Flattening my stone for the first time. Guidance needed.

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scrappy

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I am new to sharpening (and quality knives). At present, I have a CCK 1303 cleaver, a Takamura SG2 petty, a Robert Herder K1 paring knife, and a Wüsthof chef’s knife. I also have a Shapton Pro 1K, an Atoma 140, and a Naniwa Pro 3k (arriving tomorrow).

I have been practicing sharpening my cleaver on the Shapton. Today, after watching a guide on YouTube, I decided to flatten my stone. The pencil grid on the stone was unevenly removed, so I guess my stone wasn’t flat. I continued until all the pencil marks were gone, at which point I stopped. Should I redraw the pencil grid and remove it again to ensure the stone is flat? In the video I watched, this was only done once. Also, should I be lapping after every sharpening? Any advice would be much appreciated.
 

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Should I redraw the pencil grid and remove it again to ensure the stone is flat?
It's not necessary, but it wouldn't hurt if you do. It should come off immediately if you flattened properly the first time.

Also, should I be lapping after every sharpening?
Every two or three sharpening is good enough.
Basically, more often when you are new and less often when you're more experienced.
A very flat stone is especially important when you're sharpening a single bevel or thinning.
Not so much for normal double bevel sharpening.
 

tcmx3

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Also, should I be lapping after every sharpening? Any advice would be much appreciated.

that's overkill if you're just sharpening on the edge unless it's an extremely soft stone or you dont mind replacing them.

also it's good in general to learn how to use the whole stone which should reduce the frequency of lapping necessary to keep things flat enough for working.
 

scrappy

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It's not necessary, but it wouldn't hurt if you do. It should come off immediately if you flattened properly the first time.


Every two or three sharpening is good enough.
Basically, more often when you are new and less often when you're more experienced.
A very flat stone is especially important when you're sharpening a single bevel or thinning.
Not so much for normal double bevel sharpening.
Thanks for the reply. I will follow your advice and flatten less frequently :)
also it's good in general to learn how to use the whole stone which should reduce the frequency of lapping necessary to keep things flat enough for working.
Yes, the pencil marks were removed from the middle of my stone first. I guess that means I was using the ends of my stone more. Consistent movement across the stone is still something that I can feel needs work. Time to watch some more videos. Thanks for the advice.
 
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Yes, the pencil marks were removed from the middle of my stone first. I guess that means I was using the ends of my stone more.

Not necessarily. It’s not uncommon for stones to have a slight dome when new. It’s always a good idea to condition the surface of a new stone with a diamond plate before sharpening on it. Not just to make sure it’s flat, but to also take off the new surface. When new the stone may not perform as it’s true self until you take that top layer off.
 

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i dont flatten until i see a very obvious dish to the stone.

and then i try to do some heavy handed work on the high places/edge of the stone.
to wear the stone only there. and then i flatten. (if actually needed)

i mean there is always some knife that need some heavy duty work. and i use those to flatten the stone.

--------

as stated before. you dont actually need a completely flat stone to sharpen. you can have a concavity of 3-4mm. it will still work just as good for most knives.

my philosophy is: dont waste stone. its not that stones are really that expensive but i take pride in actually using the whole **** instead of just flushing it down the drain.
 

inferno

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Not necessarily. It’s not uncommon for stones to have a slight dome when new. It’s always a good idea to condition the surface of a new stone with a diamond plate before sharpening on it. Not just to make sure it’s flat, but to also take off the new surface. When new the stone may not perform as it’s true self until you take that top layer off.

i like to rub 2 stones together when new. especially shaptons. since these dont hold any water on the surface unless this is done (when new).
 

scrappy

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Apologies for the delayed response. I have been away.

