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Thread: Sharpening knives with stones

  1. #1
    Bear Mears
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    Sharpening knives with stones

    Here's the method I use to sharpen my knives using sharpening stones.

    As a disclaimer, I am by no means an expert sharpener, but the forum doesn't currently have a sharpening demonstration by a member. If any of our amazing knife makers would like to put one together, I'll make it a sticky.
    My techniques might be considered incorrect, but I'm always happy to learn. Feel free to share your own techniques and experiences.


    What type of stone?
    I use water stones, which require water when used and oil stones which (as the name might suggest) require oil on their surface during use. Other types such as diamond stones don't require any liquid. As a kid, I didn't use liquid with my stones and they became clogged with the metal being sharpened. I've used bicarb soda and steel wool to clean my stones in the past.

    Does it need the stone?
    In the following drawing there are three types of edges.
    edges.jpg
    (from left to right)
    1.) a knife whose edge hasn't worn away, but has folded over, or deformed. This edge doesn't need working on a sharpening stone, it just needs a strop, or realigning on a steel or crock stick.
    2.) a knife whose edge has worn away, leaving a flat spot. This edge does need working on a sharpening stone.
    3.) a knife whose edge has been sharpened on a stone, or whose edge has been realigned. This one is good to go.

    Sharpening a scandi grind on a stone
    A scandi grind is easy to sharpen as you can feel the large face of the bevel "lock" into place on the stone.
    Once the bevel is flush with the stone, I push it over the surface of the stone, from the start of the edge to the tip.
    I sharpen my knives with the edge leading, rather than trailing, as this will require less work later on with removing the burr.

    This drawing shows a dull edge being worked on one side until a burr forms.
    sharpen1.jpg

    Some people like to swap sides every X number of strokes, but I work one side until I can feel a burr form. I test to feel for a burr by running my thumb across (not along the length of edge) the blade.
    test1.jpgtest2.jpg

    I then swap to the other side until I feel a burr form.
    Note: if the edge was very very dull, I would probably alternate strokes, so as not to end up with an edge that was uneven.

    Once I have worked both sides, I then alternate from one side to the other with each stroke, going lighter and lighter in pressure.
    sharpen2.jpg

    Sharpening a knife with a secondary bevel
    A knife such as a swiss army knife, or a kitchen knife has a secondary bevel and is more difficult (for me) to sharpen than scandi grind knives.
    The reason is that I can't feel the bevel lock against the stone in the same way I can with a scandi. I use a different technique to make sure the smaller bevel is flush against the stone.
    As the following diagram shows, I lie the blade flush against the stone.
    Notice the gap formed between the bevel and the stone.

    I then tilt the spine of the knife up until I see the gap disappear.
    non scandi.jpg
    I'm aiming for around a 20 degree angle here (it's not exact in the diagram).
    (If it's easier, think of a 90 degree, cut it in half to get 45 degrees. cut that in half to get 22.5 degrees, which is close enough for me).

    Once I have this angle, holding the knife in my right hand, I place the thumb of my left hand against the spine of the knife and the stone. This helps me maintain that angle as I sharpen.
    I then use the same sharpening technique for the formation of a burr as listed for the scandi grind.

    Removing the burr
    If the burr isn't removed, it can tear off quickly and leave you with a dull knife. It can be removed by:

    Stropping http://bushcraftoz.com/forums/showth...5245-Stropping

    Adding a micro bevel http://bushcraftoz.com/forums/showth...el-on-a-scandi
    Last edited by Wentworth; 15-04-13 at 01:11 PM.

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  3. #2
    Jack Abasalom
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    Well done, wentworth. I clean oil from my cheap grey mineral stone with kerosene.

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  5. #3
    Bear Mears
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    I've not heard of kero being used before. Thanks Greatbloke.
    Do members have any other tips to share?

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    Richard Proenneke
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    Nice one mate..I got a old 60 year old stone and also use kerosene to clean it up.
    Howling Dingo shop,Gear made from natural things to take to wild places..


    http://www.etsy.com/shop/HowlingDingo

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  8. #5
    Les Stroud

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    You can use poor man's Prussian blue, a Sharpie, to mark the edge. This will tell you how close you are to the original angle as you sharpen. Once you have a feel for the correct angle at home, you should be able to reproduce it in the field.
    Australian Representative for Razor Sharp Edgemaking System (Paper Wheels)
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    "It is much easier to alarm people than to inform them." William Richardson Davie

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  10. #6
    Mors Kochanski
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    The key to a sharp edge is repeating the same angle every time the exact angle is less important to sharpness than the angle being the same with every pass on the stone. Often people try to use a stone which is not flat which will cause the angle to keep changing as they run along the stone. if you need to flatten your stone you can use a cinder block of flat level area of rough concrete or rock.
    happy sharpening

  11. #7
    Les Hiddins
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    Personally speaking, I prefer the micro bevel edge. I find it easier to sharpen and (my) knives seem to hold the edge better. I use a small DC3 sharpener from Ray Mears bushcraft store. Gripping each end of the sharpener between the tips of thumb and forefinger of one hand, use the diamond side first. I draw the blade both towards and away from me, moving across the width of the sharpening surface. Alternating each side of the blade, for each stroke, 10 times. Then turn the sharpener over and repeat on the ceramic side for between 30-50 times (alternating each side again). Then I lightly strop on the back of my leather belt (no paste). Sharp enough to shave hairs from my arm.
    Last edited by Smarteee; 09-07-13 at 11:32 PM.

  12. #8
    Lofty Wiseman

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    Any tips on where and what water stones to get for optimal sharpening? I have seen the Ice Bear set on Ray Mears and watched his vids they are nearly $200AU landed.

    cheers

  13. #9
    Mors Kochanski
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    I know Carbatec sell some and they certainly are not anywhere near that price. Just don't go and get a 10000 grit stone because for knife sharpening they are over the top and you will spend hours and only result in a polished knife. I use water stones to sharpen my woodworking tools. I would generally not recommend them for everyday use because they can be brittle and break easily if knocked around. I wouldn't go any more course than 4000 grit.
    cheers
    Adrian

    (source, 20 years experience as a Butcher)
    Last edited by MongooseDownUnder; 12-07-13 at 11:24 PM.

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  15. #10
    Lofty Wiseman

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    Thanks, MongooseDownUnder!

    Carbatec has the equivalent setup to the ray mears one for 1/2 the price. Should a 4000 grit waterstone be used with a Nagura Stone?

    Pretty keen to get some decent stones as the bunnings one I have, just cant seem to get a good edge on anything.. probably operator abuse

    cheers

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