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Trouble Sharpening Case CV steel?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Fleabag Friend, Oct 6, 2017.

  1. Fleabag Friend

    Fleabag Friend

    Jul 31, 2016
    As the title states, I've always had a bit of trouble with the old case cv for some odd reason.

    I've got such an appreciation for the carbon steel and the yella handle that I continue to throw it in my pocket without much issue, it works for sure, but it just bugs the shit out of me that I can't get it to just effortlessly pop arm hair, or open up flesh like other blade steels.

    My opinel is ridiculous in comparison, my buck 420 stainless blades and even victorinix stainless sharpen easier and with a better edge that my case cv. USA made shrades, various bench made stainless, I can pretty much be satisfied with everything I sharpen, But there's just something about that cv that I can't quite get down.

    I use a double side stone of decent quality that I found a long time ago, a coarse and fine side, brown and yellow in color. I also bought a very fine stone that is glass smooth at Academy awhile back, black/white Arkansas stone, and then I finish it all with a strop on my belt.

    Now here's the weird thing, I got this big old chunk of ceramic, a big tube, kind of like an extended wire insulator. I used to run that case over that, and get great results, exactly what I was looking for, but I noticed that it put like a micro bevel on the existing blade edge. And while it got it freakin' sharp, that edge wouldn't last long at all, and I'd always have to go back and correct it on the stones again, so I gave up on it, just figgered I wasn't able to maintain proper angle of a cylindrical surface.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but my observation is that although the Case CV is a carbon steel, it is a good deal harder than others. It also produces a lot finer of an edge (not so toothy) therefore making it seem like I've got a duller knife, and a more difficult knife to sharpen and achieve the results that Im used to.

    So what do y'all think? Any similar experiences? Any sharpening tips I should use? Should I just be satisfied with what I'm getting?
    Please write, as I love when I get a lot of involvement from this community, no one in my life ('cept for my pops) appreciates blades like I do, so everything is welcome! Post some pics if you feel like it. More Longer posts the merrier!
    Much love!
    edge213 likes this.
  2. jc57

    jc57 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2012
    Case CV steel is not exceptionally hard. Maybe 55-56 range if that. I find it to be a very easy steel to sharpen. Like literally on anything.

    I just touched up the factory edge on a Case Stockman a couple of days ago. All I used was the fine side of a Norton Economy stone (silicon carbide), dry because I was too lazy to get out the oil, and finished on a leather strop that has some green polishing compound somewhat hapharzardly applied to it.

    The edge is by no means mirror polished after coming off probably a 320-grit stone, but it shaves arm hair, all three blades, and that's even after using it to cut open some boxes yesterday.

    I am not a super-pro sharpener by any means, but I can sharpen Case CV just fine. It's not the steel.
  3. Fleabag Friend

    Fleabag Friend

    Jul 31, 2016

    I mean, I'm shaving arm hair as well, and it probably sounds silly of me but it's shaving in short hard strokes. My other knives I can just lightly touch and with the slightest push leave a bare patch.
    I know I should probably just live with it, but I know I could do better, I've just yet to do so with my case
  4. jc57

    jc57 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2012
    Ok - I personally don't spend that much time getting an edge like that on a pocket knife. I like to finish on a medium grit and leave it at that. Works for what I use a pocket knife for. I go fancy with a progression of water stones and 1 micron diamond compound on a wood strop on the kitchen knives where it matters more.
  5. lambertiana

    lambertiana Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    Have you checked for a wire edge? Case CrV is run pretty soft, and if you use much pressure on the stone it is easy to get a wire edge. Stropping makes a big difference. I get a hair-popping edge on my CrV blades with ease, just by using light pressure on the stone and stropping afterward.
    Lapedog and unklfranco like this.
  6. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Sharpy marks on the bevel to be sure you are getting down on the edge with the stones.
    Case and other traditionals tend to have wide angles. You might try reprofiling it to a shallower V.
    and . . .
    you all know it's coming . . .
    Edge Pro Apex
    baddabing baddaBOOM / silly sharp (yes I touch up free hand and find CV really easy to sharpen but after reprofiling the shave sharp thing is much more impressive and suits the way I cut stuff / what I cut most).

    The other thing you might try for the last strokes on the last stone is short travel strokes; once you get a bur don't go whizzing all the way down the stone just a couple of inches then flip the blade over and a couple of inches and repeat several times . . . nice and light.
  7. unklfranco


    Apr 2, 2011
    Less pressure is a must for Case CV. I had wire edges that would scrape hair off. When sharpened properly, the hairs would jump off. Take it to someone who gets good results to confirm everything is ok, then keep trying until your happy.
  8. The Mastiff

    The Mastiff

    Apr 21, 2006
    Yes, I agree with the above answers. It must be technique. CV is about as easy as steel gets to sharpen and even reprofile. The only ones I've found easier would be the K55 Black cat series in carbon steel and the Mercator line in carbon steel. I feel it's probably a wire edge too but I really don't like guessing. Clean your stones, start over with correct technique and use a fairly light touch. Mistakes that harder and more abrasive resistant stainless steels would hardly notice will change the nature of it's edge that you just worked hard on. That is how easy it is to sharpen.

