Sharpening, if you combined all you now know, what would you tell yourself if...

Joined
Jan 14, 2020
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14
If you combined all you now know and have experienced in sharpening in your life, all the systems/devices/things you've tried, all the money you've spent...

And you had to sum that knowledge/experience up to tell yourself now what to do to sharpen things...

What would you tell yourself now if you were just starting out, knowing what you now know and experiencing what you've experienced?
 
Joined
Apr 12, 2009
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12,057
"Simpler is better."

In other words, it doesn't take anything complex, or even expensive*, to get the job done. 99% of sharpening is in the learned technique and knowing what will work well for any given situation. The tricky part is figuring all that out BEFORE you spend a ton of money on gear. Sometimes you just have to go down that path, trying many different things, to acquire the wisdom for what is really needed.

* - Figuring out what's 'expensive' is a test in itself. It's not necessarily easy to know where the line is between 'too cheaply made to work well' and 'a good product for the money spent'. Virtually any sharpening job can be done well within a lifetime overall budget of $100 or less (this could buy you 2 or 3 quality stones, at least). There are a lot of good sharpening tools out there for maybe $20 - $30 individually (for good stones), or a lot less if you're clever about knowing what's really needed (like a few cents for a sheet of just the right sandpaper for a given task). The flipside, in going too 'cheap' in selecting what stones you buy, will often just result in a lot of frustration. But you can still get lucky, sometimes.

A possible upside, in acquiring a lot of gear as you go, is that once you do figure out how it all works, you can still get a good return from the money you spent. All those tools will suddenly work a lot better once you get the wisdom and techniques down for using them. I've bought a lot of stuff, much of which I once swore would never work well. But I held onto that stuff and eventually figured out most of it can be useful, once I learned where they 'fit' in the overall scheme of things.
 

TRfromMT

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Jan 4, 2016
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Learn how to raise a burr on the full length of the edge and remove it, on both sides. Do this at a few grits: coarse, medium and fine. Then strop.

Then be careful with your really, really sharp knife.
 

tinfoil hat timmy

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Aug 21, 2014
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10,140
Buy a 1x30
Buy 60 grit belts
Buy 220 grit belts
Buy 15 micron belts
Buy some DMT plates
-xxcoarse
-coarse
-fine
Use a strop

Buy sharpie markers
 

Eli Chaps

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Apr 20, 2018
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4,458
Don't have a couple beers and decide to mess with the edge.

Don't be a stubborn knucklehead.

Don't think you have to blaze trails. People have already broke them all wide open. Absorb.

Sharp on the first stone, refined after.

Angle is king.

If it isn't sharp, it is 99% likely it is your fault.
 

Diemaker

Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
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Apr 28, 2017
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The biggest improvements to my sharpening were getting an EP Apex and a good microscope. The first made things repeatable and the second let me see what I was doing. Those two things drove all of the later incremental improvements.
 
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May 7, 2017
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If i were telling myself now some of the best sharpening tips to improve my technique i would probably show myself how to feel for a bur and i would show the technique i use to remove one and then i would advise myself to to get a good medium-course stone such as the orange synthetic stone from a smiths tri hone and a good fine stone such as a black arkansas stone. Everything else i know now is extra and wouldn't have helped my inexperienced self.(having used a 1 by 30 it is great but i would only use it if i had a lot of knives to sharpen in a short period of time)
 

ndmiller

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Even after running a knife through 3-5 grits with a polished edge if you forget to remove the wire edge it will NEVER be sharp.
 
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Jan 23, 2017
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Good points made.
The problem is real learning that sticks tends to be gained the hard way. So I had to go down some wrong paths to know they were the wrong path for me.
But skip the red brick and go with that wider novaculite.
However, I'm the kind of person who isn't really satisfied until I scratched that itch. I got to try those options just because they exist.
 

Ajack60

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Apr 21, 2013
Messages
6,959
Know the steel in your knives. Wish I'd been around this forum years before I joined. There's a ton of good people here that share their knowledge.
Be patient, take your time and get a feel for and master your sharpening system regardless of what that may be. Some people have a natural ability to sharpen knives and make it look easy. The rest of us don't.
A sharpie is your friend and will show you what you're missing.
How sharp you get your knives is directly proportional for their everyday use and what you're content with. Going beyond that may be a waste of your time.
 
