How good are you at sharpening?

Joined
Jul 17, 2018
Messages
682
I can sharpen my knives and axes satisfactorily to my standards, but I am a novice at best. I keep a fine DMT hone for abused blades, but prefer Arkansas and oil for end of day touchup. I have to be careful with the diamond hone, as it is aggressive (and thus reveals my crummy technique - this is how I know I have much to learn about sharpening freehand). I prefer the Arkansas stones (soft, hard and hard black) because they are more forgiving and slow cutting. This makes me feel like I get more time to practice my technique. I also like oil stones because many of my knives are carbon steel. I have learned to go slow and enjoy it. In the end, I always get a shaving sharp blade.
At times I am tempted to get some sort of sharpening system. I mean really, they produce remarkable edges. I can imagine that they could arguably extend the life of a blade somewhat by maintaining perfect geometry, removing only what material is necessary, etc. I reserve myself the option to do that. For now, I think I enjoy putting a little of my own mark on the tools I sharpen. Sharpening by hand, whether you're good at it or not, makes a blade uniquely yours. No one else will ever do it exactly the same.
 
Joined
Mar 9, 2007
Messages
405
I am totally hopeless at freehand sharpening. So earlier days, the Sharpmaker became my sharpening system. Now, I am using the Wicked Edge system. Still learning though. I still use the sharpmaker for its convenience but it does have its limitations.
 
Joined
Nov 7, 2018
Messages
3
Edge pro with 120, 220, 400, 600, 800, 1000 stones as well as the 2k, 3k 6k tapes and blanks and a couple of strops with different polishing compounds.
I also have the lansky system with the extra course, course, medium, fine and extra fine attachments and some 30$ system that has a course, medium and fine stone attached on one peice I learned how to sharpen on
 
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
3,257
Preach on Brother Dave, I could live with a coarse 8'' dmt as my only plate for the rest of my life.
Thankfully I dont have to but it certainly could happen...
As far as quick upkeep, the world is my strop, I have used the edge trailing stroke to great advantage since the 60's.
The only comment I will make on proficiency is when I sell a used knife the recipient usually is pretty happy with the edge they receive.

Russ
 

BOSS1

Gold Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2008
Messages
1,659
One thing most get with a guided system is a 'complete' bevel. While doing it freehand, most are probably getting multiple bevels at varying slightly different angles and stop when they get an edge that's sharp. But that sharp edge might be a small final micro bevel at the edge that may not be as stable or last as long (which why some folks might be needing to sharpen more frequently). On the guided system you're more likely to have a full single bevel, top to bottom, that will last and cut clean. Obviously some variables in there (blade steel, usage, etc) but all things being equal, a precise single bevel is desirable IMHO. And being able to do it less frequently with longer results might lead to longer blade life.

Also, for higher ends knives, the guided systems cuts down on cosmetic scratches to the blade from the sharpening process.

$.02.

Boss
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Messages
175
I learned to sharpen knives with oil, what we called a whetstone, and a soft and hard Arkansas stone. Finish it off with a leather belt. It was a competition when we were kids. I got them as sharp then as I do now.
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2015
Messages
2,464
How good of a knife sharpener am I??? Not very good at all. However, I’m leaps and bounds better now than I used to be.
 
Joined
May 6, 2018
Messages
890
Numerous Eze-Lap diamond plates, some good metal files, a couples of unnameable water stones, 2 strops loaded with different compound and a good honing steel, is all I need. I have other more aggressive means of correcting damaged edges, Grinders, Belt sander, Wood and leather wheels and I also have a home sharpening jig I made. And with that stuff I can give everything a pretty decent edge.
 
Joined
Mar 21, 2007
Messages
358
I can freehand to an edge that will slice phone book paper and shave hair a bit. I feel pretty good- my feathers spread and ready to strut! Then I compare it to one I have done on the Edge Pro or Wicked Edge and pull my feathers in and go to bed (not even close to those).
 

