Methods and beliefs in sharpening.


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The Tourist
June 16, 2008, 02:01 PM
Not to hijack sm's thoughts, I wish to expand the ideas or philosophies of sharpening. Hopefully, get more of you jazzed.

For example, sm is quoted as saying, "Rebel, Free hand, Dry Stone and Curmudgeon here."

Millions of folks sharpen this way, and after they have long passed away, millions more will adopt this method. And they are not wrong.

I bring this up due to the PMs, responses and e-mails I've read over the last three days. One THR member has joined the Keeping Sharp column of KF to schmooze with the swarf junkies.

There are sharpening disciplines just as there are differing styles in MA. The goal is to provide the sharpest edge, the method is where we begin debates.

I simply steal from everyone. I use older Japanese methods and tools, I use modern guided systems, I use Keith's pastes, Ben's stones, glaziers glass, automotive products, cast iron flattening fixtures and Sentry Solutions line of products.

Atop this, I have found the craft must be guided by a principle.

Now, another great cutler is Mike Stewart of Bark River. I doubt if you would find one of my tools on his bench, not one. He has his own beliefs in overall construction, convex edges, HT techniques and even handle construction. To his credit, he has a long waiting list for his line of knives.

A friend and fellow tinker in Canada sharpens for both hospitals and the Canadian Highway Department. His skill is so refined that he sharpens the metrotomes used in medical research. Additionally, their highway department mandates that ice thickness be quantified under law.

To that end, samples are constantly cut with ice augers. This friend refurbishes those damaged tools.

Another friend in Wyoming finishes his products with strops and paste.

And on, and on, and on...

Just as we debate firearms, arms manufacturers, quality, cartridges, shotguns, calibers, pistol stances, and the law, we can debate the aspects covered here. We each have a style, an interest, natural gifts and guiding ideals. I have tried to demonstrate mine. In the end, the best answer is to get involved, pick up a knife, learn some fascinating history and enlived a new start for discussion here at THR.

I was surprised to get so many responses and so much interest. As we discussed on the issue of acronyms, YMMV. Now go put an edge on something! And take pictures! Old tinkers aren't mind readers...:D

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sm
June 16, 2008, 04:17 PM
*GRIN*

The Tourist , myself and others have communicated.
Since you folks could not be a bug on the wall, please send $ 49.95 + S&H to
FreeThinkers & Tinkers
123 WhereRweBe st
Who Knows, USA. Earth.

The soundtrack alone is worth it. *yep*


Free Thinkers.

This is what The Tourist, hso, JShirley, JTW Jr, Valkman, sixgunner455, Rup, Brain Dale, Joe Talmade, Sal at Spyderdo, Shing, Ken Erickson, ...etc, are sharing, and passing forward to you, we hope.

The Tourist continues to study Japanese methods as pertains to swords.
In doing so, he is preserving history as it has been passed on all through time.

These methods, should be revered, respected , preserved and passed forward.

One learns from history, if they pay attention.

The Japanese did not have Internet, or supply houses they could order supplies from, nor did they have little brown trucks to bring them these things to their doorstep.

The principles are the same, whether one uses a paste made from a dirt, unique from a region, or a stone, unique to a region or current use of chromium oxide, diamond paste, Mother's polish, or Happich Semichrome - even Pepsodent tootpaste.

Sometimes one puts steel to stone, other times stone to steel.

Free Thinking.

All over the world, folks had various steels, and unique "rocks" to make stones, and "dirt" to make "pastes".


Obsidian.

Old, very old, and had very unique properties.
So unique, it is still used for unique things, like delicate eye surgery.

Today the obsidian is fashioned with more modern methods and tools.
The principals are the same as they always have been.


What we are all sharing it, it is all good, and to encourage folks to free think, and investigate and verify for themselves.

Krien does the "Krein Grind", Mike Stewart does his thing with Bark River, Sal does his thing with Spyderco, Chris Reeve with his Chis Reeve Knives...
Ken Erickson, Valkman, Kim Breed, and J.Q. Public with a homemade knife from a bastard file, or sawmill blade, or hacksaw blade, or...anyone, being a Free Thinker doing anything to do with edged tools, and putting an edge on them.


