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Discussion in 'Other Weapons' started by thehuntedhunter, Jun 4, 2007.
I have a couple of knives, switchblades and pocket knives, how can I sharpen them to a razor's edge?
RON L here = SERESURPLUS
You can put a Razor enge on most knives no problem, the trouble is, depending on what sort of steel they are and how hard it will be to get an edge back on it? Many Switchblades and Modern Knives are "Stainless steel" that means they are made of a steel with elements to make it resistant to rust, Not Rust Proof! This is a good thing most part! Carbon steel, you know, the older steel some steak knives used to be made of, Rusted realy easy and were smooth how they cut? Carbon steel knives are smoother steel and take an edge easier and I prefer them! Down side is, they are harder to find in our Modern, Lazy world! All one really needs to Put a Good edge on any knife is a set of Simple stones, Soft and Hard Arkansas or Equivelent! A set of Tri-angle stones From Spyderco has been a companion item with me for years and is great to touch a edge up, but to really sharpen a kinfe, stones and files are needed! A small Mill file will allow you to remove a gouge, or nick and get the basic edge that you want started! Then you use the Softer, rougher stone to slice the stone with the knife to set the edge! A smaller and harder stone is used in the same manner of Tip to Handle and Pretent your slicing a thin strip of the stone, you have to maintain an equal angle on both sides and you will see an edge start to form? Don't relax yet, Make sure that you maintain the bevil and that it's getting sharper, not rounding off? Do this till it will slice and hold a piece of paper as a test! How long and How well it will cut depends on how well you set the bevil and polish the blade? The Temper and material of the steel will decide how long it holds that edge along with abuse and use habbits? I started just trying to copy what the Knife maker put on the blade, over the years I know what cuts best and what I like better so I use the Factory edge till it needs sharpwened, then I re-cut the Bevil to my needs? it's not as had as it sounds, but it does require patience! Now, I'm not a "patience" type guy, but Life and a Limited wallet have slowed my impulsive hands down to what works for me?
What will work for you? I have No Idea? I do know that You can match or surplass the edge and bevil of most factory knifes with some simple, slow stone and file work! Slow and Easy, Stone and CUT, Try and Error, thats what Life and Sharpening is all about? Good Luck and let us know how your edge came out?
I use a cheap $10 sharpener from the local sporting goods store and a steady hand. Sharpen the blade drawing it in one direction only (don't go back and forth). Strop the blade on stiff leather or cardboard afterward.
Part of the "razor sharp" portion is the angle at which the blade is sharpened. I have a Lansky [sp?] sharpening system which I use on
all the blades in the house- good results. Steel composition [stainless,
tool steel,etc] and heat treat will determine how well and how long the
I use Lanskey Crock Sticks and follow it up with a few swipes on an old leather belt. Usually does the trick.
Razor aint good for working
I have a few knives I collected from around the world and I have been a fisherman for more years then I care to think about and I need a sharp knife for working with nets and long lines I found a razor edge doesnt last long and it becomes so dull it would not cut a basic line I have found some old steak knives worked pretty good on the deck but when I need a good edged blade in the mountains I take a old carbon blade and at least a basic two sided wet stone with me they are cheap and come in different sizes holding one at a 20% angle will cover most working edges no you wont be able to shave with it but it will work all day for you at cutting meat and ropes as well as shaving some wood chips for a fire and when you sit down at the end of a long day you take out your wet stone spit on it and slide your blade over it and yes in one direction AWAY from you .... you will see doing it that way gives you a good working edge but also relaxes you at the same time and when you are done rub a little gun oil over the blade and slip it back into its sheath then light a pipe ( Tobaco ) and dream of that big buck out there waiting for you ...........
Many knives will have a "razor edge" that is a wire edge- sharper than a mother-in-law's tongue- but it will go away at the first cut. I keep one good carbon steel knife sharpened like that- for skinning. Rest have a less aggresive bevel. Exception is my Gerber, which can be sharpened to a flatter angle than most others. Use a hard arkansas for most sharpening, ceramic stick for honing. BTW, if you do not have a ceramic stick, in a pinch, take a ceramic coffee mug, turn it over- there is an unglazed ring where it sat in the kiln. You will leave a gray streak on the mug, but a green scotch-brite pad will take it off.
