First sharpening advice

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

scrappy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2022
Messages
94
Reaction score
100
Location
UK
I plan to sharpen a knife tomorrow for the first time. It is a CCK 1303 carbon cleaver. I have a Shapton Pro 1K stone. I am wondering what angle is the best to aim for? Should I use a Sharpie? Any advice would be much appreciated.
 

cotedupy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
2,662
Reaction score
5,188
Location
South Australia & London
This angle works works well for that kind of relatively thin caidao - width of your thumb at the spine:

IMG-3585.JPG
 

scrappy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2022
Messages
94
Reaction score
100
Location
UK
Thanks for the advice. I’ll try that. That looks to be about 20 degrees to me.
 

Walla

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2017
Messages
190
Reaction score
191
Congratulations on taking the plunge.

If you haven't check out Jon at jki videos or those by Peter Nowlan.

Use a sharpie... maintain a constant angle...

Good luck...let us know how it works out.

Take care

Jeff
 

scrappy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2022
Messages
94
Reaction score
100
Location
UK
Congratulations on taking the plunge.

If you haven't check out Jon at jki videos or those by Peter Nowlan.

Use a sharpie... maintain a constant angle...

Good luck...let us know how it works out.

Take care

Jeff
Thank you so much for encouragement and suggestions, Jeff. I’ll check out the videos before I start sharpening. Seeing exactly how to do things will make life a lot easier :)
 

Walla

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2017
Messages
190
Reaction score
191
Another bit of advice...

Don't watch too many different videos by different people...pick one method and stick with it...

When starting out trying to switch between too many different techniques will slow your progress. Once you're able to get consistently repeatable results then experiment all you care too.

And remember, when starting out as long as it's sharper than when you started...it's a success... you'll soon enough get to whatever standard you feel is sharp enough....

Take care

Jeff
 

scrappy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2022
Messages
94
Reaction score
100
Location
UK
When starting out trying to switch between too many different techniques will slow your progress. Once you're able to get consistently repeatable results then experiment all you care too.
Thanks again. I’ll pick one method and run with that. The cleaver was fairly blunt OOTB, so the bar is set low for sharpness. I hope I can clear it.
The width of the knife divided by 3 is approximately 20 degrees.

The width divided by 4 is approximately 15 degrees.
That a really useful rule of thumb. Thank you.
 

Benuser

from The Netherlands, EU.
KKF Supporting Member
Joined
May 3, 2011
Messages
8,253
Reaction score
2,949
If you are fine with the existing geometry: start at the lowest possible angle, and raise the spine only little by little, until you've reached the very edge. Check with a sharpie and a loupe your progress, and make sure you don't overlook a microbevel. Start on the other side only when you have obtained a clean bevel. Then do the same on the other side.
 

psfred

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2013
Messages
593
Reaction score
108
And since I've managed to grind the skin off both of my thumbs lately, avoid sliding your thumb or finger over the stone while guiding the blade. 1K won't be bad, but coarser stones abrade skin nicely, and you won't notice until it starts to sting.....

A sharpie along the edge is a great idea, as it will tell you what you are grinding off and if you are grinding where you want to be -- and if it all goes away at once, that you are wobbling. A very useful trick.

Use light pressure, let the stone do the work, else you will dish it far faster than you need to. It's only going to cut as fast as it does, more pressure on waterstones won't make them cut much faster, unlike Arkansas stones.
 

cotedupy

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
2,662
Reaction score
5,188
Location
South Australia & London
Thanks for the advice. I’ll try that. That looks to be about 20 degrees to me.

Yeah something like that, don't worry about it too much though. I just do that because it's a very easy way to get a good angle guide on Chinese cleavers.

Use a sharpie if you fancy, but really you just want to sharpen until you raise a burr all the way along the edge, flip it, do the same, and then deburr. Don't overthink it too much - even better quality caidao like this have inconsistent grinds. So just go until you've got the burr all the way along, and that'll even up the edge for future sharpening.

You've got a good stone for it too, around 1k is what you want for this :).
 

scrappy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2022
Messages
94
Reaction score
100
Location
UK
If you are fine with the existing geometry: start at the lowest possible angle, and raise the spine only little by little, until you've reached the very edge. Check with a sharpie and a loupe your progress, and make sure you don't overlook a microbevel. Start on the other side only when you have obtained a clean bevel. Then do the same on the other side.
Thanks for the tips! I’ll order myself a loupe and a couple of Sharpies. Sorry to ask a dumb question, but does the term “geometry“ refer to the angle of the blade? If so, I may not be the best judge as I do not fully understand how angle affects performance. Also, I am yet to learn how the form and material of a knife make one particular angle better than another. However, I do know that the cleaver is not sharp out of the box. Would it be a good idea, initially, to sharpen the edge at the existing angle so that I can concentrate on consistency and getting a sense of the feedback?
Use light pressure, let the stone do the work, else you will dish it far faster than you need to. It's only going to cut as fast as it does, more pressure on waterstones won't make them cut much faster, unlike Arkansas stones.
That’s really good to know. Thank you. I’ll use light pressure only. No doubt, it will take some time to get a feel for it. I got an Atoma plate with the stone with the intention of flattening before any dishing became too pronounced.
BTW - I could probably do with sharpening a couple of mine sometime, and I'd be happy to make a vid if that'd be useful for you?
That’s really kind of you. A video would definitely be helpful, if it’s not too much trouble 😀
 

