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How do I take my sharpening to the next level?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:27 am

I'm a line cook and have been sharpening for about 6 months. I get good results, but want to take the next step. I currently use a bested 700 grit, and combo 1k/6k stone. I use tojiro dp's & masamotos and hone on a Mac ceramic rod. What should I do next... Add another stone between 1k and 6k? Add a higher grit finishing stone? Start stropping? Thanks for any help and input!

War Eagle

Re: How do I take my sharpening to the next level?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:44 am

Yes, start stropping. I consider stropping to be essential to freehand sharpening, unless you are sharpening cheapos, which you are not.

Re: How do I take my sharpening to the next level?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:15 pm

I started with a Shapton 1k stone and a Suehiro Rika 5k stone. I got a great edge. I could easily cut paper and the edge would take a few hairs off my arm. When I added a balsawood strop with Chromium Oxide 60k, it took my edge to a new level. When I cut paper there is hardly a sound and I can shave rows of hair off my arm.

Re: How do I take my sharpening to the next level?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:58 pm

Patience Grasshopper.

Your current level may be just fine but there is always room for improvement which is driven by our obsession to get the edge as sharp as possible, regardless of how sharp it is today, it could be sharper.

Instead of looking at new products (besides a strop), just make sure that your current techinque is producing an edge that will slice telephone book paper as nicely as btcreech describes. You may find that the stropping is the only thing missing and using one will elevate your skill level and confidence. I found that for me, getting "better" stones didn't help, what helped me was was improving my skills on the stones that I already had. I did that by visiting these forums and doing exactly as you did (asking the question) and then just practicing and going through telephone books. Only when I was satisfied that I had improved did I go out and purchase the sharpening goodies that I have now. Get a strop, keep using the stones you have , ensure your stones are perfectly flat and just keep going. You may be already there and the strop may be the missing step for you.

If after stropping you realize that you have just reached the next level then prepare yourself for the journey down the rabbit hole and spend some time at Marks Chefs Knives To Go website and gaze at the exquisite selection of stones and other products he has available. there are many experts here to point you in the right direction.

(Practice, patience, focus, enjoy).

Good luck
Peter - fellow grasshopper.

Re: How do I take my sharpening to the next level?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:16 pm

Stropping instantly gave me the biggest improvement in my edges. It was a revelation when I saw the edge fall though newspaper the first time I had stropping my knife.

Re: How do I take my sharpening to the next level?

Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:38 pm

Thanks for all the tips and feedback! I definitely notice my sharpening getting better each time and the edge is as well, but stropping will take it further. I can't wait for the handamerican strop kit to get back in stock (i guess i need to be patient in more ways than one!). Is that setup the best for beginners or do I need to get anything else with it?

War Eagle

Re: How do I take my sharpening to the next level?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:54 am

Any strop kit, like the HA strop kit, is a lavish full on setup for stropping kitchen knives. All you really need is a piece of loaded leather glued to something. Unless you are a hobbyist sharpener or a pro cook, you will likely never even need to re-load your strop.

Re: How do I take my sharpening to the next level?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:16 am

I think is very admirable that you take an interest in knife sharpening the way you do. Over the past year I have for the first time had the opportunity to go into the kitchen area of restaurants. I go back and pick up the knife rolls from the chefs and it is rare for me to meet another person interested in sharpening. Most of them have stones but they sharpen from necessity, they get no joy from it. Don't get me wrong, they love their sharp knives when I bring them back but they are just to busy to discuss them and talk about what process I used to get them sharp, and I get that.

Peter

Re: How do I take my sharpening to the next level?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:23 pm

It's funny you say that Peter. I work in a kitchen and I am the only one who enjoys sharpening. The sharpening company came by to take all the knives and I wanted to pick his brain about sharpening! I held back because I wasn't sure if he enjoyed it or if it is just a job for him.

Re: How do I take my sharpening to the next level?

Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:16 pm

I don' t consider myself as "the sharpening company" , I'm just the guy who sharpens knives to them. ( I'm in the Navy though and usually do my running around in uniform so that usually throws them for a loop, they just seem some guy in uniform showing up in the kitchen, I get a lot of stares, "why is the Navy picking up knives?" type of thing)

They did have a sharpening company pull up in a van, grab the knives and leave some loaners but they were fired. I tried talking to them once myself thinking that I would finally meet someone else, in person, who is passionate about sharpening. It was definitely not the case but this was just my experience, could be completely different in other areas.

A cook who is sharpener in my view is a rare breed, I salute you all.
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