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Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by Brian Weekley, Jan 19, 2020.
Everybody should watch this YouTube clip ... there’s more than one way to skin a cat.
I heard you can use these too
After approx. ten years experience sharpening, I'm always interested when I see people showing push-sharpening techniques, because I never had any amount of success with that form. I persisted with that form for a good long while and ruined a handful of mediocre blades in the process before I switched to pulling across the stone, and I really haven't looked back since.
Pretty sure he sliced a small chunk of skin off at the end there.
I was okay with him up to the point where he said there is oil in the steel.
I'm all for "whatever works for you" and love seeing different methods But i wouldn't recommend this video to someone starting out. Too much margin for error in his technique IMO. Also the knives don't appear to be that sharp when he's cutting paper And i cringe a bit when watching someone drop(flick) the tip of the knife off the edge of the stone.
I guess what I took from the clip was how the sharpener got what he got. He comes from my world of sharpening although I was lucky because my parents bought me a soft Arkansas stone. When people ask me how I set my angle when I sharpen my answer is that my fingers know how to do it. Not very scientific but that’s a fact. This guy is working with severely dished stones and is getting results to satisfy a meat cutter which apparently was his profession. I suspect his edge is quite “toothy” which could account for his less than stellar paper cutting performance. I struggle with getting my edges balanced between “sharp” and “toothy sharp”. But one thing is for sure ... there’s more than one way to produce a sharp edge and I’m inclined to stand back and say “yes sir” to a man with 70 years experience. But then I’m a bit old school when it comes to things.
That was a nice watch. I screamed inside when they were drawing knives across their thumbnails, though. I have a physical reaction to that.
I quite enjoyed the video. Yes, his technique may not be perfect, and the knives might not be as sharp as they could be. (I thought his paper cutting test went passably well, but not really well.) But then, for food, what he did is almost certainly adequate, and I suspect that the more coarse and toothy edges may last longer than something super-refined that then rolls over or gets worn down by micro-chips.
To me, what it showed more than anything else is that there is no one true way to getting a knife sharpened. And no, I wouldn't recommend the video to someone who is new to sharpening either. But teaching someone from scratch wasn't the point of the video anyway, so I'm good with that.
This was a good watch, thanks for posting the link!
Good watch, although i don’t like the idea of cutting across the nail just to the the sharpness.
And i feel pain inside when he tipped the knife at 4.50.
This nail drag is something I learned about a decade ago when i got into shaving with a straight razor. The best/fastest way to know if your bevel is set is to drag it across a thumbnail. At 1000 grit the razor doesn't want to move very freely and it's easy to see if there are spots on the blade where an apex hasn't been achieved.
But you can also check if there's a clean bevel by seeing if it wants to catch on your nail, without dragging. That is, set the edge at a somewhat low angle on your nail and try to push it forward instead of dragging it laterally. If it catches, there's a reasonable bevel. No cutting into your nail required. Correct me if you think the dragging test does something different.
I'm not sure I understand some of the critical remarks of his technique. Besides dragging the tip off the stone he's sharpening with a classic western style of sharpening. To the speedy sharp gizmo comment, that Norton IM313 is an excellent stone setup. 3X 11.5" long by 2.5" wide stones in a bath of oil. Just because they're not Japanese water stones doesn't mean they're crap and you can produce some very very good edges from one of those.
I am not sure what’s different here, the way he lay the stone sideways?
I like the nail test better than Carter’s 3 finger test thou., which I never dared to try. I just thumb over across the blade, not along the blade carder style, to feel the burr without risking getting cut.
The three finger test may seem scary but it's really very good. All the nail test does is tells you there is an edge there. Your finger tips are so sensitive they can feel every little bit of the edge. And as long as you're careful you'll never cut yourself not really is as easy as he makes it out to be
I would say that he does a form of the Carter three finger test (@ 1:01) as well as the nail test. He probably did the Carter test before Carter was a twinkle in he fathers eye . My impression from reading about Japanese woodworking (a hobby from many years ago) is that they were not so concerned with the perfectly flat stone either.
I learned the fingernail test from @JBroida
I also use the three finger test. And I agree with with @Michi good video. Not for the beginner. And he's human, not a machine.
Why is it not beginner friendly? He uses a simple and easy technique. Much easier than the Japanese style of sharpening. Especially if you only move in one direction as he said you could when learning
One of the things I liked best about the video is his passion for sharpening after 70 years. I get it. Sharpening is one of the most relaxing things I do ... but then again I don’t do it as a business or under the pressure of a chef. What do they say ... “the surest way to ruin a hobby is to make it your business”.
Lots of comments on testing sharpness on a thumbnail, I’ve seen razor makers use a thin piece of horn (not antler) held in the hand and the edge drawn across the end.
I’ve tried this and it works good, lots of good feedback.
Well, I wouldn't call it a business, but my colleagues ask me to sharpen their knives for a fair market price. I get excited to do so because that means I get more knives to practice on hahaha... Hope they don't realise that I'm far from being good and their knives are being messed up... x)
It's nice to see that he's so passionate about sharpening after so many years in the business! It was scary to watch the part where he was holding a stone and running his petty knife on it... The tip glazed the palm of his thumb... I want his rotating stone stand though! I don't have a nice setup, so I just set my stone alone next to my sink. Pour water on it when it gets dry.
