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Old 03-23-2012, 11:59 PM
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65kaiser 65kaiser is offline
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Default Proper way to sharpen a knife??

Okay I heard several versions but what is the proper way to sharpen a blade? I have never been able to get that razor sharp edge.
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:25 AM
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same way you get to Carnegie Hall....practice

Ceramic sticks, hard Arkansas stones, diamond dust sticks, sharpening steels, kits like Lanskeys etc all will put a fine edge if you know what you're doing. I use a diamond stick mainly and just try and slice a thin slice off of it. Get some rhythm going and a few seconds is all it takes. If I really had to shave with it I'd strop it on leather just a bit and have a styptic pencil handy .
God spelled backwards is dog.
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:27 AM
harleyvato harleyvato is offline
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I've always had good luck with the lansky sharpener and the spyderco sharpmaker. I tried stones,etc.and could never keep my angle consistent.these sharpeners take all the guesswork out of the equation. I admire those that can freehand but I'm not one of them.
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:29 AM
Dick Rumbaugh Dick Rumbaugh is offline
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Every outdoorsman I ever ran i ever ran into had a different method sharpening their knives. Depends a lot on the steel. But a 10 degree is about standard. I use a steel then a stone.
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:38 AM
J. R. WEEMS J. R. WEEMS is offline
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Have used Lanskey for some 35 years now. As the diamond stones became available I picked them up. Trick is, you never let a knife get to the point beyond that just a touch up is all that is needed. How ever, I had a custom knife one of the boys got his hands on and I thought ruined it. No so. I started with the black rough stone and worked my way down. Took some time. but I saved the knife. She dressed out that last Mule deer in colorado with no problem.
Here she is with a little Ruger 32 mag:
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:59 AM
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Everyone seems to have their own preference. I've used quite a few methods. If there is no edge on it, I'll use a soft Arkansas or mid range diamond stone and work it patiently, holding between a 12 and 15 degree angle. After I get what I can out of that I'll switch to a hard Arkansas or fine diamond and work it again. Finally, I'll finish with a steel or ceramic stick. Then I just maintain it with the steel or stick. Been doing it that way for 40 years, learned how from my dad. Seems to work well enough for me.
A Fin
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:24 AM
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I use a Lansky system to get the angle just right. Then I can tweak it on an Arkansas stone after hard use.

For the true razor edge, get a leather strop. I use an old leather belt with a little jeweler's polish. you can take a pretty-sharp knife and turn it into a crazy-sharp knife with a few passes over a leather strop. Be careful, razor sharp knives are an obsession!

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Old 03-24-2012, 01:25 AM
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I've always envied people who could sharpen a knife to a razor quality edge in minutes with little effort. I bought more knife sharpening systems than I care to admit and some worked OK, some were terrible, but none seemed to give me the razor sharpness I was looking for.

When I retired 3 years ago I vowed to myself that I would learn to properly sharpen a knife - freehand. I purchased full size high quality Arkansas Stones in medium, fine and extra fine grit and a can of honing oil. I practiced with knives that I didn't care about and night after night I would experiment with different techniques, angles, etc. One night everything just came together and viola...... I had my razor sharp knife in minutes! Now the knives in my kitchen are capable of performing surgery..... in fact I usually cut myself in the kitchen at least once a week.

I now routinely sharpen knives for friends, neighbors, and hunting buddies, and actually have become pretty adept at it. It's now fun! The secret for me is that I mount the Arkansas stone in its wooden box in my workbench vise which is the perfect height and angle for me to have full control of the knife blade. A few strokes and the knife is back to razor sharp condition. I'm just ticked off it took me so long to figure it out!


Last edited by chief38; 03-24-2012 at 01:28 AM.
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:41 AM
GregG GregG is offline
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If a knife is out of whack I rough it in with my Lansky to get the angle correct. I like the way my Emersons are sharpened, which is the angle on one side gets worked on, the other is steep. I do that to all of my knives. I then follow up with a cardboard wheel that's on a dedicated bench grinder.