If the steel is 440 or better you should be able to get a good edge. Depending what shape the edge is in now would have as much to do with how to sharpen it than what you need to use. If the edge is tore up then you will have to start over and use something to get a good bevel started then finish up with a stone. Those little V shaped sharpeners can get about any hardware or sporting goods store works goods for that. But as long as the bevel is not all chewed up than most any sharpener will do what you want or at least get you close enough where a stone can finish it up.
Those Lansky kits with the guide rods and thing you clamp on the blade to run the rod through are great for establishing the initial angle. If the steel is hard it will take longer than you think it ought. I generally use a 2 sided diamond thing I bought at Loews for $20 and follow it up with a few strokes on the Henkel steel to take off the wire edge. Not the most elegant edge you can get but it happens in 3-4 minutes instead of 20.
Lansky's are ok but the macdaddy sharpener of them all is the Edge Pro.
I myself just throw away a knife when it gets dull. Cheaper that way.
Getting rid of that wire edge should be the last step in your sharpening routine, get that burr off and polish the edge nicely. Then you'll have a proper "razor edge".
The easiest way I've found to do that is to strop the knife on a piece of leather with some fine abrassive. Fine buffing compound is ideal, but Flitz will do and I've even used toothpaste in a pinch (minty fresh knives!).
I'm not a fan of any type of sharpening jig or guided system, they all have loads of limitations (blade shape, size, grind...). With the possible exception of the Edge Pro system, that's rather expensive.
My opinion is that a knife user should learn to sharpen free hand. It might be frustrating at first, but once you get the hang of it you can take that knowledge with you everywhere and sharpen anything with simple tools. You won't waste money on bulky gadgets, just on quality stones that will most likely last you a lifetime.
I like Spyderco's ceramic stones. You can get a much nicer finish than with diamond stones (I find them too coarse, even the extra-fine ones), you don't need to worry about oil or water and they aren't too pricey. They are available as large benchstones and also as rods (great for travel, recurve blades, serrated edges).
For convex blades I use sandpaper backed with an old mouse pad or leather (depending how much "give" I need).
I finish all my edges on a leather strop with fine buffing compound.
Learning might take a while, but it's definitely worth it. When I go hunting I just fold a couple of pieces of sandpaper into my wallet and know that I can keep all of my tools shaving sharp.
Good idea about the sandpaper, Francisco. What grit do you use?
It depends on how dull the knife is. I use 200 for reprofiling (when a lot of steel needs to be removed), 400 & 600 for really dull and damaged blades, and 1200 & 1500 for touching up and finishing edges.
The good thing about sandpaper is that it's cheap enough to get a bunch of different grits. It lasts quite a long time as well when used for sharpening. It's also very light and easy to pack.
Do you use something for backing the sandpaper? Thinking a piece wrapped around a wallet would work well, I'm going to start carrying some 400 and 800 wet or dry in my hunting license wallet. Thanks for the idea!!
For convex edges I back it with an old mouse pad stuck on a piece of wood or some leather (usually my leather strop), depending on how much "give" I want. For non-convex ground blades I use anything flat. For recurve, hawkbill or serrated blades I just wrap the sandpaper around a pencil or a rat tail file.
When out in the field I carry my sharpening gear as well as some oil and other tool maintenance supplies in an Altoids tin. I glued a piece of mouse pad on one side. I keep it closed using "ranger bands" (basically, inner tube from bike tires) which I can also wrap around the tin to hold sandpaper in place either over the mouse pad or the flat metal lid depending on what I need to sharpen.
I've got lots of expensive sharpening toys, but I just love my little Altoids tin kit. It took 10 minutes to put together and probably cost less than 20 bucks.
For slab sided blades every thing is about the bevel. What you are going to do with the knife should determine the bevel you use. Large degrees, 15 to 22 on a side for chopping implements like axes, 10 to 14 on a side for generic cutting knives, less than 10 degrees on a side for razors and slicing tools. Usually the larger the angle, the stronger the edge, but the lower the cutting ability. Decrease the angle and the edge can deform with sideways pressure or upon cutting hard objects, but the generic cutting function (due to a smaller wedge) is increased. From the bevel we go to the fineness of the edge. There are rough stones, medium stones, fine stones, and honing stones. Most knives will never be put to a use where an ultra fine honing stone is needed. You are into razor and scalpel territory then. Done properly, even a medium stone can produce an edge that can shave the hairs off your arm.
