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New to waterstone sharpening. Looking for hair-cutting edge.

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Valley Girl, Nov 13, 2016.

  1. Valley Girl

    Valley Girl Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 28, 2016
    Hello! So I've recently started getting into starting a knife collection, as I've wanted to for years. I have a few concerns however. Usually new blades come factory sharp, and cut hairs with ease, but I'm looking to learn how to properly sharpen them manually on a waterstone back to a hair cutting edge.

    So far I have a King 250/1000 combination waterstone, and the 250 works great for reprofiling (not that my lack of skill helps it any) but the 1000 side doesn't seem to be pulling me the extra way to a hair cutting edge. The bevels that come out of it look nice, look like they are sharp, and certainly feel like they are "good" edges, but they don't feel "great".

    Can I get some advice on what additional steps to take after this to push it the rest of the way, as well as guidance on how to properly freehand sharpen, and perhaps what angles/ bevels/ edges are best used for various functions and purposes?

    Thanks guys, means a lot!
  2. Sharp_Canadian


    May 28, 2014
    What grinds are we talking? Are you raising an even burr on the opposite edge of what one your sharpening? 1000 should get you to shaving sharp with the proper angles being matched and some time. In my eyes 250 should only be used for reprofiling and not the beginning of an average touch up sharpening. It would take quite some work with the 1000 to remove that toothyness from the 250. Perhaps adding a 600 to the mix and leaving the 250 out could help. Also what steels will play a big part in this too.
  3. aesmith


    Jan 19, 2015
    King are soft stones. For the final edge you need to stroke away from the edge (edge trailing). I use two of these, a 250/1000 and 1000/6000. I finish trailing on the 6000, after working both directions on the coarse r grits.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
  4. Kai Winters

    Kai Winters

    Mar 16, 2012
    Welcome to the dark side...
    Depends...on oh so many things...
    Start with doing a search on this forum for sharpening tips and techniques. You will go a lot farther and faster than waiting for people to post the same thing.

    Basically you need a progression of grits to go from reprofiling to hair popping/polished edge. Your progression stops at the reprofiling stage and moves to beginning of the polishing stage.
    I am not nearly as skilled or knowledgeable as others who will add their suggestions but I generally, when reprofiling, start with a 280 grit then 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500 and finish with new to me 6u/micron diamond paste for the final polish.
    The progression generally removes scratch marks...if worked at it long enough...and sharpens the edge to a very fine degree...the polishing not only polishes but refines the edge further for very smooth cuts.

    But this level of progression and finish can take a long time, hours, depending on the scratch marks left from the reprofiling stage and degree of finish that is desired. I'm trying to take it to as refined as I am able...for no good reason other than it is what I like to do.

    I've used the Lansky system for several years and like it quite a bit but I've used the freehand system for decades. Currently as an experiment I've moved from the Lansky hones to using wet/dry sand paper adhered to some worn hones I have lying around...I'm able to easily use the grit progression I described to great success...well until I get to work tomorrow and can look at the edge under my microscope at which time I may sigh and say "back to the drawing board".

    It will also depend on the knife steel...the higher quality, harder, etc, the steel the more effort it will take to reprofile and work up the progression levels to the desired finish and edge. I'm using two folders for this purpose. First is a ZT770cf with Elmax and the other is a Kershaw Cryo with 8cr13Mov steel. The Elmax steel took a lot more work to reprofile and remove the scratch marks and "toothiness" of the edge. I believe I have achieved the desired edge and finish this past Friday. The Cryo took perhaps half the time and effort for the same result...the steel was far easier to work and the scratch marks were fewer and easier to remove.

    I suggest starting with a less costly knife, folder or fixed, of a similar steel as the Cryo. It will be easier to work and the learning process will be a bit faster as well as less costly as you learn...muscle memory...and develop your technique. Edge angles, etc. are debated endlessly but it comes down to what you hope to achieve. I don't put nearly as much work into my yard work fixed blade knives...they have to cut easily and well...safer that way...but I don't polish their edges so I don't cringe when I plunge one into the dirt to cut through a root, etc. because I don't have my pruning shears or loppers handy...that's why I say it "depends".

    Good luck, enjoy and keep us informed.
  5. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    An angle guide is very useful for establishing a clean bevel. A simple one that clamps to the back of the blade is all you need. Much depends on the kind of steel you are sharpening. High carbon steels sharpen easily on waterstones; many of the high alloy/powder steels these days (S30V, SD35Vn, CTS-XHP, D2) contain a significant amount of very hard carbides, and really need diamond hones unless you intend to spend hours and hours and wear down your waterstones.
  6. Valley Girl

    Valley Girl Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 28, 2016
    In my collection right now I have only a few knives, though one of these is a CRKT Tighe Tac Two in 8cr13mov, I'm not worried about beating this one up practicing, but I'm not sure I want to toss a bunch of money around right now. I can possibly buy one or two new components, like another stone and a strop or something, but that's up to what you guys think is best.

    I'm not as good with my non-dominant hand as far as getting the second side bevel. I feel like I make a nice bevel (burr?) with my dominant pushing, but when I try the other side of the blade I feel I need a lot of work to get that even/ flat. Got a lot of curving and multi-beveling going on.
  7. GotSteel

    GotSteel Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 1, 2016
    I've got an oil stone that's pretty coarse, then I have a 1k/6k waterstone, a strop with compound and with that I was having some similar struggles but I've been adding sandpapers since and they're nice I just glue them to a piece of wood and they're a lot cheaper up front than buying a bunch of stones
  8. Valley Girl

    Valley Girl Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 28, 2016
    Not informed about sandpaper use in sharpening, and right now I'm less concerned about making "pretty" edges, and more so with making functional and super sharp edges.

