How do you sharpen your Howling Rat?

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Feb 16, 2010
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I am a pretty poor blade sharpener, and I typically will scratch a blade during the sharpening process (using my lansky system or using a stone). I hope to change that before I get my howling rat.

I have done some research on here, but I figured the best way to get targeted info is to ask about what does and doesn't work for this knife in particular. In other words, i want to become a good HRLM sharpener, and I can worry about becoming knife sharpener in general later on. I found the link and post below, but not sure if there are better methods.

First off, I should say that my understanding is that the HRLM comes with a full convex grind? I want to use it on all sorts of surfaces, including wood and gutting/skinning. Sounds like some prefer a V grind for slicing, not sure which best fits my needs...

I am wondering about how to do the first sharpen after I get the knife (including any re-profiling that you recommend), how to do subsequent maintenance sharpens, how to repair chips/rolls, and how to do sharpening in the field, camping or on a hunting trip. Thanks.


http://www.barkriverknives.com/convex.htm


http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=482765&highlight=finally
 
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Sharpening a knife is sharpening a knife, your not going to get good at one blade without learning the skill in general.

The knife will come with a V edge and if you want a convex grind I would suggest sending it to a professional.

Simple stones will sharpen your new knife, norton india, Sic, or water stones all come to mind along with sandpaper over glass.

What method or stones were you thinking of?
 
Hi Kirk, I like to touch up and even sharpen my knives with ceramic rods, Kershaw, Lansky, Norton, etc...
If I get a roll or dent from hitting a rock while battoning I use regular sharpening stones, starting with rough, then medium and finishing with a hard Arkansas stone. Some use a butchers Steel to remove rolls but I find I can do it with a stone just as easily.
If you are getting scratches on your blade from sharpening I think you are laying it too flat on the stone. Picture in your mind two quarters behind your blade while you are dragging the knife across the stone. This is usually the angle you want to use, depending on the grind you want. Another method to see if you are too low or too high on the edge is to use a black marker and go over your knife edge and then try to sharpen the edge. If you are not removing the black marker from the edge you are not low or high enough.
For field sharpening I just take a medium stone with me and stuff it in my backpack.
The V grind is fine for everything you mentioned but what I like to do it is take the shoulder (top part of the V) down just a little so it is more of a longer V edge, but still not convex.
If it is going to be your field knife keep it razor sharp and have a larger chopper for camp prep, shelters, fire prep, and to hammer the hell out of anything.
If you get stuck and cant get the angles right I will make some videos for you to learn by.
Good luck on your quest to sharpen....you can also check out some youtube videos on sharpening
 
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Sharpening a knife is sharpening a knife, your not going to get good at one blade without learning the skill in general.

The knife will come with a V edge and if you want a convex grind I would suggest sending it to a professional.

Simple stones will sharpen your new knife, norton india, Sic, or water stones all come to mind along with sandpaper over glass.

What method or stones were you thinking of?


I'm sure that learning how to sharpen my HRLM will give me skills that will translate to other knives, but what I'm trying to say is that for now, I'm just interested in getting the skills, methods, and equipment that will allow me to sharpen that particular steel with that particular design (which is why I thought it would be good to post in the swamp rat forum). In other words, I'm trying to limit the replies to info that applies directly to the HRLM, since a lot of my problem in researching this is that there are so many different methods and tools, and I need to pin down the ones that are best for my HRLM. And I figure that most of the folks who go to the trouble and spend the money to get a swamp rat probably know what they are doing, so weeds out poor information.

I am fine with a V grind. I trust whatever grind Eric deems fit. That is what I originally thought, but I did a search and saw some references to a convex grind.

