How is life with a Razel?


The Tourist
August 7, 2008, 10:25 PM
As most of you know, I am quite a fan of the Razel, both the CRKT version and the two original Graham Brothers models.

But's what's the real deal? Guys here at THR hunt and fish. We drive trucks. We actually use our stuff.

Well, about one month has elapsed since I first clipped the CRKT Razel to my jeans. Not the jeans I use to clean the garage, but my bike jeans, the denims that get bounced on the Harley, that see sun and rain. The jeans I'll be wearing when facing the most unlucky mugger in the history of Dane County.

To bring you up to speed, I prepared the knife (when new) by straightening the edge to a uniform bevel, and then giving it a final polish. It was buffed once again, but them only stropped. In other words, it took on the life of your average EDC here at the luxurious Chez Gumba.

The knife even got clipped to the shorts I wear to the gym. It went everywhere with me.

Now, just about anything I would carry in this fashion would begin to show its age, and to be fair, the CRKT Razel did quite well. However, the edge was getting glitchy, part of the rear edge seemed rolled and in tests it failed to cleanly slice newsprint against the bias.

Now one of the great ways to get a knife scary sharp (the tinkers have invented a new level, "toasty sharp") is to dull the knife right down to its socks. So I went looking for a the worst way I could to dull a blade.

We all know that cardboard is hell on an edge, but what about the plasticene coated cardboard layers in a 24-pack or soda? Yikes.

Take a look at the picture below. I cut and cut. Then I took a small section of newsprint (seen in the lower corner) and did some slow slices. The slices were a tad ragged, but amazingly clean considering the abuse.

The Razel has now been taped up, and it resides in my freezer for a complete sharpening and polish. I think the little guy did a good job.

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August 8, 2008, 12:50 AM
So are you saying that it's best to dull the edge uniformly before resharpening?


The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 01:23 AM
Jason, even that idea is part of the debates amongst tinkers.

As stated, some folks dull a knife completely. Some freeze it before sharpening. Some don't do anything to it until the edge dictates the need. Some believe in the adage, "Three's the charm."

That means that about on the third sharpening the edge simply gets spooky sharp.

I have had good luck with many of these ideas. I've failed on others.

About the only thing I can rely on is to make the bevel completely uniform, fron to back, left to right.

(Combat knives are the exception. Many times the cutlers make the tip area the thickest part to avoid tip breakage.)

My thinking here is that the Razel was going to need a sharpening soon enough. I had nuttin' to do, so I cut up the cardboard spacer.

These knives are developing quite a following. The Graham boys are usually out of stock, and e-mails from their sister Luraly Graham on availabilty produce immediate sales. The Razel is simply a good idea that has found its time.

I'm actually surprised the knife is still in my pocket. I have greedy friends.

August 8, 2008, 01:42 AM
I really enjoy my CRKT stubby razel, Im sure its not as sharp as The Tourist's but it always makes me happy when i get to use it.

The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 02:10 AM
I just checked the Razel in the freezer. It's already frozen solid. By tomorrow morning it ought to be just about right. I figure I'll re-sharpen it with a medium grit waterstone and re-freeze it while I'm away at the gym.

When I get back from my afternoon ride, it will be ready to polish.

Too bad Stargate Atlantis isn't on tomorrow. I always like to fondle a razor sharp knife while watching my boy Ronin and his oh-so-polite demeanor around authority.

(BTW, you do know that 'ronin' is a Japanese name for an unemployed traveling samurai. Sometimes exiled for misconduct. Now that's a idea I can get behind.)

Tom Krein
August 8, 2008, 07:34 AM
SERIOUSLY?? :confused:

I normally try to refrain from commenting on the poor science in your posts, but come on!

I think this may be some of the absolutely WORST advice I have ever heard as far as sharpening knives.

It is much easier to keep a knife sharp! Your knife will also last MUCH longer!


August 8, 2008, 09:31 AM

I'm not disputing that you can do absolutely what you want when you sharpen a knife: that's a given. Can you provide any statements from recognized experts that suggest a knife be completely dulled before being sharpened?


Art Eatman
August 8, 2008, 10:37 AM
Dang! I've been doing it wrong for over 65 years! And here I always thought that shaving-sharp was good enough...


August 8, 2008, 11:09 AM
Sharp? :confused:

Heck, I'm still trying to figure out why someone would carry a chisel around in their pocket...


Read the 'reviews' seen the footage...still trying to figure out what's the point (or is it where's the point?) :confused:

From CRKT's website:

"How are mechanics, carpenters, farmers, and home craftsmen using their Razel models? The Grahams report: Scraping gaskets, removing paint and stickers. Chiseling to make reliefs, mortises and tenons. Prying tight-fitting parts. Cutting things like paracord, wire insulation, radiator hose, plastic ties and tubing. Taper reaming a hole with the twist of the wrist. Reaching into tight spaces and push cutting with the chisel edge. Opening feed bags and cutting through bales of hay. You name it, the Razel does it".


Nothing I don't have a tool for already (scraping gaskets? with a $60 'knife'?) and not much in that list I would want to do or *need* to do with an EDC...

Me-thinks the emperor may be catching a bit of a draft on his hindquarters...

NOTE: Just this old dogs opinion...

Tom Krein
August 8, 2008, 11:26 AM
I used to think the same as you... PM me your addy and will send you my Graham Razel to play with.

PLEASE don't scrape any gaskets! :eek: I am sure the knife would be up to it, but all the same.


