Reaching out

Discussion in 'Edged Tools' started by Kapman, Sep 12, 2019.

  1. Kapman

    Kapman Tracker

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    I’m comically embarrassed to even have to ask this. I was hoping after nearly 6+ months of practice that my dumpster fire for a brain would register that sharpening knives is a quintessential skill. But no. My blades are so dull when I try to cut air it gets stuck.

    So. In between your own embarrassment and laughing. Could one of you with enough composure recommend a knife that not even my dumba** could mess up?

    I thought about spending the cash to get guided sharpeners for both home and field use. And to be honest I don’t even want to try my axe..
     
  2. Outdoor Dauber

    Outdoor Dauber Roughian #3 Supporter

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    Not trying to be rude, but if you don't possess sharpening skills, it doesn't really matter what knife you get. They all get dull eventually and you won't be able to sharpen any of them.

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you're asking...
     
  3. Matthew Post

    Matthew Post Tracker

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    Scandinavian or chisel grind is the easiest to sharpen. If your axe has a convex grind you will probably ruin it if you don’t know what you’re doing
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
  4. John from Alberta

    John from Alberta Supporter Supporter

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    I’m also no good at sharpening, but I ended up buying a Lansky 4 Rod Turn Box and have been able to get hair popping sharp with pretty much zero skill.
     
  5. Awkward

    Awkward Scout

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    Posting what you are sharpening with would give some clues? Lots of “do it for you” type gimmick sharpeners out that do more damage than good,..
     
  6. 62flint

    62flint Guide

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    Avoid powered sharpeners. Something like the Lansky is probably the easiest and most consistent for your knives.

    Axes and machetes can be sharpened with good files and stones. A flat chainsaw raker file is your friend here. They don't have to be razor sharp, but that is achievable. Its all about practice and patience when sharpening freehand.
     
  7. Wasp

    Wasp DOWN IN DIXIE Supporter

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    Get a decent stone and some 1095 steel.
     
  8. Ptpalpha

    Ptpalpha Bushmaster

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    Start with steel that's relatively easy to sharpen, like 1095. Buy a Spyderco Sharpmaker, it's absolutely simple to use. Buy or make a strop, load it with some decent compound, and strop the edge after using the Sharpmaker.
    Now shave all the hair off your arm.
     
  9. 76gt80

    76gt80 Tracker

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    scandi grinds can be really difficult to sharpen compared to convex, but that’s just in my experience, i only have a couple true scandy knives and have more experience sharpening convex knives and hollow ground knives. Also, the type of steel in a knife makes a huge difference in difficulty of getting a nice edge
     
  10. highlander

    highlander Veni Vidi comedit lardum Supporter

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    You could get one of those guided sharpeners. Lansky makes one. Smith’s makes one. Clamp the knife in and go to work.
    The way I learned was by ruining more edges than getting them sharp. Eventually, I got it right. It took me a while, but I can now get a good edge. However, I’m 50/50 establishing a good bevel, but that is improving.
     
  11. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    Learning to use a simple bench stone and a strop are very useful skills. Once mastered you can sharpen pretty much anything.
    All the gadget sharpeners are pretty much like using training wheels on a bike.
     
  12. PVF1

    PVF1 Supporter Supporter

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    Lots of good suggestions above about picking a knife with a scandi grind (easier to find and maintain the right angle for sharpening), and a user friendly steel like 1095. By the way, non-laminated carbon steel Moras use UHB-20C, which is equivalent to 1095. Might want to practice with a Mora companion or similar knife.

    That said, I suspect that you might be dealing with a "wire edge." As you sharpen your knife, you form a burr, which is a tiny amount of steel pushed over the apex and onto the other side of the knife. When you turn the knife over and sharpen the other side, you cut off the burr and form a brand new apex, or edge. Sometimes, the burr is not removed properly and even though the knife looks and often even feels sharp, it doesn't perform well in cutting tasks because there is basically a fatigued and unremoved burr clinging along the edge. This is the so called "wire edge." A very tiny amount of steel that is basically just flopping back and forth along the edge.

    There are a few ways to combat this. One is to slice into a cork or hard felt or similar material in between successive grits. So for example, if you start on like a 600 or 1K grit stone or mounted sandpaper or whatever, after you have finished sharpening at that grit, you can cut into the hard felt or cork a few times before moving up to your finishing grit. You can even slice gently into the handle of a wooden kitchen spoon or something. The idea is just to cut gently into something that's going to "pull" the burr off.