As for what method or tool I had in mind, that is really one of the aims of this post. It is kind of mind numbing trying to decide among all of the various methods (just like it was in trying to pick a knife to go with, but picking a knife is fun--I'm exhausted from that, however, and picking a sharpening system just doesn't have the same appeal ;-) )

All I can say is that some major pros of one system over another would be:

1.) ease and symplicity
2.) not requiring a great amount of experience and skill (although I am willing to put in time and attention to detail), based on what I mentioned in my OP
3.) not being prone to scratching up the blade (not sure if one way is better than another in this regard)
4.) at least for now, I am not someone who obsesses over having an absolutely perfect, maximally sharp blade, so that is not a concern. I would like it to be a sharp, tough, dependable edge and to have an edge that is on par with the quality of the knife, but having the worlds most perfect edge is not one of my goals.
 
for an easy way to sharpen that can give you a shaving sharp edge in minutes check out the paper wheels. here is a link to a thread on them. http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=578787
they have a short learning curve and you choose the angle you want on your knife. for around $100. you can get set up with them. i have a set that is going on 19 years old and still going. you can maintain a convex edge on the slotted wheel but if you need to work up a burr, you can do that easily with some sandpaper laid on top of a phone book and finish off the edge with the slotted wheel.
 
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Hi Kirk, I like to touch up and even sharpen my knives with ceramic rods, Kershaw, Lansky, Norton, etc...
If I get a roll or dent from hitting a rock while battoning I use regular sharpening stones, starting with rough, then medium and finishing with a hard Arkansas stone. Some use a butchers Steel to remove rolls but I find I can do it with a stone just as easily.
If you are getting scratches on your blade from sharpening I think you are laying it too flat on the stone. Picture in your mind two quarters behind your blade while you are dragging the knife across the stone. This is usually the angle you want to use, depending on the grind you want. Another method to see if you are too low or too high on the edge is to use a black marker and go over your knife edge and then try to sharpen the edge. If you are not removing the black marker from the edge you are not low or high enough.
For field sharpening I just take a medium stone with me and stuff it in my backpack.
The V grind is fine for everything you mentioned but what I like to do it is take the shoulder (top part of the V) down just a little so it is more of a longer V edge, but still not convex.
If it is going to be your field knife keep it razor sharp and have a larger chopper for camp prep, shelters, fire prep, and to hammer the hell out of anything.
If you get stuck and cant get the angles right I will make some videos for you to learn by.
Good luck on your quest to sharpen....you can also check out some youtube videos on sharpening


So it sounds like you use the rods unless there is a deformity, and only then do you go to the stones? Or is there occasional sharpening that you do regardless of damage/rolling etc.?

As mentioned, I have the Lansky system. The finest level is a ceramic. Would that suit all of these needs (other than for field sharpening, where it would be too much of a pain) just as well, or would you still suggest going with rods and stones? One obvious reason that I like it is that it automatically gives you a consistent angle.

I think the scratches are from hitting the stone after the grind of the blade (probably getting it back in position for the next one) ... probably just a matter of sloppiness.

I do have another knife for the chopping, etc. It's an old AUS8A blade that I got as a kid back in the 90s. Maybe someday I will replace it someday with a bigger swamp rat or a busse or something, but for now it will take most of the abuse.
 
Learn how to use the wet and dry paper/ mouse mat method. Go on you tube for plenty of good instructional videos.
My main tip is to only use very light pressure.Even if the HR comes with a v secondary bevel it will soon become convexed through using this method. Once convexed you can even touch it up on the leg of your jeans at a push.
 
Im with pitdog, I think convex with mousepad and sandpaper is the most forgiving. if u don't want a convex you should invest in an edge pro. I am bad at maintaining a consistent angle and this helps achieve shaving sharpness with a flat grind blade or beveled edge. it isn't good on blades with a lot of curves though.
 
These cats are right about mousepad sharpening. Just understand that you are dealing with very hard steel and that most references mention starting with 1000 grit. Big mistake. You have to knock the bevel down and 1000 will take you a lOOOOOOOOOOOOng time.