The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 11:34 AM
I normally try to refrain from commenting on the poor science in your posts, but come on!

Can you provide any statements from recognized experts that suggest a knife be completely dulled before being sharpened?

Let me address both of your concerns by what has been found on various knives, and then let me offer an opinion.

First, as to experts, go to KnifeForum in the Keeping Sharp section. You'll notice that I prefaced my remarks with the phrase "debates amongst tinkers." Even amongst ourselves we find success, failure and disbelief. We also admit to conditional success. Dwade (a professional who sharpens for hosptals) and I have had good luck freezing knives for repair--Mike Stewart, a knowledgeable and successful cutler--doubts freezing in a home appliance would make that much difference.

Mike has inspected one of my knives, however.

As to dulling, yes it works. It works on my knives, and it works on clients' knives. Here, I have a knowledgeable working theory--which I believe is no longer a theory, but a fact. Follow me.

All knives, even those whose blanks are cut by a CNC machine are at some point handled by a human. While I have seen a TV program on cable about the automated sharpening of scalpels, to my knowledge all knife edges are produced by hand. Even high-end Japanese laminates costing thousands of dollars.

In that regard, they are all flawed. None of them would be perfectly straight or have their bevels flat tip to choil.

Mr. Krein's comment is correct. There are many clients who run to me if a shadow appears on their edge. They panic.

But here's my theory/belief. A knife that is constantly buffed never truly develops a working burr. An edge that is dulled needs to be sharpened, if only by medium grit stones.

BTW, all of my stones are Edge Pro products or Japanese 3x9 waterstones, flattened and cleaned with fresh water and nagura. They remove the minimal amount of metal for the job required. I have knives going back 15 years and not one--even by my aggressive clients--looks like it's worn. Clearly, a butcher knife honed by traditional American tools appears to have "dissolved."

While I work with lighted loupes, it is impossible to see every defect on a bevel. I believe that if a knife is used, with its initial sharpening done with a medium grit stone, by dumb luck you will hit all of the manufacturing errors.

This is why I believe in "three's the charm." Send me a knife--no charge.

Okay, I proffered my opinion backed up by experts and my work. Now I want to hear the rebuttal with the same use of credentials.

August 8, 2008, 11:49 AM
Heck, I'm still trying to figure out why someone would carry a chisel around in their pocket...

It's not a chisel. It's a knife. A very sharp knife with an unusual(ly useful) tip.

I'd been eyeing the Graham Razels for a long time, but never wanted to part with the $$$ to get one. I did, however, get one as soon as CRKT offered their version.

I don't use it for EDC (I still prefer a folder), but when doing lots of chores, it's a great tool. The hollow-ground blade allows for a very sharp edge, with plenty of spine width and blade strength. The "chisel" tip is basically a double-sided flat grind.

The corresponding pointy tip, at the junction of the bottom edge and the front edge, works like a Wharncliffe and allows for very precise cutting. The front (chisel) edge is flat and great for scraping, prying (no, really), and other stuff that you might not typically do with a traditional blade.

For camping or gardening or use around the shop, the Razel is extremely useful.

The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 11:56 AM
Trapper, your comments are all things the owners know. When I saw a Razel for the first time even I thought it was funny looking. Then I used it.

Simply, what do we do with the tools we carry? Well, if you're a guy, you slice and/or abuse a knife. So a razor and a blunt instrument would be just about perfect.

Edit: I'm going off to polish, then I'll take a pic over today's paper. You be the judge.

August 8, 2008, 12:17 PM
Out respect for The Tourist I won't mess his thread up with a side debate on the validity of the Razel pattern.

I am very interested in his Sharpening techniques so I am following this thread mainly for that, because what's good to the goose is good for the gander. Sharp is sharp in other words.

I will also follow up with Tom on his offer (makes me nervous using another man's blade though...) and try not to scrape any gaskets :D

I will add that my observations and opinion are not based on mere conjecture. My entire life has been spent in the trades and in the woods. I have cut just about anything that can be cut (with the exception of human flesh-other than my own) and sharpened anything that has needed it. I own more tools than most people I am aquainted with and am more likely to cut my grass with a grass whip than anything else just because it has an edge :D

Point is, I'm not a weekend warrior desk jockey who cuts as a hobby and is just picking on the Razel because it's 'new' or 'different'. I'm just trying to find out why I would use it when I've got boxes of the "right tool for the right job". Now, this is in the context of an EDC, and NOT with an emergency situation in mind...

I'll also add that I am fully educated in the preparation of CROW and I stand ready to eat it if necessary :neener:

Sorry for the hi-jack attempt Tourist...

I'll get out of the way now....


(damn old men shuffling around threads they have no business in just to piss and moan about stuff they know nothing about...:cuss:)

August 8, 2008, 12:39 PM
Nothing I don't have a tool for already (scraping gaskets? with a $60 'knife'?) and not much in that list I would want to do or *need* to do with an EDC...

Where are you finding them for $60 bucks?.....I can't locate one for less than $85......please post the location..... :D

August 8, 2008, 12:50 PM
Where are you finding them for $60 bucks?.....I can't locate one for less than $85......please post the location.....

I've got a feeling you'll have an answer shortly...


The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 12:55 PM
Where are you finding them for $60 bucks?.....I can't locate one for less than $85

Contact me PM.

