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Just not getting sharp

Fri Aug 09, 2013 5:41 am

So I'm a new sharpener and I've just finished sharpening my fourth knife. It seems as though I'm going backwards in my success. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Here is my routine

1. Use magic marker trick
2. Begin on bester 1.2 k and draw a burr (I think I'm getting a burr, I find it kind of hard to tell. Have been trying the paper towel trick)
2. Flip the knife and draw a burr
3. Flip knife to original side and flip the burr. Proceed like this unit the burr flips easily
4. Deburr on piece of felt
5. Repeat process with 5k rika

I'm pretty sure I'm holding a consistent angle based on the marker trick. The tip can be a little more difficult. It's not that the knife is not sharp at all just nothing special. Not as sharp as it was new. Open to any suggestions. Thanks

Re: Just not getting sharp

Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:04 am

Congrats on beginning the journey, embrace patience and attention to detail and your skills will increase each session. This forum is full of great knowledge on the subject so be sure to read through the threads.

"Begin on bester 1.2 k and draw a burr (I think I'm getting a burr, I find it kind of hard to tell"

IMO, there's 2 problems with the above statement. No 1., using a 1.2K as a foundation stone. No 2. "Thinking" you're raising a burr, but being unsure.

You'll find plenty of folks who will recommend that greenhorns start with a 1K stone so as to not remove steel unnecessarily. I contest that you can use a lower grit stone in the 150 - 400 grit range and save yourself a ton of elbow grease and frustration in your efforts to raise a CONSISTENT burr. If you do not go slowly and check your work constantly, you will indeed waste steel. However if you use patience, go slowly, concentrate on holding your angle, and avoid using too much pressure you will raise a burr quickly on your lower grit stones. Then you'll wonder how you ever got along without one.

THEN, take advantage of your 1.2K by spending time really perfecting your edge coming off your lower grit stone. Make sure you don't move on to your finishing stone until you can shave some hair and slice smoothly through phone book paper off the 1.2K stone.


Re: Just not getting sharp

Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:48 am

I use a few edge trailing (stropping) strokes to aid in burr removal. Prior to deburring on felt or wood that is. Works for me :)

Keep at it, its well worth the effort!!


Re: Just not getting sharp

Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:00 am

I have a 500 beston stone I can use. Up until now I've been hesitant but what the heck. I bought the wa artifex to practice on (Fujiwara fkm steel) so I don't mind if I grind too much metal. I'm also practicing on a victorinox chef. My other knife is a Mac Pro but I'm hesitant to practice on this knife

Re: Just not getting sharp

Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:35 am

One of the most common problems that a newbie has is rolling or lifting their wrist at the end of their forward stroke, slightly rolling the edge. Pay close attention to your forward stroke to see if you might be slightly lifting your wrist. This will ruin an edge very quickly. You can be holding a perfect angle and removing your sharpie mark but as soon as you lift your wrist slightly at the end of the stroke your ruining your edge.

Re: Just not getting sharp

Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:26 am

Josh, I couldn't agree more.

Trying to set a bevel on a 1k stone and the thought that you won't remove too much steel is ridiculous. If you are not paying attention to your work then any stone can be over-used. In any case a specific amount of steel removal is necessary to form a edge, if the edge is dull and won't even cut paper then spending 30 minutes on a medium stone will only cause fatigue which leads to inconsistent sharpening, excessive stone wear, and more troubles.

Coarse stones are the base from which all edges are formed. Medium stone are the sharpening stone which refine the base edge. Fine stones are the finisher to the sharpened edge. It's good to follow things in the proper order ;)

Re: Just not getting sharp

Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:34 am

Should the 500 be used every time? Even if only a few strokes are needed

Re: Just not getting sharp

Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:57 am

Gotta use a little common sense in sharpening. Coarse stones set a bevel, so if you bevel has been set sharpened and finished then after a little use you go to your finishing stone to refresh the edge. If that does not work then you move down in grit until it starts to have the desired effect on the edge.

A properly sharpened edge can be maintained on a fine stone for a very long time. You should only need to go to coarser stones a few time a year but use a fine stone almost weekly or as needed.

Re: Just not getting sharp

Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:46 am

You may just be using to much pressure. Lighten up a bit and see if your results improve.

Re: Just not getting sharp

Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:55 pm

CHRIS <> You have two for sure, maybe three, guys posting here that sharpen for a living... heed their advice.

Understand that advice you hear in other texts is not always in the same context. For example, I am one of the ones, if not the one, these gentlemen are referencing regarding the suggestion of newbies proceeding with caution on low-grit stones. My premise is simple & I stand by it, in that, a newb can damage a profile really quickly with a low grit stone. Really quickly. And to exacerbate the consequences of that likely & unfortunate reality, most newbs are incapable of reprofiling.

I have great respect for the JB's/PJ's/76's of the Forum, and 99% of the time, I agree with JB's posts even if you read I don't like grinding out 400 grit scratches with a 2K green brick. To me that's analogous to setting a bevel on a 1K instead of a 500 Bester. It's all preference, and you only get that from personal experience. People can read all they want, from the most experienced individuals, but whatever it is you glean does not necessarily translate into guaranteed success. Things that work for me or him or her, won't necessarily work for you, and vice versa.

{my specific comment about agreeing w/JB 99% of the time did not imply I don't with PJ & 76}

JB's "common sense" premise, is in fact, the logic my cautionary tip of newbs & low-grit stones is predicated upon. Most newbs here talking about sharpening knives are at home & not going to dull their knives nearly enough to need to be using a 500 just cuz it came in their kit. Once your knife is sharp, it is easy to maintain. Knives come sharp, and for most, refining a stock bevel w/a 1200 & 5K, is going to produce stunning results that far exceed OOTB edges. There are those that have well worn knives, there are those that want to reset bevels & I wish them much success in creating the edge of their dreams, but I'll always suggest newb sharpeners err on the side of caution.

If you're proving consistent with your sharpie & you could care less about how much metal you remove, sure use your Bester, but it's not going to help you with your dilemma. I surmise you are encountering a fundamental issue in mechanics... it ain't your progression.
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