  9. Dean51

    Dean51 Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 30, 2014
    I agree that Case CV is very soft. The key is to use very light pressure and finish on a strop to remove the wire edge.
    A #320 ceramic stone works well for CV.
    unklfranco likes this.
  10. Case has stated on their own forum, their CV (which they term as a 'modified 1095') is hardened a couple RC points beyond their stainless 'Tru-Sharp' steel. Their stainless is taken to RC 55-57 or so (they've published this); this would imply their CV is taken to RC 57 at least, or maybe a little more. No reason to worry about it being too soft.

    All the issues I've seen in sharpening my own CV blades, is that some will need some thinning at/behind the edge to really pop hairs and perform at their best. Edge angles at or below 15° per side (30° inclusive) are the best target; I prefer an edge around 25° inclusive (12.5° per side). Over time, in resharpening mine, I've also noticed edge retention improve with a few subsequent resharpenings. This could be a sign of some heat-damaged steel on the factory edge, which is weak and will need to come off.

    And the stones & tools used to sharpen CV don't need to be anything special. A simple, two-sided SiC or AlOx stone, of the type found at ACE or Sears, will do great with these knives. The 'fine' side of the stone will finish it to around ~320-grit or so, which is a great working edge on CV. I'd prefer anything between 320-600 for CV. A medium Arkansas stone also works well for the finished edge on CV. Use all of these stones with some mineral oil.

    Regarding the edge produced on the ceramic tube/insulator, it's likely that edge had a burr folding over. That'll account for the sharpness deteriorating quickly from that one. It's common with ceramic rod/tube-type sharpeners; I generally avoid using those. They're very hard, load up too fast and focus pressure into a very small portion of the edge; and that's basically a 'perfect storm', burr-forming trifecta, right there.

    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
    dalefuller likes this.
  11. Fleabag Friend

    Fleabag Friend

    Jul 31, 2016
    Wow! Really appreciate all the answers and advice so far!! I can't believe the plethora of information. When I get home from work this evening I'm gonna try some of these sharpening tips.
    Will let y'all know how it goes!
    Much love
  12. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Here's another thought.
    I just bought a Case Sod Buster in SS. It was decently sharp out of the box but with some wire edge. Used it a couple of days and now I am attempting to put one of my edges on it.
    It has been fighting me and defying me to the point I went after it with an Shapton 120 held in my hand ( been resisting busting out the Edge Pro, I mean this thing was near OK right ?

    I just measured the thickness behind the edge.
    Case really does need to invite some of the good 'O boys from Opinel over for tea and learn a few things.
    What do you supose the behind the edge was on this Case about the size of a No 10 Opinel ?
    0.055 thou in the middle and . . . wait for it . . . 0.060+ near the tip.

    OK I should be rubbing this thing on the side walk, maybe there IS an argument for sharpening with a belt sander . . . well . . . once any way.

    Is there any way you can measure your behind the edge thickness and let us know what it is ?

    I like about 0.010inch; the best rope cutters in the edge indurance thread here was half that.
    But the edge on this Case makes me think I should be over in the axe forum finding out how they sharpen.

    Want to hammer through some bricks or baton some fire wood? I got your knife right here.
    No wonder I was getting that wierd other worldly sound while cutting up my apple this morning . . . that was the sound of the basic molecular structure of the known world being forced open with a great wedge exposing me to the fifth dimenssion . . . a short cut between space and time that had it remained open for a nano second longer would have sucked me in never to be seen again in this world. Could have been fun but I hadn't had my breakfast . . . I would have probably gotten a head ache, been all cross and not been able to enjoy it properly.

    Wheuuu that was close.
    Fooling around with rogue edge geometry can be more dangerous than many realize.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
    marcus52AR likes this.
  13. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    PS : I just measured a stock Opiel No. 9 it is 0.022 to 0.024 inch behind the edge makes a huge dif when trying to get an edge that shaves hair without a jig.

    For me anyway.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
  14. Railsplitter

    Railsplitter Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 31, 2010
    .022 to .024 isn't terrible but I would have expected an Opinel (assuming "Opiel" is a typo in your post above) to be much thinner. That seems a little thick for a brand that's well known for its thin blade grinds.
  15. jpm2


    Nov 19, 2014
    Never understood this behind the edge thing, where exactly are we measuring? I get anywhere from almost nothing to .1, and more. :confused:
  16. There's a sizeable amount of variability in the thickness of Opinel's blades & edges, from one example to another. I have three No. 08s, all purchased in a narrow span of time (an 'INOX' and a 'CARBONE' in one purchase, and a 2nd 'INOX' within 2-3 years after that) and each one was different from the other in their new condition; not just behind the edge, but even at the spine. I've since done a lot of thinning work in the lower ~ 1/3rd portion of the blades on the first two purchased. I haven't measured them yet; but I can see by naked eye, one of my stainless OPIs is visibly thinner at the spine than the other stainless one. And my 'Carbone' Opinel was likely somewhere between those two, in spine thickness.