I touch them up on the cardboard wheel when they lose their edge after a while. They come back pretty quick, and I'm not taking much metal off either, which I like.

When I'm done it is a dangerous knife until a it dulls a little.

My old Buck knives that I've had forever will hold an edge a long time. Can usually field dress, skin, and cut up two deer with one before needing re-sharpening.

Last edited by GregG; 03-24-2012 at 01:45 AM.
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:52 AM
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I use Arkansas stones and a steel. To get the right angle I hold the knife at 90 degrees to the stone then lay it over to 45 degrees then lay it over half of that to 22 degrees. Now you have your angle and you can start practicing until you can do it without thinking about it. You will be surprised how fast you will learn. I use the steel to straighten the edge between sharpening's. It only takes a few seconds on the steel to straighten the edge. Don
"Don't worry be happy"
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Old 03-24-2012, 06:01 AM
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The physics of sharpening are the same regardless of the tools.

Use a course stone or diamond on one side until you get a burr on the other side the whole length of the blade. You can feel the burr with your nail. Then hone the other side until there is a burr on the opposite side .

Then take a finer stone and gently hone several times on both sides to make that burr drop off.

This is the basic procedure that has to be done always.

Optionally you can finish the edge by stropping, using a very fine sharpening device or even very fine sandpaper or honing paste - these will help to get the final razor edge.

Some knives cannot be sharpened to razor edge because of steel, heat treatment or edge profile. Or you want to have more blunt edge profile to make it stronger.
preshishely thirty charactersh
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:00 AM
brucev brucev is offline
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I learned to sharpen knives and axes as part of the field craft requirements of the Camping merit badge in the Boy Scouts. The principles are the same regardless of if one is using a sharpening stone or some other sort of device. On a really dull knife, you have to establish an edge. This will require a stone/abrasive of about medium grit. A coarse grit is not something you want to use on a knife for sharpening. Look closely at the knife and try to follow the same angle as the original factory grind. Once the edge is at least established, a fine stone will allow you to polish and refine it to the mirror smooth (at least to the naked eye) finish that everyone so appreciates. I have always liked the Arkansaw stones for sharpening my knives. There are many other good choices available. For really heavy hard work, I prefer the edge not to be so thin. For whittling, etc., I work the edge to a more thinner angle as it eases the movement of the blade through the wood and allows easier detail in cutting. HTH. Sincerely. brucev.
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:39 AM
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Here's another vote for Lanskey. I've been using one for 40 years and it works quickly and easily. In my opinion, that's the best/easiest way to start.

Recently a guy has been sharpening knives at local gun shows using a home made combination of a small belt sander and a Lanskey like mounting system. It's really slick. The only problem I see is that he can't vary grades on his belt. Seems to work OK anyway.

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Old 03-24-2012, 09:11 AM
GatorFarmer GatorFarmer is online now
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Try the Chef's Choice manual knife sharpener. It isn't perfect, but it is pretty well idiot proof. Ought run about 30 maybe 40 dollars at Bed, Bath and Beyond, though for some reason mine was on clearance and cost around seven dollars. For portable use, the Lansky pull through with the black rubbery thumb piece on it is a nice value.

Though if you have time to kill, you can learn a lot by sharpening any old random piece of metal that you've pounded into a shiv on a brick. Passes the time.
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Old 03-24-2012, 09:13 AM
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grandma used to have "shave the hair off your arm" sharp knives that were sharpened on the edge of a cast iron fry pan..
i still can not get that down
is it just me?
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Old 03-24-2012, 09:23 AM
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Willy's Knives has two videos showing his technique using a ceramic stick and a strop block.
Why pay for professional sharpening

I've used his technique to spruce up all my kitchen knives and other blades, and it works very well.
I've also sent Willy a couple beat up old knives and he returned them to shaving-sharp condition.
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Old 03-24-2012, 09:27 AM
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It's a dying art. Everyone at the PD brings me their blades to sharpen. My grandad and dad both spent time teaching me how to sharpen a blade. Even they differed a bit. I use an Arkansas stone that is stored submerged in oil. I finish up with leather. I don't give the knife back until it shaves.
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:38 PM
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I use a spyderco sharpmaker....once you get the strokes down it goes pretty fast....