David Martin

Moderator
Joined
Apr 7, 2008
Messages
19,456
wvdave, there are some very good freehand sharpeners on here. And it's not been proven that great looking bevels equate to better edge retention. DM
 
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Joined
Jun 23, 2012
Messages
2,396
I personally have stopped using my edge pro as it's too time consuming to set up and tear down unless I am sharpening all the kitchen knives. I have the set of Spyderco Bench stones and Atoma 400 (120 grit) plate, and balsa and leather strops. I can pop hairs, and even whittle (depending on the edge geometry) from my free hand sharpening. I've been at it since i was a kid so I have had a lot of practice. I keep the EP around in case i need a perfect bevel set or I need (want) a polished edge. Anyway about it, both require skill to perfect. I've given up on polished edges for the most part as they don't tend to last as long and the effort required is pretty high :) When I sell a used knife, i put a polished edge on it to make the new owner happy :)
 
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Messages
323
Carbon steel freehand? Decent. But I use a harbor freight 1x30 to save the time. I am only interested in what the edge does for me not how I got there. I did just get a linen belt for it. The leather stretches rather quickly and is wobbly. Happened 2 x. Could have to do with the fact that the setup is in a toolshed outside. No climate control. For my kitchen knives it's typically 220 to 400 to white compound. Shaves arm hair easily but more importantly does a great job of chopping cutting meat, etc. Several pocket knives I've sharpened to 2000 grit. Nice and polished edge. But I don't think it does anything for what I used them for.
 

marchone

Gold Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2013
Messages
3,571
I used to think I kept a pretty good edge on my knives. All freehand; usually on diamond. Then I met a few pros whose edge work quickly disabused me of that notion. So I bought a diamond and ceramic Lansky Pro set. But the clamp is frustrating me on distal tapered blades so now I'm looking to springing for a Wicked Edge WE130 system. If I can stop buying knives long enough to squeeze it into my monthly budget. (sigh)
 
Joined
Jul 1, 2013
Messages
494
I get my knives to the point where they can all shave, but not necessarily face shaving or hair popping sharp. I could do better I guess but my knives tend to be users. A solid functional edge is all I really want at this point. Once I got some confidence, I stopped obsessing over better and better edges.

...But a good sharpener should be able to produce a sharp knife on just one coarse grit stone. 100-200 grit. DM

+1 on that quote.

I started on a couple of cheap stones. Felt like a complete failure. I got a Sharpmaker and experienced some immediate success. Once I learned more on the Sharpmaker, I purchased a couple of other cheap stones and now all my sharpening is free hand.
 
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Joined
Jul 31, 2017
Messages
361
As far as testing for sharpening goes: wet shave any hair that is not on my face/ awkward s slices/ about 6 out of 10 on the quiet scale. Still have a ways to go (Curse you cheap stainless steel and uneven grinds!)
From coarse to finest I have:
100/400 Moldmasters (Congress tools)
Basic+UF Sharpmaker
Stropping:
1 Tandy leather strop
400-600 grit 1 lb Woodstock green compound (extra fine) aka stick of life
1000-2500 grit 1 lb Woodstock dried out red compound (rogue) aka stick of death aka killer of edges (just found out it has no cutting abilities...)
5-.25 micron CKTG diamond paste
 

thost288

Gold Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2015
Messages
73
Have been working on freehand sharpening using the diamond stones from the KME and spyderco ceramics and various strops. Starting to get good edge finishes and the cutting edge is great. after watching all the Michael Christy and Super Steel Steve youtube videos im sure I can get things a bit sharper. Need to blunt the maxamet and see if I can get it even sharper

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BOSS1

Gold Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2008
Messages
1,659
^^ Very Nicely done.

I used to think I kept a pretty good edge on my knives. All freehand; usually on diamond. Then I met a few pros whose edge work quickly disabused me of that notion.

Funny how that happens, ain't it?

I'd classify sharpening as a perishable skill. So unless you're just a gifted sharpening savant, or just have the time to indulge making sharpening a frequent 'hobby' (if its not a professional necessity like being chef), the vast majority of us will get MUCH better results with a mechanical/guided system. Human hands replicating the exact same angle, time after time after time...free hand? Difficult. Using a WE or EP? Relatively easy. And once you see quality of the edge you can actually produce with your own hands...in a relatively short amount of time...then it becomes 'Ohhhh...now I see...I thought I was good before...but this edge...it rocks!'​

My $.02.

BOSS
 
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