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Yet another sharpening thread

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Spats McGee, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee Moderator

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    A few quick points up front. Yes, I've run a search, and read a few threads. I've read the Sharpening FAQ. I didn't want to derail frogfurr's Professional Knife Sharpeners thread. I know the general theory of sharpening and was taught how to do it as a kid. Apparently, though, I either wasn't taught very well, or things have changed. I suspect the former. I own a grand sum of one Washita stone and one sharpening steel. A few weeks ago, I sharpened a kitchen knife that Mrs. McGee and I have had for ~25 years, and I rather enjoyed it. It was somewhat like my enjoyment of cleaning my guns. I don't get many opportunities to work with my hands these days. Anyway, I took that knife from "hack through lettuce" to "feels like a knife" again, but it took me a while. Unfortunately, as a kid I was taught to use a little oil when sharpening, so I guess my Washita stone is now an oil stone, rather than the 'water stones' I've been reading about.

    I'm looking to both upgrade my sharpening stones and improve my skills here. I've read the FAQ, I've read reviews, I've looked at Apex, Wicked Edge, KME, Tormek. One problem is budget. I just can't spend $150+ on a sharpening system. I don't do enough sharpening to warrant that. It's unlikely I ever will. I've looked at the lower-cost guided systems, like a Gatco. (I almost bought one, too.) Another problem is that I don't really want a system that's too 'automated.' That takes away some of the art of sharpening that I want to do.

    Then I had the brilliant idea of texting a buddy of mine. His wife is an executive chef and it occurred to me that she may sharpen her own knives. She does. She recommended these and this. I really like the idea of the more expensive set for the base and the flattening stone, but I have exactly zero clue how often I might need a flattening stone.

    Any thoughts on these two sets of stones? Or any others that I absolutely, positively need to look at?
     
  2. sparkyv

    sparkyv Member

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    Have you considered diamond stones? I use the Lansky 4 "stone" diamond set with great success. No oil or water needed, fast, excellent results, and finish with stropping. Oh, and this set costs only half of your budget! :eek:
     
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  3. Buzznrose

    Buzznrose Member

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    7C19C255-E1E0-4E32-99B4-AA65749B63D6.jpeg

    911D4ECA-392A-482C-B66F-554F081A19E2.jpeg
    Interesting subject...a good friend told me this week about a new sharpener he just bought after seeing one set up at a local shooting range he went to to pick up a gun he’d won in a raffle. It was a Warthog VSharp Classic II. He was raving about how well it tuned up his knife, much better than the Worksharp he’d been using for several years. I told him I’d never heard of it, and neither had he until he saw and used it.

    Here is a video showing the different models and a quick demo:



    I personally use a Ken Onion Worksharp belt sharpener, and it does the job, but even after a few years, I still need to use a ceramic rod to finish the blade when I use it. I watch the videos...I just cannot seem to get it as good as the demos, and yes, I’ve practiced a lot over the years.

    Anywho, I’m seriously thinking very hard about buying this Warthog. I totally trust this guy’s recommendation...he told me he already sold his Worksharp for $35 so his new VCurve is basically half price.

    One final point...he raves about how his wife used it to sharpen all their kitchen knives...took a few minutes of teaching, but she went to town and sharpened knives that had been dull for years. She never would use the Worksharp...

    May be worth checking it out...I’m probably going to get one soon. They are made in South Africa...wish they were made here in the US, but they are not

    https://smiler.amazon.com/Warthog-V-Sharp-Classic-II-Gunmetal/dp/B01MT6HJU7/ref=sr_1_4?crid=249X0NRLGCINX&keywords=warthog+knife+sharpener&qid=1559733760&s=gateway&sprefix=Warthog+,aps,197&sr=8-4
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019
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  4. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee Moderator

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    Yes, I have considered one of those. It and others like it are still in the running, but I am leaning towards plain old stones. I will say that my friend's wife is not a fan of guided sharpeners, and I just can't decide if I should try one. Apparently, she free-hand sharpens her knives (which I understand are some very nice Japanese knives), and I've seen some of the work she's done with them. I feel pretty confident in saying that her work isn't done with dull knives.
    I'm sure those do a great job, but I think I'd miss out on that 'old school sharpening' that I want to do. Same reason I haven't really looked at the electric sharpeners. I'm sure they work, but I want to do this (at least partly) the old-fashioned way.

    In any event, thank you both for the information, and thanks in advance to anyone who posts after this.
     
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  5. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

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    I have the 400/1000 stone I got at a yard sale , where BTW I got most of the stones I accumulated.

    Instead of stones I now use a very inexpensive system of various grits of wet/dry Emory paper I get at the auto parts of hardware store.