Paul Bos does heat treat,
Phil Wilson does his heat treat
J.Q. Public does his/her heat treat.

There is no magic talisman, no holy grail, no absolutes, in anything.

There is respect, honor and reverence among those with skill sets, among like kind with talents and gifts.
There is respect, honor and reverence amongst others of differing skill sets and talents as well.

This is one of the keys a Free Thinker possess.

What are your needs, and tasks for your setting?
What are your interests, and hobbies?

Then find some persons to assist you in learning, sharing, and passing forward to you.

The Tourist is still learning, and always will.
In the meantime, he is studying history, preserving history, incorporating modern methods, and not only passing forward, he is interacting with other peers, in Free Thinking.


Steve

The Tourist
June 16, 2008, 05:53 PM
This is one of the keys a Free Thinker possess.

What are your needs, and tasks for your setting?
What are your interests, and hobbies?

Then find some persons to assist you in learning, sharing, and passing forward to you.

And this is more important than words will convey. The idea of a "craft" must come long before a stone is put to steel.

Many times I will get a frantic e-mail from someone who wants to know "the secret of sharpening." Some have actually gotten angry with me in the sporting goods store because I tell them to study and practice.

And an interesting transformation takes place. At some point, the stone stops altering the steel, but the craft starts altering you.

I heard a pro make a scathing inside joke one day about a guy who simply wanted the secret. The cutler winked at me and said, "He doesn't give a tinker's damn about being a damn tinker." In essence, he wanted the sharp knife without payment, be that coin or time.

And I must say this about "the curse" we keep talking about. It is my goal to provide the best edge I can. That's the craft--save the samurai's life and honor. But we have American boys in the field.

During the four years I sharpened at Gander Mountain, I met dozens of soldiers and Marines. Some of them came in groups of four. On one ocasion a weeping mother spilled out far too many twenty dollar bills to buy her son a Wilson/Ralph tactical auto. She didn't want a knife, she wanted a talisman to keep her son safe--his deployment party was that night.

Now, I'm a big ugly biker. Been there, done that, invented half of it. But I wept as I put a paste finish on that knife. That's the job, that's the curse.

And you know something, I'm glad I feel that way. During the opening days of the war in Afghanistan a spec-op unit fought the enemy in what their commander called, "A good old fashioned knife fight."

As a tinker, you do the best to give it away. It's more that a wet rock, and if I do nothing else here I hope to teach that.

cman
June 16, 2008, 08:57 PM
I'm a longtime lurker, but have appreciated the many insights I have picked up from this forum.

I was wondering if you had a suggestion for what angle to sharpen a hatchet at? You may have covered this somewhere, and if so I apologize. This just sounded like a good thread to ask the question. This is a general use piece of Eastwing equipment. Thanks for your help.

Rupestris
June 16, 2008, 09:03 PM
This is what The Tourist, hso, JShirley, JTW Jr, Valkman, sixgunner455, Rup, Brain Dale, Joe Talmade, Sal at Spyderdo, Shing, Ken Erickson, ...etc, are sharing, and passing forward to you, we hope

Steve,

While I'm honored to be mentioned, I am in no was deserving of a spot in such a group.

I practice my knife craft with a variety of "tactics". From convexed edges done with wet-or-dry sandpapers to lansky's to benchstones. What they all have in common is that I have not mastered any of them. At least not to the point where I feel I am completely capable. Thats why its called "practice", right? ;)


It's more that a wet rock, and if I do nothing else here I hope to teach that.

I had a Jr. High School teacher who was every 12-year-olds nightmare. Her name was Ms. Makurat (sp?). Big, gray haired, vocal, and mean. She moved through the classroom with the grace of a Baboon with two clubbed feet.

I don't remember a single thing she tried to teach me but I remember her mantra like I do my own name. She pounded it into our ears almost daily.

"Repeated impressions will wear away rock!"

Somehow I knew what she meant. If you tell someone enough, it will get through their thick skull eventually.