Out respect for The Tourist

You just speak your mind. There's nothing more to say but, "Tourist, I disagree." This is a debate, so I will ask for facts and be allowed to offer a rebuttal.

Now, below is the picture of the Razel after it was fully dulled. It still cut, but that's more a credit to the design that my obvious abuse.

You will notice that the Razel now slices on both of the bias' of newsprint.

Okay, Mr. Krein, I will give you one point in the debate. Most/no knives are carried in this condition. This is simply my EDC and a test mule. Yes, the edge is perfect. Yes, these edges out-cut one of my Doctor's scalpels in tests when I had a mole removed last year.

But here's the postulate in my argument. If a biker can pound a knife down the highway, exposed to all of the elements (and in a soaking wet gym), cut everything needed, and deliberately force the edge through plasticene and yet make the edge sharper than a scalpel with waterstones and a freeze, then the basic idea is sound.

In fact, this knife is not safe for clients.

August 8, 2008, 12:58 PM
I did buy a Stubby CRKT Razel about 3 weeks ago based on The Tourist's earlier review in this forum. I own lots of knives and always have one on me, but I don't think sharpening is "fun". Fortunately, the Stubby Razel was sharp enough for me out of the box (although I couldn't resist stropping the edges a little). The fit' n' finish on the knife are good, but the Kydex sheath is ROUGH. I've never made a sheath, but if my first attempt turned out this way, I'd be disappointed - very thick Kydex, several (cosmetic) flaws in the Kydex panels, riveting isn't neat. It works, but it isn't pretty.

I've used the Razel in the garden a few times and it works well for most small cutting tasks, but I'm not sold on the advantages of this blade shape over a traditional shape for a general-purpose knife. I'm not saying that it isn't a good idea - I just wasn't overwhelmed by the design. Time will tell.

August 8, 2008, 01:04 PM
Mongrel & Tourist: Thanks to you both....I've got an itch for the Stubby, and you may have helped me scratch it.... :D

The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 01:10 PM
I also wish to be fair to JShirley and Mr. Krein.

You may contact Ben Dale at Edge Pro and/or Mike Stewart at Bark River Knife and Tool (Mike has examined one of my knives) and ask them to authenticate my credentials. In a debate, I feel this is only fair.

Added, there are five or six of my clients who are members here.

My underscore of this portion is critical. I run my mouth on fakes and mall ninjas, so my reputation must be seamless on sharpening. Not only am I one of the few Caucasian tinkers in this realm of study, but I also test new equipment for Ben Dale before it is sold. I even ask for special tools, which he now is selling.

I just found out that my edges were a topic on a cooking forum I didn't even know existed.

On with the debate! Let's have some fun!

August 8, 2008, 01:13 PM
Hey Tourist...

Could you take a look at this mole on my neck?


The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 01:16 PM
Mongrel, let me get this straight--you want a biker near your neck with a toasty Razel?

And I get PMs about stability...?

August 8, 2008, 01:16 PM
Just living on the edge man...

Living on the edge...


August 8, 2008, 01:18 PM
In fact, this knife is not safe for clients.



The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 01:26 PM
Thernlund, let me clarify that statement.

This edge is not suitable for the average client. Obviously I have clients who are professional chefs and folks who have used my services for a number of years.

I wouldn't give this knife to a kid, a sports hunter who only guts a deer once every few years (I've had guys cut their fingers with the knife up inside the chest cavity of the deer) or a guy who wants to surprise his wife with a edge she's never seen before.

Within days of my start with Panera's, they took a girl to the ER for stitiches.

But give me a break here--this knife is mine. I use it show potential clients. I took it to a new kitchen shop here in Madison for a demonstration.

If a knowledgeable hunter said, "Chico, I've been tramping around the TN wilds hunting pigs and everything else has crapped," I'd probably sell him the knife.

August 8, 2008, 01:30 PM
Hmmm. So, you don't know me, what I do, or what I may or may not use the knife for. If I want a knife that sharp from you, I have to justify it to you? Otherwise I get less than the best?


The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 01:41 PM
Of course not. But a an axe is different from a pocketknife and a Japanese laminate gyuto is even more of an odd duck.

And let's be clear, 75% of my clients are local boys--some even trusted enough to come to my home.

*sigh* yes, I have a few clients who want gyuto edges on pocketknives. The steel is the wrong alloy, the edge might be too fragile, they'll be back within a week, perhaps the HT is wrong, and they pay 100 bucks for a four inch knife.

It's not practical.

But if you want me to spend two hours on your CQC-7 so you can see your own eyes relected back from the bevel (as is the case on this Razel) send me 100 bucks.

Oh, and you forget, my jackknives are five minutes away from the stones, yours are not.

August 8, 2008, 02:48 PM
Mongrel, let me get this straight--you want a biker near your neck with a toasty Razel?

And I get PMs about stability...?

At least he's seeking a professional.....this type of minor surgery is not a "do-it-yourself" proposition....don't ask me how I know.... :banghead:

August 8, 2008, 04:09 PM
I, for one, have a long and glorious history of self-surgery. Never underestimate a man with a blade and a do-it-yourself attitude. ;)


August 8, 2008, 04:19 PM
FWIW, one of the first major uses I had for the Razel was taking out and reinstalling a shower door enclosure. I removed the shower doors, and then the frame. There was a lot of old caulk on the perimeter of the shower and on the disassembled door frame.

