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Thread: Common Sharpening Mistakes

  1. #1
    Senior Member cwrightthruya's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011

    Common Sharpening Mistakes

    So, I did a search and could not find a consolidated thread on the subject, so I thought I would start one...but then again, I am blind so if there is already a thread then please forgive me.

    So what prompted this you might say:

    In the past few weeks, I have had a few people send me J-nat stones to evaluate, each for different reasons. In essence, all were unhappy with their performance, and after numerous attempts to make things go the "right way", all were ready to give up.

    This should never happen....
    One should never become so frustrated with a subject that is supposed to bring joy and a feeling of accomplishment that they are ready to throw in the towel and move on to something else.

    So, upon evaluation of the stones and the knives they were trying to sharpen, several problems became evident, which I will not go into, but this prompted me to start thinking about my own journey through sharpening, from synthetics to J-nats, from the EP to free hand sharpening. One thing is for sure, I made lots of mistakes, and even still continue to fix errors in my technique on a regular basis. But, I thought it would be nice if everyone could get together and pool some knowledge about their sharpening experiences. Specifically, talk about their mistakes, glaring or subtle, with the hope that it could turn into a great resource for anyone who may be having trouble.

    I will go first with something simple, elegant, and very very necessary.

    Make sure your stones are well lapped and well dressed.

    I know it may seem like common knowledge to everyone, but even I fall into this trap on occasion. And 3 of the 5 stones I recently evaluated also suffered from it.
    It is easy to be excited about a new stone and forget to completely lap it before taking it out for a test sharpen, which is apparently what happened to several of my newfound friends. Once I spent 20 minutes lapping the stones, something that had apparently never been done, they were actually amazing!!!

    So who is next?
    At Death's Door You Only Have 2 choices. Die Happy or Die Regretfully.
    Knowing this...........Choose 1 and Live!!!!!!!!!

  2. #2
    keep your stone surface wet (more so with sythetics, but also with naturals... just that water control is more important with naturals and with synthetics you can just toss water on as you please)

  3. #3
    some of the stones can't stay in the water forever... they can be mushy and break off... so make sure what type of stones you have!

  4. #4
    I honestly think the #1 mistake is Trepidation. Most of the poor sharpening I've seen is rooted in fear of inadequacy.

    But also not holding a low enough angle to get the most out of a good knife. I don't concern myself with angle numbers, but on the nice steels we all pay for around here...they can take it. Go LOW.

  5. #5
    Clean your knife off, even your hands too, when going up to a higher-grit stone - especially if it's a big grit jump. You probably won't want your old coarser particles mixed together with the finer ones on your next stone. ... I used to forget.

  6. #6
    I never lap my stones to flatten them. I just dont have to
    I occasionally do it to clean my JNS 1K, if I used it to sharpen stainless, which clogs the stone up like hell.
    I just use the whole surface of the stone, especially when im polishing.
    Most definitely it does not produce wavy bevels.

    My mistake was oversharpening. I was trying to put 10K edge on everything, even on my butterknives. But Im cured off it now.
    My mistake was to get multi-stone synthetic setup, which was for most part useless.
    My mistake was to believe 3 strops with some funky compounds will make any noticable difference. But Im cured off that also.

  7. #7
    Senior Member shankster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    <My mistake was oversharpening. I was trying to put 10K edge on everything, even on my butterknives. But Im cured off it now>

    I turned a 240mm gyuto into a 240mm suji in about a year looking for that "ultimate edge"..good practice though.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Birnando's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Oslo, Norway
    Quote Originally Posted by bieniek View Post
    My mistake was oversharpening. I was trying to put 10K edge on everything, even on my butterknives. But Im cured off it now.
    Aye, I'm definitely guilty of that. Still am I'm afraid.
    Not a single one of my knives are honed to less than 20K...
    What can I say, I just like to hone, and my honing background from the straight razor scene is hard to shake

    Once I get a few more knives to practice on, I'm gonna have to try out those coarser grits as finishers on some of my edges.

  9. #9
    #1 I can't believe anyone would try to sharpen on a natural stone that is not properly lapped before the first use. Those stone have been sitting in piles in back rooms for years and need a good lapping to clean up the surface and oxidation to get to fresh grit.

    #2 using a ton of synthetics in progression is just not working well for me. I find it sufficient to use 1/6k and that is it. the same effect can be achieved with naturals only the refinement is higher.

    #3 no need to sharpen for 30 min just to refresh the edge, over working the edge does not produce better results.

    #4 one strop is enough, no need to have all the fancy compounds to try to get an edge that can peel a tomato with the weight of the blade only, those are nice tricks but that kind of edge is gone the moment the knife touches the board.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Cardiff, UK
    #1 don't move to the next stone until you've got it sharp
    #2 check your edge for residual burr and wire edges
    #3 watch where you are applying pressure

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