What do you consider to be "sharp?"

Discussion in 'STR's Backyard KnifeWorks' started by STR, Sep 9, 2007.

  1. STR

    STR Knifemaker/Moderator Moderator

    Aug 27, 2004
    I got to talking last night with Richard J. about this on the phone. Almost went horse we talked so long but we got to talking about sharpness among other things.

    One of the things that I've often been, well I don't want say puzzled so much as surprised I guess, but one of the things that has surprised me is when I get a knife and they want a job like a clip or pivot pin replaced or just a lock looked at and I notice the edge and think that could use a touch up. So I mention it of course and sometimes I think I've inadvertantly upset someone because they thought it was fine. In fact some have told me no, don't touch that I just got it where I like it. And yet to me its a far cry from where I'd put it. Not all the time, and I'm no expert mind you but I keep mine a bit sharper I guess than most.

    What about you guys? And what sharpening system or method do you use and prefer? I really want to know.

    Maybe we can knock heads a bit and see what we all have in common and what we don't have in common regarding a good edge that is fine and one that could use some maintenance.

  2. Bungwrench

    Bungwrench Banned by Moderators Banned

    Dec 21, 2006
    I use Spyderco 701 Profile stones. I also use a Lansky and I have a ton of extra stones for that.

    I can get my knives shaving sharp. If it can push cut a thin store receipt and shave the hair on the underside of my forearm I'm a happy camper.

    I'm sure others like it much sharper. ;)
  3. STR

    STR Knifemaker/Moderator Moderator

    Aug 27, 2004
    Makes sense. I've alway said a sharp edge is actually safer. You get it down thick and not so nice to slice even card paper well and when you go to use it for a real job it takes a lot more pressure to push it through a cut. When its sharp you can ease it through with a lot more control. All that pressure behind the edge is what makes one lose control because its like a speeding car spinning its wheels while you hold the brake and then when the brake lets up it jumps forward. There is little hope of stopping that blade from going into something if that happens and many times it a leg or your other hand that catches all that energy. Not good!

  4. ziptrickhead


    Sep 1, 2004
    I like my EDC knives razor sharp myself. The edge will cut through thin paper easily as well as shave off hair.

    In the past 24 hours ive already cut myself 3 times. Nothing bad though, just slicing the skin a bit, but not drawing any blood. Maybe sharper edges are safer? lol.

    Some people just dont like sharp edges. I wanted to buy a shun for my parents but they dont like their blades sharp. Ive tried many times to explain it all to them but they dont care. So when I cook out comes my EDC.
  5. tomcrx


    Jun 7, 2007
    I am more utility minded. I have spent a ton of my years thru hiking, mountaineering and backpacking ( ball-park figure easily over 10,000 miles ). You don't have the time or space to carry edge-pros, Lanskys, grinders, 20 different grit stones etc. So my definition of sharp and routines of sharpening are quite simplistic.

    At home I just use one or a more of the following, Norton Silicon combo stone, diamond steel, sandpaper or crock stick. My edges don't "pop" hair and are not highly polished. They are generally "toothy". I consider it sharp if it push cuts paper and can grab a "bic" pen barrel or thumbnail at 45 degrees along the length of the blade. 99% of the time this works for me and have rarely wished my knife was sharper.

    Although reading these forums has made me re-examine my definitions and processes, now that I have become more domestic. I still have not developed the patience yet to start trying. :)

    A belt grinder may find it's way under my Christmas tree one of these years.
  6. STR

    STR Knifemaker/Moderator Moderator

    Aug 27, 2004
    Ok cools this is fun. How many of you guys carry bandaids in your wallets? I know I do. Hell I have to! :D That knife in my signiture line has bitten me so many times its not funny. It has a needle point on it too. It huuuwrts!

  7. salty141


    Apr 22, 2007
    Well I like my knives shaving sharp, but I don't go for the razor edge, I like more of a utility edge, something between 18-20 degrees per side. I think that it is a good medium between a sharp knife, and a tough wide angled knife.

  8. butcher_block


    Dec 6, 2004
    of the knives i keep on me at all times i ahve one thats what i wourl call real dam sharp(zdp delica) but the other is jsut sorta sharp (my box opener shop knife) i keep it like that not cause i like it but i beat the edge off it jsut as fast as i put it on scraping epoxy and odd jobs in the shop
  9. STR

    STR Knifemaker/Moderator Moderator

    Aug 27, 2004
    Hey Lloyd. Good to see you hanging here. I have a thread of your handiwork here somewheres I started yesterday I think.

  10. richard j

    richard j

    Apr 1, 2007
    str, you told me last night that you also have a set of thoes cardboard wheels, i meant to ask if you had ever found anything that can beat the edge these wheels can put on a knife. the only factory made sharpener that i ever owned before getting my wheels was an ez sharp and i could get a knife shaving sharp with it but only after spending 15 minutes to a half hour compared to a few minutes with the wheels.
  11. chugokujin


    Dec 21, 2002
    I have spent quite a bit trying out different products over the years. Spyderco sharpmaker, lansky honing guides, Various Diamond sharpeners, Norton stones, And also have some real (non synthentic about 8lbs) japanese water stones.

    I like keeping SD knives toothy and have found a razor sharp polished edge will wear faster from cutting fibrous materials that I've tested. I like to hand sharpen instead of using guides and always reprofile the bevel thinner. Dont even care for the Lansky and think it was the biggest waste of money.

    I like DMTs best for Diamond abrasives as they last longest. Norton makes good inexpensive stones. Both, these I use for modern high alloy, cpm steels.