Videos won't help you getting to use more of the surface. Seeing someone doing it is basically useless until you try it yourself and realize it just requires to begin slowly, and "re-learn" your control so you can get back up to speed.
Yes, developing the technique and muscle memory is something that clearly has to be learned. It’s harder than it looks. I have been practicing on a cleaver, but I’m suffering from quite a lot of wobble. Hopefully, that will improve.
Not necessarily. It’s not uncommon for stones to have a slight dome when new. It’s always a good idea to condition the surface of a new stone with a diamond plate before sharpening on it. Not just to make sure it’s flat, but to also take off the new surface. When new the stone may not perform as it’s true self until you take that top layer off.
Thanks for the excellent advice. All of it is new to me. Extremely helpful.
i dont flatten until i see a very obvious dish to the stone.

and then i try to do some heavy handed work on the high places/edge of the stone.
to wear the stone only there. and then i flatten. (if actually needed)

i mean there is always some knife that need some heavy duty work. and i use those to flatten the stone.

--------

as stated before. you dont actually need a completely flat stone to sharpen. you can have a concavity of 3-4mm. it will still work just as good for most knives.

my philosophy is: dont waste stone. its not that stones are really that expensive but i take pride in actually using the whole **** instead of just flushing it down the drain.
I appreciate the suggestions. Useful information. Thanks. Yes, I am a bit of a neat freak, so wearing down a stone evenly and wasting as little as possible is desirable. Just out of curiosity, have you worn a stone down so much that it had to be replaced? If so, how long did it take? I have no idea how long a stone lasst. My Naniwa set me back £100 so I want it to last as long as possible.
 
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Apologies for the delayed response. I have been away.


Yes, developing the technique and muscle memory is something that clearly has to be learned. It’s harder than it looks. I have been practicing on a cleaver, but I’m suffering from quite a lot of wobble. Hopefully, that will improve.

Thanks for the excellent advice. All of it is new to me. Extremely helpful.

I appreciate the suggestions. Useful information. Thanks. Yes, I am a bit of a neat freak, so wearing down a stone evenly and wasting as little as possible is desirable. Just out of curiosity, have you worn a stone down so much that it had to be replaced? If so, how long did it take? I have no idea how long a stone lasst. My Naniwa set me back £100 so I want it to last as long as possible.
I can give some perspective on stone longevity. For my Naniwa pro 800, the stone that sees the most edge work, I’ve sharpened maybe 150 knives on it and it has lost about 3mm in height. It’s 21mm new, so let’s say that stone would last for about 1,000 regular sharpenings. From my experience anyway. Of course if you are doing rougher work like thinning, the stone will go down the drain more quickly and softer stones like a King will wear away faster, but those stones are substantially thicker at 35mm.
 

scrappy

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I can give some perspective on stone longevity. For my Naniwa pro 800, the stone that sees the most edge work, I’ve sharpened maybe 150 knives on it and it has lost about 3mm in height. It’s 21mm new, so let’s say that stone would last for about 1,000 regular sharpenings. From my experience anyway. Of course if you are doing rougher work like thinning, the stone will go down the drain more quickly and softer stones like a King will wear away faster, but those stones are substantially thicker at 35mm.
Damn. You brought the receipts. Haha. I wasn’t expecting that. Well, thank you. You answered my question perfectly, to the millimetre 😀
 
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Damn. You brought the receipts. Haha. I wasn’t expecting that. Well, thank you. You answered my question perfectly, to the millimetre 😀
Lol. I’m pretty obsessive about measuring them. Every few sessions I use digital calipers to measure every corner and both sides of middle and write the measurements on the top of the stone so next time I know what areas to concentrate the work on so I know I’m using the stone evenly.

and yeah, if you are just a home sharpener, stones last a long time. Extrapolating out from that 50 knives/mm estimate, even if you sharpen one knife a week a NP could easily last 20 years. It’s why I’ve taken to suggesting that people skip cheap and combo stones if they think they’ll continue sharpening. Dollar per sharpening its worth it for nicer stones.
 

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flatten early and often
sharpen as unevenly as you want
burn up the stones
 

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You sir, will not wear down a stone in your life. Especially when you start buying more and they overlap.
The only ones who do wear them, are people who sharpen for almost every day for many many years.