I tend to be thick skinned and soft headed so "Its more than a wet rock" isn't wasted on me. Keep telling 'em. You'll get through eventually.

Chris

sixgunner455
June 16, 2008, 09:43 PM
Warning!! :eek:

Thread hijack in progress!!!:eek::eek:

I was wondering if you had a suggestion for what angle to sharpen a hatchet at? You may have covered this somewhere, and if so I apologize. This just sounded like a good thread to ask the question. This is a general use piece of Eastwing equipment. Thanks for your help.

I may have said this in other places before, but I've sharpened a bunch of axes. I'm not an expert at it, but I do have 'a method'.

I use a mill bastard file to start with. I clamp the head in a vise, or hold it between my knees, if I can do it safely.

There is no particular angle that I look for on an axe. Instead, I want a smooth, convex edge. If it's a full-sized axe, that edge will likely start at the poll. If it's a hatchet, that convex shape will start where the head starts to really taper toward the edge. I want a smooth curve from that point to the edge. You used to be able to buy a protractor that they called a "french curve". That's kind of what I look for. I want the curve even on both sides, and the edge to be even and consistent from top to bottom. I don't want the edge to be thin. I'm going to smack it into wood, at least, so I want it with some steel behind it so I don't go chipping it out in normal use.

Once that edge shape is established with the file, I switch to a coarse axe stone, or just a plain old double sided aluminum oxide stone. I use the coarse side to clean up the file marks and the heavy burr it leaves, and then the "fine" side to clean up the coarse stone marks. Both of those types of stone, I use completely dry. If the stone starts to get clogged, it's easy enough to wash and brush out the filings.

That's as fine as I take the edge on an axe. If it's really beat up, rounded, and dull, it might take half an hour to accomplish. If it's new, and the bevels are even sort of close to right, it'll take less time. If it's chipped out, it takes as long as it takes, and might get reground on a belt grinder.

Brian Dale
June 16, 2008, 10:07 PM
I'm on that list??? All I know how to do is read, pay attention and try for myself what you folks write about. If that's what I possess that I can pass forward, then I'm satisfied.

Welcome, cman. Wider than a knife, narrower than a fire axe. I'm not being flippant; I really don't remember. Someone will post the precise answer shortly for you. People in this forum have been exceedingly patient with the somewhat tangential questions that come up for me during threads here.

Edit: whoops; sixgunner455 went back in time and posted while I was pondering and checking my old Boy Scout Manual. How's that for service?

Rupestris
June 16, 2008, 10:13 PM
Like Sixgunner 445, I'm a fan of convex edges on chopping implements. My go-to hatchet is a Fiskars/Gerber 14". It sports a convex edge that smokes the factory bevel with secondary V grind.

Fortunately I have a Craftsman 4"X32" bench belt sander. I use the small gap between the roller and the plane to convex the edge with a 320grit for starters. I follow it up with a 500 grit by hand with a flexible pad.

If you don't have the belt sander, follow Sixgunners advise and start with a file. If the stones are a bit much for ya, you can use the trick that is popular among the Busse/Swamp Rat crowd. Use increasingly finer wet-or-dry sandpapers with a mouse pad as a backing. Don't press too hard as you'll strop the edge right off. Work the blade on the sandpaper toward the edge 'til you achieve the desired edge.

Chris

The Tourist
June 17, 2008, 12:20 AM
I was wondering if you had a suggestion for what angle to sharpen a hatchet at? You may have covered this somewhere, and if so I apologize.

Ahhh, you are inquiring about the storied myths of the east--told only in hushed whispers near the camel caravan paddocks. Old men, steeped into the wisdom of a bygone age, stare knowingly into the weather worn crags of a compatriot's face, in search of enlightenment older than the shifting sands themselves.

I have seen these men. I have been taken into their cloistered realms of intrigue and betrayal. If only I could witness but a glint of these truisms to carry back in a plunder worth more than an ocean's gold. And yet, how could any one man be worthy of the veiled secrets of all time? An elder leaned forward with a soft puff on his hookah, and spake unto me with a poignant clarity that stung me like the searing Sirocco.

