Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by BillZee, Sep 13, 2020.

  1. BillZee


    Apr 30, 2020
    Well I just bought a stone to sharpen my blades. I managed to take a dull blade and make it worse. Won't cut thru butter on a hot day!
    Any tips from you folks.
    I'm using a diamond stone.
  2. soc_monki

    soc_monki Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 5, 2019
    There's a sticky thread in the maintenance, tinkering, and embellishment forum. That's a good place to start! Also, lots of YouTube videos, just have to find a technique that speaks to you, and practice. Took me a while to become acceptable at freehand sharpening, but I can make hair pop off my arm and paper towels separate cleanly. That's sharp enough I suppose!
    marchone likes this.
  3. Kmikaz3

    Kmikaz3 Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 28, 2019
    Free hand sharpening takes some time and skill imo to sharpen correctly. If its within your budget, i suggest a KME or an Edge Pro or a Wicked edge though this one is extremely expensive. Both are guided systems and its pretty much brainless to get to a super sharp edge. You can always sharp and hone with Spyderco Sharpmaker, which is somewhat guided.
    marchone likes this.
  4. marchone

    marchone Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 13, 2013
    Any sharpening, freehand or guided, requires a succession of stones. Or at very least, two.

    There’s maintaining an edge, and then there’s reprofiling a new edge. The latter will often begin with a diamond and move to stone or ceramic.

    I started freehand, and managed to make a toothy working edge. I sometimes used carborundum sharpeners. More recently, I wanted learn how to achieve super smooth factory sharp edges.

    When I joined BF and began to learn what techniques worked for different people I tried a couple of different kits. First up was a Lansky guided kit. Works okay but the clamp slips on distal tapered blades. Next was and still is a Sharpmaker. I just added a Wicked Edge system.

    Grab a beer and read through the threads @soc-monki mentioned in Maintenance, Tinkering and Embellishment.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2020
  5. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Gonna need a lot more info.

    Knife, steel, stone, etc.
  6. Ourorboros


    Jan 23, 2017
    Yes, check out the sharpening thread.
    When it comes time to talk about what you are using, it would be nice to know what diamond stone you are using. The rating (a number) as well as manufacturer.
    However, you need to be able to hold an angle consistently and constantly - blade to stone. Be aware that the human body is a bunch of floppy parts and will want to change that angle if you don't pay attention.
    You need to learn how to feel a burr. The basic method of teaching sharpening is to form a burr on one side, form a burr on the other - in the process removing the first, then remove that second burr without forming a new burr.
  7. Squid61


    Aug 12, 2020
    Any skill requires practice. Ignore the advise to spend a bunch of cash on guided systems; buy a beater knife at the local thrift store and practice until you understand what it is you're supposed to be doing. You will never learn to sharpen a knife if some erector set gadget does it for you not to mention that gadget may not always be there when you need it. I've been sharpening my knives on stones for at least 60 years and didn't even start using a strop until sometime in the last ten years or so. I'm also a wood carver and I can assure you my stone sharpened knives can compete with any of those guided system results.
    Glock Guy, MtnHawk1, garry3 and 2 others like this.
  8. fishface5

    fishface5 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 3, 2001
    Slow even strokes, maintain exact angle, use light pressure on diamond stones. Practice practice practice to establish muscle memory
  9. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    There are lots of excellent books on sharpening, as well as lots of good advice on this forum.
  10. Natlek


    Jun 9, 2015
    You can make something like this in one hour .................and your knives will split hair in two ! I have only 800 grit DMT stones .
    bucketstove and jpm2 like this.
  11. Craig James

    Craig James

    Oct 30, 2018
    Freehanding IS a skill and it DOES take years to master; however with an understanding of the correct theory you will get a knife sharp on the first attempt, even with your single stone (depending on the grit/mesh rating).

    In my experience a beginner does one or both of the following things wrong:

    - Doesn’t apex the edge fully
    - Doesn’t adequately remove the burr

    Angle control is important in getting those ridiculously sharp edges, the sort of edge that can cleanly whittle the super fine hair of a mythological beast, but when starting out all you will do is convex the edge - it will still shave arm hair and cut paper.

    My advice is to read and understand @bgentry’s sticky in this sub forum and go from there. Using something as a reference for you angle can be useful, a couple of coins etc.

    Aim for around the 15 degree per side mark
  12. soc_monki

    soc_monki Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 5, 2019
    I disagree. Learning on a lansky and sharpmaker helped me learn about apexing and removing a burr. I transferred that knowledge to freehand sharpening and it allowed me to focus on my hands and angle control. For some people, like me, it is beneficial.