I'm not saying 'go to town with flattening', just saying 'dont be afraid to flatten, since the stone in front of you will be a legacy for your kid, and his/hers after that'
 

scrappy

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Lol. I’m pretty obsessive about measuring them. Every few sessions I use digital calipers to measure every corner and both sides of middle and write the measurements on the top of the stone so next time I know what areas to concentrate the work on so I know I’m using the stone evenly.

and yeah, if you are just a home sharpener, stones last a long time. Extrapolating out from that 50 knives/mm estimate, even if you sharpen one knife a week a NP could easily last 20 years. It’s why I’ve taken to suggesting that people skip cheap and combo stones if they think they’ll continue sharpening. Dollar per sharpening its worth it for nicer stones.
Wow. Digital callipers? That’s some next-level advice. I thought you were eyeballing them.

I’m sharpening my CCK cleaver every other day at the moment. I was told it would do it no harm. I can’t get it to reliabley slice paper yet. Once it has bitten, it slides through it, but I suspect the weight might be helping with that. It’s the initial cut that’s the problem. It feels too toothy. I am going to try again this afternoon. Start off on the Shapton 1k and possibly progress to the Naniwa 3k before a cardboard strop. I feel that my angle consistency is an issue. I need to work on that. Hopefully, I’ll get there in the end.
 

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Wow. Digital callipers? That’s some next-level advice. I thought you were eyeballing them.

I’m sharpening my CCK cleaver every other day at the moment. I was told it would do it no harm. I can’t get it to reliabley slice paper yet. Once it has bitten, it slides through it, but I suspect the weight might be helping with that. It’s the initial cut that’s the problem. It feels too toothy. I am going to try again this afternoon. Start off on the Shapton 1k and possibly progress to the Naniwa 3k before a cardboard strop. I feel that my angle consistency is an issue. I need to work on that. Hopefully, I’ll get there in the end.
You should be able to slice paper off the 1k. Don't go to the 3k until you can.
 

scrappy

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You should be able to slice paper off the 1k. Don't go to the 3k until you can.
OK. Thanks for the advice, I’ll stick with 1K and then progress when I’ve got the hang of things more.
This.

We can't "grit" our way into a sharp edge. Stick with the 1k until you're confident.
Will do. This is a real learning curve. On my first couple of attempts, the cleaver end up blunter than it was out of the box, then third time lucky, about the same sharpness. Now, as I said, it catches the paper initially before gliding through it. Trying to work out what I’m doing wrong from this detail.
 

scrappy

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You sir, will not wear down a stone in your life. Especially when you start buying more and they overlap.
The only ones who do wear them, are people who sharpen for almost every day for many many years.

I'm not saying 'go to town with flattening', just saying 'dont be afraid to flatten, since the stone in front of you will be a legacy for your kid, and his/hers after that'
Thanks for the words of encouragement and reassurance. I was holding back a little. I won’t now :)
 
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OK. Thanks for the advice, I’ll stick with 1K and then progress when I’ve got the hang of things more.

Will do. This is a real learning curve. On my first couple of attempts, the cleaver end up blunter than it was out of the box, then third time lucky, about the same sharpness. Now, as I said, it catches the paper initially before gliding through it. Trying to work out what I’m doing wrong from this detail.

Just focus on your angle and don't over do things. On a softer steel cleaver, if you're properly apexing, it shouldn't take too many passes to start feeling a burr.
 

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Remember you can 'learn' sharpening by videos and topics.
You become good at it by making a lot of hours.

Angle consistency for example, you wont learn by wathing movies. You have to practise a lot.

For me a good starting point was: is the knife sharper after sharpening then before sharpening, you did good. Next knife.
You will get them even sharper over time.

It's no use to keep trying on this one knife for now, you dont have the skills yet.

You better use the knife and sharpen after it starts to get dull. You probably get it sharper then the attempt before. Not alyways; its not a lineair learning progress.


And sharpen all the knives you can get your hands on, friends/family etc. Most of them are FUBAR and are a good practise to try to get them sharp again.
 

scrappy

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Just focus on your angle and don't over do things. On a softer steel cleaver, if you're properly apexing, it shouldn't take too many passes to start feeling a burr.
Thanks.The last time I sharpened, rasing a burr seemed more difficult than the time before. I’m thinking this might be an issue with the amount of pressure I am applying. I suspect that, because I am worried about angle inconsistency, I may not be applying sufficient pressure.
You better use the knife and sharpen after it starts to get dull. You probably get it sharper then the attempt before. Not alyways; its not a lineair learning progress.

