Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:19 am
An interesting topic for the freehand sharpener is the idea of locking in the bevel to the stone. I've read some people say it's not possible, and yet others seem to have found success with it. Jason B. recently put out a good youtube vid on this forum regarding his style, which is worth the watch if you haven't already. I thought I would share a simple technique that helped me lock it down.
With the majority of blades there is a distinguishable bevel shoulder that divides the primary edge from the secondary; basically it's the widest point of the primary edge cross section. Granted on thinner blades it's not nearly as pronounced as others, but still there. I have found that one can use this bevel shoulder as a pivot or fulcrum if you will. It takes an extremely light touch, but with practice one can actually feel this pivot point by rocking the bevel up and down on the stone. Once the pivot is found by rocking gently a few times, one can then lay the actual primary edge on the stone and feel it land. At that point, using the appropriate pressure one can lock the bevel to the stone. Close observation helps, but nothing substitues learning to gently feel it, and I can't stress the "gently" piece enough. I found that by using the bevel shoulder as a pivot or fulcrum, it is possible to not only lock down the entire primary edge, but also adjust the angle up or down to accommodate the medium being cut. -Josh
Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:29 am
I always thought it wouldn't be possible to feel the shoulder and use it as a guide, but then I thought I do the same with Scandinavian ground camping knives, so I just needed a lighter touch and pay more attention. I can definitively feel when the bevel is flat on the stone now.
Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:53 pm
Exactly Michiel, it seems like once you begin to feel that bevel laying flat against the stone, you can come back to that feel blade after blade. I also found that this technique helps keep that optimal, sharp triangular shape of the primary edge and avoids convexing/rounding. -Josh W.
Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:09 pm
Yeah, this does work on some knives.....not all as you kind of elude to.
Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:55 pm
Yes, to say that it works on every blade would be foolishness indeed. I must admit however that I haven't found a blade that I couldn't use this technique on, as of yet. I've sharpened multiple types of kitchen knives, camp, hunting, pocket, machetes, etc. I've found success with it, so if this info helps one person, I figured it was worth mentioning. Freehand sharpening is such a subtle art, but that's what makes advancement in skill satisfying, IMO. -Josh W.
Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:56 pm
I feel the bevel on all blades, regardless of style, shape, or steel. My sense of feel is very fine tuned though, to the point I can feel when the burr comes off or when I have made even a slight error in angle control.
I personally don't rely on the shoulder because I typically smooth and blend it with the body and sharpened edge of the knife. For me, its the mating of 2 flat (or close to flat) surfaces and the suction type of feel it has, almost like when you lay two pieces of glass on each other.
Good to hear you have found a technique and explanation that helps you understand the simple yet important skills needed to advance your own sharpening. Small changes will make big improvements
Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:12 pm
"Small changes will make big improvements", as usual Jason, well said. I think that statement characterizes the craft. The subtleness of this skill is amazing. Within the last month I've really been developing that feel you're referring to, the suction created from the primary edge and being able to sense if the angle is altered, even a little. It's encouraging to know that skill can be increased each and every time the blade is laid on the stone, as long as proper observation and patience is employed. Hey, who would have known that Spiderman borrowed his patented "spidey sense" from freehand sharpeners? -Josh
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