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Is "one stroke - change side - one stroke" - ok when sharpening?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Nicolai, Dec 30, 2018.

  1. Nicolai


    Dec 7, 2018
    Hi Bladeforums. So, until now, when i sharpen my knifes, i do "1 stroke - change side - 1 stroke - change side" when sharpening on my sharpening stone. I know that most people say that you should sharpen one side until a burr forms, then switch side and create a burr again and so on. But why cant i just switch side with each stroke? Why create a burr to begin with? If you keep switching sides with each stroke, you should still reach the apex sooner or later even if you have not created a burr on each side, and still getting a sharp edge? I just think its a little "too much" with the burr method if i just need to touch op a blade for exampel. Do i somehow get a better edge when using the burr method?

    Best regards, Nicolai
    bucketstove likes this.
  2. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    You can do it, but it introduces a greater likelihood of uneven strokes from constantly changing the blade orientation relative to the stone. As such, it's recommended to save that for the finishing strokes, only.
  3. If you're already well-familiar with how sharp your knife will actually be after forming a burr, then you don't necessarily have to re-form the burr each and every time you touch up the edge. To put it another way, over time and with repeated sharpening of a particular knife to a full burr, it's possible or even likely that you'll begin to recognize and correlate a certain level of sharpness produced when the burr forms, after which you might not need to actually see the burr to know when it's 'done' to full sharpness or very nearly so.

    On the other hand, if you've never actually seen or formed a burr in touching up your edge, I'd bet your edge has likely never been as sharp as it could be. The burr is the most definite and reliable indicator that the edge is fully apexed; therefore, it's the best indication the apex is essentially as fine or thin as it can be (at a given grit finish), and therefore the best indicator it's as truly sharp as it can be.

    As for flipping sides after each & every pass, I prefer not to work that way if the edge needs much work. This is just because I feel there's some loss of consistency in held angle on each side, if I'm constantly having to re-establish my hold on the knife and the set angle before each & every pass. I prefer instead to get a consistent rhythm going once I've set my hold on the knife and established the correct angle for the side I'm working. Then, after seeing some significant progress on that side, I'll switch sides and set the hold and the angle ONCE at the beginning, while working the other side.

    If the edge needs an absolute minimum of touching up, then it's not such a big deal in switching back & forth between sides, if you're only needing a handful of passes per side to get it fully sharp again. This is essentially what I do in the very final few strokes, when I know I'm just seconds away from being 'done' with the edge, to full sharpness. The objective being, when the edge is already that refined, it's more about reducing & minimizing any small burr left, and the 'balance' of work between each side becomes more critical in doing that, one very light pass at a time, back & forth, until any sign of a burr is gone.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2018
  4. kreisler


    May 11, 2012
    Sharpmaker doesn't say that you should create a burr
  5. Wowbagger


    Sep 20, 2015
    You don't have to form a bur; you can do what is called Apex Sharpening and just sharpen until the glint on the edge is gone. Here is Cliff Stamp to explain that. I did search here and finally fell back on youtube for an explanation.
    I don't do it this way but for those allergic to burs enjoy.
    I hit a happy medium and form the slightest, slightest bur possible as looked at with a jeweler's visor with a strong lens.

    Now you may not want to flatten your near sharp edge every time you want to just touch up.
    I hear you ! ! ! !

    For that the one stroke thing might just be the way to go. Personally I find myself doing at least two strokes per side for a while on say . . . my Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic Triangle rod hand held. So because of this I tend not to use it's full length. That would be on a knife that is pretty much, nearly, almost, in some spots shave sharp and I want to get it back to whittling.

    And I have a big but there . . . if the blade is more dull, or damaged (rolled edge, flat spot, dings and chips or needs to be thinned behind the edge to actually cut like a knife) . . . then . . . well . . . you thought I was going to say you need more strokes per side before changing sides . . .
    . . . didn't you ?
    Not necessarily.
    You could just use a longer stone. A lot of the nice bench stones come in 10 inch lengths or even longer if you shop for them.
    you could use the sand paper method and stick the sand paper / emery paper / wet or dry of your choice down on a flat surface. Particle board from the building supply is surprisingly flat.

    Then just keep sticking feet or meters of sand paper down until even if your knife is as dull as dull can be you could, conceivably, re shape the edge in one stroke per side strokes in no time.

    Once I get to almost finished, meaning the thing is shaving but not whittling, I take partial strokes per side . . . depending on the stone and the alloy I may only move an inch or two of stone length for a blade less than three inches long.

    Bottom line : it all depends.
    How sharp is the edge to start with ?
    What grit are you sharpening on ?
    How much pressure are you applying ?
    How much Espresso have you had ? (caffeine fueled sharpening makes the one stroke per side thing virtually a physical impossibility . . . at least for the first knife or so).
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2018
    Chris "Anagarika" likes this.
  6. Spideyjg


    Nov 7, 2017
    That video gives me the creeps.
  7. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    This was how I was taught to sharpen by both of my grandfathers. Not saying it is right, or the best, because it isn't always the best. Especially if the knife is very dull, or a newly made knife. Just takes too long compared to scrubbing motion on the coarse grit stone. But, once you have the edge apexed, it is the ONLY method I use to sharpen a knife. Once the edge is apexed (burr raised and de-burred on coarse stone), I switch to single strokes edge leading, heel to tip and then tip to heel on the rest of my stone progression. (Edge trailing if the stone calls for it)

