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Sharpening Knives

Jun 20, 1999

I must admit that I am somewhat of a novice when it comes to knives. I have the love, but I don't really have the skill. This is a big problem when it comes to sharpeining knives because I don't want to have to send it back to the company for a re-sharpening but I am scared that I will screw up the blade because of my incompetence. How do you learn to sharpen a knife without a casualty (of a knife of course)?
Back 30 years ago I made money for college going door-to-door sharpening things (mostly knives and scissors). People with really fine knives often wanted me to hone on the spot using an oil stone. The last thing I wanted to do was to mar the finish on someone's chrome plated wedding set or scratch-up someone's Randall carving knife. One trick I used was to cover the sides of the blades with masking tape before I sharpened. I would leave the 1/4" of the blade nearest the edge uncovered (not that I was going to put a .25" final bevel on the knives, but I needed to allow extra clearance for the thickness of the tape).

If you use a Spyderco Sharpsmaker or other dual ceramic rod system (with 'V' configuration rod mounting arrangement) you probably won't have too much trouble. The V system makes your bevel angle easy to maintain and these systems cut fast enough to get the job done before you get tired and your hand slips.
Soloman --

why not buy a $15 paring knife and practice on that first? If you can get that crappy soft steel sharp, you'll do just fine on better steels.

Better yet, just get yourself a $30 delica and start on that. It's not easy to totally ruin an edge. You may scratch up the blade finish by accident, but it's a delica, who cares, it's supposed to have character. It's hollow ground so the edge starts out reasonably thin and easy to sharpen. It's a wonderful starter knife, not to expensive, not too difficult to sharpen, and one hell of a great value.
Joe's right; buy a cheapie and practice. Start out with a real whetstone before you get dependent on gadgets.