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"Maintaining" Edges Under Home Use

Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:38 pm

I'm curious as to what is working for people for day-to-day edge maintenance. What do you do between full-on sharpening sessions to keep your edges keen, if anything?

I've got a range of knives in daily use; carbon steel from the likes of Masahisa, Masamoto, and Aritsugu, a deba in white #3, as well as Cowry-X and now Konosuke HD2. I'm trying to figure out if stropping them on a regular basis is going to stretch the time between sharpening, or should I just hit them with a finishing stone weekly, or something that I'm not even thinking of right now.

Re: "Maintaining" Edges Under Home Use

Thu Jun 06, 2013 4:41 pm

Hi Jeff,

Stropping will definitely extend the time between full sharpening sessions....... assuming the knife is not totally dull.

I tend to strop on different things as I like to experiment. Sometimes a newspaper on top of a finishing stone, sometimes just the stone, sometimes a balsa strop loaded with Chrome Oxide, sometimes a balsa strop loaded with the refined dry mud of a finishing stone from an earlier sharpening session, sometimes an old leather belt with CO on it. Sometimes a bit of cardboard.

Ken is sending a kangaroo strop with a bottle of diamond emulsion this way. Should be fun :)

Re: "Maintaining" Edges Under Home Use

Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:20 am

I tend to strop on a high grit stone....usually my Naniwa 10k SS.

Re: "Maintaining" Edges Under Home Use

Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:25 am

My borocilicate rod, kangaroo, finishing stone, the palm of my hand, my jeans, yes indeed, it's fun to experiment. They all effectively extend the time between hitting the low grits and thus saving steel.


Re: "Maintaining" Edges Under Home Use

Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:36 am

I have an uncharged 3"x9" piece of vegetable tanned leather glued to a 1x piece of wood and an Idahone rod. When stropping on the leather stops working I use the Idahone knowing that hitting the stones is close. As with Josh I've stropped on my jeans before too. Amazing how different things can work and keep you off the stones.

Re: "Maintaining" Edges Under Home Use

Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:46 am

After a certain amount of wear (not all that much), stropping or "touching up" on a polishing-fine surface doesn't sharpen -- it only trues. Truing makes a big difference if and when a knife needs it. Whether or not the edge actually gets sharper, a true edge sure feels a helluva a lot sharper than one that's got some burring.

It doesn't make a lot of sense to sharpen a knife by grinding away metal which only needs to be trued. It not only removes material at the time of sharpening, but more material down the road because the more frequently the knife is sharpened, the more frequently it will need to be thinned. Worse, unnecessary sharpening is a lot like work. :cry:

A lot of knife enthusiasts develop an aversion to using a rod on anything made in Japan -- which is silly or Korin or maybe both. There isn't a huge amount of overlap between knives which can be steeled without hurting them, and knives which can't.
  • Too chippy, no rod;
  • Too hard, no rod;
  • Too asymmetric, no rod;
  • Too thin, no rod.
Otherwise, a rod -- providing you're not actually abusive with it (most people are) -- is faster and generally more convenient, but is not more effective. True is true.

You want a rod with a sufficiently fine surface so as not to shred the knife when you use it. Although it seems intuitively obvious that "Packer's steels" with their polished surfaces will scuff less than a a rod with a very fine texture, the difference between polished, ultra-fine, and extra fine isn't meaningful providing you use appropriately light pressure.

Rods depend a lot more on mass than "hardness." Still, a hard rod is desirable because they don't take nicks as easily -- and nicks on the rod screw up knives.

Few strokes. Light pressure.

Last edited by boar_d_laze on Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: "Maintaining" Edges Under Home Use

Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:53 am

I love my Idahone. Don't know how I went so long without it. I bought it after reading several of your recommendations to others on other sites. I have a few Victornox and other german knives and it is the perfect tool for those. I use it for chasing and removing the burr when sharpening too with great success.

Re: "Maintaining" Edges Under Home Use

Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:59 am




Re: "Maintaining" Edges Under Home Use

Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:55 am

It wasn't that long ago that I purposely neglected to hone my knives with my Idahone rod because that meant I could sharpen them more frequently. I would feel the edges and actually be disappointed if they were still sharp. Now it is the Idahone or 13k Stone.

Josh mentioned using his jeans which reminds me of a story. Two years ago I discovered a Japanese Kitchen store in NYC and I wondered in for a quick look. (not Korin). On the wall behind glass was a rack of knives unlike I have ever seen and I got to meet a very nice old gentleman from Japan who has been sharpening knives since he was 15 and he was 67 when I met him that day. He had just finished a very expensive Yanagi-ba and I asked him (through the stores manager) if he stropped his knives at which time he just ran the edge of that beautiful knife down the side of his pants and smiled. I spent 4 hours in that store, I loved that old man.

Re: "Maintaining" Edges Under Home Use

Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:01 am

I love stories about seasoned experts employing simple techniques; gotta love it. Good stuff Peter!
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