However, at some point I wouldn't mind getting some type of sander/grinder to help with some of the rough work and reprofiling from time to time.

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    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Martell View Post
    I used to be an EdgePro user myself (I owned 2 Pro models & 1 Apex) and I used to love the edge off of the tapes. I would increase the angle by about 1deg and finish with a wet tape.

    Do you think that you feel the shoulder (transition from edge bevel to blade face) of the bevel as you cut, could this be the difference? I found that the shoulder was so crisp off the EP that I could feel it wedge. I would have to thin the edge a lot to reduce this effect which was a lot more work than I liked it to be.
    the shoulder may very well be what it is. i always round off and polish the shoulder when i sharpen, and i doubt my friend does that with his edge pro. that is something that is really flippin' easy to do freehand, of course.

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    Das HandleMeister apicius9's Avatar
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    I am a lazy and a lousy sharpener, just don't have the patience. And I haven't found a good setup that doesn't cause my back to feel like it is breaking apart half way into the first knife. So, I keep thinking about jigs occasionally. The perfect jig would be a box where you push a button, and a little Dave jumps out and sharpens my knives for me After that, maybe something that can use full sized stones would come to mind. Mind you, this is only for double beveled knives. I haven't followed the developments very closely, not even sure if anything like that exists. I wasn't all too excited about the first 'gadget' (or something like that ). i am not on a quest for the sharpest knife ever. For me it's between not sharpening at all because I don't like it or compromising and keeping my knives below their potential but way over what the usually are... So, I would love to hear about experiences with jigs. And, yes, I know that hand sharpening would be better, faster and cheaper...

    Stefan

  10. #10

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    For me sharpening free hand is a catharsis of sort, I will be the first to admit that I suck at it, but I also enjoy being able to see and feel the progression as I get better. Do my blades have errant scratch marks and uneven bevels? Yup, you bet, but I sure enjoy doing it, and I am getting better at it. Plus I'm poor, and jigs cost money that I could be spending on knives and disaster releif efforts.

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