Is Wicked Edge a good solution for maintaining sharpness?

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cooktocut

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Hello everyone!

First off, a little about me. I am fairly new to my knife obsession/collecting, so when I started buying nicer knives, the thought of using a water stone was terrifying. I had a few beaters that I laid down on the stone in my first few attempts, so it didn't take me long to start to look into alternative methods of sharpening where there wasn't such a learning curve and significant risk of damaging a knife in the process.

In comes the Wicked Edge setup. I purchased the Gen 3, and have used it since. I now have a very large collection of customs, some being rather pricey, and I have sharpened pretty much all of them at least once on this system. Brought to a half micron with my finest stones. The result, when done properly, is hard to dispute. I know that most makers aren't necessarily known for their OTB sharpness, but I always end up getting any knife I get sharper than when I got it.

I can't shake this feeling that I'm taking the easy way out though. I have told myself that I can control my angle better, and therefore remove less metal every sharpening, therefore prolonging the life of all my knives. I do know that there is different geometry to knife edges though, and I am fairly limited with what I can do in that regard.

So, in conclusion... Should I be putting earnest effort into learning to sharpen freehand? Are there significant benefits that outweigh the toil of learning a new skill when I have a proven method that seems to work?

Thank you for any help you can give this novice knife owner.
 

Rangen

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If what you're doing is working for you, you certainly don't have to learn the freehand sharpening skill. I do think it's a rewarding skill to have in your pocket. I even find it recreational.

I'm not sure the "remove less metal" argument has any merit.

The good news is that it is easier to learn freehand sharpening on a knife that already has a nice even bevel set on a guided system. I don't use my guided system much anymore, since I leveled up my sharpening skills. It still comes in handy for friends' knives, and for those times when I'm thinking "I'll bet this knife would be better with a 12 degree angle on each side." My skills are not quite up to making that happen as precisely as the guided system does.
 

captaincaed

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There's a lot of 🐔 waving about free hand vs jigs. Let's just say anything professionally made involves a jig a some point. Shawn of BBB does Carta coupons on a jig with a laser diffraction angle checker for consistency, if that says anything.

I think the question is: do you want consistency or flexibility? A working cook ain't hauling a jig around. An under sized touch up stone in the tool bag, plus a full sized stone at home is a nice setup. If you want a different edge angle at the heel vs the tip, a jig will get in your way. Its an ROC curve where every degree of freedom you gain also costs you a bit of consistency. Everyone has their sweet spot.

Do what you love, don't look back. Also, throw up your 1k HHT results on the thread here so we can see your results. So far I haven't seen anyone else manage without a strop, maybe you can be #2!
 

cooktocut

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I'm not sure it has any merit either, but it makes sense logically. The idea with always using guided is that you record your angles and measurements so that when it comes time to sharpen, you're hitting the exact same edge the exact same way as when you sharpened it last, so you're removing less and forming a burr faster. I'm sure it's very difficult to get, say, a 16 degree angle every single time, so you'd probably be going from 14 to 17 to 15 or whatever everytime you sharpen no matter how skilled you are. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that's my understanding, and one of the main factors that keeps me on this track, even though the difference is very negligible I'm sure. Maybe not over the entire life of a knife though.
 

cooktocut

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There's a lot of 🐔 waving about free hand vs jigs. Let's just say anything professionally made involves a jig a some point. Shawn of BBB does Carta coupons on a jig with a laser diffraction angle checker for consistency, if that says anything.

I think the question is of you want consistency or flexibility. A working cook ain't hauling a jig around. An under sized touch up stone in the tool bag, plus a full sized stone at home is a nice setup. If you want a different edge angle at the heel vs the tip, a jig will get in your way. Its an ROC curve where every degree of freedom you gain also costs you a bit of consistency. Everyone has their sweet spot.

Do what you love, don't look back. Also, throw up your 1k HHT results on the thread here so we can see your results. So far I haven't seen anyone else manage without a strop, maybe you can be #2!
Thank you!

What is 1k HHT? I'd love to give it a shot.
 

captaincaed

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1k grit hanging hair test. For the record, I got it to go with a badger brush hair, not my own (pretty fine). Shawn gets it to go with a 400 grit edge (also on a jig).

Admittedly not the most USEFUL exercise, but if you get HHT and the edge survives regular use, then you got a nice clean, deburred edge out of the deal.

 

cooktocut

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1k grit hanging hair test. For the record, I got it to go with a badger brush hair, not my own (pretty fine). Shawn gets it to go with a 400 grit edge (also on a jig).

Admittedly not the most USEFUL exercise, but if you get HHT and the edge survives regular use, then you got a nice clean, deburred edge out of the deal.

Definitely doing this! Thanks!
 

