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Knife Sharpening
26 January 2019, 00:45,
#1
Knife Sharpening
At last I've found some time to learn new skills and improve existing ones. One skill I've been working on is the technique or some may say 'art' of knife/blade sharpening. No machines or fancy gizmos, just plain whetstones.

I'm interested to know what grits you may use to sharpen from completely blunt up to a razor point sharpness. I've had success bringing the blade up to a reasonable sharpness using a 3000 grit, but then I haven't yet managed to get it to a really sharp razor edge despite finishing with an 8000 grit. Perhaps I stepped up to 8000 too quick, might it be better to use a 5000 or 6000 after the 3000, then the 8000? What about leather straps for finishing? I've not tried them yet, does anyone recommend them?
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26 January 2019, 16:52,
#2
RE: Knife Sharpening
I've tried various techniques over the years and all of them have given me an edge that I can use to cut myself easily but the edge of the ninja, the one were a tissue is cut cleanly under gravity has always eluded me no matter what I try and how long I have tried.

On the plus side I've always been a fan of good enough for prepping and imo as long as you have a good simple system to use then you will be OK. A stone is always the basic but then you don't get the angle right without some help. Several systems are available to hold the blade at an angle for consistency, otherwise you grind your blade to nothing over time. Get one of those and imo they are pretty much of a likeness and you will always have good sharp blades.

As far as a strap is concerned. I've tried a few and I've not managed to improve on my sharpening. But I suspect that barbers the world over don't use them for no reason. They clearly do something in the right hands.

My view though is to find a sharpening system that is easy to use and gets an adjustable angle for your blade as a basic system for use. The try on a bare stone and strap and see how it gets you. There are people than can get excellent edges on their blades. Still won't cut a tissue though.
Skean Dhude
-------------------------------
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. - Charles Darwin
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26 January 2019, 17:41,
#3
RE: Knife Sharpening
I always finish on leather LAC , I bonded some 6 mm leather on a ply block 75 mm wide x 300 mm long …..chisels , plain irons , knifes are all finished the same way ! …...even so... my eyesight is not what it was , but....sharp enough for this old chippy .

I have a few wet stones , and one hand cranked wet wheel stone , the wheeled stone is excellent ! I have made up some jigs to make life easy .
The ability to laugh at yourself while you learn is a great attribute.
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26 January 2019, 20:16,
#4
RE: Knife Sharpening
I have always sharpened "free-hand" generally using natural stones so I do not know what angles or grits I have used over the past 65 years of knife carrying.

I do know that the big breakthrough in my sharpening ability came when I discovered natural Arkansas soft and hard stones (novaculite) and stropping with leather. That was around age 10.

If I remember correctly Ragnor at Ragweed Forge used to sell a green novaculite stone drilled to hang around one's neck like the vikings did.

Found that sucker scroll down about 1/3 the page.

https://www.ragweedforge.com/SharpeningCatalog.html

I do not know the grits of my stones, don't care. Don't know the angle of attack don't care. Don't know the hardness of the steel, don't care about that either as long as it does the job and is easy to resharpen in the field.

Each blade and each use will require a different edge applied to different standards.

99% of the time that "good enough" edge will accomplish the task at hand. I carry a 3 blade "stockman" pattern knife daily and only one of the blades is kept at a razor edge and that one is not used frequently.

LAC the numbers on the grits you are specifying are astronomically fine! I do have a diamond hone with 4 sides and the fine side is 600 grit and will bring up a razor edge with no problem. I do use diamond hones on some of my very hard blades, which are soon useless without those devices.

Sometimes the "best knife you own" is also a knife that is impossible to sharpen without complex technology. What is the difference between a "custom bushcraft knife" and a Mora?...You can sharpen the Mora to a "good enough" edge on a flat rock you fished out of the creek!

One of the pieces of my EDC kit is a small sliver of metal 2cm x 4cm and coated with diamond compound. It will bring anything available up to a "good enough" edge in a few minutes from flat edged blunt. Credit card, metal trim, old door hinge, butter knife....

