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paper sharpening wheels - when your time is important to you

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by richard j, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. richard j

    richard j

    Apr 1, 2007
    there have been quite a few questions on sharpening and how to do it and what to use. i used to like sharpening knives by hand and found it a good way to kill some time when i was younger. now that i'm older i like doing other things with my time other than sharpening a knife, like making them.

    like many members here, i used to sharpen by hand using stones until i went to sandpaper. then i found a little system called an ez sharp which is similar to a lansky system. i used the ez sharp for about 8 or 10 years until my friend art summers showed me the paper wheels. i could get a knife shaving sharp but it took me a while, sometimes too long for my liking.

    when art showed me how long it took to sharpen a knife he made i became really interested. he went from no edge at all to shaving sharp in no time at all. not long after he showed me the wheels he asked if i wanted to go with him to a knife show in dayton and meet the guy that showed him the wheels. i accepted his offer and went. i watched his friend sharpen knives all day and ended up getting my first set from him.

    here is a post about the wheels by another member worth checking out http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9207988&postcount=710

    it took me less than a week to learn how to use the wheels but i was hooked once i did. i found out i could also sharpen other things on the wheels like scissors and something my mom was glad of, her favorite pinking shears which were showing signs of getting dull after many years of use.
    i even do sheet metal shears for local contractors in my area which saves them from having to buy new ones which arent cheap.

    all you need to set up to use the wheels is a 1/2 hp motor that runs 1725 rpm, an arbor attachment and thats it. i practiced on an old hacksaw blade instead of a knife which worked well. when i could go from one side around the end to the other side and get it all shaving sharp i knew i had figured it out.

    a few weeks ago i sharpened a couple of pizza knives (see picture) for a local pizza shop. both were 18" long and it took not quite 2 minutes to work up a burr on each one. both were extremely dull and chipped in a few places. i did use a belt sander set at slow speed to work up a burr and to help remove the chips. if there were no chips i would have used the abrasive wheel which would have taken the same ammount of time.

    there are 2 wheels, 1 with abrasive grit glued to the outside and the other is smooth with slots every few inches apart to reduce heat and help break the burr. a white rouge is applied to help remove the burr and polish the edge.

    str told me a while back that just like driving, some people shouldnt be behind the wheel(s). it does take some practice and if you are scared of power equipment, the wheels might not be a good choice. for more information here is the manufacturers website link http://www.sharpeningwheels.com/ [​IMG]

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 10, 2011
  2. siguy


    Aug 26, 2006
    good information, thanks for that.

    i've found that since i got a belt sander i get a little impatient when i'm away from the shop sharpening something.

    i also find that since i started sharpening for other people i tend to not want to spend as much time sharpening my own stuff. i still enjoy putting a wicked edge on a nice piece of steel, but doing so much makes me a little bit less giddy about it.

    i like to use a belt sander with different grit belts to set the bevel and then polish it, followed by a cardboard wheel loaded with tripoli and then a handstrop to remove the last of the burr. this method works efficiently for doing batches of knives, because i can set the bevels on all the knives, then change belts and polish them all to a certain grit, and so on. if i forget one knife and have to go through all the belts for it, that's annoying to me.

    anyways, nice write up. time is a factor in sharpening as well as anything, and one reason that people pay other people to sharpen their knives. some people could learn to themselves, but for the time they would have to invest, they would rather just have someone else do it for them.
  3. richard j

    richard j

    Apr 1, 2007
    honestly i would rather teach someone how to sharpen a knife either by hand and with sandpaper or with the wheels first. if they cant get the hang of it then i will sharpen their knives. my hands bother me when hand sharpening so i like using either the wheels or a belt sander and the paper buffing wheel to finish the edge.

    its not necessary to go through different grit belts before going to the paper buffing wheel though. i have put scarry sharp edges on knives going from 80 grit to the paper wheel. it just takes years of practice and the right touch. i have sharpened thousands of knives and its just second nature to me anymore.

    all paper wheels arent created equal though. the paper used makes a difference in the final finish. i have a set of the cheaper ones and i dont care much for them. there are different grades of ceramic stick too. the pure white ceramics are the best. in the field thats all i use for touchups. i carry a 4" in a little pack and i can put a scarry sharp edge back on in seconds.
  4. siguy