The little carbide steel V sharpeners will do a fast and dirty sharpening (usually at about a 12 degree angle), but they will also shave steel off your blade. For a cheap $10 knife that is probably just fine.
The Lansky system (and similar) will put a VG edge on a blade, but they take much longer to do a dull knife than simply using a handheld sharpening stone because of a) open the box, attach each stone to the rod, clamp the holder to the blade, use stone 1, then switch to stone 2, etc., then put it all back in the box when done.
The Lansky (and similar) rod systems are somewhat fast, and easy to use, but a steady hand does the best work.
All sharpening mediums require periodic cleaning. Use light oil and a rag for your stones.
The hardest thing about a stone is learning to be consistent in every pass and with every time in what angle your knife glides over the stone.
Some humans using stones do well with small circular motions of the knife against the stone, but others advocate consistent one way passes of the blade over the stone. Tomato vs. tomatoe. As long as the passes and the angle of approach are consistent and edge will result. Takes practice. In the past 20 years there is a lot of debate over which cuts better, polished edges, or edges with micro-striations. To me, the school is still out. I think what you are cutting is the deciding factor. micro ridges seem to do a better job of bread and rope slicing. Of course if you are trying to de-bone the meat of a steer, this may not be the best choice of edge.
I would suggest you check out a Pro knife maker. Murray Carter is a manufacturer of high end knives that he recorded the term Scary Sharp with a copy write. If you go to email@example.com. He will send you instructions over a 2 week period (8 emails) on how to clean, repair maintain and sharpen a knife to his scary sharp specs.
You can tell if a knife is scary sharp if you put your thumb on the back and the first 3 fingers on the edge. If when you slide your fingers up and down the edge front to back and the edge feels oily... even though it will shave, it is not scary sharp.
He will direct you to use waterstones (one 2000 grit and one 8000 grit) with his instructions doing the work over your kitchen sink with the stone in use having a slow flow of water to carry off the rerfuse from sharpening. A major part of using water stones is keeping the surface flat. He will discuss methodology to use to make flatening the stone to be as infrequent as possible.
When I started following him I had to reflatten after 50-60 strokes. Now it is around 250 strokes and then only minor to do. I use a purchased concrete yard block (12" x 12" x 2") as my flatener to work wet like a waterstone to get the wet water stone back flat. There are professional flatening tools which are back in the 3 diget range. I have found using the yard block meets my needs at an acceptable cost of maintenance. It will take a little time to learn from his directions, it did for me, but when you do learn, all blades are sharp, with most being scary sharp.
You asked about methology. Angle for the first layout grind/cut 20 degree and roughly 1/8+- wide. The finished edge at 22 degrees, BUT that edge is only +-1/128 inch! Just a few strokes over the stone to put it in place. Do that final work one stroke at a time per edge to keep all things centered.
One other thing I found most challenging was converting from pushing the edge of the blade into the stone... the cutting edge leading like cutting a 2x4. He will have the edge trail... like you do when strpping on a razor strap.
Those four things:
2 good stones (roughly $100 each),
the correct angles (20 degrees first cut, 22 degrees finish),
sharpening on the pull with the edge trailing (I learned how to hold the knife so my thumb was the guide to the angles... even on the rounded edge to the point)
WILL bring you to be place of having an edge you can be proud of.
Murray left Canada after HS and went to Japan where he was trained to become a Japanese rated bladesmith. His knives are high, kneck knives in the $150 range Kitchen knives in the 400 range and a Katura sword touching $1,200 but beautiful and custom made.
I keep a double sided diamond toolmakers hone if I am going out in the field and may work my edge down. This is my back up tool. I use the water stones for my set up work
If you can get to a Tandy's Leather... they have small scraps of thick leather and jeweler's rouge you can pick up as well. They do have that which you can buy. But if you do not have Tandy's near by call them for the smaller pieces to use as a pocket strop Get them to sort the scraps for you. A rough cost on scraps would be +-$3 per sf at 1/8 inch thick. Do not go thinner. Too dificult to keep from wrinkling. This will be an odd shape not square but something off if a leg skin, maybe 2 1/2 - 4 inches wide an 6-8" long. It will be random with few if any straight edges. You will trim it to shape.