I'm not sure if anyone else does it. Another way I look for my knife sharpness is to shine the blade against the light. Dull knives would reflect light on the blade. A sharp knife would not.
I guess I’ll be the lone voice of dissent here. I grew up around that style of technique. My childhood with my American half of my family was dressing catfish in the South and running knives just like those on Arkansas stones. I started doing Japanese knives and sharpening with my Japanese half of the family as a teenager and I never looked back. It’s just a better technique.
Yeah, that guy gets a functional edge, but honestly most chefs I’ve run in to industry that bother to sharpen can get a comparable edge and use a similar technique to that guy. And just because you have experience doesn’t mean you have skill. Skill = thoughtful study + intentional practice + experience.
Here’s my two gripes with that technique: 1) he’s not controlling as efficiently (or maybe intentionally) how the edge actually moves across the stone, and 2) running the tip off the edge is a horrible habit that will lead to eventually tipping your knife. Not to mention that not using the whole stone causes egregious dishing...
Not gonna lie though, some quick edge-leading strokes halfway through a crazy service can make a huge difference. It’s definitely not ideal as the whole style of sharpening though...
I couldn’t agree more with you. He’s skinning his cat his way and I’m good with that. I moved to Japanese style sharpening about ten years ago and can get better results faster than I ever could with my soft Arkansas stone. I still have a complete set of Arkansas stones and use them to sharpen single edged blades. They are very slow to cut and I’m more confident in my results with them on a Yanigaba. Everything else I do with knives is done on Japanese stones ... mostly synthetics. He obviously has developed techniques to sharpen appropriately to the job he wants to do with his knives. I’m good with that even if it doesn’t suit what I want to accomplish. There’s room for all of us. He’s way is his way ... it’s not necessarily a better way.
C'mon guys, that's history right there. It's text book sharpening from well back in the day. I respect it a lot. Ok, so he said some things, but my guess is that everything was a picked up collective experience that sometimes gets some things wrong while they still do the job, making it difficult to question them. Like this guy saying there's water in the steel. And it's fun.
By push sharpening, do you mean the one that most people including Jon use? And by pull across the stone, do you mean the one that Kramer uses?
Having just sat down to watch both of them, I can say neither. But I borrow elements from both, and recently I've been trying Jon's tip sharpening technique. I'll admit a lack of clarity, but what I meant was that I never had much luck sharpening edge-first across the stone. I stuck with that for a few years and had so much trouble holding a consistent bevel and building a edge.
So now I lead with the spine of the knife, with the edge trailing. So the cutting edge is "pulled" across the stone, not "pushed" against it. I find it easier to hold a consistent angle and restore an edge that way, normally testing the edge by shaving a small section of my forearm.
If it helps you maintain your angle and pressure then that's the most important thing. You can get good results either way. The drawback to edge trailing only is it is likely to build a wire or fin edge, especially on medium and low grit stones. When you do an edge trailing stroke the burr forms behind the path of the blade. With each stroke more material gets pulled that way and the burr gets a little bigger gradually creating the fin/wire.
The knife will feel razor sharp and pass all of your cutting tests. But you really just have a sharp burr. As soon as the burr hits the cutting board it rolls in the case of softer steel or crumbles in the case of harder steel. Performance degrades in minutes. So do whatever you need to do for the bulk of your sharpening. But consider a few edge leading strokes as you are nearing the end of your progression on your finest stone. It will help with burr removal because every time you alternate edge leading you are impacting and cutting the burr. Either flipping it abrading it or both. But the important thing is the burr is in front of the rest of the knife instead of behind. It is being smashed down into the stone so that it might be made smaller.
I've never experienced those issues. I'm not a pro-chef, just an enthusiast, but the edge on my carbon Wusthof lasted about 18 months last time with only regular honing. Granted, I'm new to J-knives, so it would seem to hold that would be a bigger factor on a thinner and more fragile edge, so I will keep that in mind.
Anyways, as of Sunday I'm fresh off the latest semi-annual round of rescuing my sister's knives from the cold depths of hell. I should have taken pictures, they were in a horrific state. Either she or her husband is consistently doing something causing edge chipping across all of their blades; without a lot more effort I couldn't make the issue disappear, but at least minimized the chips and got everything back to a halfway decent place.
I like his posture. Shoulders so low and relaxed he could be just twiddling his thumbs.
I've been sharpening ambidextrous since the beginning 2 years ago (for cutlery) l and like it a lot, but now I'm trying to learn right-hand only.
Stringer, edge-leading is good for burr reduction ?_ ?
Can't wait to play around with this. Sometimes my burr is tough to get off my crappier knives. So, I can at least strive to switch sides more often, and produce less burr? And spend more time refining it, right? And...
this guy is a bit dated... but he seems consistent.
If it helps I find with tenacious burrs raise the spine double what you were sharpening at and do a couple passes heel to tip with barely the weight of the knife. Then go back to your sharpening angle and do a couple more passes. Burr should be gone and you will have a very sharp edge if you did your part
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