    Now I don't even worry about angles. If I like the way the factory edge works I keep it, maybe even it out. If I want a more acute angle I make one. Getting better every day and happy to freehand everything now!
    Hurrul likes this.
  13. Squid61


    Aug 12, 2020
    I'm constantly amazed by how a gadget, training aid in polite circles, is now required to learn what previous generations learned by practice. I guess we were suffering from blind luck to have managed. Do whatever it takes to get to the point where freehand sharpening comes naturally, I feel fortunate that I only needed a stone and an eye to see the original blade angle.
    garry3 likes this.
  14. eric0822

    eric0822 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 19, 2012
    While both are important to achieve success, it's more about knowledge than technique. If you don't know what makes a knife sharp, it doesn't matter how consistent you can hold an angle. I decided to learn how to freehand about six months ago (after having success with a KME). It's a craft and will take a LOT of practice, so just know that going into it.

    YouTube is your friend. I would recommend watching all the videos of Jef Jewell, Rough Rooster, Mike Davis, JDavis882, just to name a few. Among these guys you will find a variety of techniques, but all of them hold to the same principles: start with a course stone and establish a burr, then move onto a progression of finer stones (where you stop is up to you) to remove the burr and polish/refine the edge.

    Don't use a nice knife while you are learning, because you will make mistakes and you will create some ugly, uneven bevels as you learn your strokes. But I also advise against getting a really cheap gas station knife because the steel quality is so terrible that sometimes it's impossible to sharpen. I found a great knife to practice/learn on are these:,aps,199&sr=8-9

    They are easy to sharpen because the steel is soft so you get a big burr really quickly, and the thin blades get really sharp. Great in the kitchen and cheap, so if you mess up, no big deal. (You don't have to get this 4-pack; you can get a single one for like $7.50 if you want to go that route. Another great budget knife is an Opinel. Super thin, easy to sharpen.

    If I could give one key piece of advice, it's this: You MUST get your knife sharp on the first stone before moving on. Once you get a burr on one side, flip it and get a burr on the other side. Make sure the burr runs along the ENTIRE edge before flipping. If there is a small area that doesn't have a burr (usually near the tip or the heel), keep working at it. Once you've achieved the burr on both side, go back to the first side and do a few strokes to knock down the burr, then flip, do a few strokes, then keep flipping back and forth, using single LIGHT PRESSURE strokes until you can no longer detect a burr. Sometimes it's impossible to completely remove the entire burr on a course stone, and that's OK. Just remove as much as you can before moving onto next stone. Again, if you can't cut phonebook paper or shave arm hair after first stone, DO NOT move onto the second stone.

    Hope this helps.
    Hurrul likes this.
  15. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
    It seems most of the questions on this forum is about how to use them gadgets, it's sad really. In many cases loaded strops have become a crutch to bump the edges because they are not keen enough. Sharpening just isn't that complicated.
    MtnHawk1 likes this.
  16. Squid61


    Aug 12, 2020
    I strop or not depending on the blade material and intended use. My wood carving knives (Scandinavian grind) all get stropped for the keenest edge I can achieve, trick is to keep the pressure light so as not to round the apex. Most of my everyday, general purpose, fairly inexpensive knives have 420J2 or 440A/C blades and don't get stropped because they cut most materials better with a toothy edge and the edge lasts longer.
  17. MtnHawk1

    MtnHawk1 Basic Member Basic Member

    May 22, 2019
    BillZee, when I first started to learn freehand knife sharpening I got a lot of good info on this forum, but it was in bits and pieces. I wasn't able to put the whole thing together until I read and studied The Razor Edge Book of Sharpening, by John Juranitch. There are a lot of photos and drawings, without which I probably would not have understood the concepts. When I finally understood the principles of sharpening, and got the sharp edges I wanted, I was actually surprised how simple it really is.

    I like coarse, toothy edges. I usually start with the 60 grit Baryonyx Manticore, which takes care of about 90% of my sharpening, then finish with a few very light strokes on 120-325 grit diamond or SiC stones. I maintain my edges the same way, with a few very light strokes at the grit I finished with. I don't strop or steel.

    I'm not saying that this is the best or only way to sharpen, just that it works best for me, after a lot of trial and error, for my wilderness, kitchen, and folding knives.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
    jpm2 likes this.
  18. Tjstampa

    Tjstampa Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 25, 2019
    I am going to repeat read the stickies above. There is a lot of good information there. I also want to emphasize that you need to be able to see what you are doing. I have been sharpening knives since I was 10. I somehow learned to get very dull knives somewhat sharp. The game changer for me was using a sharpie to color the edge then give it a minute to dry. Then after a few passes on the stone you can look to see where you are taking the metal off. If you are not removing edge material then you are not going to sharpen your knife. Once you know where you are removing metal then you can start trying to raise a bur etc. a loop also helps older eyes see the edge. Another mistake I made was not letting the sharpie dry and when using oil with my stone I would wipe it off with my oily finger.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  19. jpm2


    Nov 19, 2014
    Also when you’re looking at sharpie marks, use at least a 10x loupe.
    I can sometimes see sharpie mark at the very apex with loupe, that I can’t with naked eye.
  20. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    I also prefer using a red marker instead of black as the contrast makes it easier to see.
    Ace Rimmer likes this.

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