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Why polish and edge?

Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:10 pm

So, I was working through my progression of stones the other night and putting a really nice and polished edge on a blade, and my stepfather asked: "what's the point of going through all that trouble to get a polished edge?" How does it benefit the knife? In a strange way, I was a bit stumped on how to answer the question. On my older Sabatiers, for example, they seem to cut brilliantly with a pretty toothy edge (say about 2,000 to 4,000). Anything sharpening progression beyond that seems to provide minimal return. On some of my harder knives, however, I do take them north of 10,000, but I really can't tell a huge difference once I start to go beyond 5,000 of 6,000 grits. Thus, my question is this: What exactly are we getting by taking a blade all the way up through the progressions of stones to the super fine grits, and how does this actually translate to real-world use in the kitchen (would love to hear from you professional cooks regarding whether you take your blades to a super fine polish on a daily basis)? Does it really matter in terms of edge performance and durability by polishing that edge? I am guessing this is a fairly complicated answer to a seemingly simply question, but for those sharpening wizards out there, would really love to know how you answer that question.

Re: Why polish and edge?

Thu Jun 28, 2012 2:19 pm

Chester, very funny you post this. I was recently just thinking the same thing. I only take my knives to 5k. I am in a professional environment and I feel for high production kitchens a toothier edge on poly boards is stronger and gives better performance over time. Just my thoughts on the matter. All in all I think is is mostly a personal preference on what you enjoy the most.

Re: Why polish and edge?

Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:54 pm

Funny that you ask...

Re: Why polish and edge?

Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:21 pm

Nice video! So I guess to refine the question: Are we sharpening/polishing our blades based on the composite of the steel or are we sharpening/polishing blades based on the kinds of foods we expect the knife to encounter?

I clearly could understand that a yanagi would typically be sharpened or polished to a high grit because of what it will be used for: Slicing delicate fish; But what about a typical gyuto or chef knife that may confront a range of foods? Is their an objective with those blades based on the steel or expected foods, or is the sharpening objective based more on user preference? I am guessing that the folks who work in a professional kitchen have a range of objectives from being able to completely cut but also the ability to have an edge last for at least a few shifts etc. before dulling? I have, for example, a 250 KS Moritaka. The hardness of that edge would hold a very acute angle and a reasonably high polish. But is that what the maker would envision for that knife, or again, is this based on a "depends" what you are cutting, question?

I know that a lot of you out there sharpen for a living. How do you determine what kind of edge to put on a knife?

Thanks for all your instructive input, folks!

Re: Why polish and edge?

Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:37 pm

Balance, grasshopper.......

Seriously, balance is always what I strive for. Sometimes pretty doesn't cut it, literally..........

Good vid, Mr. B.......

R

Re: Why polish and edge?

Thu Jun 28, 2012 4:48 pm

sometimes i do polish my knife but i usually only take it up to the 6000. that is good enough for my professional use for the most part

Re: Why polish and edge?

Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:00 pm

Actually a Yanagiba with an ultra polished edge isn't great either. Fatty fish is slippery stuff. Usuba can do with a lot more polish, cutting negi and doing katsuramuki and getting the best results can use a refined edge.


As far as what kind of edge I put on customer's knives, here's another post about a particular stone and knife type that touches on this topic.
strange-behavior-of-the-naniwa-aotoshi-t518.html

If they are cheap beaters like Mercer/Pampered Chef/etc, I give it the edge I know they like to have--toothy as heck, burr free, as shiny as I can make it. But if they have a knife they really like, or I can tell they are serious cooks, I always ask them what they cut with it, and adjust. It's one of the great things about having a real-life, skill based service instead of grinding everyone's knives on a machine and making them shave paper. I'm a human being and I want to help you eat, so I'll take 5 seconds to find out what you do with it.

I am shocked, however, by how many people reserve a 4 inch knife for "cutting up roasts".

Re: Why polish and edge?

Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:06 pm

would the effect be different if you polished, and added a little tooth back with the HA diamond spray on a strop?

Not going that way, just curiosity gets the better of me

Re: Why polish and edge?

Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:12 pm

brekk81 wrote:would the effect be different if you polished, and added a little tooth back with the HA diamond spray on a strop?

Not going that way, just curiosity gets the better of me


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I've done that more than once. I've even found that some knives(I think it was a Fowler in 52100...) can get a really neat edge by cleaning up the edge to a high polish, and then scuffing it up on 1200 grit rod(like 2 strokes per side).

For me at least, this is where the real fun and challenge is in sharpening.

Re: Why polish and edge?

Thu Jun 28, 2012 6:38 pm

But, why bring the edge all the way up the point of a high polish, then go back to scuffing with a 1200 grit rod? Wouldn't it make more sense to just polish upwards to a certain point of scratch and toothiness and then leave it at that?
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