Sharpening Help Please

Joined
Jul 16, 2007
Messages
80
Alright so I'm fairly new to the sharpening scene and I need some help. All I have for sharpening equipment is the Spyderco Sharpmaker, and I've been sharpening my knives following Sal's steps. Now I have stumbled upon terms on these forums such as burrs and stropping. I've interpreted burrs as the metal you're sharpening sliding over to the other side of the knife that is not being sharpened at the moment, is this correct? As far as stropping goes would somebody please care to tell me what this is, and if I need to worry about it? If I have the right understanding of burrs, should I be following Sal's steps, alternating 25 strokes for each side of the knife, or should I only sharpen one side until I notice a burr, then switch till I notice another burr? I'm going to stop before I confuse myself....please help.
 
Joined
Feb 21, 2005
Messages
2,662
As you thin out the edge through sharpening, it tends to roll over, this is the burr. Once you've raised a burr on one side, switch over to the other sideand raise a burr there. Then move onto the next stones.

Stroping is to polish the final edge and remove any burr that's left. This will usually result in a very sharp, very polished edge. A strop is traditionally a piece of leather that the knife is passed against. I've always stropped edge trailing.

You can "load" the strop with polishing compound or use it dry. An old leather belt will suffice.

On the Sharpmaker it depends on how sharp the knife is to begin with. If it's on the dull side, I usually do one side until I raise a burr and then switch. If it just needs touched up it's fine to alternate sides. When the blade is still sharp, all you really need to do is align the edge, so alternating sides on the white stones will work fine beacuse you don't really want to remove any more steel than you have to.

The Sharpmaker video is very helpful, but I've always kinda been curious about how sharp those knives actually were to begin with. They couldn't have been too dull.
 

Jason B.

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Jun 13, 2007
Messages
11,143
The burr is the excess metal from the sharpening process that hangs on the edge, so yes you got the concept. The main goal in sharpening is to make two stright edge bevels and progressively move to finer grits until the burr has been removed. Sharpening one side until a burr form's is one way to do it but be careful, you can end up with uneven bevels, use a sharpie to mark the edge or watch your scratch pattern to ensure you are sharpening the complete edge. A strop can be made of several things, leather, computer paper, the back of a note book, MDF board, but leather is the most common. You use a strop just like a barber does to sharpen his razor, it removes the micro burr and polishes the edge making it very sharp. Get yourself the UF stones for the sharpmaker some leather and some diamond paste and with a little pratice you will be able to have scary sharp knives. Do as much research on sharpening as you can, there is a lot to learn.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2007
Messages
80
Thanks guys, but how do I strop? In which direction do you pass the knife along whatever material your using? Pics with directional arrows would probably be helpful.
 

mongomondo

SUPPRESSING FIRE
Joined
Sep 17, 2006
Messages
3,267
I don't want to start a new thread for this so I figured I could ask here. I only have a Sharpmaker and have a Benchmade 710 plain edge coming soon. Will I have huge problems sharpening this? I read somewhere I should not use the flat sides or something.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 1999
Messages
6,117
If you have been following Sal's instructions on your Sharpmaker you probably don't need to strop and you don't have a burr (or want one). Honing on edge-leading alternate sides of the blade (left/right) tends to remove burrs as you go. I would ignore other things you've heard for the most part.

If you honed a terribly dull blade that was made of a ductile alloy you might get some burr that you need to get rid of. For that just tilt the spine of your blade a bit away from your rods as you hone a few light strokes on the medium rods. Then you back and hone a little more with the blade held in the normal vertical orientation.
 
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