How long to sharpen a totally rounded knife?

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Suppose a good friend brings over half a dozen knives, bought twenty years ago from some middling supermarket. Never sharpened. Edges fully rounded from jostling in the drawer. The metal is cheap stainless.

Looking at the clock on the wall, how long does it take you to get one of these, say a typical 8”, back to acceptable condition? What stones do you use, and how many minutes do you spend on each stage of your progression?
 
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Suppose a good friend brings over a half dozen knives, bought twenty years ago from some middling supermarket. Never sharpened. Edges fully rounded from jostling in the drawer. The metal is cheap stainless.

Looking at the clock on the wall, how long does it take you to get one of these, say a typical 8”, back to acceptable condition? What stones do you use, and how many minutes do you spend on each stage of your progression?
I sharpen house knives like this all of the time at work. I go with the byxco American mutt followed by a soft Arkansas. About 2-4 minutes per knife. They are soft and it is pointless to spend much time on polishing or thinning them. So just grind a new quick coarse bevel and make sure it is reasonably deburred. Finish on cardboard like @M1k3 suggested. Or denim.
 
My partner and I are staying with friends this weekend. They have a bunch of Wusthofs I always touch up for them. Here's the kit I brought this time.

Top to bottom:
Norton washita/coarse India combo
Buck washita
Norton soft Arkansas/coarse India combo.


PXL_20220904_185802517.jpg
 

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Agreed. My sharpening skills are in the lower range, but I cet a knife sharp without damaging it lol. I do this frequently with cheap SS knives. I'd say, about 5 mins on the 220 Naniwa Pink Brick, then 2 mins refining on the Cerax 1000. No point in going higher. At least half that time goes to deburring, cheapish SS can be stubborn. (At least for me...)

Very far from a great sharpen, but non-knife nerds are amazed at how incredibly sharp their knives are 😌

Oh, and I take 20 seconds to explain people that they should get a honing rod and use it regularly for a drastically improved knife using experience for months to come.

Question for sharpening pros: Do you think I should add a medium grit, like a 600? Or replace the 1000 with a 600ish? My assumption is that for this situation (cheapish knives that get treated without care and usually don't get sharpened at all) it doesn't make a reasonable difference.
 
Was this a trick question? Isn't the answer to teach your friend to sharpen their own knives? (“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”) My second choice would be finding out why, if the knives presumably have no sentimental value, your friend is unwilling to spend a few bucks for one or two much better quality knives (and learn how to care for them, including basics like not letting them collide into one another in a drawer).
 
Was this a trick question? Isn't the answer to teach your friend to sharpen their own knives? (“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”) My second choice would be finding out why, if the knives presumably have no sentimental value, your friend is unwilling to spend a few bucks for one or two much better quality knives (and learn how to care for them, including basics like not letting them collide into one another in a drawer).
No no no. See, you charge for the service, even just a few bucks to subsidize stone and/or knife purchases.
 
Exactly what people have said above - asuming you have a decent coarse stone then this should take no more than 5 mins per knife if you were taking your time. Though at a push you could probably do it pretty well in under 30 seconds if you had a Coarse n Fine India / Crystolon / similar.
 
So, here's my take...

It takes as long as it takes. I'm not being an ass, I just have always hated the time association with sharpening. Several years ago when I got serious about improving my sharpening, there was so much talk about how long something should take and if it is taking you too long you're doing it wrong. Same with counting strokes.

It depends on your stones, the knives, your experience, etc. Don't worry about how long it should take and just focus on understanding and feeling what you're experiencing. There's a good chance those cheap steels will just fluster the hell out of you and never really sharpen. Recognize that if it is happening.
 
So that’s the thing, I did start with a Norton India Coarse. It took a while to reach the apex. 6 knives over 3 hours.

Maybe I’ll try to get my hands on the American Mutt. Or a larger India or Crystolon.

Or maybe I was being too prissy with the progression: no angle guide, but I set a convexing intention for
10–12 dps with the India coarse,
12–14 dps with SG 220,
16–18 dps with SG 500, and
18–20 dps with SG1000 to microbevel.

I did end up with nice visible 1mm bevels at the end, so on the whole I was happy. Just felt slow compared to the magic tricks we see in the videos.
 
I practice a 2 steeps sharpening for cheap SS :

  • A coarse usually worn out 60 or 120 grit sand paper to get a bur and for “first level debouring”;
  • Final deburing on a mid range natural find in the wild. I do not polish on the natural but for me it is easier to debure on a quite fin stone.
 
From to moment I fill my water bucket or take the chair to the sharpening position (lets call it start), till the moment I've cleaned everything up and there are no traces left of me having sharpened that day (lets call it end),

It takes me an afternoon/ several hours.

I don't care, it's hobby and i approach it kinda autistic, but thats also part of the hobby.

And yes, this all includes multiple small breaks because my back or wrist starts to hurt like hell


In 5 minutes I haven't even got all my gear out of the closet 😅
 
So that’s the thing, I did start with a Norton India Coarse. It took a while to reach the apex. 6 knives over 3 hours.