    Grits run 80, 120, 320, 400, 600, 1000, 1500, and 2000.
    I cut them in strips or squares and glue or staple to paint stirring sticks or plywood.

    To maintain proper angle use a sharpie to get your angle correct.

    Finish it all off by polishing. Use a square of cardboard and smear it with Mothers Mag polish, again from the auto/hardware stores.
    Strop on an old belt and you are done.
    Repeat as needed.
     
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  6. Buzznrose

    Buzznrose Member

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    Most welcome. Good luck in your search!
     
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  7. sparkyv

    sparkyv Member

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    Ahhh, I misunderstood that you were leaning towards a free-hand system, Spats. I hope it goes well for you, as my free-hand is hit or miss, but it's because I don't practice enough. For free-hand sharpening I use the
    Work Sharp Guided Sharpening System (Item # WSGS)
    It has diamond plates, and it too fits well within your budget.
     
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  8. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    Watch and learn if you want to get "into" very serious sharpening.
     
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  9. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee Moderator

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    Thanks for that video, hso. I don't know about anyone else, but my take-away is that I can learn on a less expensive stone. Fortunately, I've got a few less expensive knives that I can learn on, too!
     
  10. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    You can sharpen with any abrasive surface, but unless you want to make it hard on yourself, here are some tips.

    The stone surface needs to be FLAT. No dips, waves, valleys, peaks. Flat. If you're using a stone that wears quickly, when it becomes "unflat" you need to make it flat again. If you are considering buying a stone that is very hard but is not flat, consider not buying it instead. It is hard to get a knife really sharp on a stone that is not flat.

    Very hard stones will load. They will accumulate material that is removed from the blade during the sharpening process and they will stop cutting as effectively. There are a number of ways to deal with this issue; find one you like and stick with it. Using a very hard stone without some way of either keeping it from loading or removing the loading is very frustrating. Softer stones tend to wear away as they are used. This means they don't load and the surface remains effective even without having to remove/prevent loading. They sort of prevent it by virtue of their characteristics. I'm not saying not to use hard stones--nearly all of my sharpening is done on ceramics which are very hard. But I also know how to very rapidly and easily remove loading from the stones I use.

    If the knife is really dull, don't start sharpening with a fine grit stone. It will make you old before your time. Dull knives need to start on coarse stones so you can remove enough metal quickly to get the knife sharp before you wear your fingers out. Then you can progress to a finer stone if you want the edge to be really nice.

    Small stones are handy when you can't carry a big stone. Otherwise, they are a pain. Don't try to learn to sharpen on a tiny stone. You want a stone that is big enough that you can take a nice long sharpening stroke before you have to reset everything for the next stroke.
     
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  11. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    You may need to just get a Sharpmaker. Unless that is too easy. Really, they are very easy.

    The only addition I would suggest is a .5 micron aluminum oxide charged leather strop.
     
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  12. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Took years for me to figure this out. If the stone is worn in the middle, as most of the are, then it is absolutely impossible to maintain a consistent angle for the edge, when honing. I see lots of vintage Arkansas stones, "Grandad's" and the surface is concave

    s-l1600.jpg

    A dished stone is better avoided, unless you want a non functional rock. In which case, get a rock from the back yard for free. I have trued carborundum stones on the sidewalk, but I don't know how to true an Arkansas stone. I purchased a truing stone for Japanese waterstones, but those stones are soft compared to an Arkansas stone or an india stone.

    I saw a vintage truing machine somewhere, it might have been SMKW, and the exhibit was a large diamond disc (I think) and Arkansas stones were placed on this machine and trued as the disc rotated. It was a big machine, the disc had to be three to four feet in diameter, the one I saw was non functional.

    I would be interested to know if anyone has trued an Arkansas or India stone on a belt grinder, and what grit was needed.
     
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  13. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    You should be able to true an Arkansas stone on a diamond plate--I've trued ceramics and silicon carbide stones on diamonds. Don't press hard, let the diamonds do the work.
     
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  14. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee Moderator

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    Well, based on the advice I've gotten both here and elsewhere, I finally ordered a whetstone. That one should satisfy the 'learn to put an edge on, old school' itch that I've been having. I also have every intention of trying @bikerdoc's suggestion of emory cloth on paint stirring sticks, and of getting a some kind of faster (diamond) sharpener. This one looks promising & I have cheap knives on which I can experiment.

    Thank you, one and all, for all of the information you've given me. This topic is very interesting, indeed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2019
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  15. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome to the addiction.
     
  16. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    For every day kitchen knives, scissors, and my hunting/field dressing, and fillet knives, I use a worksharp.
    I know it's not the classic method of honing to a razor's edge. I do that too with an Arkansas stone on a patch knife and a few others.....but if you want to tackle a drawer full of kitchen knives, and have them as good as new in 20 minutes, the work worksharp kit can do that.
    I take it to my parent's and my in-laws and sharpen their knives too. I am a hero for a day or two.
     
