Quantcast

Hair splitting sharpness.

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

Wei Jun Lee

Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
22
Reaction score
19
Location
Melbourne
Hye guys.

So I'm working as a chef, and I can get my knives up pretty sharp, but it seems to stop there. Can't seem to get it any sharoer than pretty sharp. And I'd like to get my knives up to hair splitting sharpness. Is there a way you guys so do it? I mainly use single bevel knives. I use a variety of different stones. #1000 #3000 #6000 #10000. I sharpen on these stones one a week, and normally touch up my knives on the 1000s every night after service.

So the question is. How do you guys get your knives hair splittingly sharp?
 

JLaz

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2013
Messages
93
Reaction score
5
Hey man,

Nice to see another fellow chef around!

Have you tried strops? When I started using strops, ive realized how big a difference it makes to have the burr completely removed. Stropping has made that easier for me.

Fyi, im just using a humble felt strop loaded with some flitz.
 

Benuser

Supporting Member
Joined
May 3, 2011
Messages
6,476
Reaction score
926
Not sure I understand. So, in your progression you go up to 10k, but when touching up you use a 1k, is that correct?
 

Wei Jun Lee

Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
22
Reaction score
19
Location
Melbourne
Hey man,

Nice to see another fellow chef around!

Have you tried strops? When I started using strops, ive realized how big a difference it makes to have the burr completely removed. Stropping has made that easier for me.

Fyi, im just using a humble felt strop loaded with some flitz.
Yeah I do. Haha it helps definitely. But I still can't get my knives to split hair sharp. So just wondering how do ppl get their knives that sharp. Stones? Sharpening techniques?
 

J.C

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
338
Reaction score
235
Location
Australia
IMO, if you sharpen up to 10k grit properly. Instead of touching up in 1k, you can touch up single bevel knives with 4-5k stone (splash n go). Meanwhile, with double bevel knives, invest on a stropping block loaded with compound.
 

osakajoe

Supporting Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2014
Messages
594
Reaction score
359
What are you cutting with your knives or what is your job? Since you say you only use single bevels are you a sushi chef or traditional Japanese cooking?
Why do you feel your knives are not as sharp as they can get?

Answer these questions and maybe we can way in more.
 

dough

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2011
Messages
378
Reaction score
15
Well it’s hard to say but my belief is it’s a technique issue bc I rarely strop or take my kitchen knives to 10k. I tend to just polish in those grits so things look pretty.
 

Wei Jun Lee

Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
22
Reaction score
19
Location
Melbourne
What are you cutting with your knives or what is your job? Since you say you only use single bevels are you a sushi chef or traditional Japanese cooking?
Why do you feel your knives are not as sharp as they can get?

Answer these questions and maybe we can way in more.
I'm a chef working in a Japanese restaurant for the past few years. Currently working in a Japanese kaiseki restaurant. Have worked as a sushi chef as well before.

Im asking because I want to be able to sharpen my knives to a razor sharp level. Hence splitting hairs. Its adequate now as is. But I feel I can always improve, and I have that misconception that the type of stones(naturals vs synthetic) have a lot to do with how sharp you can sharpen your knives to.
 

Wei Jun Lee

Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
22
Reaction score
19
Location
Melbourne
Well it’s hard to say but my belief is it’s a technique issue bc I rarely strop or take my kitchen knives to 10k. I tend to just polish in those grits so things look pretty.
I believe it has something to do with my technique as well. But I usually follow the bevel when sharpening my single bevels.
 

Wei Jun Lee

Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
22
Reaction score
19
Location
Melbourne
A suggestion is to use minimal (and I mean MINIMAL) pressure when you're in the end-stages of your sharpening progression. I feel like once I started concentrating on light pressure, my edges became much sharper and less likely to retain an unwanted burr.

Owhhh. I still press pretty hard on the higher level grits :eek::eek::eek::eek:. Although I do finish my knives on a strop. I'll keep that suggestion in mind. Thank you!
 