"Before you make the first cutting stroke on the blade of an axe, smear the edge with a magic marker..."

cman
June 17, 2008, 09:18 AM
Thank you all for indulging my tangent. I appreciate your advice.

Tourist,

I appreciate your vocabulary and fanciful writing. I expect that you are a man of great patience and a quick mind. If you ever get to NH let me know. I'll grill you a wonderful steak.

Sawyer
June 18, 2008, 11:40 AM
I have a question about using the unglazed bottom of a plate/cup for sharpening - is it damaging to the blade, That PBS cook The Frugal Gourmet used to advise against it.

Carl Levitian
June 18, 2008, 11:55 AM
I've done it and I couldn't see any damage. It sharpend up my knife like a crock stick. I've also used the top of the rolled down window of my car to bring it back. worked real good.

Sawyer
June 18, 2008, 12:07 PM
thanks!

hso
June 18, 2008, 12:50 PM
I sharpened the Thanksgiving carving knife at a friend's house last year on the bottom of the second cup they handed me. The first one was very "rustic" with uneven grain size and would have been worse than sharpening on the curb. The one I used was a very commercial poured slip product with an even exposed ceramic ring. I stropped on the glazed lip and it sailed through the overcooked dessicated turkey carcase.

bcolorado
June 18, 2008, 10:45 PM
For more years than I care to divulge I have attempted the magic of making an edge. A chefs knife I could keep sharp enough to cut cabbage.

Reading here the last few weeks I finally became aware of the fine relationship between the steel the edge and me.

With a file, a coffee cup, and cardboard with flitz the edge descended upon the steel with my guidance.

As I learn more and apply my want of an edge to the needs of the steel I thank the good folks here for their words of wisdom that allow this.

TrapperReady
June 18, 2008, 10:53 PM
That PBS cook The Frugal Gourmet used to advise against it.


Let's just say that he's not exactly the kind of guy I'd take advice from. :uhoh:

JohnKSa
June 19, 2008, 12:00 AM
I use a dry stone and freehand.

I'm not picky about the type of coarse stone I use unless I want the edge to be pretty or if I'm working for best possible sharpness. Then I tend to go with a very hard stone so that I can control the edge geometry more easily since a hard stone won't "dish" with use. A softer coarse stone is usually faster but makes a rougher edge--also, eventually I have to do something to true the surface as it's impossible for me to do a really good job of sharpening with a "dished" stone.

If it's purely a work edge and I'm in a hurry, I'll finish with a fine ceramic stone, by putting a facet at the extreme edge and maybe just a stroke or two to polish the coarse edge surface. If I want the very best results, I polish the coarse edge with a fine stone and then progress to an ultrafine ceramic stone trying to keep it as close to a flat grind as possible. For the fine & ultrafine polishing stages, I alternate blade sides with each stroke. If the steel is "sticky", I sometimes find it necessary to go back to the coarse stone for a light stroke on each side to remove a wire edge before finishing the polishing step. The pressure should become gradually lighter and lighter as the process progresses.

Keeping the angle right for each stroke is critical. If you are going to err, put the blade flatter than it needs to be--that's just a wasted stroke. If you put the blade to the stone with it standing up higher than it should, you get to start again unless it's just a tiny error. For the polishing stages, I like to work in very bright light so I can see when the angle is right. I put the blade flat against the stone and then raise the angle until I can see the edge is touching, then I do a slow stroke keeping the angle right. Then turn it over and do the same on the other side.

Occasionally I clean my ceramic stones with soap & water and/or a white plastic eraser, but it's more to prevent them from making a mess on my hands than it is to enhance their performance.

RONSTAR
June 19, 2008, 03:05 AM
Some biker at a bar I used to go to tried telling me you could sharpen a blade on the top edge of a car window. Not sure if it would really work never really had the desire to try. anyone else ever hear of this?

Brian Dale
June 19, 2008, 03:32 AM
Actually, RONSTAR, Carl Levitian told me that just this morning (Psssst - see Post #12 of this thread). ;)

When I was young, an uncle mentioned that they used to touch up the edge of a razor blade on the rim of a drinking glass.