Gear Review: Spyderco Sharpmaker - YouTube
Thirty characters. Exactly...
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:40 PM
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I use an arkansas stone. the secret with it, or any other system is to maintain a uniform angle and lighten pressure till its just the weight of the blade on the stone.
it just needs more voltage
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:53 PM
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I get up, face west, burp, scratch, and head for the fridge for something to drink. (I've been told it is quite a sight) Fire up the car, truck, or bike and I head to the knife shop downtown. Never charges me and they always end up like a razor. His fee is $1 if he doesn't know you.
Go big or stay home
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by 65kaiser View Post
Okay I heard several versions but what is the proper way to sharpen a blade? I have never been able to get that razor sharp edge.
Sir, FWIW, I've long used Arkansas stones. They work very well on carbon steel, but not on certain stainless alloys. Stainless is often used in industrial applications for its abrasion resistance, so maybe that's why.

I've also tried ceramic sticks and a jig-type thing that clips onto the blade and maintains the angle for you. Both worked well for certain things, but not for general use. The jig thing was good for re-establishing an edge on a badly abused knife. Kind of a pain to use, though. The ceramic sticks (the ones I had stuck into a block of wood in a "V" shape) were good for touching up an established edge, but not for really dull knives.

Here lately I've been testing the mousepad and sandpaper method for convex grind edges. Google "convex grind sharpening" for background and instructions, or just click here. There are several YouTube videos about it, some quite good. The method works pretty well, especially on knives that are resistant to the Arkansas stones. You'll need several different grades of sandpaper, progressing from 400 grit (for really dull/abused knives) up to 1600 or even 2000 grit for very fine edges.

I don't normally bother with a leather strop (I don't shave), but that's a finishing touch to a very fine edge. Some folks will use a piece of leather embedded with a polishing compound after getting the initial edge (with a stone or whatever), and then finish with a plain leather strop.

Hope this helps, and Semper Fi.

Ron H.
Wishin' don't make it so.
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Old 03-24-2012, 04:01 PM
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I didn't post this to try and be funny, only helpful, maybe someone doesn't know these exist. Yes, I understand the O/Ps question and I sharpen by hand myself. For someone with no skills, this might be a viable option, it will sharpen on the back side of the opener, 26
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Old 03-24-2012, 04:13 PM
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I was taught that every young man should know how to put a "working" edge on any tool that cuts. I can remember one of my grand dads brothers teaching me how to use a circular stone to sharpen my little Plum hatchet, used a lot of spit, cut myself at least once but finally got it to where it would slice paper. Over the years I've graduated to the Lansky system and think its about the easiest, safest way to achieve an edge that would take you dozens of hours with stone and steel. I agree that an edge should never be allowed to get to the point where all you can do is spread peanut butter and that is a good point. There are only two edges on a knife, one you can shave with, the other you spread peanut butter.
I still think its worthwhile to learn how to use stones and steel to get a good working edge, its like riding a bicycle or shifting a non syncro gearbox.
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Old 03-24-2012, 06:06 PM
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There are 2 steps that may be necessary. If a knife is very dull, you will need to shape the edge before you can sharpen it. I have some adhesive backed sandpaper that I attach to a pane of glass or a clean piece of MDF. I will start with a 220 grit paper and then a 600 grit paper. I sand with the edge trailing as illustrated in the link at post #16. You should get to a point that there is a burr on the edge. I try to get a 15-20 degree angle on the edge. This step is only necessary if the knife is very dull.

I use a black Arkansas stone to take the burrs off.

If you have an edge that just a bit dull, then use a ceramic rod like the video in post #16 to sharpen the blade.

It this point I will polish the edge using a white polishing compound on the back of an old belt that I glued to a piece of MDF or wood. Again I use a trailing edge.
You want a belt that has a rough back. Glue the rough side up.