    Same can be said about Case's blades. The thinnest blade I own (of all brands, all knives I have) is the sheepsfoot in my 6375 CV stockman. But, I don't have to reach far to pick up another Case with far-too-thick grinds on them. For some reason, I've yet to see a Case '54-pattern trapper with either the clip or spey blade not warranting a lot of thinning work behind their edges, to get them as sharp as I want them.

    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
  17. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Ha, ha, . . yah . . . looks like it wasn't my only problem up there.
  18. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Yes it isn't a real precise location I use a micrometer and get the anvils right were the main grind transitions to the edge bevel (most of the micrometer anvils are hanging out in space and just the littlest bit is at the transition. All this could get a little meaningless on a Mora for example but I think about 1mm or so up the main grind from the edge is approximately close enough.
  19. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Fleabag Friend,
    How'd it go ?

    Getting back to the thick edge and my prob with the SS Sodbuster.
    I finally got a chance (time) to get serious with my problem child which I suspect is similar to yours with the CV; not so much the steel but the weird grind.

    As I said I took it to the Shapton Pro 120 and found that the Sodbuster edge had some subtle recurve and some changes in the geometry even out on the belly of the blade that were keeping the edge from contacting a flat stone.

    One nice thing is this Case Sodbuster has a nicely formed sharpening choil so I just kept going at it until the concave was out of the edge and the funny areas on the belly all went away and I got a consistent edge all along.

    I didn't reprofile it or thin the thick area behind the edge (sort of the same thing but reprofiling would have meant to me laying back that factory edge angle a whole bunch.

    So after the 120 I went to the 1000 Shapton Pro then
    the 2000 (all these are Shapton pros used flat on the work bench (not hand held). All were briefly rubbed on a DMT 220/300 to refresh them and check for flat.

    At 2000 the edge began to shave.
    I then went to 5000 and just 'cause then a 8000

    Results : Not hair whittling but easily shaving. The cool guys here would have had it shaving off the 120 but due to my lack of talent (read I hate hand sharpening when I want a real edge) I had to wait for the fun until the 2000.

    maybe you gots recurveitis.

    PS: it still lets out that scary sound while cutting up apples. Luckily now it cuts a little faster so the singularity to the fifth dimension has no chance to open fully.

    Can't wait to reprofile this nice knife into a "real" edge.
  20. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Well . . . no Fleebag . . .
    I guess I will say something to "bump" this thread to the top so we might hear back from Flee bag some time . . . I was going to add the following anyway.

    Today I was using the sharpened Case SS Sod Buster (have been using it so the edge wasn't pristine) . . . I had to cut three of those yellow straps on a product box that had been shipped to us. I slipped the Sod Buster blade under one of the straps in preparation to pulling the edge back to slice through the strap . . . and . . . the edge accidentally caught the strap and sliced through it like nothing.
    I guess there was a nick or notch the blade edge caught in on the strap and guided it to start cutting.
    I gently slipped the knife blade under another strap and . . . it did exactly the same thing ?!?!

    . . . and you guessed it . . . a third time.
    Dang ! ! !
    This edge is better than I thought or the blade / handle / edge combo is a born cutter.
    I mean I was just trying to put the blade under the straps so I could pull cut it and I wound up push cutting / slicing forward through the straps effortlessly.

    I'm enjoying this knife.
    One thing I have noticed that is a bit iffy :
    I don't know if any of you remember when I got "cut" barely nick / stabbed (three or four mm wound) on my Benchmade 710 M390 that I was stupid enough to put in my back right hand pocket.
    My hankie fold looped over the blade tip and partially opened the knife so that when I later reached in my pocket to get the hankie I got bit.

    aaannnnnyway . . . that was because the blade tip was so close to the opening of the knife when closed that one can poke their finger on the tip if you press in a little at the slot near the tip of the closed blade.

    On this Case Sod Buster it is exactly the same way and after I sharpened the knife it was even worse. Very noticeable / easy to poke your finger on the tip.
    I took an extra coarse diamond paddle to the tip to "clip" it a little more. Not very effective (?pretty good hardness on this blade ?) seems like. I am going to have to hold it against my large white grind stone that runs slow in a water bath and get serious with grinding some significant metal off the spine of the tip.

    Bottom line : if you back pocket a Case Sod Buster be careful.
    do buy one, it is an eager work knife.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017

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