    Another way is to use edge trailing strokes on both sides of the knife, including a few strokes basically perpendicular to the stone or mounted sandpaper.

    Anyway, there are different ways to de-burr a knife and these are only some examples.

    Jon Broida at Japanese Knife Imports in LA is sort of my knife guru when it comes to this sort of stuff. He was a chef in Japan and then spent years there studying with traditional blacksmiths, grinders, and sharpeners. He really knows his stuff and is a great resource on knife sharpening. Here's one of his video tutorials on how to deburr a knife:



    And you can see his entire knife sharpening video playlist here:

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEBF55079F53216AB

    Because of his time spent living and studying in Japan (he's also married to a Japanese woman), he sometimes wears traditional Japanese garb in the videos. It looked kinda funny to me at first but when it comes to knives and sharpening, the man is 100% legit.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
  13. Kapman

    Kapman Tracker

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    Ive so far killed a mora and a couple generics i found at the flea market. Figured butchering good stuff wasnt cost effective. I cant maintain the damn angle. I have bench stones that Im using.

    It honestly seems I cant feel the proper angle. So I dunno.
     
  14. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    With a scandi / mora, pretty much lay the blade with the entire grind against the stone, then lift the back of the blade just a little.

    Learn to use a strop as well.
     
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  15. PVF1

    PVF1 Supporter Supporter

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    Try starting with the beginning of the video playlist above. Starts with how to hold the knife the right way (or at least a right way), how to find the right angle, and all the rest.

    It can be tough to figure out at first but once it clicks, it clicks!
     
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  16. americanstrat98

    americanstrat98 Wanderer Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    It is not easy to become a great knife sharpener. It has taken me years to get better, and I'm still getting better. Patience is very important. Anything over medium pressure is wasted effort. Super cheap steels can be just as frustrating as super steels. Here are some tips I commonly hear, so I'll separate them for easy reading. It could be helpful to you.



    Use a diamond bench stone to set your bevel

    Don't sharpen knives sitting down, or in your lap while you are still learning.

    Keep the knifes angle the same in relation to the stone. Work the edge in three sections starting with the heel, belly, then tip.

    Use a sharpie to make sure your strokes are consistent.

    Don't move up in grit or switch sides till you have developed a burr at the Apex of the edge.

    To help find angles use bright lighting. Only color the side you are working with the sharpie. Start out with the knife flat on the stone and raise the spins till the gap closes. You are then working the apex. If you are resetting your bevel, then you won't have a good Apex to start. You have to rely on eye balling it.

     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
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  17. BladeScout

    BladeScout Scout

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    Get a guided angle sharpener, as others have said. Thatll teach you about the angles for a start. A Lansky set is cheap and sturdy.
     
  18. Kapman

    Kapman Tracker

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    Alrighty. I truly appreciate everyones answers. Ill do more watching and practicing and in the mean time grab a guided sharpener so I can go out and spend time in the bush
     
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  19. Outdoor Dauber

    Outdoor Dauber Roughian #3 Supporter

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    FYI, unless you've stood the knife on edge and drug it back and forth across the stone, it's likely not dead....it just needs resuscitated. lol

    Check out the NC Group and see if there are any guys in your area that might be willing to show you. Beyond that, watch Youtube and keep practicing. The biggest trick to sharpening, IMO, is keeping the same angle from side to side. If you can't develop that muscle memory, you're never going to be good at sharpening. At that point, I'd look into one of the guided systems.
     
  20. JerseyDevilJeeper

    JerseyDevilJeeper Professional Guide Supporter

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    I just love these sharpening threads. I never tire of the same basic suggestions and I always learn something albeit minor but always.
    Alot of knowledge above.
    I would drop 15 bucks on a carbon mora companion; I’m sure you have a decent stone, and practice. Eventually, despite what you think, it will click.
    As stated above, stand while you learn. My wet scandi sessions are always standing. As far as pressure goes.. despite what your brain is telling you, less is best.
     