CoteRotie

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2015
Messages
312
Reaction score
113
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
There's also DM's double sharpening technique.. There's a thread around here somewhere I'll dig out later if no one beats me to it.
 

Nemo

Staff member
Global Moderators
Joined
Oct 16, 2016
Messages
5,100
Reaction score
1,176
Location
Southern NSW (Aus)
IME, the biggest impediment to getting hair splitting sharpness is failing to propperly deburr.

Pressure control is important to this. On the coarsest stone in your progression (whether that stone be 400 or 10K for that particular sharpening or touch up), start with fairly high pressure until you get a burr. Then continue ON THE SAME STONE with gradually reducing pressure in 3-4 steps, producing a burr on each occasion. The last time should be with very light pressure, barely the weight of the knife. You will probably feel pieces of burr break off in this process (you can feel them and sometimes see them in the swarf). I then deburr with a sideways stroke along the edge of the knife then pull the edge GENTLY through a cork.

Continue on to the next stones in your progression, but only use very light pressure on each stone, deburring after each stone.

I found the Dave Martell technique of repeating the sharpening on the last 1-2 stones to improve my results as well.

For highly alloyed steels, especiallly if there are tungsten carbides, stropping on a diamond loaded medium (I use balsa with 0.5 um diamond) is helpful in deburring. I often do this for simple steels as well. Diamond pastes are cheaply available at lapidiary suppliers. Even more cheaply (in terms of cost and quality- but still do the job) on the internets.

Do you flatten and champfer your stones regularly? A flat stone is much easier to sharpen on. I flatten for each sharpening session (maybe 1-5 knives).

Also, depending on what you are cutting, 10k is a pretty high polish. It makes sense for slicing fish with a yabnagiba. Not so much for a gyuto.

+1 on the deburring thread started by @Michi.
 
Last edited:

Wei Jun Lee

Member
Joined
Jun 1, 2019
Messages
22
Reaction score
19
Location
Melbourne
IME, the biggest impediment to getting hair splitting sharpness is failing to propperly deburr.

Pressure control is important to this. On the coarsest stone in your progression (whether that stone be 400 or 10K for that particular sharpening or touch up), start with fairly high pressure until you get a burr. Then continue ON THE SAME STONE with gradually reducing pressure in 3-4 steps, producing a burr on each occasion. The last time should be with very light pressure, barely the weight of the knife. You will probably feel pieces of burr break off in this process (you can feel them and sometimes see them in the swarf). I then deburr with a sideways stroke along the edge of the knife then pull the edge GENTLY through a cork.

Continue on to the next stones in your progression, but only use very light pressure on each stone, deburring after each stone.

I found the Dave Martell technique of repeating the sharpening on the last 1-2 stones to improve my results as well.

For highly alloyed steels, especiallly if there are tungsten carbides, stropping on a diamond loaded medium (I use balsa with 0.5 um diamond) is helpful in deburring. I often do this for simple steels as well. Diamond pastes are cheaply available at lapidiary suppliers. Even more cheaply (in terms of cost and quality- but still do the job) on the internets.

Do you flatten and champfer your stones regularly? A flat stone is much easier to sharpen on. I flatten for each sharpening session (maybe 1-5 knives).

Also, depending on what you are cutting, 10k is a pretty high polish. It makes sense for slicing fish with a yabnagiba. Not so much for a gyuto.

+1 on the deburring thread started by @Michi.

Yes I mainly use a Yanagiba at work. The knives I mainly use at work is a 300mm Yanagiba, a 180mm Yanagiba, mukimono and a deba. I do have a gyuto but that mainly stays in my kniferoll.

Thank you for the masterful reply. I'll keep an eye out when deburrin to see it get done properly. I never knew about the light pressure on higher grits.
 