The Razel was ideal for stripping the old caulk. Since the front edge was shaving sharp, it very easily slid between the caulk and the metal. By the time I was finished, it was a little dinged up. However, a few minutes with an Arkansas stone touched it back up nicely.

The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 04:30 PM
Trapper, I made the decision to leave my front edge "utility sharp." In that way I can use the knife as I believe Josh designed it.

Having said that, the front edge can be touched up at any time. However, as stated I liked the manner in which it grabbed ahold of a burnt on sticker.

About the only time in my life where I have needed a razor sharp chisel is in my thankfully short stint as a woodworker with my Dad.

But, I have considered mirror finishing one side of the front bevel. It would be sharp, but still "toothy" on one side, if needed.

August 8, 2008, 04:53 PM
Tourist - Mine is no longer shaving sharp on the front edge. However, it will easily remove stickers off a window or dig our wood (like a normal chisel). The bottom edge is a whole 'nuther story. It's borderline scary.

I do find myself paying a lot more attention with the Razel than I do with other knives. I'll often find myself thinking about the movement I'm about to make and carefully contemplating the consequences of a slip. That "extra" edge forces me to use a higher degree of caution than I might otherwise. It's one of the reasons I appreciate the ring, as I feel it helps maintain positive control even in the event that it twists or slips.

August 8, 2008, 05:04 PM
FWIW, one of the first major uses I had for the Razel was taking out and reinstalling a shower door enclosure. I removed the shower doors, and then the frame. There was a lot of old caulk on the perimeter of the shower and on the disassembled door frame.

You know you're talking to a former Plumber right? :D

And, you are absolutely dead-on in your choice of edges for the job. I carried a set of chisels for just such tasks. They are the best imho for removing the dreaded "old caulk".

Where I think you may see the limitations of the Razel vs a chisel though is in the safety of using two razor sharp edges on oposing sides of the tool. I find it much safer and more controlled when I only have to deal with one edge for such a job as described. As anyone who has ever worked with a chisel in wood or anything else knows-they can and do 'let go' at the worse times. Secondly, I often use my weak side hand as a guide to keep the chisel bevel under control. This means I sometimes keep pressure on the side of the chisel. With a Razel, my hand would natural fall against the long-side edge, which obviously is a no-go.

Hey, someone patent this before I do: Make a slip-on guard out of brass or polymer for the long edge of the Razels. Have it slip into the sheath in such a way as to be removed and slid against the edge when needed for extra safety when using the front edge!

Oh DRAT! I went and responded!!!


August 8, 2008, 05:55 PM
Mongrel - I have the CRKT version of the Ringed Razel. With my pinky through the ring, it's fairly easy to control and slipping is less of an issue. However, as I said, I do tend to be more careful. FWIW, the jimping on the spine does offer a very secure place to put your thumb.

Since I'm right-handed, I would simply roll my hand (palm forward) and then use my left hand to support and help guide the knife along the spine.

The only time I've been truly concerned with slipping was while using the front edge to cut the top of the seal off a bottle of wine. I was trying to preserve both the bottle and the majority of the seal, so I used the Razel. It worked, but as I was holding the bottle by the neck and applying LOTS of pressure with the knife, I realized the possibility for an unfortunate outcome. :eek: I then modified my technique a bit so that I used much less torque.

BTW, the cool thing about using the Razel for removing the shower surround was that the front edge could be used to gently pry, while the bottom edge could cut down through the caulk. I've used other tools for similar jobs in the past, but this went significantly quicker and more smoothly.

And, now I have nice clean caulk instead of nasty, moldy caulk. /* looking around for barf smilie */

The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 07:23 PM
"The ring is the thing."

I bought one of Josh's Stubbys without the ring for ease of carrying. I don't regret that knife. It does its job.

But I would also like to get a Ring Stubby for when riding with a leather jacket. I could just reach under the bottom edge of the jacket and pull the Razel out safely without having to worry where my edge is.

August 8, 2008, 08:31 PM
I wonder why that is...

Maybe there's something to this blade. Do you love it, hate it, or wonder why you don't love it or hate it? Apparently, it is a controversial design.

I have the CRKT model. Kydex sheath. Wear it when I can. Lighter shorts bring out other EDC knives (with blades ranging from 3/4" -2'', old folders).

I went fishing the other day with a friend and his daughter. I used some nightcrawlers for bait, amongst other baits. I pulled out the Razel. Not surprising that it cut through the soft bait. Last weekend, my brother stopped by to help me paint the front door. We needed to scrape the old paint off the door. I pulled out the Razel to assist my brothers scraper.

I guess that there are blades that you like to have on you, whether they are the best for the job or not.

Some that you seem to have a special connection to.

I'm glad to have the Razel. I'd like to have the leather sheath for it, over the Kydex.

As far as Chico and his unorthodox sharpening tactics, well, thinking outside of the box sits well with me. Not because he fixed my damaged Razel for nothing, but because I realize that science does not have all the answers. There are things that we don't understand or realize. I'm talking about waving the dead chicken over the knife, and it's a lot sharper (just kidding, but you get my drift).

You've got to appreciate the seemingly off-the wall rituals or tactics that are used to not only sharpen a blade, but do anything.

Sorry about seeming too cooky, but there's much to life that we don't have the answers for.



The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 09:06 PM
As far as Chico and his unorthodox sharpening tactics

I'm not sure that these ideas and techniques are "mine" or even new and unorthodox. After all, Nordic Viking cutlers buried their swords in frozen fjords because a good sword "seasons a winter." First cryo quench?

