Do you look dumb too?

Dec 20, 1998
Got your attention didn't it? Anyhow, I've been sharpening a lot of blades lately and the natural thing for me is to test for sharpness on my forearm so I end up with bald spots. My wife says I look like an idiot, so I was wondering if you guys do too.
If I'm all alone out here, somebody help me out and tell me how to see if my blades are "hair poppers" without popping hair.
Tim - There is a trick that I learned in Seki from the knifemakers there. Lightly touch the edge of the blade to the hair on back of head as though you were going to comb your hair with the knife. (LIGHTLY!) If the knife edge "catches" your hair without sliding, it is sharp enough to shave. It is not necessary and sometimes considered barbaric to scrape the fur off of your arm.
Add me to the "look like an idiot" list! About a week ago I bought a Leatherman Wave and the first thing I did was knock a patch of hair off my forearm. Last night a friend of mine was showing me a knife he had sharpend with a $5 sharpener. First thing I did was shave some hair off.

Thanks, Sal ;( I tried your trick. Now both my arm and the back of my head are bald!! (I've seen your photos in knife magazines before, and now I know why you wear your hair the way you do. <g>)

Tim: try Rogaine (tm). Two out of five knife lovers successfully regrew their arm hair.

Consider your bald arm (and the back of your head) as the mark of a knife lover and wear it proudly.

Is there are polite way of testing sharpness while handling a blade in a dealer shop or knife show? Obviously shaving my arm is out of the question. And, I don't want to leave finger oil all over some guy's baby.

I recently touched up the edge on my Spydie Calypso. Testing it out, I found it shaved hair off my arm quite nicely.
I went to McDonald's today for lunch and sat down by some old lady to eat. I noticed she was looking at the huge bald spot on my arm. Finally, she said in a polite way, "Excuse me sir, did you know you have a big bald spot on your arm?" I responded with a smile, "Yes, and I also have sharp knives." She got up and walked away before I could explain. Hope I didn't scare her
I test the sharpness by shaving my arm too, my left arm is usually a bit more hairless than the right, but luckily, due to my native blood I suppose, the fact that one arm is a bit bare doesn't seem to be as apparent as it is with some of my more neanderthal counterparts. A trick my mother taught me is to slide the edge over your thumbnail, and if it drags, it is sharp, and if it rides smoothly, it is not. I don't think I would do that with any blades that are very long, but on my smaller blades it works well.



"No, it's a Vaquero Grande in my pocket, but I am happy to see you!"

Hehe - add me to the bald spot club :)

One thing is more embarrasing than having bald spots on the forearm - and that is saying to a buddy "look how sharp this is" then slipping and cutting a chunk out of your arm! - I was that soldier :-(


"No, try not. Do, or do not - there is no try"..... Yoda
OK, here’s a idea. Lets all try to come up with a sharpness test we all like as much as arm shaving before Spring comes, and we go back to Short Sleeves.

LD (This Dog looks like he has Mange)

I knew this one would be good for a laugh or two.
Sal- Sorry, if Bald1 hadn't taken the moniker first I'd have gotten it by default. Default of my fathers genes.
Yekim- I had a fella show me that fingernail trick years ago and had completely forgot about it. Thanks for the remind.
Yoda- My wife's second big problem with our hobby is my cutting myself (new thread ?) at first I left as much blood as hair laying around.
I'm really surprised that more ideas haven't come up, although as a professional cook I've been sharpening knives several times a week for ten years now and haven't come up with anything. No, I don't shave my arms with cooking knives, just my personal stuff.
Thanks for all the input.
I too have a bare left arm....I couldn't resist touching up my new baby it got scarey sharp....
a knife's not worth havin' ...unless it's sharp
You guys crack me up. I about died reading Chris's McDonalds adventure. Tim, you be careful on the job.....don't want a finger tip in that Navy bean soup

I do this little test to check sharpness that I haven't yet read here:

I cut something....if it works with little effort the knife is sharp, if it doesn't I get the Lansky out again.


Yup I look like an idiot but thanks to Sal tis no more.

Best Regards,
Mike Turber
BladeForums Site Owner and Administrator
Do it! Do it right! Do it right NOW!

Greg, you actually cut things with your knives? I thought we were just suposed to play around with these things 'till we cut ourselves.

C'mon Greg, what do you cut? Big difference between potatoes, tomatoes and rice paper.

YeK - sliding an edge over your fingernail may feel sharp on the nail, but still not be sharp enough to shave. We say that; "when the two edge bevels have met (been brought together), it is sharp enough to check on your thumbnail (blade drawn from heel to tip along thumbnail held at 45 degree angle. If blade doesn't slide off (down incline) thumbnail, but "tracks" in the same "groove", then it is probably sharp enough to cut food or paper, but not quite sharp enough to shave hair". my 2 yen.
I test the sharpness of my blades by shaving the hair off of my face.
Whiskers are more course and stronger than arm hair. It is really easy to tell the differance between a sharp blade and a really sharp blade.
Give it a try, it is a much better test than the arm.
How about down by the ankle. Covered by sock when you are done. I use this area alot, especially after I run out of hair on the wrist.
Being the hairy guy that I am I try to shave a place no one will see. But to answer the question my girlfriend does think I'm an idiot. Nick
Hi guys,
Well...I just got back from the emergency room. After I did my last post I thought about this topic for a while said to myself, "you know, you really should give this hair shaving thing a try." I mean, why should I be the only guy who has never shaved with a knife?

I got John Juranitch's book in the mail this week, "The Razor Edge Book Of Sharpening" and they have all these cool pictures of John shaving his beard off with an ax. So I figured I would use my garden hoe since I don't own an ax. So I spent the whole afternoon with my Gatco and Lansky and Tri Seps and Arkansas stones. Boy did I think that hoe was sharp. I haven't shaved all weekend so I figured, "if John can do it with an ax...."

The stitches come out next Thursday! And...I won't be shaving anytime soon.

(this post is a lie, I did not shave my face with a garden hoe, it's dark here in Alaska, it's affecting my brain)