Benuser

from The Netherlands, EU.
KKF Supporting Member
Joined
May 3, 2011
Messages
8,253
Reaction score
2,949
Thanks for the tips! I’ll order myself a loupe and a couple of Sharpies. Sorry to ask a dumb question, but does the term “geometry“ refer to the angle of the blade?
Profile refers to the height of a tip, a fat belly, flat sections. Geometry to the cross-section: sharpening angle, how thin it is behind the edge, asymmetry, the edge being more or less off-centered to one side or another. My proposal was to make it possible to splendidly ignore those figures and restore the previous configuration. Later on you may decide to change it. Increase the sharpening angle if you experience fast damage to the edge, more thinning behind the edge and increasing or reducing the sharpening angle of one side only if you feel uneasy with steering, and want to compensate for it.
But for now, with your first sharpening, get the basics and learn how to restore an given edge as it was before getting dull.
 

scrappy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2022
Messages
94
Reaction score
100
Location
UK
Profile refers to the height of a tip, a fat belly, flat sections. Geometry to the cross-section: sharpening angle, how thin it is behind the edge, asymmetry, the edge being more or less off-centered to one side or another. My proposal was to make it possible to splendidly ignore those figures and restore the previous configuration. Later on you may decide to change it. Increase the sharpening angle if you experience fast damage to the edge, more thinning behind the edge and increasing or reducing the sharpening angle of one side only if you feel uneasy with steering, and want to compensate for it.
But for now, with your first sharpening, get the basics and learn how to restore an given edge as it was before getting dull.
Wow. Thanks for the fantastic explanation. That makes things a lot clearer. Also, I was wondering what effect an acute/obtuse angle would have on edge retention. Now I know!

And yes, I won’t try to run before I can walk. One baby step at a time :)
 
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Messages
345
Reaction score
416
Location
Sweden
You're entering a fun learning process. Remember that most mistakes are fixable.

My recommendation after four or five years of learning:

Just take it slow and focus on what you're doing. The constant angle is important but it will take some time to build the muscle memory for that. It will come with practice. Have fun. Take breaks when you're getting frustrated.

Also, figure out how you test your sharpness so you know if you're getting the result you want. :)
 
Last edited:

scrappy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2022
Messages
94
Reaction score
100
Location
UK
You're entering a fun learning process. Remember that most mistakes are fixable.

My recommendation after four or five years of learning:

Just take it slow and focus on what you're doing. The constant angle is important but it will take some time to build the muscle memory for that. It will come with practice. Have fun. Take breaks when you're getting frustrated.

Also, figure out how you test your sharpness so you know if you're getting the result you want. :)
Thanks for the encouragement. I will make sure I have the basics down before moving on. At the moment, I only have three knives. One steel (Wüsthof chef), one carbon (CCK cleaver), and one stainless-clad (Takamura R2 petty). I’ll probably have the Takamura professionally sharpened until I know what I’m doing.

As for testing sharpness, I guess I’ll be cutting paper. Quick and easy, no dedicated equipment required.
 
Joined
Oct 23, 2020
Messages
1,034
Reaction score
1,062
Location
Houston
Wow. Thanks for the fantastic explanation. That makes things a lot clearer. Also, I was wondering what effect an acute/obtuse angle would have on edge retention. Now I know!

And yes, I won’t try to run before I can walk. One baby step at a time :)
Generally a more acute angle will have better edge retention. How acute you can go is a bit of a complicated thing to say though. That depends on the steels composition, hardness, thickness behind the edge, and use of the blade in question.

It can make the edge less impact resistant though, so if you plan to use a blade for hard chopping (going through bones, cutting down a tree) you will need a more obtuse angle.

My advice to you, as a first time sharpener. Is don't get discouraged, and try not to get overwhelmed. This is something that improves with time. My first edge wasn't great, but practice makes a world of difference. Don't give up, if you aren't happy with your results!

Also, perfect practice makes perfect. try to identify bad techniques as fast as possible. with anything that takes time to pick up, the worst thing you can do is reinforce bad habits. So try to be cognizant of what is working, and what isn't.
 

BoSharpens

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2021
Messages
100
Reaction score
102
Location
Balboa Island, CA
There is good reason for "sharpening", or as I think of it, "heavy metal removal." That's when the knife has never been razor sharp or the profile is not consistent due to chips or dents or Steeling or powered sharpener device caused removal of more metal near the heel and a scimitar edge shape exists.

But for my knives that are kept in proper fine condition, when I need to retouch the very tip back to razor sharp, I call it "honing." I don't use a horizontal stone on a bench.