There are swords in museums that not only baffle tinkers about their edges, but also stymie metallurgists about how they were forged. The construction of some forms of early damask blades are simply lost to time.

I use paste. Japanese polishers used pumice. I set angles with an Edge Pro. Japanese polishers used shims and a fumaegi. The waterstones are in many ways identical.

As for the topic of resharpening a dull knife, Native Americans believed it was better to repair a damaged 'hawk or knife then to fashion a new one from raw materials. The spirit of the old 'hawk would always watch over the warrior that repaired it.

All of these common ideas from various peoples and geological times all underline a similar understanding. Simply, there is a relationship between edged tools and the craftsmen who forge and service them.

And in many places, this talent of the artisan is known as "the curse."

August 8, 2008, 09:09 PM
what is the purpose of freezing a knife before sharpening, how do you freeze something that is already a solid, and how cold are you actually going?

I have a pretty good handle on TTT curves, so feel free to get technical.

The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 09:27 PM
Owen, it's a theory, one that is still under debate by tinkers. However, I am a believer, and I have sharpened knives that get so keen they literally defy anythng I have ever seen.

Most people familiar with HT believe that metal must be cooled from -110* to absolute -300* for any effect in the HT process.

Tinkers counter that we are not trying to "re-HT" the entire blank, but simply chill the very thin segment of the edge--the part we touch with a stone.

The chilling effect only lasts during the work itself, and knife warms to room temperature quickly. This freezing does not change the Rc rating of the knife in common use.

To bolster this idea, I refer you to a clients KOA Bear Cub, and one of my wife's 5-inch Pampered Chef knives. The little 2-inch KOA knife took apart an entire bear, and still did not dull. My wife has been whacking vegeatables and the edge has not degraded since I sharpened it.

Both knives spent a few weeks in our refrigerator freezer waiting for their polishing.

August 8, 2008, 09:30 PM
just a home freezer? those are what, 25F?

And are we talking straight carbon steel, like 1095?

The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 09:37 PM
No, Owen, this particular knife is made from a priority steel from CRKT called 9Cr18MoV. They claim it is like 440C.

I wish I could demonstrate how mirror perfect and razor sharp those edges get. This is the knife I polished this morning. It is the one I ran through plasticene last night. It's beautiful.

August 8, 2008, 10:43 PM
9Cr18MoV is essentially 440C with Vanadium.
It is a common enough Chinese stainless screw steel.
CRKT isn't the only one using it in their Chinese made knives.


The reason putting a knife in a standard freezer doesn't make sense to some folks in the knife/materials field is that there's nothing metallurgically that should be taking place.

The reason that it's still debated when there's nothing in metallurgy that would indicate any change should occur is that some very reliable sources do report changes to the edge while cold.

That's what is so interesting about the idea, nothing should change, but some knife folks report changes taking place in edges at "normal" freezer temps.

BTW, I spent 5 years as a materials scientist with the US Dept. of Energy. 2 of that at the High Temperature Materials Lab of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. I can't think of any reason a change would occur, but I am intrigued by reports of performance changes at those temps for knives and axes.

The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 10:56 PM
hso, tell us what you think of 9Cr18MoV. Other than the ridiculously high amounts of chromium, the mix doesn't sound that bad.

As for freezing and sharpening, yes, I've heard from detractors. On paper, it shouldn't happen. But you know the old canard, if a bumble bee cannot fly by any math equation, it's not the bee's fault, it's the equation.

I have held several knives in my hand that cut differently after a freeze and a polish. And I mean in a spooky way.

hso, I wish I could hand you this Razel.

August 8, 2008, 10:59 PM
ok, so how do we test it?

What, exactly, is the apparent change?

(according to Carpenter's website, its 440b)

The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 11:12 PM
Owen, I always thought that sharpening a knife was more "art" than a simple milling process. There are so many variables that many times I just polish by the seat of my pants. One side of the knife is not ever a mirror image of the other side.

But something happens to a knife. I have six-dollar Chinese Shrade Old Timers that will scare your grandmother. Why? Most of them are made from old Soviet tractor parts.

Given a decent HT, letting me fix the bevel to a uniform fashion for a fighting chance, a little ice and then the paste and that Chinese knife cuts like a champ.

And yet if you took a poll here among the THR knife guys, most of them would rather have a sharp stick than the average knife that comes out of Asia.

No magic wands at my house. Just wet rocks and ice.

(I would suggest that you guys try it.)

August 8, 2008, 11:18 PM
according to Carpenter's website, its 440b

Pretty much.

How do we test it? We'd have to run a cutting test with the same sort of edge testing equipment used by the manufacturers in cutting standardized rope. We'd need at least 3 Razels with factory edges, 3 with reworked "frozen" edges and 3 with reworked non-frozen edges. We'd have to number each piece and then send them to a third party that had no idea which was which for testing. The results may tell us if there's anything that is indicated by how long it took the knives to dull. It wouldn't be statistically valid, just a screening study.

I just don't know of anyone that has the equipment that would be interested enough to do it.

As to my opinion on the steel itself? Heat treat would be the critical factor. 440 series steel has been recognized as making good knife blades as long as the heat treat was done properly. Chinese QC on heat treat has been called into question in conversations I've had with manufacturers. Some invest the time to make "sure" their knives get the right time in the ovens while others don't.

August 8, 2008, 11:19 PM
my experience with steel has generally focussed on takeing the edges off...

