Hair splitting sharpness.

Discussion in 'Sharpening Station' started by Wei Jun Lee, Jun 18, 2019.

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  1. Jun 18, 2019 #1

    Wei Jun Lee

    Wei Jun Lee

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    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?
     
  2. Jun 18, 2019 #2

    JLaz

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    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.
     
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  3. Jun 18, 2019 #3

    Benuser

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    Not sure I understand. So, in your progression you go up to 10k, but when touching up you use a 1k, is that correct?
     
  4. Jun 18, 2019 #4

    Wei Jun Lee

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    Mistake post
     
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  5. Jun 18, 2019 #5

    Wei Jun Lee

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    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?
     
  6. Jun 18, 2019 #6

    Wei Jun Lee

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    Yes yes. That's right.
     
  7. Jun 18, 2019 #7

    J.C

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    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.
     
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  8. Jun 18, 2019 #8

    osakajoe

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    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.
     
  9. Jun 18, 2019 #9

    dough

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    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.
     
  10. Jun 18, 2019 #10

    Wei Jun Lee

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    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.
     
  11. Jun 18, 2019 #11

    MrHiggins

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    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.
     
  12. Jun 18, 2019 #12

    Wei Jun Lee

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    I believe it has something to do with my technique as well. But I usually follow the bevel when sharpening my single bevels.
     
  13. Jun 18, 2019 #13

    Wei Jun Lee

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    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!
     
  14. Jun 18, 2019 #14

    CoteRotie

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    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.
     
  15. Jun 18, 2019 #15

    CoteRotie

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  16. Jun 18, 2019 #16

    Nemo

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    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: Jun 18, 2019
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  17. Jun 19, 2019 #17

    Wei Jun Lee

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    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.
     
  18. Jun 19, 2019 #18

    Wei Jun Lee

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    Thanks for sharing the thread!!
     
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  19. Jun 20, 2019 #19

    Keith Sinclair

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    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.
     
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  20. Jun 20, 2019 #20

    Kai Wang

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  21. Jun 20, 2019 #21

    CoteRotie

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  22. Jun 20, 2019 #22

    Kai Wang

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    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
     
  23. Jun 20, 2019 #23

    CoteRotie

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    Ah, OK, I knew someone who lived here with the same name who went back to China to open a restaurant.
     
  24. Jun 21, 2019 #24

    pennman

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  25. Jun 23, 2019 #25

    Benuser

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    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.
     
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  26. Jun 24, 2019 #26

    Ivan Hersh

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    Need to know what type of knife it's grind and what type of steel is used in the knife.
     
  27. Jun 24, 2019 #27

    Wei Jun Lee

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    I mainly use single bevel knives. Most of my knives are white 1/2. Couple of ginsan as well!
     
  28. Jun 24, 2019 #28

    rick alen

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    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.
     
  29. Jun 25, 2019 #29

    The Edge

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    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.
     
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  30. Jun 25, 2019 #30

    Michi

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    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.
     

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