Keith Sinclair

Supporting Member
Joined
May 10, 2012
Messages
4,087
Reaction score
443
Location
Hawaii
I would micro bevel my Deba. Yanagiba no micro so the edge was extremely sharp going to a 8K stone. With no micro the edge is more fragile but only used it for sashimi & sushi topping. Deburring the hollow ground backside of a single bevel is a light touch. You don't want pressure or too much repetition on backside you can wear it down and lose the effectiveness of the hollow grind.
 

Kai Wang

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2018
Messages
63
Reaction score
33
Hi Cote,
I used Atagoyama Iromon stone, combination Mikawa Tenjyou Nagura to finish the knife.
And not, I haven’t been in Bay Area yet.
I just started to collect natural stones. They are very powerful. Very sharp
 

CoteRotie

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2015
Messages
312
Reaction score
113
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Hi Cote,
I used Atagoyama Iromon stone, combination Mikawa Tenjyou Nagura to finish the knife.
And not, I haven’t been in Bay Area yet.
I just started to collect natural stones. They are very powerful. Very sharp
Ah, OK, I knew someone who lived here with the same name who went back to China to open a restaurant.
 

Benuser

Supporting Member
Joined
May 3, 2011
Messages
6,476
Reaction score
926
Yes yes. That's right.
I'm quite aware this isn't the subject of this thread, but I feel free to react, if you don't mind.
I use the finest stone to start touching up between full sharpenings. If I don't get a smooth feeling with one or two edge trailing strokes, no insisting, but go to the next coarser one. And again, if that doesn't work, to the next.
I want to make sure to abrade the fatigued steel, i.e. that has failed, without wasting material by going back every time to a relatively coarse one. In this way, I can postpone a full sharpening, involving some thinning with a medium-coarse stone.
 

Ivan Hersh

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Messages
154
Reaction score
6
Location
USA
Need to know what type of knife it's grind and what type of steel is used in the knife.
 

rick alen

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2013
Messages
614
Reaction score
24
You mean this sharp? Sharpened on 1000/3000 combo stone. Stropped on cardboard.


https://www.instagram.com/p/BZjihJBHLms/?igshid=12gox7i9nllep
You're cheating using a flat surface backing. The real test is trying that with hair partially backed up by thumb or finger or, more impressive, free hanging hair.

Stropping on a 6K stone with any half decent carbon steel should come very close to hanging-hair sharp.

Try sharpening to a very shallow angle, the strop on your 10K same angle, them raise the angle just a bit and finish strop a few strokes. That should get you hanging-hair sharp. Of course that sharp will disappear immediately if you hit the board with it.
 

The Edge

Professional Craftsman
Joined
Aug 6, 2011
Messages
875
Reaction score
580
Location
Reno, NV
Hair is not a qualitative measure to determine sharpness. Pick something else to judge sharpness off of, so we can truly figure out what you're looking for. My hair, for instance, is like peach fuzz, and even straight razors have difficulty taking it off.

Otherwise, burr removal is key, and either reducing wobble in the hand, or keeping a consistent angle is next. Heavy pressure is only used on the first stone, and then subsequent stones should be super light pressure, while making sure the burr is flipped and then removed.

After all of that, knives are limited by how thin they are behind the edge.

Burrs are the most annoying part of sharpening, and even an experienced sharpener should double check to make sure the entire edge is flipped before moving to the next step. There's nothing worse than going to the last stone, only to realize that you need to take step back, and redo your own work.
 

Michi

Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2019
Messages
3,051
Reaction score
3,826
Location
Brisbane, Australia
The quest for super-sharpness is a challenge in its own right. As a sport, sure thing, I can see why that is fun. But, in practice, for kitchen knives, it is largely pointless, in my opinion. Beyond some level of sharpness, the first board contact will turn the edge from super sharp to merely very sharp.

To me, the test is whether I can fall through a tomato with essentially no resistance. If so, the knife is sharp enough.
 
Top