    Aug 26, 2006
    i have found that as long as the burr is fully removed then just about any grit will shave hair. i rarely split hairs, but those that shave cleanly tend to also split hair as well.

    for instance, my coarsest belt is a 40 grit, and after buffing most of the burr off with a plain cardboard wheel and then hand stropping, it will shave. you can feel that it catches the hairs instead of just shearing them, but it is very sharp.

    the lowest grit that i typically finish to is 120 followed by powerstrop and hand strop.

    i have been meaning to get a large ceramic stick for touchups in the kitchen instead of a traditional steel. i want to actually remove a little metal instead of pushing it around, in my opinion it creates a better edge. i also want something that i can keep in the kitchen and not worry about getting wet...thus ceramic instead of a strop. also, a rod type sharpener is easier to make a few swipes of and put away than my strop.
  5. Culpeper

    Culpeper Banned BANNED

    Jul 1, 2007
    I have the cardboard wheel system. 10" on a regular bench grinder. I used a lot of old knives to practice with getting them all razor sharp except one that I have never been able to get sharp for some reason. That one is one of those cheap Swedish knives you see on the Internet discount sportsman sites. Anyway, after a few hours of practice all together I believe I can now sharpen just about any knife and get it very sharp. I was never very good with a stone and the more exotic hand sharpeners are a waste of money for me since I tried using those as well. There is also another system that probably works just as well if not more and that would be a belt system. I sharpen knives on the wheels to an apple seed edge. This makes it easier to touch up the edge with a stone. Others are better with the wheels than I am and I have seen some very scary edges similar to using sandpaper and glass and other similar methods that take time.
  6. richard j

    richard j

    Apr 1, 2007
    another good thing about the wheels. i had some knives that wouldnt clamp evenly on my ez sharp. with the wheels you dont have to worry about this problem. blades that are less than 1/4" wide can be done on them easily.
  7. trentu


    Mar 2, 2006
    Do you use wheels knife edge up or down? Does the blade ever get flung by the wheel? Thanks guys.
  8. richard j

    richard j

    Apr 1, 2007
    the only way for a knife to catch is if you go edge first into the wheel. i have been using the wheels for going on 17 years and havent had anything happen with the paper wheels. i sharpen with the edge facing me and the wheel rotating to me. i hold the blade at about the 1:00 position or lower depending on the blade and kind of cutting the knife will be doing. most of the time i just match the same edge unless specified otherwise. i here is a link to a vid showing me working up a burr on a knife before switching to the paper buffing wheel. it doesnt take me long to work up a burr or remove it. when doing a convex edge i switch to my belt sander then finish up with the paper buffing wheel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plMbnQMQJMg here is a video of a knife i made slicing newspaper after being sharpened with the paper wheels. http://www.myculpeper.com/richardj/MLNA0018.AVI
  9. monkeybutt


    Jan 2, 2008
    Inspired by Siguy, I just got my harbor freight 1 x 30 belt sander a coupla days ago. I got some 80, 120, 320, 15 micron belts, a leather strop belt and some chrome dioxide. Then I just dove in. Took me about three hours on two knives messing about before I figured out how to re-bevel/thin the profile and then polish for a very sharp convex edge. Since then I've done about thirty knives most of which were just touch ups. This is fun stuff. The freehanding lends itself to a kind of zen attitude for smoothness of approach, carry through and touch while maintaining the angle on the contours. It is interesting that the power strop needs to be followed up by hand stropping to remove the wire bead? or else it just dulls out real fast in cutting.
    Siguy and Richard J do the paper wheel add much to the outcome? After the rough side leather strop and compound I am finishing w/ the smooth side and then hand strop. Also a toothier finish is better for what kind of application?
    I need a lot more practice, but compared to non-powered sharpening this is great. Lastly, how does one do a scandi grind?
  10. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    I've been using the HF 1x30 for about 5 years now and I dont remember having to strop after the power stropping. I'm using a different compound and do about 14 passes on the blade before the burr finally comes off, depending on the knife. Do any of you using the wheels or sand find that your knives are used up pretty quickly? I've gone to stones after a good rebeveling to minimize this.
    GABaus likes this.
  11. richard j

    richard j

    Apr 1, 2007
    the paper buffing wheel is the last step i use when sharpening any knife and if done right there is no need to use anything else. if you have to go to a strop after using the paper buffing wheel then you're not doing it right or you have the cheap paper wheels.