You can find the polishing compound at knife making supply sites by searching for "white polishing compound" or you may find at at some hardware stores.

To polish the entire blade, I use a felt wheel on my wood lathe and use several grades of compound.
Corripe Cervisiam
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Old 03-24-2012, 07:47 PM
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The steel, the steel, the horror....
I worked with stones since the late 50's.
Soft and hard Wa****as's and Arkansas.
Still use them and a diamond stick for touch-up.
They make great wondersticks now for neophites.
Start with the type steel, the right type, put a razor edge on it and after use, repeat.
Or go ceramic, "ya pays your money and ya takes yer choice"
Step right up Ladies and Gentlemen, let me show you this little wonder!

How can I name this stone so someone who might want to know can decipher the asterisks? Someone smarter than me must have the answer.

Last edited by rimfired; 03-24-2012 at 07:59 PM. Reason: Are you kidding me? It's a Wa****a stone, really!
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:12 PM
Captain Hornet Captain Hornet is offline
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I have been able to get the razor edge on my blades with little effort. But one thing I NEVER do is come near my stones with a oil can. The oil clogs the pores in the stone and after a couple of passes it'll stop cutting. Same way with my diamond stones, leave the oil alone. After you are done with the blade, take the stone to the sink and hand wash it with a couple drops of Dawn dishwashing detergent. The pores on the stone well be open and ready for the next blade. Try it, you'll find it much better without a oilly gooey mess. .David.
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:27 PM
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LouisianaJoe has the method that works freehand, but you need skill to do it right.

The Lansky and similar systems are pretty easy and make an edge that only a pretty skilled freehand artist can beat.

On the other hand, the Chef's Choice EdgeSelect 120 sure is convenient.
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:42 PM
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Thats actually a very pertinent observation. Because there are oil stones and there are water stones, and the ceramics.
I've never washed an oil stone in soap.? Not saying you don't have a viable method, hey, maybe you hit the nail.
I've used oil stones forever. I clean the blade and stone after three or four passes or as soon as the oil darkens.

If I'm using one of my wa8888a stones its pretty much the same.
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Old 03-24-2012, 09:20 PM
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My Paternal grandfather taught me. He also shaved with a straight razor. I inherited his razors and razor strop. When younger I shaved with them for a while. It is a firm handed mans game. Straight pulls only. To make knives shave I use hard Arkansas soil stones. I keep them wiped clean. The angle has to be consistant. Many knives have a 45 Degree angle and a 25 to 30 degree angle on the opposite edge. I will use a very fine file to bring both sides to the right angle, use a medium stone and then a fine stone to get the burr on the edge some have mentioned. I then put dry jewelers rouge on the razor strop and work off the burr. I used to sharpen all the knives for my family and the guys I worked with just before deer season. All edges would shave. EXCEPT, the older knives with the 440 or soft stainless blades. You can make these pieces of poor metalurgy shave if you work on it long enough but the edge wears off too quickly to make it worth while. I quit sharpening these on the stone as they did clog it up and only used a fine file. Hey bring me a cheap knife to sharpen for free you get what works best or go buy a good high carbon steel knife. The old Buck pocket knives were the worst. Soft 440 Stainless.
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Old 03-24-2012, 09:44 PM
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A question about symmetry. I read the article linked in post #16 (Thanks BTW). In it he states that the point needs to be symmetrical on the blade.

My Emersons are not, they are heavily asemmetrical, with one tip angle very wide, the other side....only the angle of the blade itself. I've always just touched up the Emerson to get it back like it came.


I just finished repolishing my Super CQC-7 and it's razor sharp again. I used a little too much pressure testing to see if it would shave. There was a little of that *red stuff* flowing.

Last edited by GregG; 03-24-2012 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:55 AM
mkk41 mkk41 is offline
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Use a good quality flat stone , and hold at a consistant angle. Move the blade across the stone as though you were trying to shave a thin slice off. The tricky part is the curve up to the point.
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