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  21. 66drifter

    66drifter Guide

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    Kapman, there will be several(or more) who poopoo this suggestion butt for $10± you can pick up one of these

    th.jpeg

    and be in the game

    a simple search will provide many sources and some of them will be available in your area(or on line)

    it really is as simple as dragging it down the edge

    th-1.jpeg

    you can also keep serrated edges sharp

    664864de-42c5-46be-a097-9c80c58eaf0c.jpg

    and they offer replacement blades for the tool

    KAM2976.jpg

    over the years since i started using these(i keep 'em everywhere) i have used 'em to maintain our chuck wagon cooking knives my camping knives my EDC knives my bridal unit's kitchen knives and my fillet knives

    it would be easy to say i have filleted hundreds of pounds of gulf caught fish and processed many full season's worth of venison w/ knives maintained with these simple tools

    being able to put a shaving edge on a blade truly is a skill to be proud of butt...

    being able to drag n go sure is handy

    if you need some of those fancy wood curls to start a fire the Sureform file

    thumbnail.asp.jpeg

    mentioned elsewhere on this forum will provide them

    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/has-anyone-tried-one-of-these.258979/#post-4590242

    once you get into the woods w/ an assortment of tools that can function you can begin honing your skills and choosing the ones that are most important to you personally and choosing the tools that will provide an acceptible(to you) level of work/product you are comfortable with/can live with

    no two woodsmen/women carry the same pieces of kit or have al the same skills

    kits are ALL taylored to the individual by the individual for the individual's intended purposes/interests

    GET OUT THERE w/ whatever you have that will provide experiences to work with/build on

    then pick your battles ;-)
     
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  22. BladeScout

    BladeScout Scout

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    Yes:D
    For a cheapo fillet/fishing knife, feel free to use it but I wouldnt use this type of pull-through sharpener on a treasured and/or valuable knife.
    Just my opinion of course. YMMV.
     
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  23. 66drifter

    66drifter Guide

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    that didn't take long ;-)
     
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  24. JerseyDevilJeeper

    JerseyDevilJeeper Professional Guide Supporter

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  25. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    I pretty much agree with all the above suggestions. Here's a checklist- start with "Freehanding: (THIS!)" at the bottom if you don't want to read this whole post.

    Starting with a blade that you cannot mess up:
    -it isn't happening. have a 2 knife rotation of any knife you want and find someone that you can send your knife to sharpen while you use the spare. Heck, I'll volunteer to sharpen for you in that case. PM me.

    Stones:
    No matter what manual sharpening method you use, the quality of the stone most important. If the stone is not cutting metal away rapidly without pressure then you will always have problems. A stone should feel like you are running you blade across new 220-400 grit paper - smooth, good tactile feel, and you can feel and see scratch marks easily. Waterstones are designed to shed grit as you use it, always exposing new and sharp abrasive. That's why they work so well.

    Note: an $18 silicon carbide (sic) (not the cheap crumbly stones) used with water, not oil will actually cut pretty well and shed grit. I have premium waterstones yet will use this sintered sic stone as sic cuts fast.

    Sandpaper:
    If you try this "scary sharp" cliche' realize you will do better on stones anyway. If you do use sandpaper, use it like someone else is paying for it. Sandpaper is going to be sloooooow and difficult compared with just about any waterstone because the grit wears off really fast and not replaced. Been there, done that.

    Guided sharpeners:
    They work well for shorter knives, less well with 6 inch (reference only) and much more difficulty with 10 inch kitchen knives. All will require some level of learning curve and muscle memory, same as freehanding on stones. EdgePro and Lansky styles are what I started on. Both taught me bevels, were expensive, slower than full size stones, limiting, and you can still screw up a bevel. Been there, done that. LOL

    Scandi vs ...anything else:
    The nice thing about learning with a scandi grind is that you have that wide bevel to place your fingers on to control the pressure. (see the checklist below) You can press straight down and feel and see when you have that wide bevel on the stone. The downside is that there is a lot of metal to remove, but that just gives you more practice - that's a good thing. Good stones can grind a wide bevel down pretty fast - I do it all the time, though I do admit that I like my flat sanding disc for really major work, then finish up on the stones.

    The carbon and stainless Mora both sharpen up really well, thought the carbon is easier and gets a better edge. Cheap soft stainless is ... mushy and wear resistant so it is just difficult to work with, like trying to sharpen a pencil eraser.

    Freehanding: (THIS!)
    Setup
    -stones are flat, not dished or wavy surface.
    -stones sitting on a no slip surface at roughly waist height or a little higher.
    -water available to rinse your knife and stones frequently.
    -extremely good lighting. no compromise on lighting.
    Procedure
    -posture is critical. find a way to lock your wrists, forearms, elbows, etc so they move as a single unit without flexing at the joints and changing your sharpening angles. you can actually move at your hips, locking your whole upper body. If you don't learn to do this and develop that muscle memory and stay all loosey-goosey you will always have trouble. Once you develop the muscle memory you can hold the angles pretty well in about any position.