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  17. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    That's a waterstone. You can find videos on how to use waterstones. Keep in mind that waterstones wear very rapidly--they are designed to. This keeps them always at the same "grit" because the surface is constantly wearing away and can't smooth over time like it will with a very hard stone. The downside is that you will have to keep up with the stone to make sure it stays flat as it wears.

    They provide very good results once you know how to use them. I'm too lazy for that, so I use ceramics and avoid the hassle of water or oil while sharpening.


    I like the angle guide this guy uses in the video. The important part of the video starts about 2:30.
    If you use a guide, remember it's there to help you keep a good angle. You don't have to put a lot of pressure on the guide--that will just wear it down really fast. You just need it to keep the angle right.
     
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  18. Spats McGee

    Spats McGee Moderator

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    I finally put steel on stone today, and it was educational. I'm not known for patience when it comes to hands-on projects, and I will need some. That said, I'm not completely dissatisfied with today's results.

    I started with 4 knives: A brand-unknown lockback with about a 1.25" blade, a Buck of similar description, a Gerber lockback with about a 2" drop point, and an 8" kitchen knife. The first two were both gifts for being a groomsman, neither ever saw much use, and so neither really got more than (an unnecessary) brush-up.

    The kitchen knife (which was actually first one I sharpened) was s different story. I was googling around to learn more about the steel (S145-8), and I accidentally found the exact knife here. We bought it at a restaurant supply place in about 1993, and I never sharpened it between purchase and now. It's chopped everything from cheese to coconuts and gone through the dishwasher hundreds of times. I spent about 15 minutes on the 400 side of the stone trying to raise a burr, but I eventually gave up, flipped the knife and worked the other side. After what I thought was equal treatment on the other side, I flipped the stone and repeated the process. No burr ever came up, and the blade is all scuffed to Hell, but the edge shows definite improvement.

    Finally, the Gerber. I carried the Gerber off and on throughout my teenage years, and it actually saw some use, as my jobs were construction, farm work, HVAC, etc. After just a few minutes on the 400 grit stone, I actually raised a burr! I whooped when I realized that and Mrs. McGee came running, convinced that I'd cut myself, but that's a different problem. The Gerber also wound up with new scuff marks (but fewer than the kitchen knife), and the edge is certainly sharper, but it's still not as sharp as I'd like.

    This will take patience, but I rather enjoyed it. I will be investing in some kind of diamond or maybe a Worksharp for that proverbial 'drawer of kitchen knives,' and I can't pass up trying emory cloth and paint sticks (given the price) but I'll get this whole hand sharpening business figured out.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
  19. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

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    Polishing removes scuff marks.
     
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  20. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    If you are scuffing the side of the blade, you are sharpening at a pretty steep angle. That's probably not a horrible thing for a kitchen knife, but that's probably why it is taking so much work to raise a burr.

    The burr means that you have sharpened past any dullness on one side and the metal is sort of curling up on the backside of the blade. If you go with a really sharp angle, you will have to grind a lot more metal off the edge to get to that point.

    Also, if the steel is really, really hard, the burr will be very small. The softer the steel, the easier it is to feel the burr. A very hard steel will have a small burr that is harder to detect.

    Some kitchen knives can have ridiculously hard steel. I guess the manufacturer thinks it will only be used in ideal conditions (cutting relatively soft stuff against a wood or plastic cutting board) and so they don't need to worry about breakage or chipping. Once you get them sharp, they will hold an edge for a long time if you don't abuse them, but getting them sharp can be a real hassle.

    Anyway, one way to detect a small burr is to use some toilet paper or Kleenex. If you pull it along the edge, the burr will pick up fuzz from the paper which will make it easier to see.

    Here's some scribbling on forming bevels and burrs.
    Sharpeningsmall.jpg
     
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  21. Mullo98

    Mullo98 Member

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    I want to say to keep an eye out at flea markets, yard sales and the like. You might find a good vintage stone or sharpening rod tiger for cheap.
     
  22. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    I find that I can do 90% of what I need to do with one of these $30 Worksharp tools. They have a medium and fine diamond sides, with a ceramic rod on the 3rd side and a leather strop on the 4th.






    gfs_stack_hero.jpg sharpeners.
     
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  23. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    I've messed around with those some and I think they're well thought out. I think I would have gone coarse and medium on the diamond plates since it's targeted at a field-type application and you already have the ceramic rod to do a finish step. But other than that, I really think that it's hard to do much better in that class of sharpener.
     
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  24. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    As John said, too flat to the stone.
     
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  25. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

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    Use a sharpie to coat the edge and use the stone to find the right angle.
     
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