Joined
Jan 14, 2020
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14
And what would you tell?
This is one of the reasons I started this thread. I'm not sure I know enough or have practiced enough to tell myself very much. I've got about $70 invested into sharpening so far, having a 600 and 1000 grit flatstone and I was given a Lansky. I'd like to be able to quickly reprofile and sharpen a knife with repeatability. I'm not good at what I have and I think repeatability and speed are lacking in what I have.

There's a lot on this site and there are pros and cons to everything, so it's hard to know what to go with. Sometimes when I think I would like one system, I would read a thread that shows some cons on it so I kind of get back to square one a lot. Where I'm at right now is it seems a bench grinder with a paper wheel is the fastest, and the Wicked Edge would be the best for repeatability, but it's too expensive.

I'd like it to be simple, inexpensive, and quick to be able to reprofile and sharpen, but I don't currently know how to get repeatability with those criteria.

Right now, I would tell myself: be patient, it's not quite a simple as you would like it to be, it may cost more than you want it to cost, it doesn't have to, but it might, it may take more time and practice than you want it to.

Thanks everyone, keep your thoughts coming please! It would be good if this could be a thread with collective, experienced wisdom summed up for new people coming to the site.
 
Joined
May 11, 2012
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613
in a nutshell, my concluding experience and wisdom would be this:

"at the haircutter's, depending on how/how much your hair has grown during the past interval, he will have to adjust the cutting procedure accordingly. same goes for deburring your favorite EDC knife: no single deburring session will unfold identically the same (re: time/procedure/strops/strokes/sweat/frustration/result), so be prepared to stay flexible and patient with your deburring efforts!"

i couldn't have said it better. this was great. thanks. :p
 

marchone

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Mar 13, 2013
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3,571
I’d get a Sharpmaker out of the gate. It teaches as well as it works.
 
Last edited:

Eli Chaps

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Joined
Apr 20, 2018
Messages
4,458
This is one of the reasons I started this thread. I'm not sure I know enough or have practiced enough to tell myself very much. I've got about $70 invested into sharpening so far, having a 600 and 1000 grit flatstone and I was given a Lansky. I'd like to be able to quickly reprofile and sharpen a knife with repeatability. I'm not good at what I have and I think repeatability and speed are lacking in what I have.

There's a lot on this site and there are pros and cons to everything, so it's hard to know what to go with. Sometimes when I think I would like one system, I would read a thread that shows some cons on it so I kind of get back to square one a lot. Where I'm at right now is it seems a bench grinder with a paper wheel is the fastest, and the Wicked Edge would be the best for repeatability, but it's too expensive.

I'd like it to be simple, inexpensive, and quick to be able to reprofile and sharpen, but I don't currently know how to get repeatability with those criteria.

Right now, I would tell myself: be patient, it's not quite a simple as you would like it to be, it may cost more than you want it to cost, it doesn't have to, but it might, it may take more time and practice than you want it to.

Thanks everyone, keep your thoughts coming please! It would be good if this could be a thread with collective, experienced wisdom summed up for new people coming to the site.

There are two things that will get you repeatability; a Sharpie and practice.

A Norton JB8 for your lower vanadium carbide steels and a Ultra Sharp combination diamond for your higher ones, along with a universal stone holder will get you a long ways. If you primarily use Japanese knives then water stones are best but I don't know enough about them to say anything.
 
Joined
Dec 4, 2019
Messages
138
Everything I've done has been a step on the path to lead me where I am today. Did I buy stones that now just sit in a box? Yeah. Did I do things to knives that I now wish I hadn't? Yeah. Were my edges of years past insufficiently sharp by my current standards? Yeah. But it's only through making these mistakes that I was able to move to a higher level.

If your question is how to step up your game, my advice would be to look at what you're doing. Look. See. When you're done sharpening your knife, cut something and see what you don't like about it. Then look and think. What is wrong with the edge? Once you see what's wrong, you can then figure out what you need to do next time to make it better.
 
Joined
Jul 26, 2020
Messages
7
Well, I have only been at it for 2 months now but:
- Get a microscope right away - for faster learning - and the $5/30x microscopes are good enough.
- Some factory edges are actually not that good and need reprofiling.
 
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