Maybe I’ll try to get my hands on the American Mutt. Or a larger India or Crystolon.

Or maybe I was being too prissy with the progression: no angle guide, but I set a convexing intention for
10–12 dps with the India coarse,
12–14 dps with SG 220,
16–18 dps with SG 500, and
18–20 dps with SG1000 to microbevel.

I did end up with nice visible 1mm bevels at the end, so on the whole I was happy. Just felt slow compared to the magic tricks we see in the videos.

Cool of you to put in the effort. For cheap knives, I'd pick an angle stick with it and probably stop on the 500, although 1k should be fine too.
 
So, here's my take...

It takes as long as it takes. I'm not being an ass, I just have always hated the time association with sharpening. Several years ago when I got serious about improving my sharpening, there was so much talk about how long something should take and if it is taking you too long you're doing it wrong. Same with counting strokes.

It depends on your stones, the knives, your experience, etc. Don't worry about how long it should take and just focus on understanding and feeling what you're experiencing. There's a good chance those cheap steels will just fluster the hell out of you and never really sharpen. Recognize that if it is happening.


^ This really is the actual answer of course ^

If you've had a load of practice using coarse stones with pressure then you can do it super quick if you need. But if you haven't then it's better to take more time and make sure you do it well. And the results are probably going to be better done well slowly than done well mega-fast anyway, however much practice you've had.

Also what @Kawa said... sharpening is quite fun for a lot of us. There's no particular need to rush it if you're not in a hurry.
 
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When I use my low speed horizontal lap on knives with just a super-dull rounded edge, I move from 120 grit to 220 aluminum oxide and then 360 & 600 grit diamond.

I put an 8" blade in far better than "new Wustoff" condition in 10-12 minutes maximum.

More time is often needed in profileing a scimitar shaped edge, chips, broken/bent tips & munched up heels & finger guards that stop 'rock & slice' knife action.
 
Thanks everyone for the advice and encouragement.

Maybe I should have more faith in my SG220. It rebeveled my SK4 sujihiki in maybe 200 strokes? – then it took me another hour to run up to an 8000 microbevel. Plus faffing about with microscope and angle measure. That's probably where most of the time went.

Before SG220:
2022-09-06-18-05-17-683.jpg

Four minutes later:
2022-09-06-19-17-01-893.jpg

Gotta chase that mirror edge:
2022-09-06-19-02-36-651.jpg

HHT: 2.
2022-09-06-19-15-26-528.jpg
 
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Was this a trick question? Isn't the answer to teach your friend to sharpen their own knives?
I live in a strange place where about a fifth of the population have live-in household help, which includes "private chef" duties … so the dynamics end up very similar to a restaurant kitchen with crappy house knives, because of the disconnect between the people who own them, and the people who use them.

(“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”)
Give a man a fire and he is warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he is warm for the rest of his life.
 
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That's why I got my turntable wheel grinder.

Turned what used to take hours into seconds or minutes. While I also use sharpening as a hobby, there are definitely times that I want my sharpening to be finished as fast a possible.
 
If its completely rounded with no chips. Probably 10 minutes. That's just to be safe. Likely slightly less than that.

I have a 60 grit manticore for just this kind of thing. A few passes on that.

Then I either clean that up with a shapton 220, or a fine india.

Then I usually go on to the venev 400 (600 jis)

Finish stropping on 1 micron diamond on leather.

I've done plenty of knives in just that condition. Though when I get a set in, I do it like an assembly line. I sharpen all knives on one stone, then switch stones and continue up the progression.
 
So that’s the thing, I did start with a Norton India Coarse. It took a while to reach the apex. 6 knives over 3 hours.

Maybe I’ll try to get my hands on the American Mutt. Or a larger India or Crystolon.

Or maybe I was being too prissy with the progression: no angle guide, but I set a convexing intention for
10–12 dps with the India coarse,
12–14 dps with SG 220,
16–18 dps with SG 500, and
18–20 dps with SG1000 to microbevel.

I did end up with nice visible 1mm bevels at the end, so on the whole I was happy. Just felt slow compared to the magic tricks we see in the videos
Honestly. The microconvex that happens from freehand sharpening (for even the most skilled) is likely going to be enough for the average blade, and especially the super cheap ones.

Unless I'm putting a convex on a knife I'm thinning, or I'm doing something like a hamaguri edge, or whatever you want to call it, where the primary, and secondary bevels are blended together with a convex. Taking extra time to worry about adding extra convexity is likely not worth it. Imo. Of course ymmv, like everything else.

And generally speaking, I really don't worry to much about angles at all. I match the angle already on the blade, or I add my own. If I'm changing it, rather than looking for an exact number, i just kind of decide if I want I very acute angle, a very obtuse angle, or somewhere in the middle. Likely the "very obtuse angle" for me is 20 degrees per side. It does vary more than that, but its just a sort of break down of what I'm thinking about while I decide how to sharpen something.
 

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