RONSTAR
June 19, 2008, 03:35 AM
(Psssst - see Post #12 of this thread).

LOL oops quess I should read all the posts, so I dont make my self look like a goon. LOL

hso
June 19, 2008, 09:25 AM
As long as the top of the window is "frosted" you can touch up an edge that way.

The Tourist
June 19, 2008, 07:00 PM
Some biker at a bar...

Well, there's your problem.

Never believe anything a biker tells you about sharpening.

(BTW, did this biker have drop-dead gorgeous blue eyes, chiseled features and try to put the moves on your wife? Just a thought, ya' know, a biker talking about sharpening...)

Navy joe
June 19, 2008, 07:22 PM
I have a question about using the unglazed bottom of a plate/cup for sharpening - is it damaging to the blade, That PBS cook The Frugal Gourmet used to advise against it.

I rode ship in the navy for years, Not much room for sharpening stuff so a piece of rubberized 3600 sandpaper, side of a boot, and the bottom of a coffee cup was it. Yes, my coffee cup went wherever I did. It's the navy. ;) Never damaged any edges with a coffee cup.

Valkman
June 19, 2008, 08:26 PM
In 2005, when I quit riding my Valk long enough to learn to make knives, I had no clue how to sharpen any knife. I wanted to make knives and sharpening was just an unwanted task to finish the knife.

Most people have some kind of an edge to start with, the part they can "put the magic marker" on to see if they're on the right track.

When I'm ready to sharpen a knife, I'm looking at a .030 square side that has to be turned into an edge - doing that has been an adventure for 3 1/2 years that I'm getting better at but by no means great. I do it with a method that almost no knifemaker will use, but I was too dumb to be afraid of it at first so now this is just how I do it: I put a 220 grit belt on the 10" wheel (not the flat platen as most would use) and grind the edge with the belt coming down off the top of the wheel and the knife edge facing UP. Most are afraid the knife will catch on the belt and therefor sharpen edge down but I never have it happen. I run the grinder at 10% speed and work the edge on both sides from plunge cut to tip, dipping in water frequently. I then look at the edge under the light I have there and look for the "glint" that shows some flat edge is still there. Once I have an edge from end to end I have a choice - go to the Sharpmaker and convert it to a true 20 degre edge using diamond stones or continuing on the grinder. Lately I have really worked on the grinder sharpening by making sure the 220 grind is real, real toothy sharp and then going to 400 and 800 grits using the same method. This is not for the beginner as making a good even edge freehand takes a ton of practice and I do not get 100% results every time. I have a Landshark that I stupidly tried on my arm hair and it took a patch of skin and hair off - it was scary sharp! I have another that's "eh, pretty sharp but not that sharp" so consistency is what I'm trying to achieve now. One of these days I'll either get an adjustable jig for the grinder that lets me shapen to a known angle or an Edge Pro.

The Tourist
June 19, 2008, 09:40 PM
Valkman, your problem is clear. You're "cursed."

You sound like a craftsman. Nothing is as perfect as the vision you have. No polish can provide your heart's desire. There is no such concept as "time" in your universe. There is your dream and the steel.

In a world of mediocrity, say a prayer for the curse given you.

sixgunner455
June 19, 2008, 09:55 PM
There is your dream and the steel

Ah, now that is poetry!

Valkman
June 19, 2008, 10:06 PM
Well nothing else matters, does it? :) There is the steel, and there is what I want to make from it. If no one liked it or bought it nothing would change - I would still just be trying to get better to satisfy what I want to do.

Every knifemaker makes knives to satisfy one person - themselves. Then when others like it they sell. But tell Loveless you want blue liners instead of red and he'll tell you to take a hike - red liners make him happy.

But with me sharpening was a chore that wasn't really what I wanted to do - kinda like sheathmaking. Now it's much more important and after having a couple of people comment on how sharp my knives were I want to hear it more - but I want an edge that will hold up. So with me it's design, execution of design by grinding and then somehow getting it sharp. Geez, no wonder it's so hard! :D

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