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Can't improve my edge. Any suggestions?

Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:58 am

Hi Mark. I recently purchased a Yamashin nakiri (arrived yesterday) from you after hearing many good things about the line. The knife looks and feels great but I found that the out of the box edge was not very impressive (something noted in reviews of the line). I've been hand sharpening for a while now using primarily a 1200 Bester and 5000 Suehiro progression that allows me to get my Hiromoto AS gyuto and petty very sharp with nice edge retention. I feel that my sharpening skills are pretty solid at this point, but I have been unable to improve the edge on this nakiri past the OOTB edge. In fact, after a few separate sharpening sessions it's gotten notably worse. Now, I know that White #1 is renowned for taking a great edge and being easy to sharpen but I"m stumped.
The first session, I did my usual routine of 1200, then 5000, then strop on 5000, then deburr. The edge was no better.
Next, I decided to thin the blade just a bit with a 200 (using marker trick) and then put a 50/50 10-degree per side bevel on the blade with just 1200.
Finally this morning, I tried to very carefully sharpen on the 1200 while trying to feel for the burr. Now, the knife is not even slicing newspaper very well.
I'm not sure what's going on. Am I not feeling the burr properly? Does my sharpening style not work for White #1? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I really want to like this knife!

Re: Can't improve my edge. Any suggestions?

Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:25 pm

Eric, that Yamashin will indeed get just stupid sharp. It's a bit hard to say why you're having trouble. One thought I'll throw out is that the Aogami Super in your Hiromoto is more wear resistant than the Yamashin White #1. I wonder if you're using too much pressure on the new blade. Try lightening up a bit, especially on those last few strokes on the 1200 and when stropping. Then again, I don't know how hard you're pushing now. You'll get more advice I'm sure.

Re: Can't improve my edge. Any suggestions?

Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:27 pm

Sounds like your not all the way to the very edge of the edge :(. Spend some more time much lower down and be 100% sure that both edges meet before moving on.

Also after all that grinding flatten your 200 and then do a quick few passes just to make sure the edge itself is as straight as possible. Otherwise when you get to your nice flat 1200 you wont be touching the edge of the edge again :)

Re: Can't improve my edge. Any suggestions?

Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:44 am

Sharpening can be a bit of mental game at times, you get yourself to a point where the knife is winning and you convince yourself that you're doing something wrong and frustration sets in. You know how to sharpen a knife and you know that the knife can be sharpened so it's just a matter of stepping away from it and believing that it's going to get sharp.
Heed the advice of Sadden, it's good and makes sense. Just be patient and triple check to make sure that the targeted area, the edge of the edge is where you are sharpening.
This has happened to me several times and in each case it has been something I am doing wrong, it isn't the knife or the stones. A simple adjustment, either raising or lowering the angle to get me back on target and clearing my head has solved the issue.
You're a good sharpener, you have nice knife there, sleep on it and take a fresh look, don't sharpen frustrated, sharpen with confidence, patience and courage.


Re: Can't improve my edge. Any suggestions?

Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:44 am

ERIC <> I concur with SADDEN. I think your thinning convoluted your final bevel geometry. Thinning on a 200 effectively removed any shoulder there was on your edge, but setting that final bevel on a 1200 will still take time & I don't think you got there [to the edge]. I am not against using a 1200 in this capacity & in fact advocate it for the lesser experienced so as to create less potential profile damage, but I have to ask... do you have any stones in the 400-500 range? Like I said... on the 1200 it will take awhile which can lead to sloppiness which can lead to inconsistent angles.

In your scenario, I would have thinned on my 200 & progressed the thinning angle with my 1200 to polish out most of that scratch pattern. I then would have set my final 10 degree bevel on the 200, then progressed into the 1200 for a long time to abrade out the entire 200 scratch pattern, then on to the 5K. I think a $60 400 like a Latte<--link or Chosera <--link would really speed this progression up for you. You can still get there with a 200, 1200, 5000 progression, but to stay keen on a freehand 10 degree bevel can be taxing on your skill set as is... let alone lowering your margin for error with such a difficult stone progression.

Summarily closing, I think the mistake is that you thinned with a 200, then tried to set the final bevel w/a 1200. Thin with your 200; polish your thinning with your 1200. Then set your bevel on the 200; progressing through the 1200 & 5k.

Re: Can't improve my edge. Any suggestions?

Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:52 am

Hi. This is Eric from the original post. First, let me say I'm very impressed with the quality of these responses and how quickly I received them.
I just got done with a sharpening session. I followed the advice to go back to a flattened 200 with a more obtuse angle. I could feel the burr well on most of the edge (not well near heel). I chased the burr, deburred, then hit the 1200 at same angle. I again easily raised the burr, chased it, stropped on 1200, then deburred with a wine cork again.
The edge is definitely better. Most of the edge has great bite and is popping arm hairs. However, I'm certainly not gliding through onions or paper and the heel and tip are not as good as the middle edge.
I initially thinned because I know most grinds could use some thinning and had read that it was good to remove the lacquer near the edge. It looks like I now should polish the thinned area with 1200 then go back and lower the edge angle with 1200 then 5000. What do y'all think?
I'm encouraged that I've made progress, but I think I've got a long way to go. Thanks again for all the info and encouragement.
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