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New to free hand sharpening. 5 questions.

Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:15 pm

Good Morning?

Let me begin by saying I am completely new to the knife sharpening word. Knife sharpening has always meant pulling the blade through a hand held sharpener and off to cutting. All has now changed. Throughout the past year I received a nice SHUN set of knives from my wife as well as a few nice Kershaw pocket knives. The mere thought of running one of these through my "Ron Popeil" easy sharpener mortifies me.
For weeks now I have been been looking over every style of sharpening available from Edge Pro and Wicked Edge systems to cheap old pocket stones. Wow, does everyone have an opinion. So I have decided that I want to learn how to sharpen on water stones. Not only learn but become another "Self proclaimed expert"(seems to be a lot of them). Luckily for me I have an army of old dull knives just chomping at the bit to be sharpened for practice before I touch my newest knives. I found your "Knife Sharping for Noobs" Video line to be about the best out there but would still like to ask you a few questions before I order some stones.

1) Will these stone usable on all my knives..Pocket and Kitchen?
2) With practice and more practice are the results as good with freehand stones as they are with an Edge Pro or Wicked Edge.
3) Nubatama Ume vs Shapton Glass 1000k, 4000k, and 6000k which would you recommend?(I know hard question to answer)
4) Or do you have some other mix of stones you could recommend?
5) How long should these stones last..We talking months or years?
6) Is having a mirror finish on the edge as important as the "experts' say or is it more for bragging rights.

Thanks for your time and i hope to hear back from you soon.


Re: New to free hand sharpening. 5 questions.

Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:18 pm

Hi John,

Thanks I'm glad you liked my videos.

Here are the answers:
1. Yes
2. Yes
3. I like Shapton Glass stones for getting started. They're easy to use.
5. That depends on how often you sharpen. My guess for you is a couple years
6. I sharpen for performance of the cutting edge and not so much for a mirror finish. It's up to you and you can tweak the edge to your liking.

Re: New to free hand sharpening. 5 questions.

Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:29 pm

My answers:

1. Yes.....unless you've got something supercalafragilicious or you plan on diving into natural stones. :)
2. Yes.....better if you ask me. There are things a guided system just cannot do in my humble opinion.
3. Can't answer....haven't used the Ume's....yet.
4. I do, yes, but it's total personal preference. My set now consists of a 500 Beston, 1200 Bester, Suehiro Rika, and Naniwa 10k Superstone.
5. There's a good chance you won't use them up in your lifetime. The GlassStones might be a bit shorter lived, but I've had my Naniwa 10k for 5 years or more and I expect it to last my lifetime. Same with the 1200 Bester....those are the two stone's I've had the longest and I bet I've not used 10% of either.
6. It's not that it's a mirror edge, it's that in order to get a mirror edge, your edge has to be scratch free or close to it. In order to be scratch free, you have to use a really fine stone. Properly using a really fine stone will give you a really sharp edge....and will also likely be a mirrored edge. None of this is absolute though....especially when it comes to natural stones and certain types of steels.

Re: New to free hand sharpening. 5 questions.

Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:11 pm

My answers as someone who is "fairly" new to knife sharpening...

1) Yep - that and more.
2) I like both. I use the Edge Pro when I am sitting on the couch watching TV and want to sharpen my knives. You don't have to be as focused to get the job done.
3) Waiting on my Nubatama Bamboo 150, but have never used a Nuba before. Shapton Glass are real nice.
4) I suggest the Chosera series. Great solid stones for starting out and exploring the world of hand sharpening.
5) Probably years. Get an Atoma 140x diamond plate to flatten your stones.
6) Aesthetics mainly. Key is function unless you are doing videos and demos.

Re: New to free hand sharpening. 5 questions.

Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:51 pm

Guys thanks for the replies.... Buy the way, I'm the less then experienced knife sharpener that sent the original email that Mark posted.
Thanks Mark.

I am just a guy who has had an affair with dull knives over the years and is ready to walk the straight and narrow with sharpness.

Corpfan1- i have been looking at the Chosera series. Actually, I had talk myself into some until I watched Mark's videos. As for the Aesthetics of knives i really personally don't care. Knives are completely utilitarian to me. the day may come when i decide to start a fancy collection to look at but right now i want sharp ones.

Adam- Man i love the way you knives look. Was it your skill put to use in making them or are you advertising for someone else?

I will let you guys know how it goes.

Re: New to free hand sharpening. 5 questions.

Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:00 pm

Thanks!! :)

I both make my own knives from start to finish and also custom handles for (mostly) production knives.

Some of my knives:



a few of my handles:



Re: New to free hand sharpening. 5 questions.

Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:19 pm

Wicked handles!

Re: New to free hand sharpening. 5 questions.

Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:40 am

Hi there, several years of knife sharpening, an obsession with Japanese Water Stones and an admirer/owner of the Edge Pro Professional qualifies me to confirm the following.
(Note that several years of sharpening does not make me a good sharpener, but several years of making mistakes and correcting them and asking a million questions from those I trust at least makes me feel that I can provide some answers) So here goes:
1. Yes
2. Yes, definitely. The Edge pro excels at accommodating knives that due to their shape are difficult (for me anyway, think Ulu) to sharpen free hand. The Edge Pro is awesome but with practice, patience and persistence, a sharper edge is definitely possible by free handing. (This in no way means the Edge Pro Edge is insufficient in any way, in fact, it will allow the user to make knives sharper than most have ever seen)
3. Don't get too hung up on the brands of stones, get hung up on becoming proficient on a brand that you can afford, make intelligent choices and get the technique down whether you choose Shapton, Nubatama or King.
4. Shapton Glass, Shapton Pro and Chosera are awesome stones, I thank the Gods daily for mine. I have no doubt that the Nubatama series delivers everthing you could ever ask for.
5. Lower Grit stones will wear faster but will last a long time, I sharpen several knives daily and my 500 Glass Stone is still there for me after about 500 knives. The higher grit stones will last an eternity.
6. What Adam said, great response.

I can also confirm that one day I will own one of Adam's beautiful knives.

(I disagree completely with the idea of not having to focus while using the Edge Pro. In fact, you should be completely focused on sharpening when sharpening, erase all other thoughts and watch your work, look at your bevels frequently while sharpening, Practice, Patience, Persistence. Whether using the Edge Pro or free handing, do not watch TV, unless it is a video by Mark on Sharpening.


Re: New to free hand sharpening. 5 questions.

Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:51 pm

Ok, First of all let me say thanks for the help. I just ordered the 1k,4k glass stones with the universal holder and 140 diamond stone. Let the frustration begin, i should be able to provide all with some good laughs. If i decide to jump fully down the sharpening rabbit hole I will let you guys know. I need a lot more advice on higher grit finishes, you know just for looks.

Sailor- I agree, before too long I have to have one of Adams knives. LOVE THE HANDLES... The third one down is just beautiful.

On a side note. Why does everyone generally throw SHUN knives in the "do not buy" pile....???



I'll put some pics up of my first sharpening test when the stones arrive..

Re: New to free hand sharpening. 5 questions.

Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:54 pm

Hi, regarding Shun knives, I just sharpened 4 of them as a matter of fact. I personally have no issue with them at all, very easy to sharpen and they take a great edge. I am not one of those who steer people away from Shun, in fact I own one. I'd buy another in a heartbeat. They won't hold an edge very long but will resharpen quite rapidly.

Good luck sharpening my friend, you'll love it.

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