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 Post subject: First impressions of the Apex Essentials Kit
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 1:51 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2013 10:57 pm
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... which arrived earlier today, and which I just ran my first 8 knives though.

WOW.

I've been sharpening freehand for some years now, using nothing except a 6x2.75" Global 1k Whetstone. At the time I first taught myself the skill, there were no such things like youtube videos, so I pretty much just figured it out in my own, without books or any help whatsoever. I never had a need anything better than a reasonably decent edge, but as my stone became ever more dished, and the full bolsters on my knives began protruding with wear, I began looking into a full up makeover of both my knives and sharpening setup. I needed better stones, better technique (read: consistent and stable sharpening angle), and better knives.

Enter the Edge Pro, and youtube, which conveniently demonstrated a delightfully simple, clever, and practically foolproof way for people of modest skill and limited fiscal means to easily achieve excellent edges.

First up was a brief digression - using a brand new DMT XXC 140 grit diamond plate to reverse years of dishing and gouging from my Global 1k - and in less than 15 minutes, my sink was awash in a fine coating of orange mud, and my global 1k was once again flatter than Frankenstein's skull, and with edges that could almost cut paper (I promptly microbeveled them, for my own safety). On to the Apex ...

For my first knife, I decided to toss my backup chef knife (an inexpensive 8" round bellied affair with a white plastic handle) to the wolves, to see what the Apex, and its virgin set of shapton glass stones, could do. I setup atop my granite counter, next to the kitchen sink, with a sponge and a plant mister handy, and got to it ... and in short order a fine grey sharf began weeping onto the counter, between periodic sprayings with my plant mister. Damn, those little shapton glass stones are AGGRESSIVE, even with fairly gentle pressure. And wow, the level of feedback you feel in the handle is a delight - you can hear, and feel, how the different stones abrade the steel ... you can FEEL the difference between when a stone is just starting to establish an edge, when its refining an existing edge, and when too much sharf/mud has begun to build up and needs to be misted off. In short order I learned to relax my knife hand, and just let the stone do the work with gentle pressure and long oblique strokes. It all made sense.

Anyway, as I got into the zen if it, I finally looked up an hour later, after having run 8 knives though my 320-500-1000-4000 progression. The Apex, counter and sink were covered in sharf-filled water (all easily cleaned with a quick rinse and a damp sponge), and my knives were the sharpest they've ever been ... nice even 18 degree bevels, and even a fair degree of polish.

I dragged out the diamond plate again, and in less than 5 minutes I'd back-beveled the annoying bolster tip on my primary chef knife. YES.

Great products, happy customer. :D


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 Post subject: Re: First impressions of the Apex Essentials Kit
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 3:07 am 
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That's a well written, and accurate testimonial. Glad you like the set. Shapton GS stones really do a nice job - especially on the Edge Pro.

Yes, you can feel and hear when you are polishing an edge and have the knife set consistently on the platform. The stones just glide almost silently across the blade edge (in higher grits), indicating that you are right on the money and demonstrating consistency.

I'm impressed with how quickly you have entered the state of Edge Pro sharpening Zen. Happy sharpening!

Steve


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 Post subject: Re: First impressions of the Apex Essentials Kit
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 6:53 am 
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Nice writeup!!

You're going to have fun. Surprisingly, you will also find that your experience on the EP will make you a better freehand sharpener too!

---
Ken



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 Post subject: Re: First impressions of the Apex Essentials Kit
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 10:28 am 
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Besides "hear & feel" you can sometimes actually smell the steel as you sharpen - no kidding.

Nice report.

:)



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 Post subject: Re: First impressions of the Apex Essentials Kit
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 12:36 pm 
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Typo: My Global 1k Whetstone is 8.25x2.75. I think I got it around 15+ years or so ago, when they first started to become readily available online. I think it was one of my first purchases on Amazon. Anyway, I think I shaved off almost a full 1/16th inch off it on on the diamond plate yesturday, getting it back into true ... and I re-squared the sides too (its' faster to bring in a side than to reduce the large working face in order to restore a scalloped edge).

ken123 wrote:... you will also find that your experience on the EP will make you a better freehand sharpener too

Yes, the same thought occurred to me ... and not just from exposure to, and use of, tools like the Apex, but also due to access to invaluable sites and communities like this one. :)

It's always a nice feeling when you can dust off one of your various old skills, and with a little research into recent advances, and some practice, jump it out of its old familiar ruts, to a whole new level. As an autodidact, I get a lot more enjoyment from these sort of "ah ha !" moments than I do from nursing passively at the proverbial glass teat (TV). It helps keeps me going when life has me down.


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 Post subject: Re: First impressions of the Apex Essentials Kit
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 1:16 pm 
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MadRookie wrote:Besides "hear & feel" you can sometimes actually smell the steel as you sharpen

That does indirectly raise an interesting point that I haven't seen covered yet, regarding sharf/mud. Since it's comprised primarily of extremely fine metal and silica particulate, people should take care to avoid inhaling or ingesting it, or getting it anywhere near one's eyes. Once material like that goes into your lungs, it never really comes out because the body can't break it down (ex: 9-11 lung), and I don't like to ponder what it would do to ones cornea if you inadvertently rub your eyes without washing your hands. Not good.

