I'm sceptic by nature and also very curious. I need to be convinced before I believe in stuff. I will ask questions and I expect good answers. If I have to travel to check stuff out I will ... and I actually did.
As many others I have been very confused about the subject j-nats. There's actually not a lot of stuff about the subject on the internet. This makes it very difficult for beginners (like me) in this field to figure out what or which j-nats could benefit ones sharpening experience. People claim all different kind of things - it's a jungle.
At one point a guy popped up on this forum. His way of expressing himself made me believe that he had a very good understanding about this subject. As it is on most forums, a new kid on the block will be met with sceptic eyes - sometimes even attacks. Well that is kind of how I felt in this situation.
I therefore decided to make contact and see if there were some knowledge to gain. I was met with a friendly attitude and the person was kind enough to answer a lot of the questions I had. Well this is cyberspace and everybody can pretend to be someone they are not. So what to do?
After about a month of interesting discussions about j-nats and their use I popped the question: Can I come see you, can you teach me? He agreed. I packed my stuff and traveled to his place. I spent 3 days with the guy and we did everything from flattening stones to polishing. We used his entire j-nat collection: sharpened, compared stones, talked geometry, looked at chisels, planes, straight razors and many other things he collected and worked on/with for the last decade or so.
I started of by doing everything I had learned. A mix of Curtis style sharpening (swipes) and Carter and ... and ... = my own style developed from many styles. My new born friend watched but didn't say a lot. Then he sharpened a little and I watched. His moves were very controlled compared to mine, his pressure was lighter, and he flattened his stones every 5 minutes or so. A completely different style than mine. Hmmm interesting but I wasn't convinced. I needed to see results. The day went by and ... goodnight.
The next day we started sharpening at 6.30 am. I said I wanted to work on my boss knife because we messed it up pretty badly before I left. Some of you might have seen the pictures in another post so I won't go into details (knife is not done yet and far from, but at least I have a gameplan!). When I hit the stones something strange happened. My swiping style was replaced with moves I didn't use before - kind of the same moves my friend did the day before. Somehow I slowed myself down, tried to be in control, paid attention to what I was doing etc. I even flattened the stones every 5 minutes Basicly I got a whole new style of sharpening and I was able to use it well. I had adopted the pace, pressure, patience etc. I saw the day before. My friend said it was a huge change and looked happy, I got the basics down pretty quick.
I could go on but will end this thread by stating this: I got a lot of new knowledge with me. I also got to bring back high end j-nats so I could practise and experience the true value of j-nats. Have to mention that I didn't pay a dime and still I'm sitting here looking at stones worth at least $1300. I learned that diamondplates are great for j-nats, by using the properly my j-nats were able to get me the best polish until this day - and without a single visible scratch (no fingerstones are used by the way). I have learned the importance of a flat, I have learned .......
I'm actually convinced and can't thank him enough for spending time to teach me proper j-nat selection and the techniques involved. I never even had to give something in return. He just wanted to share his knowledge and passion, that's it.
Because I had such a great time both on chat and during my visit I have asked him if he would write some articles which will focus on the subjects: j-nats, their properties, sharpeningmethods, polishing, flattening stones etc. He agreed and have started the work. This we will share with you guys soon and we do hope you will benefit from it - I sure did.
Thanks a lot for all your help Halicon