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Keith Neal

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I'm just a home cook, and happy to spend more time sharpening than cutting. I want to get my knives as sharp as possible, just for the principle of it. OK, I'm just a knife nut.

I have been studying the subject for a while, and bought DVD's, and practiced. But I am still looking for the best answer.

Once I get a decent edge, how do I get the ridiculously sharp edge?

De-burr with cork or soft wood or stones or leather?

Strop on fine stones? Superfine stones? Leather strop? Newspaper? Microbevel?

Knife nuts, help.
 

dough

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how about you tell us what you are currently doing.

but even before hearing what you do ill say these things:
there are really no magic tricks other then spending time on the stones and holding consistent angles.
kinda like me asking my buddy who has been sharpening for years why he gets a better edge off a 500grit stone then my 10k polished knife.
he reply would just be try to practice more perfectly because perfect practice makes perfect.
 

Citizen Snips

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i agree with dough. buying dvds, spending time reading on these forums, talking to people, and buying expensive stones wont get you the experience you will get from getting your hands muddy.

there are so many things you can learn from everyone here and from dvds but none of them can come close practice from putting in hours and hours on the stones
 

bieniek

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I have now Tormek T7 bought from new with the spare "japanese waterstone wheel" of 4000 grit.
Whats important is that machine keeps continously angle close to perfect, but theres more to sharpening than that only.

The experience you gain is the feeling under you fingertips, when you just know where you abrade, you know how and where to press, and also what stones/strops/magic use.

Noone can tell you whats best, just work it out yourself.
 

memorael

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I would recommend you do a lot of different things often to see what happens, that's how you learn the small nuances which take a knife from good to spectacular.
 

Keith Neal

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I have been working on sharpening for a year or so, trying all of the techniques I mentioned. I am primarily experimenting with my Masamoto yanagiba, which is barely "three finger" sharp now, but I suspect it could be better.

I thought perhaps it would save me some time experimenting if I heard from those of you who have settled on a routine that works consistently.
 

Ratton

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Hi There,

As long as you are de-burring on something that is what matters, personally I use a hard felt pad.

My defining moment going from sharp to crazy sharp was when I started finishing my sharpening session off by stropping on a leather strop loaded with diamond spray. For me it made the difference like between day and night!! :jawdrop:
 

Keith Neal

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Hi There,

As long as you are de-burring on something that is what matters, personally I use a hard felt pad.

My defining moment going from sharp to crazy sharp was when I started finishing my sharpening session off by stropping on a leather strop loaded with diamond spray. For me it made the difference like between day and night!! :jawdrop:
Thanks! That is very helpful. I was leaning the same way, but wanted some more input. Figuring it out by myself is not the most efficient way to learn.

Any other thoughts from the experts here would be appreciated.

Keith
 

wenus2

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I will agree that adding a finishing strop was the single greatest improvement for me too. I use CrO on Balsa. I don't think it really matters what it is you use, obviously Carter seems to get his knives kind of sharp using just newspaper, just so long as one picks a medium and strops on it I think it adds benefit.
 

memorael

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Before the days of stropping and all the sprays and stuff all that we had was 10k stones. No natural high grit finishers and no how to manuals. The best bet was to ask Dave what he did and many even after following Dave's advice had to find out what worked best for them.

Everyone here that is a veteran knows this and even Dave has mentioned how all the knives he receives from knife nuts have a distinct signature. Which is why I would recommend to not use strops until you can get a very sharp edge using just a 1k and to experiment. Have you seen CDawgs videos? he sharpens nothing like what is usually recommended around here and he almost won the sharpening olympics.

There are no short cuts, if you want to sharpen like a pro you need to put in your hours and experiment. More than anything understanding what is happening to your knife with different strokes, grits and knife position while sharpening.
 

bieniek

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I am primarily experimenting with my Masamoto yanagiba, which is barely "three finger" sharp now, but I suspect it could be better.
Lets take masamoto slicer as an example. I have one so its easy to share.

Firstly, you have to know that this knife is able to get great edge and its able to push cut ripe tomato, cuts through your skin without even attempting movement.

Lets be honest, if you sharpen it a year, and it barely gets after the three finger test, something is seriously wrong. Do you have good burr understanding?

I start with 1k king. I work it as long as it needs, i can feel it but also see it. I apply moderate pressure. I dont touch backside. And i think this is the most important part of the process.
Then I move to 3k naniwa, stop applying pressure and try to press with my fingers only on the way forward with the stroke, and not with getting back.
I go to 8k naniwa and I work some mud and get some strokes but every maybe five [its very intuitive] i get two or three on back side also.
Then i go to 6k suehiro and do front side only, at this point im trying to REALY apply nothing in terms of pressure, the blade just gently touches stones surface.