    Japanese water stones are great for carbon, and will do nothing for alotta modern steels with high vanadium content. Kitchen knives, I like razor sharp.

    Some of the sharpest out of box knives I'd have to say are many scandi blades and Japanese kitchen knives like Kai Shun. My .02 cents
  12. STR

    STR Knifemaker/Moderator Moderator

    Aug 27, 2004
    I do have some of those wheels Richard yes. I rarely use the one with the grit on it anymore. Its there and I do use it for kitchen knives for both us and my neighbors but otherwise like on a newly made knife like tonight I use an old 600 grit Norton belt and then the polish wheel with either some white or green rouge depending on which wheel I use. I have two of those wheels in different thickness.

    Once that intial edge is done free hand I either sell em like that there or use them until dull good. Then from that point on I use the Edge Pro. I have only had my EP for about a year and I must admit. I really like it. It really takes a lot of the guess work out of the picture for me. Even though I can sharpen free hand and get a great edge it takes a lot longer that way and I rarely have that kind of time to sit that long anymore except when I'm on this computer checking PMs and emails or on the phone. :thumbup:

    The wheel set up does work very well. I remember the first time I got that set up and I was really quite stunned at how sharp I could get things. But I think its only that way in the right hands too because its key with both that method and the motor driven belts that you not stay in one place on the blade too long or you'll burn mark it and possible anneal it there.

  13. tomcrx


    Jun 7, 2007
    I think I'm very lucky. I sliced my thumb to the bone 25 yrs ago with an old K'abar trapper of my Dad's. I somehow decided to use it to remove a neoprene stopper from an Erlenmeyer flask, full of hot agar at that. Dumbest idea I think I ever had and this grasshopper learned his lesson quickly. 20 stitches and 2nd degree burns on top of it is a tough master. Since that , knock on wood, I have not cut myself. Had plenty of close calls but had the luck of Mr. Murphy being elsewhere when they occurred.
  14. richard j

    richard j

    Apr 1, 2007
    hey tom, how about filling out your profile so we know a little more about you:D
  15. STR

    STR Knifemaker/Moderator Moderator

    Aug 27, 2004
    Yep, here in the last oh, I don't ten years my most frequent routine after cutting myself is to squeeze it and when it stops oozing stick super glue gel over it and go back to work.

    Works like a charm.

  16. dalefuller

    dalefuller Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 2, 2005
    Well... I have a Sharpmaker, an Edge Pro Apex, and a set of 701 stones. My usual routine is to use the Edge Pro for any serious rebeveling or sharpening, the Sharpmaker for weekly touchups, and the 701s for travel (although if I get good enough on the 701s, the Sharpmaker might start collecting some dust).

    My personal EDC is an H&K 14210. I like for it to pop arm hair and push cut a phone book page. I use phone book pages because they're thinner than newsprint and I can easily keep an old phone book on the bench for testing blades. After I get the blade to that point, I'll strop it a few times on an old leather belt and put it away.

    My work EDC is a ZDP D4. I don't polish it like I do the 14210. It does shave, but I'd hate to use it for that every morning. I keep it a bit toothier for some of the plastics and nylon that I have to cut in a warehouse.
  17. bdws1975


    May 19, 2006
    I am kind of anal about sharpness. If it won't shave my arm with minimal pressure, I am not happy. My legs and arms have bald patches all over them and not piece of paper in the house is safe. Amanda knows to place it in the proper place or I might shred it.

    Proof of that is the nice 1/2 inch gash that currently resides on the end of my thumb. I was trying to close my mini-manix after a cutting job and rested my thumb just in front of the spyderhole (I know, dumb). Since I had tightened up the pivot screw, it didn't glide easily closed as usual. Needless to say, my thumb kept going but the blade didn't, and when I tried to 'back up' I put a nice slice on me. Funny thing is, I didn't even feel it and didn't notice it until the blood came trickling out.

    I use a sharpmaker for quick touch ups, which I do every 3 or 4 days for my EDC, and have recently purchased a DMT aligner, which I am still learning to use. It seems great for jobs where I need to remove a lot of metal. I worked out a nice size knick near the tip where some jack#$% tried to use my knife as a screwdriver. #$%hole!

    A dull knife is almost worse than no knife at all.....almost....:)

  18. ashtxsniper


    Oct 28, 2006
    My main use blade I sharpen on a 1200 grit DMT stone and it will easily shave and push cut paper. My other pocket knives I carry I finish on a 8000 grit DMT then on a unloaded leather d the match the sharpness of my strait razors. I can comfortably shave my face with them.
  19. Chiller2


    Nov 30, 2006
    I have never had a knife as sharp as I would like it "Scary Sharp" but I usually settle for shaving sharp. If it is not at least shaving sharp it is not sharp to me.I used to freehand on some diamond stones and a gerber steel but I got an Edgepro Apex a few months ago and it's been doing pretty well for me I usually take it up to the 3000 grit polishing tapes.
  20. thombrogan


    Nov 16, 2002
    I like my edges to slice the plastic label on pop bottles with no snagging and barely any noticeable resistance. When an edge does that, it'll easily whittle hairs or drift through cardboard. Usually freehand on too much crap to mention, but occasionally on an EdgePro, Sharpmaker, or belt sander.


    Synthetic waterstones (Bester, King, Norton, Shapton, et al) will easily handle highly alloyed steels like S30V. Norton's 1K/8K combination stone does wonders with it. Even some natural stones (the Aoto blue in this case) will work on it (though not as fast as a Shapton Glasstone).

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