And sharpen all the knives you can get your hands on, friends/family etc. Most of them are FUBAR and are a good practise to try to get them sharp again.
Thanks for the helpful suggestions. Yes, it feels like one step forward, two steps back at the moment. But that is the way with many things when you start learning. I will persevere.

I have tried practicing with a couple of cheapo knives that I kept around. However, for the life of me, I can’t seem to raise any kind of edge on them at all. It feels like they are made of clay. I must be doing something wrong. I’ll try again this afternoon and see what gives.
 

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A common 'mistake' why your are not apexing (creating a burr) is direction of pressurepoints.
You can put your fingers as close to the edge as possible, if you dont put pressure directly 'downwards/into the stone', but more towards the spine of the knife, you will not craete a burr.

But this should get visable in a way that your edge gets 'larger' (you are thinning the shoulders).

You can check upon this.


To make sure: take an el cheapo knife and put a way to steep angle on it. Im not talking 45 degrees or so, but take a angle you know for sure it is way too steep and hold on to that.
If you dont create a burr this way, I think its the direction your put pressure towards to while sharpening.

Also use sharpie. It helps you with seeing whats actually going on
 
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Wow. Digital callipers? That’s some next-level advice. I thought you were eyeballing them.

I’m sharpening my CCK cleaver every other day at the moment. I was told it would do it no harm. I can’t get it to reliabley slice paper yet. Once it has bitten, it slides through it, but I suspect the weight might be helping with that. It’s the initial cut that’s the problem. It feels too toothy. I am going to try again this afternoon. Start off on the Shapton 1k and possibly progress to the Naniwa 3k before a cardboard strop. I feel that my angle consistency is an issue. I need to work on that. Hopefully, I’ll get there in the end.
If you get into knives, digital calipers are nice to have. Not just for measuring stones, but also for knives, spine thicknesses, blade height, and thickness behind the edge (especially for checking consistency and progress of work when thinning).

Sharpening cleavers can be tricky because the blade height is so tall that the angle of sharpening can feel quite different than shorter, more 'normal' height knives. On the other hand, not upsweep at the tip can make things more straightforward. I'd recommend trying sharpening on some other standard type chef knives if you have them, or if not pick up a couple from goodwill or thrift store to practice on.

In the end, sharpening is pretty simple. Make sure you are forming a consistently sized burr along the length of one side of the knife using a decent amount of pressure, 4-6 pounds (you can check what this feels like using a digital scale). Then the same on the other side. Then using progressively lighter pressure, flip the burr back and forth and until its gone. If you've successfully removed the burr, your knife should be sharp. It is important starting out that you completely remove the burr on your lowest stone. Your knife should go through paper easily after your first stone. Then if you want to go higher, its just refining that edge.
 

scrappy

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A common 'mistake' why your are not apexing (creating a burr) is direction of pressurepoints.
You can put your fingers as close to the edge as possible, if you dont put pressure directly 'downwards/into the stone', but more towards the spine of the knife, you will not craete a burr.

But this should get visable in a way that your edge gets 'larger' (you are thinning the shoulders).

You can check upon this.


To make sure: take an el cheapo knife and put a way to steep angle on it. Im not talking 45 degrees or so, but take a angle you know for sure it is way too steep and hold on to that.
If you dont create a burr this way, I think its the direction your put pressure towards to while sharpening.

Also use sharpie. It helps you with seeing whats actually going on
Thanks for the helpful suggestions. I have been using a Sharpie to make things easier. After sharpening my carbon cleaver yesterday, I noticed that the burr felt correct in certain places and absent in others. Sharpening in sections make this more evident. I am going to reread through a couple of guides on burr formation to make sure I completely understand how to raise them and deburr. I suspect I may be over sharpening in places. Fortunately, when I sharpened today, though, my angle consistency seemed a lot better, which is reassuring. Onwards and upwards :)
 

scrappy

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Thank you very much. That’s really helpful. I didn’t realise there was a JKI flattening video. I have been working through the JKI sharpening videos. They are extremely instructive.
 
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