I go to my felt pad and strop some with my blue powder compound.
Then I go to my natural stone and i do maybe 80 strokes? hell knows, its my knife and I dont count on it :) again, every five or so I swap sides and do few strokes.
I check. At this point the edge is scary, toothy and feels somehow fragile.
I do microbevel with the last stone and strop few strokes on newspaper.
I always end fish knives on newspaper.
My routine changes a lot, but i dont know if its evolving as i dont see any huge improvements if you drop one stone or skip one strop.

To be super honest i also noticed that when at work, im very satisfied with 1k and 6k/newspaper edge, but its not holding as long!
 

Benuser

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In your example, do you mean that the back side isn't touched before the 8k? No deburring before? And then, at 8k, still no deburring but just counting? I guess I'm missing something.
 

bieniek

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Yes, exactly. The backside doesnt get treated with anything before 8K Naniwa, or the 6K if Im on emergency setup [or a standard if youre Murray Carter :) ]

Why is that? [That is hard to explain, and its only my own thoughts on the subject.]
1. because I think its easy or very easy to mess up if you are using something more abrasive.
2. because the sharpening stage is on one side only, then final honing goes to the backside [really hard to put to words]

Something very important here: the numbers there are just example, usually im not counting strokes, just go by feel.

The compound I found [~2-3micron] is powder block of 1kg costs under 20 bucks and is perfect to rub into felt. Also you can find 1cm thick pressed felt pads white. So I have the compound on one side and other side plain for final stropping after compound.
I have other green compound[chromium oxide], but its so fine leaves very very smooth edge, and I dont like it.

No, sometimes I wouldnt deburr, Im ending with microbevel, so I noticed that when I deburr afterwards, theres no residue visible.
Also somehow Im afraid that if I deburr after 1k I could rip off to much metal from edge?
 

Keith Neal

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Do y'all use a single bevel from the shinogi line to the edge, or a secondary from the shinogi line and a primary a degree or so higher at the edge? (Did I say that right?)

Do you use cork or soft wood to deburr, or just stones and/or stropping?

This thread has been very useful. Thanks for answering.

Keith
 

bieniek

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvDjASvVHek&feature=related

However it is not my favorite video on the subject, I think it can give you idea if you watch it for 10 times.

The whole context behind single bevel knife as I understand it is TWO[or three] different angles. One is in iron, and is lower [angle] than angle used to sharpen steel itself.

That way when you sharpen few times, you remove some steel, so the width of iron behind the edge rises. To bring it down you remove the iron above, which broadens secondary bevel and brings the previous width, so knifes performance stays the same through the whole blade life.
Pretty ingenious, isnt it?

Do testing for yourself, sharpen knife and deburr, vs sharpen and not deburr. Observe symptoms after.
I personally lean towards no deburring on single bevels.
 

EdipisReks

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I will agree that adding a finishing strop was the single greatest improvement for me too. I use CrO on Balsa. I don't think it really matters what it is you use, obviously Carter seems to get his knives kind of sharp using just newspaper, just so long as one picks a medium and strops on it I think it adds benefit.
i had three major improvements:

1: spending more time on coarse stones, and getting the knife sharp before moving on (if the knife ain't sharp after 400 or 800, it ain't gonna be sharp after 12,000, or at least not evenly sharp and not sharp for long)

2: properly de-burring: i've used felt, and the edge of my cutting board, and all kinds of stuff, but i find a wine cork to work the best if the burr doesn't get removed during the sharpening process naturally

3: stropping (i can get my knife just as sharp using just my finishing stone, but it takes a lot longer than using balsa with .5 CrO and .25 Diamond)
 

tk59

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I don't do anything special to deburr on 90% of the blades I come across. I will strop a few times on either leather with 0.25 micron diamond or very lightly on a finisher (8k SS is my fave) to make a microbevel, if you can even call it that. No one I know can actually see it with the naked eye. I will echo what several others have said and say that the most important thing is to practice keeping your angle...a LOT. For a while, I was sharpening everything I could get my hands on. I still do that to a lesser extent, actually.
 

mateo

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Lets be honest, if you sharpen it a year, and it barely gets after the three finger test, something is seriously wrong. Do you have good burr understanding?
Is this really true though? I thought that there were some edges that won't pass the three finger test... I know my knives never do, but they can split hairs, is something seriously wrong? Maybe something is, and I just don't know it -- but their never "sticky" enough to pass the finger test.

Thinking about this more in depth, I wonder if sharpening motion plays a big role in the finger test... think about it. Unless you're finishing on glass (or a REALLY high grit stone) stones will leave "teeth" on the edge. But what happens when you sharpen in a perpendicular motion (edge to stone) versus a mor parallel motion? Would the teeth be in different alignment because of this? I'd curious to see if Curtis' (aka CDawg) knives pass the three finger test...
 

Keith Neal

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I spent some more time with the yanagiba after studying these answers and some videos. With the 6k and leather strop with .25 diamond spray, focus was on carefully maintaining the exact angle and using much less pressure. Big improvement. I may be making progress!