I use a green Sharpie mark on the edge, hold the edge up & use the other hand with an Arkansas stone to lightly stroke along the edge & upward to remove the sharpie mark all along the edge on both sides. Usually that is all that is required to get my edges back to be able to drop straight down with no effort through a "Post-It note" paper.
 

scrappy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2022
Messages
94
Reaction score
100
Location
UK
Take care when sending out. Make sure the sharpener provides a stone sharpening. Only very few do so.
That’s a good call. I’ll be sure to request a stone sharpening. Thanks!
My advice to you, as a first time sharpener. Is don't get discouraged, and try not to get overwhelmed. This is something that improves with time. My first edge wasn't great, but practice makes a world of difference. Don't give up, if you aren't happy with your results!
Thanks for the advice. I am ready for a long, sometimes frustrating journey. Luckily, I’m stubborn, so I don’t give up easily. I’ll remember to step back if I hit a brick wall, though. When that happens, it’s easy to get discouraged.
But for my knives that are kept in proper fine condition, when I need to retouch the very tip back to razor sharp, I call it "honing." I don't use a horizontal stone on a bench.

I use a green Sharpie mark on the edge, hold the edge up & use the other hand with an Arkansas stone to lightly stroke along the edge & upward to remove the sharpie mark all along the edge on both sides. Usually that is all that is required to get my edges back to be able to drop straight down with no effort through a "Post-It note" paper.
That’s a useful pointer. Thank you. I would like to be your position, one where I am generally honing not sharpening. I have a honing steel, a strop and a stone. With any luck, and with regular maintenance, I can bring up the edge on a strop or steel without removing too much metal :)
 

BoSharpens

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2021
Messages
100
Reaction score
102
Location
Balboa Island, CA
I have a honing steel, a strop and a stone. With any luck, and with regular maintenance, I can bring up the edge on a strop or steel without removing too much metal :)

I am well known for being "Anti-Steel Rods" for sharpening, as I see far too much metal removed and uneven removal of metal from an edge with "Steels."

The truth about taking a good edge back to razor sharp, after a week or two of use, is that you are just trying to remove a few ten-thousandths of an inch off the tip of the edge and "straighten" any slight bends. That type of honing is more dependent on eye & hand control than anything else.

To that end, in control, I use a headband magnifier so I can see the edge details very very well. You can get anything from 2x to 7x lenses for some of the inexpensive headbands, so you can get magnification to meet your needs while keeping corrective glasses on. Last time I checked, the grey plastic headband magnifiers on Amazon were less than $30.
 

BoSharpens

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2021
Messages
100
Reaction score
102
Location
Balboa Island, CA
"To that end, in control, I use a headband magnifier so I can see the edge details very very well."

This reminds me that in viewing a few supposed experts in both sharpening and honing, I have NEVER seen any of those YouTube videos show a guy using a headband magnifier.

I do not believe it is possible to truly understand edges & remove minimum metal unless you have very powerful magnification or even a microscope, which I also use.

It is one thing to "think" you are getting where you want to be with an edge by feel versus actually easily SEEING it. It makes a big difference.

It may also cause you to change techniques & stones to achiever your desired edge, so you get a fine edge more quickly which has fewer or no flaws.

One thing I found very early on was that pushing any abrasive toward the tip of an edge could occassionally put a groove in the edge or take a burr off and scrape it on the edge making a mark. My fine honing is only done from the spine toward the edge, period.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2020
Messages
3,596
Reaction score
7,030
Location
PNW USA
Just get started brother. No music, no beer, relaxed mind, and put the knife to the stone. I strongly advocate using a Sharpie and analyzing what is happening but it is no more important than feeling what is happening. And I don't just mean the feel of the stone but your hands, arms, your neck. Don't be tense but be controlled. What do you hear? What does the stone tell you? What do your fingers feel along the edge?

Accept mistakes or shortcomings and learn from them and just keep going.

You can do it. :)
 

Pie

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
722
Reaction score
1,320
Location
Edmonton
Random pointer - don’t be toooooooo gentle with the pressure. I started out doing zero research, and went through about 5 sessions lightly dragging the knife around and removing zero steel. Needless to say, terrible results.

There should be at least a small amount of metal removed and visible as dark slurry if things go as intended.
 
Joined
Oct 23, 2020
Messages
1,034
Reaction score
1,062
Location
Houston
Random pointer - don’t be toooooooo gentle with the pressure. I started out doing zero research, and went through about 5 sessions lightly dragging the knife around and removing zero steel. Needless to say, terrible results.

There should be at least a small amount of metal removed and visible as dark slurry if things go as intended.
Yeah. I feel like pressure is just one of those things you pick up as you go.

Generally speaking. Use more pressure in the beginning, then when you are finishing use barely any.

I think the biggest objective for someone just starting will be hold your angle steady. Whatever angle you pick, stick with it. Don't rock the knife back and forth (I mean rocking the angle), unless you are purposely trying to convex the knife, which I wouldn't recommend for a first timer. You are likely going to convex the edge. Leading to a duller knife.

In conclusion. Just sharpen the knife already. You can do it!
 

Kawa

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2020
Messages
451
Reaction score
503
Location
The Netherlands
You can learn the technique from youtube.
You have to learn sharpening yourself. Holding a steady edge takes time/practise.

Is the knife sharper then before sharpening? Good!

Next knife.
Youll get them sharper along the way. No use in trying to perfect that first knife for now.
 
Top