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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: West, by God, Funroe,Louisiana
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I have a 2 sided Pike stone. One side, I'm not even sure of the grit, none of my knives ever get/have gotten dull enough to need to see it. I have, however, used it for shaping small pieces of metal. Pins, gun parts, I have used it to sharpen darts (the throwing kind, for the dartboard), things of that nature. When I need to take some metal off quick and nasty like, but not in HUGE amounts (I use bastard and double bastard files for that, depending on the task).
The fine side is 9000 grit. Great for a pocket knife. But ya know what? This bearded wonder did actually shave once upon a time. With a straight razor. So now, my pocket knives, kitchen knives, and razors (yes, I even still keep them sharp, although I don't use them anymore) get the same treatment.
I use the 9000 grit side mostly for the pocket knives, because all my pocket knives are working knives and the edges get beat up pretty good. I caught myself hammering on my new Kershaw the other day. It's the Kershaw Crown, their chinese offering, and frankly, I like it better than their American made stuff. I have one collectible that doesn't get used, and the rest all cost less than $15.
So, I start out with the 9000 grit side of the stone. What angle? I go by feel alone. I've got nearly 20 years in this, since I got my first pocket knife at around 5 years old, and first stone at around 9.
I go by feel, because every blade is different. 15 degrees? 20? amateurs. Sorry. It's not a one size fits all situation. My Buck 124, Puma, Gerbers, Old Hickory, Gold Bug, Domo, JA Henckels, A. Colletti's, Bali-Song... and even that trash, the "chilly metal" thing also known by it's model name, the "spike", made by a company that shall remain nameless by me. There are others, including a few I've made. The very unique blade geometry and tempering is different in each one. Not to mention that some are made by stock removal, some by stamping, and some are forged. Some are high carbon, some are low carbon. They each have a different profile, yes, even the straight razors. Blade geometry is the shape of the blade in cross section... hollow ground, convex ground, half hollow, half convex (the favorite one of my own make is half convex. I love it). Blade profile is the... exactly what it sounds like... straight, upswept skinner, drop point, clip point...the shape of the blade as you're looking at it from the side. Advice? Practice. I couldn't tell anyone what grip and angle works best. As I said, they're all different. Some of my blades take a better edge by lightly being dragged, some take a firm pressure. Some seem to like being held by the hilt, the pommel, and some want my index finger or thumb to lay along their spine. They're like a woman. Each one is different, and likes to be handled a different way.
So... Pocket knives get a few laps on the 9000 grit Pike. This is to reshape the edge a bit, knock the burrs off, smooth out some nicks. The only non pocket knife that ever needs this treatment is my Old Hickory butcher knife. I like to cook and it gets used a lot. This stone gets scrubbed before and after each usage. I'm using it to remove metal, not polish, so I want the pores clean. I use scalding hot water, dish soap, and a stiff nylon brush of any type. Lately, it's been an old toothbrush that's been relegated to cleaning after being retired from brushing my teeth. I use spit as a lubricant while I'm actually doing the deed, much like a porn star.
After that, I move to my 20,000 grit water stone. A good water stone will have what's called a "slurry stone" that SHOULD be cut from the very same piece. A good thing to look for is a slurry stone that's obviously actually been cut off from the end of the water stone.
To use this, I splash a little water on the stone, and scrub it with the slurry stone. This should begin to produce something that looks like powder floating in the water. Duh, that's what it is. Keep scrubbing. Produce an extremely thin opaque, milky liquid. Again... I go by feel once I put steel to stone. Now, on my water stone, I have marked each side. One side for razors only, the other for knives. One of my knives, during a careless evening, made it past the 9000 grit Pike with a burr on the tip, and gouged the water stone. Oops. That side is now knives only, and the other is razors only.
I keep a cup of water on standby, with my slurry stone resting in it. When my stone begins to dry, I just grab it and scrub some more. Don't clean the slurry off (that milky, opaque pasty stuff), until you're done. It's your lubricant.
This is putting a very fine edge on. Partly polishing, partly removing material.
(starting to think I should just write an article...)
Once it gets shaving sharp...meaning, it'll shave your FACE, not the easy to shave stuff on your legs or arms, I finish off with a strop.
My strop is a piece of an old girth strap off the saddle I used as a kid when I used to rope and ride and all that jazz.
I used to rub red jeweler's paste into it... and then I discovered Flitz... Holy crap!!!
So, I rub Flitz into the leather. And with one end attached to an object (in this case, usually a towel hanger), and holding the other end, I place the blade near the top of the area I've rubbed flitz into, with the spine facing me, edge away, and draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag it towards me. I let the natural flex of the leather strop provide the contact with the blade edge as I drag it. Never lift the spine, let the strop flex around the geometry of the blade. Then when I get to the bottom, or nearest point to me that's been treated with flitz, I roll the blade over, turning the edge up and over towards me, never letting the spine leave the strop. I draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag it back to the top, and repeat. After each down and up stroke (once down, once up, is ONE STROKE), I may readjust my grip. It depends on how that stroke felt, and if any slippage may have occurred. I do this until it feels right. Each blade is different.
The strop can and does perform the same function as the steel and ceramic rods that have already been mentioned. It "micro hones" the edge. Straightening out microscopic burrs and realigning microscopic serrations and such. On my straight razors, I used to use the strop lightly before each shave, and as much as I felt was needed after each shave. Before and after, every time. Doing that, they'll rarely need sharpening. But they're razors, only meant to shave the face, not a kitchen or pocket knife that may get bumped, banged, or come in contact with something hard.
And if you use a rod, DON'T slap it against the rod like you see those ass holes in the movies doing. The last time someone did that with one of my knives, I slapped his face. Wasn't the best idea, as he was holding a knife, but... yeah. You can KNOCK CHUNKS out of the edge by doing that. Not just nicks and dings, but WHOLE FREAKING CHUNKS the size of my thumbnail!!!
Edit to add: I hate diamond. Too aggressive for my tastes.
Last edited by trip286; 12-08-2013 at 08:22 AM.