    i'm working on a samurai sword for a friend who always wanted to do some chopping with it. its actually a wallhanger but i asked if he had anything that he wanted sharpened and he said sure and handed it to me. i'm using an old 120 grit belt to put on a convex edge and the only thing i might do is switch over to a combi wheel to clean up the finish before going to the paper buffing wheel. its a cheap sword and i'm not sure how good the steel is but i'm sure we'll find out.

    most knives i sharpen take less than a minute to work up a burr unless they are really bad or have nicks. removing the burr and polishing the edge takes me even less time but speed comes with experience.
    working up a burr on a scandi grind cant really be done properly on the abrasive wheel due to the curved surface of the wheel and must be done by hand in order to keep the entire edge flat. the burr can however be removed on the paper buffing wheel.
  12. siguy


    Aug 26, 2006
    when i use my wheels (which keep in mind are different than richard's) i find that especially when i finish with a coarser belt i need to use them to minimize and break the burr more than polish the edge. it does polish the edge, but i do it mostly to make it easier to get the burr off on a strop.

    if i take a knife sharpened on a 120 grit belt straight to a strop, the burr just scrapes the compound on the strop and it doesn't really do anything. i don't want to go through the grits to remove the burr because i'm aiming for toothy. so i use the wheels to loosen up the burr and then usually less than a dozen strokes per side take the burr right off.

    as to polished vs toothy, that's really a debate for another thread, but i'll say here that i haven't found in my own limited tests that a toothy edge does anything better than a polished edge, including slicing cord or drawcutting soft veggies.
  13. richard j

    richard j

    Apr 1, 2007
    you shouldnt have to strop to get a shaving sharp edge after the wheels. you must not be doing something right. i talked to my friend that makes the wheels and here is what he said. "if you're using a bit of white Jeweler's rouge when you remove the burr, the cutting edge will be honed & polished. No stropping needed." he is right about this. it shouldnt take you more than a couple minute per knife for a basic edge sharpening for a 3" knife. a complete regrind will take a little longer though. the paper used is called kraftex.
    GABaus likes this.
  14. cjpgeyer


    Sep 7, 2006
    I have to say I have never been able to get a knife this sharp with a strop. THis is a Busse Scotch Dispenser after about 40 sec. with richard j and his paper wheel...

    My knives would shave, but this is sick :)

    Thanks richard j!
  15. michdad


    Apr 24, 2007
    Not disagreeing with anyone, and would love to try richards j's paper wheel. That said, I find that I like doing things by hand. I don't watch tv, I like getting oily and smelling like honing oil. To each their own. It's all good!

    Bruce9561 likes this.
  16. richard j

    richard j

    Apr 1, 2007
    you're more than welcome to come down matt and check them out. chuck sure did like the results as you can see. chuck had a good edge on his knives but they just needed to be fine tuned.
  17. richard j

    richard j

    Apr 1, 2007
    the wheels are perfect for recurve blades too. i used them to sharpen the modified bm360 that solidsoldier sent me for a complete regrind. he posted pictures in w&ss a few days ago.
  18. richard j

    richard j

    Apr 1, 2007
  19. Rick in KY

    Rick in KY Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 29, 2002
    Very impressive results, Richard! :thumbup:

    Is there a particular grinder and wheel set you use or would recommend?

  20. richard j

    richard j

    Apr 1, 2007
    i dont use anything special, just a 1/2 hp 1725 rpm motor and an arbor to attach the wheels to the shaft. i use a belt sander to work up a burr for a convex edge and remove the burr with the paper buffing wheel. you would be amazed at how many people think they have felt a sharp knife and then feel one of mine. there is a link at my website to the wheels. its at the lower half of my home page.
    Last edited: May 4, 2011

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