I'm just intrigured that lowering the temperature of a High-speed Steel 30 degF below room temperture would accomplish a darn thing. I'm not saying its not happening, I'm just curious as all hell.

Is there an industry standard for measuring sharpness, like say, measuring the force required to cut plasticene?

what I've read about 440, is that its fairly heat sensitive. I'm wondering if cooling the blade is causing a big enough heat sink to keep the edge from warming while its being polished.

August 8, 2008, 11:20 PM
so the blades are coming back to room temperature before polishing?

The Tourist
August 8, 2008, 11:27 PM
No, they go right from the freezer to the stone. If the knife starts to thaw, it gets returned to the freezer.

Edit: Here's another idea for a test. You guys pick out knives, wrap them in twenty dollar bills and I'll sharpen them.

I mean, it's in the interest of science...

August 8, 2008, 11:27 PM
Putting it in a freezer raises the Rockwell hardness of the knife temporarily. How much? I don't know. In Blade mag they found that a knife left in a "scientific" freezer went up 2 points Rc. I have no idea how cold that freezer was but in any event freezing makes it harder - something to be considered if a maker is sending knives that will be used in a climate like Alaska. I can ask Paul Bos for 60 Rc but up there it might be 62 Rc and much more prone to breakage. Here guys find that sharpening a harder knife produces better results, then the knife comes back down to original temp and hardness. It will not affect heat treat.

August 8, 2008, 11:57 PM
Tourist, LoL

August 9, 2008, 02:48 AM
I just checked the Razel in the freezer. It's already frozen solid.

I still refuse to believe that the common freezer is going to do anything to make much of a difference. Even a true cryo has to be done at a certain point in the HT process to make a difference , and that is a special chamber to get the temps to -300 in controlled temp drops.

Just as a true Cryo won't fix a poor HT , I can't believe a soak in the home freezer will do anything to a blade edge.

Of all the knifemakers and HT guys I have talked to , all have agreed that placing a HT'd blade in your home freezer is not going to do anything to transform retained Austenite into Martensite , so I can't see how it would improve the edge.

Just my opinion of course.

Your edges do look impressive , you have way more patience than I have. :)

The Tourist
August 9, 2008, 03:01 AM
blade in your home freezer is not going to do anything to transform retained Austenite into Martensite

I'm not sure that's it.

For example, lots of times in a food recipe they might suggest placing the mixed ingredients in the refrigerator for twenty minutes before going further.

You're not "cooking" the items, but it effects the work and the handling you may do later.

And that's my take on this. I'm not doing anything to the alloy of the HT or defining a new cryo treatment. I'm making the edge cold for honing.

Does it make the engagement of the stone to the steel "improved" in some way? Does it aid the overall make-up of a wetwaterstone on a frozen knife akin to a skater's iceskates on a rink?

Heck, does the blade act like a coolant for the stone, not the process?

Whatever is happening, I don't think the engineers are going to quantify my edges in terms of change of Rc or HT methods.

They will cut themselves, however.

August 9, 2008, 09:15 AM
Heck, does the blade act like a coolant for the stone, not the process?

Believe it or not, this is where my head is at on the subject.

It's a 'forest through the trees' issue.

Put the microscope and Rockwell testers aside and just think 'cold' vs 'hot' (or room temp...).

Hey Tourist-have you ever experimented with freezing the stones? NOT the wetstones (risk of cracking...?) but maybe ceramics? It would be interesting to see if there is any kind benefit.

Anyway, like I said, it may not be making a difference on a molecular level but maybe we are looking too hard?

The Tourist
August 9, 2008, 10:49 AM
Mongrel, good idea. I'll take a damaged stone and freeze it. See if it cracks.

I don't think it will. Ben sends me stones in the dead of winter all of the time.

Al Thompson
August 9, 2008, 11:05 AM
Second the freezing the stones question. (nope, it's not a pun) Wonder what a frozen stone and a frozen blade would generate.

Could one advantage be that as you know you don't have long before the blade heats up, you take extra care when you sharpen? Sort of a psychological thing?

The Tourist
August 9, 2008, 11:20 AM
Mr. Thompson, I use Japanese waterstones. As defined, they need water to cut.

Now, I'm no genius, but ice is water. If it could stay as ice, we might have stumbled onto a newer concept.

But first, I'd have to sharpen inside a butcher's freezer. I think the very act of rubbing the stone on the blade would generate enough friction to melt the bond of ice.

As it is now, I re-freeze if my work requires a greater length of time on that specific operation. On high-end knives, I flip and re-freeze constantly--as I did on this Razel.

That's another reason why it's an expensive procedure. Lots of hand work.

August 9, 2008, 02:29 PM
My "frozen" blade theory:
1. It only works on a waterstone and only at a higher grade of polish.

2. The cold blade coming into contact with the water lubrication medium sets up ice crystals in the liquid.

3. The ice crystals in the water act to suspend more uniformly the abrasive particles lifted from the stone.

Think of dirty snow or slush instead of muddy water.

For this theory to work, it could only occur in a very specific set of circumstances; freezing the stone wouldn't do it because you would not have the generation of small ice crystals in the water in contact with the edge, but rather larger crystals on the edges of the water contact to the stone. The stone would not conduct heat as well, so the formation of micro crystals would take longer and they would not have a chance to suspend the abrasive particles before being melted again through friction.