That small light token replaced the 2cm x 4cm hard novaculite stone I had carried in my pocket for decades. Yep there was a time when men carried not only a knife, but a stone to sharpen it!
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26 January 2019, 21:13,
#5
RE: Knife Sharpening
My dad was a master carpenter and i still have his chisels, planes and his oil stones.

Chisels and plane irons i have no problem with but i always have difficulties getting a razor edge with knives, now i get a reasonable edge with an oil stone and finish of with a gerber pocket sharper ( carbide first then ceramic) which gives a great edge as the stones are at the perfect angle. It takes a little time but it works for me. I’ve just ordered an other one as mine is showing a little wear.

I have diamond whet stones of different grades which will quickly restore the edge.

I always was taught as a lad to strop a blade on a leather strap to remove the wire edge after grinding and using a stone.

Find a way that works for you and practice it.
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27 January 2019, 00:47,
#6
RE: Knife Sharpening
Thankyou all for the excellent replies and information.

I agree that good enough is good enough, and my philosophy is also to go with what works and is practical. To have a good blade and shapener and the ability to use both, and to be compact enough to fit in your EDC/hiking bag is invaluable.

I shall check out the novaculite stone and the other suggestions and get practicing and report back my progress on this thread in due course, thanks again all.
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27 January 2019, 02:58,
#7
RE: Knife Sharpening
I was trained similar to MB and learned to keep edges in shape free-hand from my father. Dad learned from his grandfather who had been a cabinet maker. As kids my brother and I worked on wooden boats as well as repairing antique furniture.

When in the Navy I replaced the carborundum stone in the sheath pocket of my Ontyario aircrew survival knife with an Arkansas Washita stone and kept a small sharpening steel for quick touchups. Many a time I have touched up a pocket knife or razor using soap and water on the edge of a rental car window, or motel bathroom window.

For sharpening wood working tools in the shop I have adjustable sharpening guides to control the blade angle, as well as flat diamond stones in 190, 330 and 600 grits for quick stock removal, then follow with Japanese water stones in 1000 and 2000 for finishing.

73 de KE4SKY
In
"Almost Heaven" West Virginia
USA
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27 January 2019, 14:41,
#8
RE: Knife Sharpening
I have only ever used an oil stone for sharpening chisels, plane irons and knives. Plenty good enough for chisels and planes, but i have always been disappointed with the knives.

This is why i use a gerber pocket sharpener. From you recommendations i will now be trying soap and water with a new stone.
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27 January 2019, 15:50,
#9
RE: Knife Sharpening
(27 January 2019, 02:58)CharlesHarris Wrote: I was trained similar to MB and learned to keep edges in shape free-hand from my father. Dad learned from his grandfather who had been a cabinet maker. As kids my brother and I worked on wooden boats as well as repairing antique furniture.

When in the Navy I replaced the carborundum stone in the sheath pocket of my Ontyario aircrew survival knife with an Arkansas Washita stone and kept a small sharpening steel for quick touchups. Many a time I have touched up a pocket knife or razor using soap and water on the edge of a rental car window, or motel bathroom window.

For sharpening wood working tools in the shop I have adjustable sharpening guides to control the blade angle, as well as flat diamond stones in 190, 330 and 600 grits for quick stock removal, then follow with Japanese water stones in 1000 and 2000 for finishing.

CH, would you consider a 3000 grit too fine to start off with when sharpening a dull/blunt blade?
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27 January 2019, 17:24,
#10
RE: Knife Sharpening
LAC we use a different rating scale over here for abrasive grades. We have no way to convert the grades to answer your question.

The U.S. scale lists 1000 grit as 4 microns texture. 2000 grit is 3 microns or there about. We would use that to polish the lacquer finish on an auto paint job or polish that dull sheen off your plastic headlight covers.

3000-6000 grit we would use to polish the Hubble space telescope mirror. It would have the texture of talcum powder floating in olive oil.

In turn, the "coarse" belt on my bench sander is 80 grit, medium would be 120 grit and fine would be 180-200. When I polish metal I use a crocus cloth that is 660-800 grit for final polishing.

My diamond bench block has 4 sides, 200/300/400/600 grits and when finished with that process all it requires is a leather stop to finish the razor edge.

It appears that your system might add an extra zero to the rating numbers we use, but I can find no information on that in a google search.
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