Tips for Newbies?

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Feb 28, 2011
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First of all, I still consider myself a newbie to sharpening and will for years to come, but when I was first starting to sharpen I watched the three videos (Carter, Korin, and Dave's) and noted down preparation/sharpening tips that I thought I might forget, but would be good to remember.

Even after some time now, I still find myself referring to them every now and then just as a helpful reminder before I hit the stones.

So anyhow, here was my list from way back when:

* Wash hands and knives before handling stones.
* Flatten stones before each sharpening session.
* Clean flattener before moving on to next stone, so as to not contaminate grit.
* Examine knife blade (for chips, bends, cleanliness) before sharpening and correct if needed.
* Hone knife blades before sharpening.
* Debur after each stone (felt pad).
* Remember to turn stone around during sharpening to even out wear.
* Wipe off grit on knife before moving to next stone.

I know that those tips are more about preparing for sharpening and the in-between stuff than actual sharpening. Sharpening techniques are so varied, I only had a few sharpening tips on my list.

* Use light pressure on stones.
* Place fingers directly over the portion of blade you are sharping.
* Raise a burr along the entire blade.

If you were instructing a newbie, would you add any other tips or good practices (or take any away)? Just wondering.

Use a magic marker and a loupe to see what you're doing. Otherwise, you're flying blind.

Don't use a sub-1k grit stone until you know what you're doing. It's way too easy to destroy a knife on a 400/500 grit stone.

Painter's tape on the sides of the blade may save you some scuffs, unless you consider them as a rite of passage.
Have patience when sharpening, take your time to learn good technique and get comfortable with your angles. slow is smooth, smooth is fast.