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Honing technique

Fri Apr 11, 2014 4:36 am

Hi, I'm a relative newcomer getting more confident with sharpening but I have a couple of questions about honing.

I'm a recent Edge Pro Essentials purchaser, with Tojiro DP and Moritaka AS gyutos. I've sharpened them both on the EP to 15 deg with 10 deg back bevels. Before each use, I do 2 quick, super-light passes on a high-grit ceramic rod.

First, I noticed something funny in a pleasant way: the knives seemed noticeably sharper on the 2nd/3rd day after sharpening. On day 1 they cut through onions quick and easy, but by day 3 it was like the onions weren't even there. Does this mean I started off with a wire edge and it came off with honing?

Second, I'm sure I've read conflicting (or confusing) advice on the honing angle. It seems obvious I'd want to hone at exactly the angle of the edge, but I'm an EP user, so I have no practice at all finding that angle by hand. I'm definitely going to err a little one way or the other. Which should I pick? I read in the book "An Edge In The Kitchen" that you should sharpen at the edge angle or a slight bit "steeper" (which I guess means slightly fewer degrees), but I swear that somewhere else I read that you should err on the more obtuse side. Which should it be?

Re: Honing technique

Fri Apr 11, 2014 4:39 am

Also, should I be honing lightly with every use? (i.e., 1-3 times a day)? Given that I'm never going to be doing it at exactly the right angle, am I going to wear the edge down that way?

Re: Honing technique

Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:21 pm

Yes, most likely you started with a wire edge or a burr.

As to honing angle.....well, honing at too shallow of an angle won't do a damn thing so I don't know why you'd ever want to error on that side. So if you must use a ceramic hone, I reckon error on the side of too steep.....but I wouldn't want to error at all to be honest. :o Too steep will thicken the edge prematurely.

And no, you shouldn't be honing with every use. I have knives similar to the one's you have that go 20 - 25 uses without any touch-ups. When I do touch them up, it's with a 3 or 5k stone and not a hone.

Re: Honing technique

Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:30 pm

Thanks! So when people say "steeper" they mean a bigger angle? I.e., 20 is steeper than 15?

(Suddenly I get it - I was thinking in terms of a vertical honing rod, where holding the knife at a shallower angle looks steeper. But of course on a horizontal stone, the bigger angle is steeper.)

Re: Honing technique

Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:50 pm

Yes, that's how I define it and how everyone I know seems to define it. :)

Steeper in relation to the abrasive....whether that be a ceramic rod, or a stone, or....

Re: Honing technique

Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:16 pm

Yeah, your edge pro finishing stone is probably upwards of 3K grit. When you put it to a fine ceramic that's usually around 1200 grit. Each time you use it you're degrading your high grit finish closer to 1200 grit of the ceramic rod.

And that's why Adam touches up on a stone and not a rod. I have 3 rods, a steel, diamond and ceramic rod which I also don't use any more. Its just stones these days. Its quite simple really, just a few light edge trailing strokes on a high grit stone or strop leaves a finer finish than the ceramic rod.
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