    Would you suggest I remake the bevel to make it even and proper on the 250, and get another waterstone up to 6K grit to make it finer than I'm getting on my 1K, and finally finish off with a leather strop somewhere?
  9. GotSteel

    GotSteel Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 1, 2016
  10. GotSteel

    GotSteel Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 1, 2016
    I think to make it easier on sharpening you need more steps between 250 and 1k grit which is indicative of particle size and would get you to a good working edge, I find the strop with a compound or paste is really good for finishing the edge and removing any remnants of a bur and they can be purchased or made pretty cheap, the sandpapers will behave much the same as a stone but are much cheaper ($6-8 for a package of each grit) up front as opposed to long term buying stones or a sharpening system would probably be more cost effective. Personally I wouldn't mess with the bevel, I just sharpen the already existent one since I'm just getting the hang of thangs myself.
  11. cbwx34


    Dec 27, 2004
    My .02, you answered your own question right here. If both sides aren't correct, adding more steps to the mix isn't going to help. The majority of sharpening is technique. No reason you can't get a knife to shave hair off the 1000g stone you have.

    Also you don't have to use your non-dominant hand... there was a recent thread here that showed many use one hand for both sides.

    I'd work on technique first, before you buy anything else.

    Edit: Here's a good video showing how to sharpen (from JasonB)...

    Last edited: Nov 13, 2016
  12. Valley Girl

    Valley Girl Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 28, 2016
    I'm not sure about that, though. The difference is, if I stick to using my dominant (right) hand for both sides, then I would be both pushing, AND pulling. This feels much harder to do than learning to push on both hands.

    Do you have any suggestions about angles, degrees, pressure applied towards the stone, outward away from the stone, etc. ?
  13. GotSteel

    GotSteel Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 1, 2016
    You have the edge on a knife which is normally between 15-20 degrees each side, which is the polished (from the factory) edge sometimes people will add what's called a micro bevel at a different angle which would be practically impossible to see without magnification, than you have the shoulders (or where it stops being polished) re-profiling refers to changing the edge angle to include taking down the shoulders think of making a wider "V" more narrow, this makes a knife thinner thus sharper however makes the edge more prone to dulling faster and depends on what you plan to use the knife for. What I do is lay the knife against the stone and lift it until I see the edge become flush with the stone and try to maintain that angle through the stroke, if you're having trouble with the other side just go a bit slower and be more aware of what you're doing also it may help to push the blade through the stroke or draw it away (both will work), hope that clears things up a little.
  14. Valley Girl

    Valley Girl Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 28, 2016
    Regarding this video, I tried sharpening based on this method, (as opposed to pushing forward and out), but it feels difficult to do with a folder as opposed to a mostly unobstructed fixed kitchen blade like his. Furthermore, I still suck. I'm guessing practice is a lot of what I need here...
  15. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    You just need a bunch of familiarity and practice.

    First order of business is get some cheap knives that are similar to what you'll be mostly using if possible, otherwise just get one or two cheap knives to learn on so you don't get the added stress of watching your fav knives get smaller while you learn.

    This is a short bit I put together to demo some control pointers. Control isn't everything but its mostly everything - the remaining principles are easy to learn as they aren't dynamic.

    and then applying them to an ordinary knife

    Also remember not all steels will play well with King stones, some stainless will cause fits on those stones, tho they do a great job on carbon steel and low carbide stainless.

    The sticky at the top of the page is a good resource as well.

    Another good resource:

    I sell a block that's a very strong performer for finishing edges and very versatile as a convenience sharpening tool, linked through the website in my signature line below. Even if you have no interest in the sharpening unit, the videos are all applicable to general hand sharpening as well.
  16. cbwx34


    Dec 27, 2004
    Same technique on a folder...


    You can switch hands... whatever is comfortable for you... just giving the option since you said one side wasn't coming out right. Either way, if you can't get a decent edge off the 1K stone, no sense going any further. (Took me a long time to learn that lesson).
  17. GotSteel

    GotSteel Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 1, 2016
    Those were some really helpful videos thanks
  18. eKretz


    Aug 30, 2009
    A strop would be very helpful as well. My own preference is for a thin leather strop over a hard substrate. From there you add a very fine abrasive compound of some sort - chromium oxide works well. This final step works well to deburr and remove any wire edge as well as up the keenness a bit. Used after a 1k stone it should result in a very sharp utility edge that will easily shave hair. (Provided you have your technique down and have sharpened the knife correctly to a clean apex).
  19. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    I actually used a king 250/1000 until I wore out the 250 side. Literally write it down to the plastic divider. The 1000 side can give a very sharp edge but Waterston's in general sometimes difficult to get a clean edge when compared to something like ceramics or hard Arkansas some. Make sure the stone has been flushed out old grit and metal particles and is clean. Very light pressure helps too. If mud starts to show, flush it away with more water. I have the King 4000 some and it g gives a scary edge, but it is very finicky in how it has to be used for optimal results. I can get an edge just as sharp with no fuss on different stones.
  20. DeadboxHero


    Mar 22, 2014
    Just consistently. Also if your angle is too high lower it. If you not sure where your bevel is hitting sharpie marker it.

    Only three things can happen after make a burr. You fail to remove completely, you round the edge due to angle inconsistencies. Or you deburrs good and are left with a sharp edge.

    Sharpening just has alot of troubleshooting sometimes

    Your king stones are sufficient for the 8cr13mov.

    Just make sure they are flat and soaked properly

    Your set up is fine ya just need more practice.

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