Suggestions:
* Moisture: Keep everything (knife & stone) wet - not just to help keep the sharf/mud moving to avoid excess buildup, but also to minimize any airborne particulate that could get into your lungs/eyes.
* Glasses: Wear safety glasses - not so much for flying debris (which is more of an issue if you're using a wheel or belt sander), but mostly as a last-ditch reminder to wash your hands before rubbing your eyes.
* Sponge: If you're working in your kitchen, be careful to keep any sponge/towel you use for sharpening separate from the sponges/towels used to clean your dinnerware and utensils.
* HEPA: If you do a lot of sharpening on a regular basis, its safe to assume your entire workroom will slowly become contaminated with sharf/mud dust. If so, make sure the vacuum you use for cleaning is equipped with a good HEPA filter, and change it regularly. Also consider adding a HEPA filter to your room and running it while you work ... and perhaps wear an N95 mask while you work too.

- My $0.02


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 Post subject: Re: First impressions of the Apex Essentials Kit
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 3:35 pm 
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When i shower, there is often rust on the floor... :D



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 Post subject: Re: First impressions of the Apex Essentials Kit
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 9:42 pm 
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Ok, round 2 on the Apex Essentials ... this time with some knives I knew would give it some trouble: :twisted:

* Dexter-Russell S133-8 Narrow Fish Fillet Knife: This is a great, inexpensive, and very flexible (and very dangerous if mishandled) knife. Easy to dress with say a diamond steel, but courtesy of its narrowness and flexibility, its not quite as trivial to sharpen, freehand, and requires some flex action to maintain contact. As expected, the apex had trouble with it, because if you position the blade guide up far enough to properly expose the edge off the end of the blade table, the sharpening stone hits the white plastic guide at the end of the blade guide ... forcing the user to either twist the knife edge up off the blade table to meet the stone, or raise the sharpening angle way up to 22+. I opted to torque the knife slightly, and worked off to the side a bit, but due to flex the blade had to be worked in small sections instead of long smooth oblique strokes. It did the job, but not with its usual grace and aplomb.

Image

* Wusthof Classic 14" Salmon Slicer: After the awkward handling of the fillet knife above, I opted to put it away (for later freehanding). It's just too thin and flexible (it can famously be bent in almost a full circle). Chalk up a DNS (non-starter).

Image

* Antique Long-handled Flexible Boning Knife: (pic later, if time/interest permit) I dont know who made this (the engraving is worn off), as it was one of the blades I inherited from my late grandmother, but it has a 10" long handle, and a very thin and very flexible 8" blade on it. Same length as the fillet knife above, but twice as wide and half as thin ... as thin as my 14" salmon slicer. Anyway, although wide enough to fit properly in front of the knife guide, the blade was so thin that it tended to slip between the knife guide and the blade table. The blade guide would probably benefit from a minor design change to prevent that (like a 1/4" protrusion from the bottom of the leading edge down through the blade table).

So far, not too bad. Next, I decided to challenge the Shapton Glass Stones a little ...

* Corona 24" Cold Steel Machete: (google it for pics) Ok, now we're talkin. The Apex was able to handle the wide blade just fine, but it was necessary to hold the machete by the blade and work in sections. I raised the angle to 21 and set to it, and in short order the little Shapton 320 began choking on sharf from the oversized helping of soft and slightly rusty steel I was force-feeding it with both hands. Several times a minute I had to stop, wipe and hose down the stone, to unclog it ... but after about 10-15 minutes, it was able to finish a coarse reprofiling of the 2 foot long blade. I checked the 320 against the DMT diamond plate, and sure enough it was slightly dished, so I re-squared it and continued up through the rest of my stones to 4k. With each switch the clogging and excessive amount of sharf became less and less, and when it was done the blade was able to split broad leaves with a single *PING*.

Not bad.


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 Post subject: Re: First impressions of the Apex Essentials Kit
PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 4:55 am 
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Michiel Vanhoudt wrote:"When i shower, there is often rust on the floor... :D"

You mean on the twins' floor... right.?! ;)



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 Post subject: Re: First impressions of the Apex Essentials Kit
PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2013 12:16 am 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2012 11:14 am
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Location: Florida, USA, Earth
ken123 wrote:Nice writeup!!

You're going to have fun. Surprisingly, you will also find that your experience on the EP will make you a better freehand sharpener too!

---
Ken


Excellent explanation of your experience. I remember very similar feelings about 3 years ago. I started with the EP water stoness and played with some other inexpensive ones but finally got some quality stones about 6 months ago. I got the Shapton glass stones 500, 1k,2k, 6k and 8k stones. I've been amazed at how these stones perform. I quoted Ken's post because I think I agree with him about free hand sharpening skill improving as a result of using the EP. Sharpening has always been something I've been proud of. I didn't know any one (that I know of) who got their pocket knives sharper than I got mine. Come to find out I had never seen a knife that was truely sharp. After reading a bunch, watching youtube, discussing on forums, etc. I'm now getting my knives very sharp. Since I had been proud of sharpening free hand now I could only give the EP the credit for my improvement. Decided I wanted to improve my free hand skill so I got some stones including DMT and Shapton glass. I don't know what it was but I started getting MUCH better, faster results than I did all my life. I know the stones were better than the two Arkansas stones I had. I'm sure they were clogged horribly.

Glad you are seeing results and even though the EP simplifies the sharpening process, like any tool you will get even better results as you learn more and more about the tool. After working on my free hand skills then sharpening a knife, especially if I reprofile it on the EP I appreciate the EP's accuracy all over again.

Jack


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