It also explains the difference in perceived action of steel on stone because the medium through which it is being worked is changed. In short, think of the cold of the blade being used to transform the water/stone abrasive medium, not the blade itself.

Sorry to interject more noise into the signal, but I thought a different point of view might help.

August 9, 2008, 03:37 PM
I actually like wulfbyte's suspension theory...


Let's get really weird for a moment...

Has any tried to polish\sharpen a blade on ICE or with ICE?


Aka Zero
August 9, 2008, 06:27 PM
Ice would not have much if any abrasion by it self, (pure water anyway) but a mix of some kind of paste and water would make a very fine suspension.

But I am just trying to steal all of tourists "magic secrets". I use some small diamond hones and can get anything shaving sharp. but past 1200 grit, I haven't explored more than a strop with some polish. And that gets knives to pass the hanging hair test.

Want a razel, some water stones, and tourists knowledge.

The Tourist
August 9, 2008, 09:33 PM
Sorry to interject more noise

Don't be sorry, this debate is ongoing. Even the tinkers are at odds on the reasons--over even if the results are factual.

The problem (I believe) is the infinite set of variables the sharpening of a knife has. The knife itself--it's alloy, the skill of the cutler, the HT, etc. Then there's the tinker, his skill, the materials, the time he invests, etc. On top of these variables is "ice."

All I know is that I froze a Razel. Then I sharpened it. I sharpened it again. Then I polished it. Now it's almost too dangerous to touch.

Want a razel, some water stones, and tourists knowledge.

Why beat yourself up. You sound distraught. Why not simply gather a large wad of money and buy a knife from The Tourist. I know everyone will feel better...:D

August 11, 2008, 05:27 PM
I've been LITERALLY dreaming of a Tourist edge!
Bought a new ceramic stone for my Lansky, 1000 grit.
Been stroking the edge of my Al Mar a lot. 20 degree angle from the horizontal, 40 degrees included angle. Close to factory grind. 2nd shallowest angle on the Lansky, the first is 17 degrees.
Created a wire edge with the 1000 grit stone, stropped it off using jeweler's rouge on cardboard.'s sharp, will slice thin slivers of newsprint but.......
it is not 'scary sharp'. I wouldn't want to shave my face with this edge.
Hmmmmm.....should I send it to The Tourist? Would I be reluctant to use it afterwards?

August 11, 2008, 06:11 PM
Hi RogersPrecision,

The Tourist sharpened my CRKT Stubby Razel after repairing it.

I think that after seeing his work, it may gave you a goal to shoot for.

You may be slightly reluctant to use it after that, only because you will be afraid to mar the shine and dull the edge.

It took me a while to get over that mind-set. Right now, it's not as sharp as it was when I got it back. I touched it up a bit on my own after some useage. Nothing too aggressive, though. Once you've got The Tourist edge, it's easier too maintain an acceptable sharpness.



The Tourist
August 11, 2008, 07:36 PM
should I send it to The Tourist?

Oh, I would! What's a few twenty's every couple of weeks? You're just going to go back to work for some more money. Or buy food, or heat or some other luxury.

Here's a parallel I always offer a new client. Imagine that you ran into the most beautiful blonde you ever saw. She worms her way into your heart, and before long, you've bought her a condo, a Turbo Carrera, clothes, jewelry, "plastic enhancements," and numerous trips to celebrity vacation havens.

Got it pictured, right? Now, just as your adjusting to the cost, you find out her twin sister has just moved in and wants the same deal.

Okay, got that pictured?

Now for a just a few bucks more, I can be your sharpener...:D

Aka Zero
August 12, 2008, 08:28 AM
So, I threw my crkt m21 into the freezer the other day for quite a few hours (prolly 10). Took it out, did some light work with a 1200grit diamond stone that's lost most of its diamond (kinda of like a burnishing steel now) Watch the edge really close, and the water that melted from friction was re-freezing. So that might have something to do with the polishing aspect.

Stropped on some jewelry polish coated leather. And... I have a kinda mirror finish, still have machining marks, but the finnish is much nicer than before. So.. water/ ice, or the cold blade helps something. Will post pics of the edge sometime, I have to find my card reader.

Still want to send a knife to Tourist for the full treatment.

August 12, 2008, 09:24 AM
It may be that the Rc of the edge goes up until the knife warms back towards room temp. That might slow sharpening/polishing, but make for the perceived improvement. Having the Rc on certain steels change in sub-Arctic/Arctic temps has been observed and it may be taking place in this instance.

Now I have something else to research, like I don't have enough to do already.:rolleyes:


The Tourist
August 12, 2008, 11:27 AM
I'm coming around to the idea that it's the relationship of the stone to the frozen condition of the knife.

I don't use aggressive stones or diamonds. My stones are very fine and soaking wet.

After the shaping is done, I don't even use a stone of medium grit. And I re-freeze often.

Once a burr has formed and the knife is sharp in the traditioanl sense, that's when I start to buff--but I use papers, paste and a 3x9-inch Japanese stone of 12,000 grit.

When I got into this method of sharpening (a/k/a "Japanese sharpening") I realized I had to change my mind about a great many things.

For example, sometimes it's hard to admit that perhaps your dad or uncle didn't have the faintest idea on what they were doing. They were sharpening as they were taught as boys. Sort of like bad habits being passed on from generation to generation.

