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Making it last

Mon Sep 09, 2013 1:39 am

I'd like to reduce the wear and tear on my knives and stones due to sharpening frequently. I'm currently sharpening ~ once every 2-4 weeks, but see claims from others of edges lasting longer than that (some claim as high as 6 months). I'm not sure if my expectations are too high, if they are exaggerating, if they are taking better care of their knives, or if they just have really low standards of sharpness.

Knives:
Blazen 270mm gyuto (nearing the cladding pattern)
Tojiro ITK Kiritsuke, 240mm gyuto, nakiri

Stones:
Bester 800
King 1k/6k w/10k nagura stone
Messermeister ceramic honing rod (kind of a coarse grit, preferred my fine grit idahone)

Given my knives, how long can I reasonably expect to maintain a keen edge with frequent use in a busy kitchen?

What's the longest you've gone without sharpening?
With what knife/steel?
How intense and precise is your sharpening procedure?
What do you believe is most important in establishing and maintaining a long lasting edge?

Thank-you

Re: Making it last

Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:13 am

How often are you using the honing rod?

Where do you start at when you sharpen.?

Re: Making it last

Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:21 am

If the edge is nearing the cladding on the Blazen, that means you really need to thin it out. Badly. It will probably be fairly thick behind the edge and not seem to cut as well as it used to. The Tojiro ITK blades are White #2, which will take a wicked edge, but the edge will degrade a bit quicker than other steels. You can prolong the sharp feeling of the edge by stropping or doing quick touch ups on your finest stone without having to go through a full sharpening progression.

I only cook at home, but I have had knives go several months before having to go to a full progression on the stones by stropping and doing touch ups on very fine stones, usually J Nats. In a busy kitchen, many people go 1 week between sharpening or have multiple knives to rotate out. It will also depend on the volume of cutting you are doing as well as the boards you are cutting on and what you are cutting. Acidic foods will make a carbon knife go duller, faster.

Re: Making it last

Mon Sep 09, 2013 5:48 am

My progression is:
Start on the 800, work it until I get a wire edge along the entire length, remove the wire edge
1k, again to wire edge, remove
polish on the 6k rubbed with the nagura.

I need to be more consistent with my angle and technique, which should help a little. I'm just not sure how much I can expect.

If the edge has been holding up well and I just want to bring a little life back into it, I'll start on the 1k and finish on the 6k without bothering to raise a wire edge. Then check it by cutting some paper to make sure the edge cuts evenly.

I use the honing rod quite often. If I'm cutting something like 20lbs tomatoes or 3lbs jalapenoes, I'll often use it a few times during my prep session to the keep the edge keen enough to pass through the skin easily..

Unfortunately our boards are plastic. There's one wooden table I like to use, but it's long grained, not end, and that's not possible during service.

Re: Making it last

Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:02 am

A blazen should be able to handle 20lbs of tomatoes without a touch-up. The Tojiro might not but I have used mine for going on 3 months with not so much as a stropping and it will still shave the hair off my arm. I only cook at home about 2-3 time a week but regardless its still cut a lot of stuff. I also use a plastic cutting board.

When you sharpen how are your removing the burr/wire edge?

Are you making the edge sharp at 1k and have you tried using a 1k edge?

Maybe a new stone might help? I sharpen professionally and have received excellent feedback on the Naniwa Green Brick 2k which would combo well with your 800.

Re: Making it last

Mon Sep 09, 2013 1:23 pm

It sounds to me like you're using your coarse stones too often. I'm also very picky about sharpness, but I find I can keep my Tojiro white nakiri slicin' sharp using a paddle strop with some no-name green compound and a bit of Congress tools diamond paste. If the strop won't get me there, I turn to my Idahone fine rod. If that won't do it, and it usually will, I'll go to the stones and do touch ups, but again I'm going to start with the finest stone I used to create the edge on the knife. So, I'l get out the Kitayama or the Rika and just do a few light strops and a zoop-zoop or two. On my own knives the only reasons I have to go lower in grit are a) when I get 'em or b) because I've had an idea and want to try a new profile on the knife or c)chipping (which doesn't happen all that often, but has occurred on my Tojiro DP). Full, get out the stones and let's-get-swarfy sharpening is a once-every-few-months-thing.

So, I would try limiting your touch ups to the 6000 side of your King for a bit and see what you can do with it. You can always go coarser if you need to. I would also suggest picking up a stone between 1 and 6k so you have a step back after the 6k without having to go all the way back to one. Personally, if THEY came and took all my stones but one, I could get by nicely with my Chosera 3k. There's an edge you can start and finish on with a smile.

Thanks for the tip about the messermeister honing rod. I was looking at one for my portable kit, as I love my Idahone and it doesn't leave the kitchen. For now I'll keep using spyderco fine or ultra fine rods as honing rods in my travel bag. They work fine, but you really have to watch you knuckles...

Re: Making it last

Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:46 am

Jason B. I remove it by dragging it through the end grain of a cutting board a few times until no dark mark is left. I haven't left the edge at the 1k grit. Would you suggest doing so, and why?

Thanks seanp, I'll try using my higher grit stone more often.

Re: Making it last

Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:47 pm

That's the first issue. It's impossible to do proper burr removal by dragging the edge on the board, it helps but you then need to go back to the stone and make light passes to reduce the remaining burr. It is also entirely possible to do it all on the stone and have a burr free and sharp edge.

The 1k edge will simply last longer because the edge has more irregularities to distort than a finely polished edge. It will not have the cutting finesse of a sharpener edge but it will last longer under heavy use.
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