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Sharpening thread

The General Jul 24, 2006

  1. The General

    The General The Devil's General Brigade Member

    Basic instructions for a very dull knife.

    Using a Spyderco Sharpmaker (which many seem to own)

    Free hand and convex sharpening is a different thing. That is something I will discuss in time. Remember this stuff is more simple to explain if I could show you.

    1. My prefered method is to sharpen ten each side on a knife to start with on the grey corners of the stone (or preferably the diamond inserts). I keep doing this until I can see the edge is forming or feel the burr.
    (seeing the edge forming, get a black marker pen and colour the full length of the edge. The stone will remove the marker pen where it is wearing the steel away. This will give a simple visual guide as to if you have removed enough steel to be at the edge or not. If you think a burr is forming, place your finger on the SPINE of the knife and very gently stroke downwards with your finger or thumb towards the edge of the knife. NEVER EVER from the edge upwards as this will prolly CUT you! What you are trying to do is at the point where your finger leaves the edge, just at that point where you stroke downward and leave the knife, do you feel something? A roughness? if so that is prolly a burr.)

    The combo of looking with the black marker pen, feeling for the burr and looking very closely at the edge for the actual burr will hopefully tell you if one side is fully ready. Continue to sharpen till one side has a burr along its full length. This side is now fully sharpened for now and you must now ONLY sharpen the other side of the blade until the burr moves over to this new side.

    2. You now have a burr on the other side of the blade, let me know if I need to explain what a burr is?

    So switch to the grey flat stones and sharpen till that burr is removed. From experience do ten per side with the stone, then 5 per side, then 4,3,2,1 per side. Now check again for the burr, it will still be there, but not as noticable.

    3. Now switch to the white flat stones and do 5 per side, then 4 then 3 etc. Now look again for the burr. It will still be there only really hard to feel or see now.

    4. Here comes the magic. Test for the burr by feel. very very gently sharpen the side with the burr to remove it. a couple of passes on thw white flat stones and check it. After about 10 passes on this side or until you think you have removed the burr, give the side without the burr the occasional pass over the stones. keep gently doing this until you can neither see nor feel the burr.

    5. This is the point usually where a knife is sharp, but a micro burr is still there and will cause the knife to dull more quickly than a quality steel deserves. So to the question, how do you remove this burr? Well what I do FIRST is make sure the edge is set up right and is a symetrical edge. How do I do this? Simple, I shave my arm hair up and then down the arm. If its set up right it will be equally as good going up as down the arm. (different sides of the blade you see)

    6. It wont be at this point, but this test tells you how well set up the angles and symetry are without a laser or microscope to check! So how does this test tell you which side of the knife to sharpen a little more? If you are holding the knife in you right hand and the knife is placed on the skin and you shave hair down your left arm and its not as good as turning it over and shaving UP the arm. This tells us that the micro burr or symetry is not as good on one side of the blade. So which side to sharpen to fix this? This is where most people go wrong as they sharpen the wrong side of the knife and make it more blunt.

    (This is how to do this, if we remember it shaves down the arm the worst, then if you look at the blade, its the side NOT next to your skin that needs steel removing to sharpen properly and set up the symetry of the edge properly. A couple of very gentle passes on this side will prolly sort the symetry out if both sides shave well. If one side shaves and the other does not or is very poor. Do five passes on the flat white stones and test by shaving arm hair up and down the arm on different sides of the knife. Using this method you will get a perfect symetrical edge and angle on the blade.)

    Try to think of how a chisel works. What I am looking for is two chisels placed back to back. This will give you the V grind rather than the chisel grind. If you move one chisel slightly forward, look what it does to the symetry of the "blade". You can see this if you put both your hands together and imagine your finger tips are the edge of the knife. Slide one hand back a little and the other is "longer" Well this "longer" hand is what is shaving better as it IS longer. This longer hand is in fact a micro burr. If you use logic here, you must wear this "longer" hand away (as you can't put metal back on the knife can ya?) pull the "longer" hand back so both are the same length and BANG!!!! Perfect edge.

    7. This all sounds a bit of a hassle, but you only need to do this the first time you use this method of sharpening as repeat sharpenings will go a lot easier as you are "starting as you meant to go on" and doing it right NOW to make it easier in future! Trust me its worth it!

    8. At this point, the wire is not noticable and the edge is hopefully symetrical. You really don't NEED to do more as the edge is already really good. However, do the next simple bit and the edge holding will be a lot better for slicing and dicing! Make sure the white flat stones are cleaned fully. Take the knife and increase the edge angle a little bit, say 10 degree's per side. How do you do this? Tip the knife inwards a little, away from the stones rather than straight up and down. Do a couple of passes at this new angle. Slowly and gently. This will burn the burr off. If you are not sure, do a couple more passes each side but NO MORE THAN THAT. Now return to sharpening up and down like you are supposed to and do one pass one one side of the edge, then one pass on the other side of the edge. Again I can't stress this enough, be very gentle, force is your enemy here. Do this 3-4 passes in total per side and then do the arm hair test again. One side will shave SLIGHTLY better than the other, normally. Use the symetrical method to determin which side needs the final single pass and the edge will now be razor sharp, with perfect symetry and no burr.

    9. If your feeling a little smug and really want to show off. Get a rough backed leather belt, put some Flitz or similar on the back, rub it in and loop the belt round your foot. Pull tight and then strop the blade up and down the knife gently at a lightly higher angle than you used with the sharpmaker no more than 10 passes per side. Alternate up and down equally. At the end of each stroping pass, PICK UP THE KNIFE and turn it over. Dont try and show of and turn the knife on the strop. This will dull the edge badly.

    Well I don't doubt you will all have several things you need me to explain, but that is the full version of what I do with the Sharpmaker to sharpen an edge. Ask away!
    Jeff and bart-1 like this.
  2. bart-1

    bart-1 6th degree black belt/internet fighting discipline Knife Maker or Craftsman

    WoW!c Impressive post! I will try it! Greenie given for aid and content!!:devilzeek
  3. The General

    The General The Devil's General Brigade Member

    Just modified it a little to try and explain the shaving test to set up the edge and how to remove the micro burr formed.
    denofearth likes this.
  4. e3ck

    e3ck toolmaker Knife Maker or Craftsman


    Slightly cut in to the oiled leather, Then strop it?:deadevil: Did I do GOOD!:madaddy:

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