    -holding and moving the knife requires consistency also. use one hand on the handle, often with your forefinger under the blade, to hold the angle. the other hand is used in tandem to apply pressure and push the blade across the stone. note that you still use both hands to move the knife, but most of the guiding is on the handle, most of the movement is on the blade.

    -pressure of the blade on the stone is controlled by your fingers on the blade, not by the hand holding the knife handle. place your fingers as close to the edge as possible so you don't interfere with yourself trying to hold that angle with the other hand. place your fingers at the location where you want the most pressure, moving them either to the back, or center or tip along the edge. Keep your fingers on top of the stone - don't let them be on the part of the blade that hangs off the stone - you will eventually slip and get cut.

    -visually look carefully at the edge of the blade as you set the angle, the edge should *just* touch the stone, or you should see the vestiges of a shadow under the edge. I get right down close to look a this every time.

    -sound and feel is important. pay attention to how it feels when dragging across the stone. it should be smooth. if you tip the angle up you will immediately hear and feel the edge on the stone - it's really noticeable. go slow and check very frequently the angle and progress. watch the scratch marks.

    -use more coarse stones to set the bevel or get to the edge, and 1 or 2 less coarse to remove the scratches and clean up the edge. remember that the more time you spend grinding away the more likely you will be changing your angles, so fast cutting stones really do have an advantage. less time can equal less error.

    -if you don't feel a small burr along the whole edge you are not getting to the edge. the smallest of burr is all that's needed. then lessen the pressure to not more than the weight of the blade and flip the blade every stroke until the burr is worn or broken away. then go to the next finer stone.

    -lastly, an abrasive strop or denim for just a few strokes will clean up the edge. if you need more than a few strokes, then you might as well return to the stones. no point wasting time stropping.

    I don't think I forgot anything major...
     
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  26. anrkst6973

    anrkst6973 Supporter Supporter

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    Funny thing, I'm from Texas but I just happen to be visiting beautiful N. Carolina right this very minute. :)
    I can free hand, use a butchers steel. It's a good skill to have but it does have to be learned, and that take time and practice. I also don't have any "heirloom" labeled knives, don't believe in them. If I had aRandall I'd be honing it and cutting things. That's just me. For putting a decent workable cutting edge on the pocket knife and machete I brought to go walking in the NF in your awesome state....
    image.jpeg
    I use one of these. About $11 from SMKW, 25 degree inclusive angle pre-set , weighs next to nothing. I care about an edge that cuts sticks and cleans fish, not if it looks good under an electron microscope, and I'd much rather you be outside enjoying this mind blowing nature than sitting at your kitchen table worried about a dull knife.
     
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  27. Kapman

    Kapman Tracker

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    Yeah me too. I dont personally give a shit if my knife can cut amoebas. I just want an edge that does the job. If I can feather wood, scale fish and cut meat Im good to go. But I understand that having a good edge allows the knife to last longer and when the inevitable shtf happens being able to to free hand on the bones of my enemies and not depend on a guided methods seems in the end a better way.
     
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  28. Geneh

    Geneh Supporter Supporter

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    You are so right. I've been down the wrong rabbit hole on too many things when I should have just been outside.

    For my kitchen and outdoor knives I prefer a slight toothy edge also. Slices so much better than a highly polished edge with all the inexpensive knives I own.

    When out in the woods I've carried tiny medium stones and diamond studded rods or credit card sized things. I think I like the finer diamond credit card best (mine was a well used demo I got for free) - big enough to hold, thin so it packs well, and hits the edge fast without huge scratches. The tiny stone I move over the knife and get a little more wobble.
     
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  29. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Bushmaster

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    What are you attempting to sharpen? What are you using to sharpen it with?

    Answer these two questions and then perhaps we can attempt to address the issue. Or we can keep proposing you buy and try our preferred sharpening media.
     
  30. ExAF1N1

    ExAF1N1 Member of a small but fierce tribe. LB-42 Supporter

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    +1 on this! I have a WorkSharp and a Lansky clamp with diamond stones, too.

    That turn box, zip zip zip and you can cut curls from paper. Fast and easy. Also fits in a back pocket or pack. Glued a strip of leather on the side of mine and added compound, now it's a strop block too.

    15683922500381054186527.jpg
    Mini Bic for size reference
     
  31. PVF1

    PVF1 Supporter Supporter

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    ^ Great write up here. People should save this whole thread for sharpening advice, lots of good stuff.
     
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  32. JerseyDevilJeeper

    JerseyDevilJeeper Professional Guide Supporter

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    Just like I said way up 10 or so posts ago-
    Go stuff here;)
     
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