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Old 28-04-2009, 10:21 PM   #659
Lonerider
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 238
My take on sharpening has always been that it is about maintenance. I like sharp knives. A dull blade will cut and hurt you a lot worst than a dull one. There's been many occasions I've been cut by my knife and I didn't feel a thing, only to realise it when I stained my shirt. . Some find sharpening therapeutic (even spritual) but I guess to each his own. There's the cheap and effective way or the more extravagant way. I think there is generally a bit too much pre-occupation on the tools but too little focus on the techniques. You can have a 200 dollar stone but if you can't sharpen freehand for nuts it's still going to be an expensive paperweight. I do however understand that people generally want the best that they can afford. For those new to sharpening knives an expensive stone is not all that necessary. I've been using those so called "cheap wet market" stones for years and they've worked just fine. In case you're wondering those butchers and fishmongers use their knives more than any of us average folks do in a whole month (heck maybe the whole year). These stones may be cheap but they work and if you are reprofiling a blade these stones (silicon carbide, SiC) will actually work a whole lot better than any Japanese stone which are composed of mainly silica as the cutting agent, i.e. sand. As I proceeded into the hobby of knives I did pick up a few other methods such as the sand paper method and stropping. No I'm not a knife expert and I don't claim to be.. But the following is what has worked for me.

Sandpaper Sharpening
In this method a piece of sandpaper is mounted with spray adhesive on a flat piece of material (i prefer a small piece of glass, 1feet X 4inch). I usually use 400-500 grit to start and proceed to 800 and later 1200. Use wet and dry (black/green)... Glass paper are useless. Most of my knives never have much of a chance to dull as I am usually very disciplined with sharpening so most times its 800 and then 1200. To make sure you are getting every bit of the edge mark it with permanent marker and sharpen the knife. That way you'll know if you miss a spot as the section still has ink. The one question many want to know is when do i change side... Equal no. of strokes is the usual advice but I usually sharpen until I form a burr on the other side as the metal curves/ bends as I sharpen. You can feel this by running your fingernail on the opposite side you are sharpening, it feels rough. That's the time I flip the knife over to "knock off" the burr by sharpening the other side. Repeat until you get the desired sharpness you want. A piece of sandpaper will probably make 2 to 3 good sharpening stone/ surface and they're a heck lot cheaper than those stones you see sold online. A tip... Go slow, keep a good angle and use minimal pressure. The weight of the knife plus a bit more to keep the knife on it's path is generally enough. Cheap and packs into my strong box easily... Practice on mummy's/ wife's kitchen knives first. That's what I did.

Stropping
If you want a polished edge after sharpening a good strop is what you need. Glue a strip of leather belt (wrong side up, leather must be raw, untanned, unvarnished) on a piece of wood, go to a hardware store and buy rubbing compound (also known as automotive compound). Spread it on the leather surface thinly. Proceed as previously but instead of pushing the edge away, draw it towards you. A couple of swipes on each side will knock off any micro-serrations to give a polished edge. If you prefer to buy a strop theres a shop at golder mile complex that sells them (basement), they sell them to barbers as they stock salon stuff.

Systems
The only sharpening system I've used is the sharpmaker. Cheap and effective especially on serrations. Sold it though as I have very few knives with serrations (most have been sold) and the ones I have left I sharpen with a ceramic rod. The DMT seems affordable and many have praised it. Right now I just want to keep things simple. Sandpaper, strop and occasionally the market stones (when reprofiling) will do for me.

P.S. Reprofiling and sharpening is not the same. When you reprofile yo are changing the angle of the edge. Most knives are 30degrees. It is tough and laborious work. Half an hour is not uncommon. I tried it once on a Spydie Endura (change to 15degree inclusive) and it is not something I want to do again. On a sabre/ chisel grind it is ok to try it on your own but if the knife is a V-grind it may be better to send it to a pro.
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