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 Post subject: Lessons Learned
PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 4:01 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:28 pm
Posts: 497
Hi folks, I am going to attempt to create a list of things that I have learned about sharpening over the last few years, well since I started my business up. Most of the lessons will be from mistakes I've made or just from having to try to figure something out. For those who know me from the forums you will understand that it would horrify me to think that anything I say comes across as boasting, so that is not my intent. I know my place in the sharpening world, the purpose of this particular thread is to perhaps help some people out or more importantly, just to share my experiences. I will keep adding to it as I go along.

LESSONS LEARNED (LL)

#1 - Coarse Stones Rule - I started my water stone collection with my priorities in reverse, I used to think that if I gather up some ultra fine stones, 10k and above that I would be able to get my knives sharper. Heck if I could make a knife sharp with a 1k stone, imagine how sharp it would be if I had a 16k stone, that was the way I thought a long time ago. Those nifty stones now sit untouched for the most part, it is the 150-500 grit stones that I now own that have a very special place, this includes the Atoma plates. The lions share of work is done on that first stone or second stone depending on where I start but if it is my beloved 320 Shapton Glass stone, that is the stone that makes the knife sharp. In fact, I could return the knife to the owner with that edge and I am sure he/she would be delighted with it. We all know now that once it is sharp off that first stone, the sharpening session as it continues to 5k for instance is going to be a success.
So my LL here for me was to appreciate the value of the coarse stones, whether it be the Nubatama 150, Latte 400, Chosera 400, SG 220-500, or Bester 500 or Atomas, they are the most important stones in my possession, in fact I fret about wearing one out and being without it so I usually have a new one in the drawer in the event that happens.

LESSON #2 - Flattening.
I use to make the mistake of letting my stones dish and then flatting them out, not only did it take a lot longer but it became a chore, it was a waste of stone as I had to remove more than I would have if I had of been more vigilant. Now I am constantly, and maybe a little OCD, but now I keep them flat very consistently, I work at them on the Atoma 140 or 400 after every 2-3 knives, it only takes a minute.
My LL is not to let them dish at all but to be meticulous about the process and understand that it is just another element of the entire process.


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons Learned
PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2014 6:06 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:17 am
Posts: 4064
I learned lesson #1 the hard way too but not as drastic as you. I started with a 1k and 6k but most of my knives were so dull I thought I was messing up it took so long to get them sharp. When I first got my Shapton Pro 320 I was amazed at how fast I could get an incredibly sharp edge. As you said, I could have stopped there and had an acceptable edge. Now I don't move from my 320 or 500, depending where I start, until I have a nice sharp edge.

I've just begun lately to understand you second lesson too. I flatten stones much more often now than when I first got into sharpening.

Good information Peter, looking forward to reading more!



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 Post subject: Re: Lessons Learned
PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2014 11:50 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:28 pm
Posts: 497
LL 3-Pressure
Now that I think about it, pressure is perhaps the most important element of sharpening, once the basics are looked after. We need pressure of course and it took me a very long time to find what I consider a proper balance as I sharpen. Its not just a matter of how much pressure, for me, I recently made a big change in my routine that I'm very happy with. I now apply pressure on edge trailing strokes as opposed to years and years of doing it the other way. It is undoubtedly the biggest change I've made besides going from oil stones to water stones eons ago.
Extremely light pressure on the finishing stone, i.e. the weight of the blade is key and a liberal amount of pressure to start the ball rolling is necessary, depending on how dull the knife is. In my case, the knives I get demand a lot of coarse stone pressure. Everyone here knows this, remember these are just topics that have made an impact on me. Things I have encountered on my sharpening journey.

(The other day a lady brought me a knife that she received as a wedding gift 60 years ago and it has never had anything but the factory edge. It was a Henckels with a handle I've never seen before, it was pretty cool and easy to sharpen.)


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons Learned
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 3:53 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:28 pm
Posts: 497
LL 4 - The Burr - The cornerstone of knife sharpening.

I sometimes meet folks who tell me they sharpen their own knives, I'm always interested and always get the same responses: "I use a Steel" or for those who do use a whetstone, the Burr is not usually part of their vocabulary, they have the right idea, just missing a critical piece. I missed that piece as well for a while, I'm not criticizing anyone, it's just part of the learning process.
As for my Lesson Learned, the big one for me was that I don't need to form a burr with each stone, in fact I strive not to now. One may say, "you need to to ensure you are hitting the edge". I know I'm hitting the right spot, the knife gets sharper.

It is broken down like this...for me....Burr formation is a Coarse Stone Event, burr removal is a coarse/medium/fine stone event. Now if get a knife that I could start the process with a 1K stone then yes I do form a burr but in most cases I need to start with a 320-500 grit stone. I used to reach for that burr on every stone, it was a time consuming process and unnecessary, I don't linger on the stones once the burr is formed and removed, once I get to my beloved 1k Chosera, I'm not on it for long.

These are my opinions, whether right or wrong, it's my story, I'm sticking to it :)


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons Learned
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 6:49 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:17 am
Posts: 4064
Great reading Peter and exactly the lessons many of us have went through and some yet to go. Thanks for taking the time to share this.



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 Post subject: Re: Lessons Learned
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 7:12 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:28 pm
Posts: 497
Thanks Jeff, I enjoy doing it and someone may learn from the mistakes I've made. I really love sharpening and it's cool talking about it. I'm sure it is something we all have in common.


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons Learned
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 7:23 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:15 am
Posts: 1112
Location: Raleigh, NC
We've been pretty silent in this topic, but I for one am reading intently. It's proving holistically educational.


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons Learned
PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 8:27 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:28 pm
Posts: 497
Lexus thank you, it is somewhat therapeutic writing it actually. No need for folks to feel the need to reply though.


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons Learned
PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 10:00 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:55 am
Posts: 22
Great post. I recently made the switch the Japanese knives and water stones in the last year. It's something I should have done a long time ago.

Do you have a YT channel? If not, care to give us(me in particular) a video demonstration?

That would be Grrrreat!


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 Post subject: Re: Lessons Learned
PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 10:46 am 

Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:28 pm
Posts: 497
Thank you, I'm working on that actually, never done on before but I'd like to give it a shot.


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