    The plateau method (video) uses 2 different angles to form the edge. A lower angle to "shape" the edge (or back bevel some might say) without apexing, and then a higher angle to form the apex. I think this method of sharpening does raise a burr, just basically a very very tiny one. I don't think it is physically possible to actually apex an edge without raising one, although undetectable it might be, and I understand the goal of it is to not INTEND to raise a burr, which I absolutely concur with. That is the goal of the method. Intentionally raising the burr is best when you're learning the mechanics of sharpening, how and what to do to form an apex to ensure the knife gets sharp. Once a person has become proficient in sharpening, then the plateau method (or minimal burr formation) sharpening "may" be better. I'm not sold on it, as I think that once a burr is raised and then deburred, and "further" edge leading sharpening is done in the progression, any weakened steel from burr formation is long gone.

    Do what works for you.
    GABaus and Chris "Anagarika" like this.
  8. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    I do that when I get close to finished on a stone, or ceramic.

    SOLEIL Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 20, 2006
    Sharpen your knife however you like. If you're satisfied it's good, if you're not then try something different. There are hundreds of ways to sharpen knives and they all work to one degree or another. There are no set rules, equipment, or "secret methods" to it. It is all practice and skill no matter what method you use.
    Lapedog, Ben Dover and hughd like this.
  10. bgentry


    Aug 3, 2009
    To kind of summarize and inject my own opinion a bit:

    YES, you will get a better edge with the burr method, unless your knife is already close to sharp. OR if you are very skilled at sharpening and are able to determine that the blade is apexed without creating a burr.

    If you have not created a burr on several blades, full length, on both sides, and then removed it, you likely do not know how sharp blades can be. You might have laser sharp blades that you sharpen to perfect laser sharpness each time. But if you're more like the average knife owner, you probably don't and you don't know what can be achieved with burr sharpening.

    I still create a burr on most edges I sharpen because I sharpen a lot of other people's knives and I don't have a good sense of how their blades perform. Heck even on my own blades I mostly create a burr on both sides. I'm not the most skilled sharpener, so creating a burr really helps me.

    Chris "Anagarika" likes this.
  11. Chris "Anagarika"

    Chris "Anagarika"

    Mar 7, 2001
    GABaus likes this.
  12. Nicolai


    Dec 7, 2018
    Thanks alot for all the replys - is it somewhat right to conclude, that if a blade just need a touch up, its fine to do the "1 stroke change side" method without creating a burr, but the method with sharpening one side at a time until a burr is formed on both sides, and then removed again, is is still the preferable method if a blade needs a little more work to get sharp? Again, sry if my english is a little hard to understand, it is not my native langue ;)
    GABaus likes this.
  13. l1ranger


    Jan 27, 2017
    Rule #1 - if it works for you, then its right.

    when I'm only doing a touch up on a benchstone, i typically do a few strokes on one side, then switch, and do a few strokes..then repeat. a single stroke just seems like a lot of unnecessary flipping to me.

    when i need to reset an angle or really need some work, i work a single side until i get the burr, then repeat on the other side - then remove burr.
  14. Chris "Anagarika"

    Chris "Anagarika"

    Mar 7, 2001
    If the edge is already quite centered, it’s ok to keep grinding at one side, then flip only after it apexed. However if it’s asymmetrical and you want to bring it to the center, you’d like to grind more on one side that needs it, i.e. if one side is 0.2mm BET from center and the other is 0.3mm (making for actual 1mm BET), you want to grind more on the 0.2mm side.

    It’s not easy to determine because this may also be result of different primary grind angle/thickness from center of spine, and actually the edge may be at the center when mid of spine is the reference point.

    Generally the above rule should be the correct approach for cutting perspective because the asymmetrical transition between secondary bevel (that makes the edge) and primary grind is what may cause steering when cutting thick and quite solid material. I hope this is not confusing.
    mycough and jpm2 like this.
  15. Nicolai


    Dec 7, 2018
    Thanks alot again :)
  16. Chris "Anagarika"

    Chris "Anagarika"

    Mar 7, 2001
    bucketstove likes this.
  17. Nicolai


    Dec 7, 2018
    Thank you - very good info :)
  18. Rey HRH

    Rey HRH

    Oct 6, 2014
    I don't like the one stroke then flip method because your angles will be inconsistent from one hold to the next. It doesn't matter much on stropping strokes because you're not trying to form an angle with the bevel.
  19. eugenechia1989


    May 15, 2017
    For me, the only major problem with doing one stroke per side is the amount of time the whole job ends up taking. I use ceramic stones which are very slow-cutting, so for duller blades where more steel needs to be removed, I'll do eight or ten strokes per side, maybe more. For me, one stroke per side is solely for touch-ups and de-burring.

    Ps. As a sharper edge tends to dull quicker, I don't chase absolute sharpness. I don't try to form burrs. Once the edge shaves hair easily and doesn't reflect light when illuminated with a flashlight, I stop there. But then, there are burrs on the edge, so I guess I am forming burrs despite not intending to do so.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
  20. Chris "Anagarika"

    Chris "Anagarika"

    Mar 7, 2001
    You’re most welcome and BTW, your English is fine and clearly conveyed what you wanted to ask. ;)
    Eli Chaps likes this.

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