Rangen

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I'm not sure it has any merit either, but it makes sense logically. The idea with always using guided is that you record your angles and measurements so that when it comes time to sharpen, you're hitting the exact same edge the exact same way as when you sharpened it last, so you're removing less and forming a burr faster. I'm sure it's very difficult to get, say, a 16 degree angle every single time, so you'd probably be going from 14 to 17 to 15 or whatever everytime you sharpen no matter how skilled you are. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but that's my understanding, and one of the main factors that keeps me on this track, even though the difference is very negligible I'm sure. Maybe not over the entire life of a knife though.
If you're touching up, you're on a high-grit stone, so you're not removing much metal, and you're using the existing bevel as a guide, so you should not be changing the angle.
 

daveb

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The breakdown of gizmos is thinning. If you keep putting that xx angle on a piece of steel, that is getting thicker as you sharpen, then you won't have the same geometry in a year. It doesn't matter how precise the edge is when the blade gets thicccck right above the edge. (2nd breakdown of gizmos is sharpening the tip) And lets talk about single bevels.....

Suggest you checkout Jon's sharpening video series at Japanese Knife Imports. It's well worth the watch.
 

Hz_zzzzzz

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I'm not familiar with WickedEdge so how low of an angle it can be used at?

If you can go as low as 2-3 degree per side, you can thin the knife with it, then I would say it's not necessary for your learn free hand sharpening at all.

If it doesn't go lower than say 10 degree per side, like Daveb said you might need to thin your knife one day and don't know how to do it with WickedEdge.

However, given that you have many custom pricy knives, I assume your financial situation allows you to send your knives to professionals for thinning and maintaining every time it's needed. Since you have many knives, if you use them evenly as a home cook, it would take a long time for any knife to be really thickened to a point when you need to thin them. If you keep buying new ones and selling old ones, you might never need to thin any of them.
 

cooktocut

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I'm not familiar with WickedEdge so how low of an angle it can be used at?

If you can go as low as 2-3 degree per side, you can thin the knife with it, then I would say it's not necessary for your learn free hand sharpening at all.

If it doesn't go lower than say 10 degree per side, like Daveb said you might need to thin your knife one day and don't know how to do it with WickedEdge.

However, given that you have many custom pricy knives, I assume your financial situation allows you to send your knives to professionals for thinning and maintaining every time it's needed. Since you have many knives, if you use them evenly as a home cook, it would take a long time for any knife to be really thickened to a point when you need to thin them. If you keep buying new ones and selling old ones, you might never need to thin any of them.
I haven't tried anything lower than ten, but it did ten flawlessly and that knife still feels like a surgical scalpel. I'm pretty sure it can go as low as you're describing, so that's good to know.

As for professionals... can you give me any recommendations? I do have a couple knives that were a little bit clunky from the start that I could definitely see myself thinning so I would use them more often.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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Herein lies, what is for me, the issue with buying "pretty" knife blades. If you use them enough to warrant sharpening, then sooner or later you're faced a few choices:

1. Ignore the thick geometry.
2. Commit to thinning and restoring the "pretty" aspect. Whether that is trying it yourself or sending it to a pro.
3. Commit to function over form and let the "pretty" suffer.

This is especially true of damascus blades.

I would be very surprised if your WE can get low enough for thinning. But even if it could, you still have the finish concerns. It doesn't mean folks shouldn't buy what they like, just that it's something that should be understood and considered in making purchases.

Also, diamonds are not always the best option for all steels and diamonds wear out and are expensive.

I say try free hand sharpening again. A good splash and go like a Shapton Glass or Pro is a great place to start. A 2k is nice as you're not removing much material and is great for upkeep. You have the WE to fall back on if you aren't happy with your edges.
 
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Hz_zzzzzz

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I haven't tried anything lower than ten, but it did ten flawlessly and that knife still feels like a surgical scalpel. I'm pretty sure it can go as low as you're describing, so that's good to know.

As for professionals... can you give me any recommendations? I do have a couple knives that were a little bit clunky from the start that I could definitely see myself thinning so I would use them more often.
I haven't used any professional myself but JKI has very good reputation. Services
 

Michi

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I can't shake this feeling that I'm taking the easy way out though.
I sharpened for about two decades with a Lansky guided sharpener. It got my knives sharp. Very sharp. (They were all Wüsthofs back then.)

Then I got interested in Japanese knives and decided to try the free-hand thing. It's less messing about in some ways. No need to deal with a clamp, it's quicker because the contact area is so much larger, and I can feel what's happening, which is basically not possible with a guided system.

That said, to me, it comes down to pragmatism. If you are happy with the results you are getting with your Wicked Edge, why change? The one thing that matters is whether a knife is properly sharp. How it got there is not all that important.

The points about thinning are valid. Eventually, you will have to thin your knives. But, TBH, with normal kitchen use, that might be ten years or more down the road. (I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of people thin their knives long before they really need it.)
 

WaTFTanaki

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Honestly it doesn’t have to be that binary a choice. I have a wicked edge and almost never use it except for folders occasionally. You could learn to thin on stones and then do the edge on the WE. The thinning learning curve isn’t super steep vs sharpening the edge on stones where more time and practice is required. Lower and medium grit splash and go stones, especially after you have bought a WE, are astonishingly reasonable.
 
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