I put in a couple of days on my swamp warden (days), with hours each day, to get it convexed. Don't be afraid to start at 80 grit...it's definitely where you'll need to start on the HRLM. I worked on mine solid for over a week, and then sent it to Jason (knifenut1013) after the progress was so slow. You may just want to start out by sending it to one of the nice folks here to get the edge established, then using the sandpaper (barring any serious chips...tip, don't baton with the ground as your surface...in case you didn't know {which it seems I neglected to remember}, the ground has stones in it...and stones are what are used to sharpen steel....or chip the crap outta it!) to maintain your edge.

Congrats on your HRLM purchase. Many seem to prefer the RMD, but having had both through my hands, the HRLM is my preference. That, a Swamp Warden and a Chopweiler (2nd gen) round out my very useful collection.
 
These cats are right about mousepad sharpening. Just understand that you are dealing with very hard steel and that most references mention starting with 1000 grit. Big mistake. You have to knock the bevel down and 1000 will take you a lOOOOOOOOOOOOng time.

I put in a couple of days on my swamp warden (days), with hours each day, to get it convexed. Don't be afraid to start at 80 grit...it's definitely where you'll need to start on the HRLM. I worked on mine solid for over a week, and then sent it to Jason (knifenut1013) after the progress was so slow. You may just want to start out by sending it to one of the nice folks here to get the edge established, then using the sandpaper (barring any serious chips...tip, don't baton with the ground as your surface...in case you didn't know {which it seems I neglected to remember}, the ground has stones in it...and stones are what are used to sharpen steel....or chip the crap outta it!) to maintain your edge.

Congrats on your HRLM purchase. Many seem to prefer the RMD, but having had both through my hands, the HRLM is my preference. That, a Swamp Warden and a Chopweiler (2nd gen) round out my very useful collection.

So sounds like you are a big proponent of re-profiling the HRLM to a convex edge? If I decided to do that, I would be fine with sending it off to a pro to handle it. Again, I have no interest in becoming a blade master.

I decided on the HRLM because I started looking for a hunting knife (4.5 inches is about the longest blade I would consider) that could double as a small survival knife, and decided that a dozier (the knife I would have chosen if I had decided on a pure hunting knife) would just be too limited for me right now (I will probably get the dozier down some day, but I wanted the more general-use knife to begin with). So, I will use it on all sorts of surfaces, probably not much hacking and such, given its size and the fact that I have a bigger chopper that will get most of the abusive stuff.

Given these uses, would you still go with the convex edge?
 
i would try the factory edge for a while. if you dont like the factory v edge then convex the edge.
 
Get a Spyderco sharpmaker. They can be had for $52 and will sharpen just about anything. They can be set up several different ways including as a flat stone, and it packs up in to a nice small package. I personally started with Japanese water stones, then bought a Sharpmaker, and then bought the decked out version of the Edge Pro Apex.

Whether you go with the Sharpmaker or some flat stones and some cheap kitchen knives. It takes a while to get a feeling for it, and you are going to make mistakes it is all part of the process. Also do some reading on edge geometry, the relationships between cutting ability and primary/secondary bevels are important. One piece of good advice is let the stones do the work, do not use too much pressure.

Good luck!
 
I bought an Edge Pro a while back and it is pretty simple to use and can put hair shaving edges on knives but it doesn't do convex, just beveled edges. It scratches the blades a bit too from the grit that gets on them as they lay on the rest but you can cover the blades with blue painters tape to protect them. If you want convex, I'd use a mousepad and sandpaper. There are many good videos out there on this method. Good luck.
 
Thanks. I got my howling rat (although had to send it off right away to get a sheath made :grumpy:), and its edge was very sharp to me and seemed like it would be more than satisfactory. So, probably won't be doing a convex edge. Maybe if I eventually get something like a chopweiler, I will want a convex edge. But the HRLM is going to be more of a slicer, and sounds like the V edge is better suited to that.

I'm definitely considering the sharpmaker over the edge pro given the cost differential. And not ruling out the paper wheels, but that is also expensive and will require some more reading and study...
 
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