But as I opened up to new ideas I realized the evidence was right in front of me. An 800 year old Japanese katana, which might have seen combat (but that's now in debate), was sharper, prettier, and in better repair than a butchers' knife with half of the metal ground away in less than ten years.

So I tried it. My edges were world's ahead of anything I had done before, even using waterstones as a newb.

Also, I blend ideas by stealing from every one. I freeze knives like a Nordic cutler, but sharpen in a Japanese togi style.

Try some things in your studies. Some of my fellow tinkers have buffed a knife with toothpaste.

August 12, 2008, 11:53 AM
Some of my fellow tinkers have buffed a knife with toothpaste.


Toothpaste is abrasive.

Do not use toothpaste on opals, pearls, sterling, some plastics or optics or other items.

Decades ago, Ann Landers ( or one of them gals) wrote in their column about the "polishing" affects of toothpaste.

There was a slew of items ruined, or seriously abraded.
Family heirlooms, such as opals, mobe' , abaolone, mother of pearl, eyeglasses, opera glasses, gun scopes...

Investigate and Verify.

We got that Element Chart, and not everything on that chart gets along with everything else on that chart.

i.e Chlorine is slick!
Some folks used that to lubricate, and it will ruin metals and other things.
Hence the reason some "lubes" on the market may really slick things up, and at the same time promote embrittlement and other metal problems, like corrosion.

I guess it has been 25 years ago the "in thing" was using Bleach to strop kitchen knives.
Idea being, kill germs and bacteria and the edge being "germ free" would be sharper.

Nope. Didn't work that way at all...

John G
August 21, 2008, 03:56 PM
Well, I finally got my Razel, the Pocket Stubby model. It's a neat little knife. I really like the feel of the micarta handle. I've already used it for some light woodcarving tasks, as well as the usual EDC stuff: letter opening, cutting cord, opening carboard boxes, cutting packing tape. Oh, and I used the chisel edge to scrape gunk from the kitchen counter (lest my girlfriend wonder how that dried brown polyurethane got on her white countertop.) That was really nice. So far, so good. I've actually put my other EDC knives (Case Sodbuster Jr., Case Serpentine Jack, Kershaw Scallion) on the shelf, in order to force myself to only use the Razel. :)

My only gripe is the kydex sheath. I've never owned anything kydex before, and also have never carried a fixed blade in a pocket sheath. So it'll take some getting used to. Plus, that sheath takes up a lot of pocket. I realized this when I went for my keys and had to find a way around the hunk of square plastic on the back of the Razel's sheath.

The quick solution is to move my keys, but I'm not sure I like this new knife moving in and occupying a whole pocket. A dedicated pocket for one knife? :scrutiny:

August 22, 2008, 02:36 AM
My theory on the freezer approach to sharpening is simply that cold metal is harder to bend than warm metal. Instead of bending away from the stone, the metal stays put and allows itself to be shaped to the desired perfect edge. Whether it's durable upon warming depends mostly on the shape that was imparted to it while it was cold -- I could envision taking advantage of the increased brittleness to create a thin razor edge that would bend like tinfoil at room temperature.

August 24, 2008, 08:35 PM
FWIW, I just received a CRKT stubby razel and have had the ringed model for a while now. The ringed, while I really wanted it to be usable for everyday carry, is too big (for me). The stubby seems much better in that regard.

The only problem so far is the sheath for the stubby is way too tight. While the clip holds pretty well, I find that the sheath often comes off while I'm removing the knife. If it doesn't loosen up on its own, I may try heating it and reforming it slightly. Then again, I may just get a leather sheath made.

August 25, 2008, 04:22 PM
Factory sheaths are often crappy and nothing like you'd get from the Graham Bros. If you want to spend the $$$ I use and Bruce makes the best stuff I've ever seen.

TR, you want to get rid of the ringed one? Since it's used and nasty just send it my way and I'll take it. :)

August 25, 2008, 09:59 PM
Valkman - Thanks for the offer, but I'm not done playing with this one yet. :)

What I'd like is a stubby, but with a smaller ring. I've got what I normally refer to as "little girl hands", and the ring on the RR is overly large.

August 27, 2008, 12:36 AM
Do you prefer the squared off edge of the stubby over the curved/angled edges of the ringed in use? Or is it a non-issue? Personally I would think the 90 degree square would be more usefull and it's utilitarian looks, but maybe I'm nitpicking.
Also +1 on whomever mentioned putting a ring on the stubby, I know the whole idea of stubby is to minimize bulk, but I would buy.

August 27, 2008, 01:04 AM
20nickels - From a practical standpoint, at least from what I've done so far, it's kind of a non-issue. Frankly, I think that each is optimized for its size. The larger knife (ringed) has a bit of belly to the long portion of the blade. The stubby has a very straight edge.

Until you mentioned it, I hadn't paid much attention, since I got them at least a month apart (the stubby was originally backordered). Looking at them side-by-side for the first time, I can see what you mean. However, when I've used them, I didn't even notice.

FWIW, I'd say that the majority of my cutting has been with the "tip" (ie. the sharp bit where the two edges come together). After that, I use the "chisel" portion more often than the regular edge. Like Tourist mentioned at some point, I keep the bottom edge very sharp and the chisel edge not quite as much.

Aka Zero
August 27, 2008, 02:43 AM
if I buy a graham brothers razel, it would be a 3" straight bladed ringed.

The ring on the crkt version is perfect, if you use it or not, it just works as a part of the handle. But I do prefer a straight blade for working knives, And 3" of blade.

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