In the process, I found that stropping on the 6k did not work for me. It made the edge worse, which I don't understand, but as long as I found something that works, I'll be happy.

I am also getting a better feel for how sharp the edge is, which helps. I am beginning to feel what works and what doesn't, or if I am doing something right or not. And it doesn't take much to get it wrong!

I still have a lot to learn. Study continues...

Thanks.

Keith
 

memorael

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Is this really true though? I thought that there were some edges that won't pass the three finger test... I know my knives never do, but they can split hairs, is something seriously wrong? Maybe something is, and I just don't know it -- but their never "sticky" enough to pass the finger test.

Thinking about this more in depth, I wonder if sharpening motion plays a big role in the finger test... think about it. Unless you're finishing on glass (or a REALLY high grit stone) stones will leave "teeth" on the edge. But what happens when you sharpen in a perpendicular motion (edge to stone) versus a mor parallel motion? Would the teeth be in different alignment because of this? I'd curious to see if Curtis' (aka CDawg) knives pass the three finger test...
The direction of the teeth changes making your knife perform a bit different in theory. Try doing it that with a 220 stone or something and you will see that sharpening at different angles in parallel reference to the stone and you will see that the more parallel the knife is lengthwise to the stone the more aggressive it becomes when slicing and it becomes less aggressive when chopping. I think this is why the Japanese like having a 30 or 45 degree in reference to the stone.

I have never truly understood the three finger test and frankly it scares the sheet out of me, so I can't comment on that part.
 

Eamon Burke

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I think this is why the Japanese like having a 30 or 45 degree in reference to the stone.
It might be that too, but the 45 degree slant helps prevent wobble. Your arm isn't meant to extend in and out on a flat plane in a straight line, and doesn't want to stay flat. It will be easier to maintain an angle if you hold the handle in a position flowing from your hand naturally.
 

EdipisReks

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I have never truly understood the three finger test and frankly it scares the sheet out of me, so I can't comment on that part.
it sounds scary, but it's simple. if you grip the edge lightly (very lightly) with three fingers around the blade and move your hand slightly in relation to the edge, it should stick.
 

memorael

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it sounds scary, but it's simple. if you grip the edge lightly (very lightly) with three fingers around the blade and move your hand slightly in relation to the edge, it should stick.
It's the whole sticking part that worries me... I have done the test about two times and I pretty much dislike the feeling in fact just thinking about it makes my skin do that hair popping up thing. Funny for a guy that likes getting his knives ultra sharp.
 

so_sleepy

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It's the whole sticking part that worries me... I have done the test about two times and I pretty much dislike the feeling in fact just thinking about it makes my skin do that hair popping up thing. Funny for a guy that likes getting his knives ultra sharp.
That is the principle of the three finger test. If you are comfortable sliding your fingers along the edge, your knife has failed the test.
 

memorael

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So I guess I pass the test all the time then??? I would love to see a video of this done properly if anyone has a camera around and is willing to do a fail/pass video.
 

Lefty

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One thing I've noticed with the three finger test (which I use ALL the time), is that the more often you do it, the less scared you become. This, of course allows you to do the test more properly, but it can also lead to slicing a couple layers into the tips of your fingers. I've noticed lately, when I do it, when I'm all finished up, I have very fine lines cut into my fingers, but not anywhere deep enough to draw blood.
Basically, just pay attention to what you're doing and you'll be fine, as long as you you don't mind the odd mark.
 

zitangy

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I will agree that adding a finishing strop was the single greatest improvement for me too. I use CrO on Balsa. I don't think it really matters what it is you use, obviously Carter seems to get his knives kind of sharp using just newspaper, just so long as one picks a medium and strops on it I think it adds benefit.
I got a new leather piece ( horse hide) nad did some stropping. it was not as "bitey" as it should.. I oiled it with mineral oil ( 3 times) and it does seem to give a better edge. My old leather Barber strop is about 20 years old. picked it up somewhere in New York choked and now with red color oxides adn will be cleaning it up soon as it is too smooth for my liking. Only using the reverse side for deburringwhen on lower grits. Will experiment with teh linen backing when I can find it....

Rgds
DL
 

Seb

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With the Three-Finger-Test, how do you know that you're not feeling a wire? Also, I remember a while ago, Dave suggesting that the TFT doesn't work with very refined 'slick' edges.
 

Dave Martell

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With the Three-Finger-Test, how do you know that you're not feeling a wire? Also, I remember a while ago, Dave suggesting that the TFT doesn't work with very refined 'slick' edges.

If you use chromium oxide on a strop you'll likely fail the 3-finger test. If you wobble at all on high grit stones (especially Shaptons) you'll fail the 3-finger test.

Yup a wire edge always passes the 3-finger test.
 
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