Knife Sharpening

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What is the best way to put on an edge and/or keep a knife sharp? Nothing worse than using a dull knife. If you like using a whetstone and oil, whats the best angle to sharpen and how do you maintain the angle?
 
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Good site, lots of info: http://users.ameritech.net/knives/ Using a good cutting board and running your knife over a sharpening rod before use will help any blade keep an edge longer. I have a "Chef's Choice" idiot-proof knife sharpener, and it seems to work pretty well for me. Arkansas whetstones are great, but I hardly ever use my set (hand-me-downs from my grandpa) to bring an edge through all the stages. I usually just use the hardest one for finishing up after running a knife through the electric sharpener.
 
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That question is pretty much impossible to answer without knowing what type kife it is, out of what alloy the blade is, what blade design the knife has and what the purpose of the knife is. My hunting knives are sharpened differently from my Swiss Army knife or from my filet knife. You can get decent knife sharpening kits from various outfitters like Lansky and GATCO that allow you to sharpen any blade, includiding serrated ones. These kits comes with clamps, guides and sharpening stones in various grit. A good set is $30 - $70 and lasts years. You can find books and online info on sharpening specific blades. Often you will have to settle for a compromise between very sharp and lasting sharp. For example, I carry a British Army knife that has a straight blade. I choose to sharpen it to razor sharpness, someone else may prefer a more durable edge.
 
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I agree with above. I just assumed you were talking about something along the lines of a regular, straight-edged chef's knife since your post was in the "Foods/Cooking/Beverages" section.
 
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Well, before you cut it up for cooking you may have to kill it... [Wink] A typical chef's knive is about 10 inches long and gets sharpened with a 20 degree angle. You should not sharpen a blade all that often, because you will wear it out quickly. Instead you use a sharpening steel to "straighten" the edge after considerable use. Straightening means that by drawing the blade over the steel, you will straighten the very fine knife edge that keeps folding over when the blade hits bone or the cutting board.
 
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Best edge type of cutting and chopping is what they call a convex edge. Here is a good FAQ on Convex edges: http://home.nycap.rr.com/sosak/convex.htm Most production knives don't use this type of edge because it's have to do mechanically like a V type edge. You have to have some skill to do an edge like this. But once you have it's pretty easy to maintiain. I've been doing my Bark River knife with 1000 grit sandpaper on a mouse pad, this hit it with a leather strop. This is much easier than the traditional type of edge. I'm going to do all my kitchen knives like this as well.
 
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Kitchen knives get a trip over the arkansas stone when I first get them, and I use the steel every time I use the knife. They don't need to go back to the stone at all. I hate bludgeoning meat and vegetables with a blunt knife.
 
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Theres lots of precision knife sharpening systems out there but I use a wetstone and a steel for all of my knives, and while they may not be pretty, they are sharp. The wetstone is a two sided stone, one side rough, one fine. I use water, not oil because oil is a PITA to get off cooking knives. First, on the rough side, I lay the knife flat and just barely raise up the back of the knife and move it in a circular motion under a stream of water. Then I flip to the fine side, and raise the back up about twice as high as I did for the rough pass. Follow up with a steel, and your done.
 
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A very basic technique in sharpening is to use a coarse 'stone' until a burr is produced on the opposite of the blade all along it's length, do the same for the opposite side, and then remove the burr with finer 'stones'. Like in the Karate Kid; 'burr on, burr off' :^) 'Stone' can be a grinder (never use a power grinder with cutlery, when the term 'grinder' is used it means belt sander), diamond stone, natural stone like a Wa****a or black Arkansas, man made like a silicon carbide, ceramic, Japanese water stone, etc. The biggest problem that I see when people try to sharpen is that they try to sharpen typically dull knives with too fine of a stone. You want a thicker edge for tougher use, like on your bear fighting Rambo survival knife, and a thinner edge for fine slicing, like on a boning knife. Stainless is more brittle than carbon/tool steels at the same hardness, so be careful about thin edges. Fine polished edges shave nicely, but edges with a bit of 'tooth' slice thru rope and hide better. In general wood workers who use hand tools probably seem to have the best sharpening skills, as cleanly shaving thin slices of hardwood end grain takes a very good edge. I use a ceramic stick as a 'steel' for touching up the kitchen knives and the utility knives in the garage, and when needed will touch up the knives with a stone. I sharpen knives for people and find that most are very dull. I use to use sets of three coarse large silicon carbide stones for starters, I'd grind them against each other when needed to keep them flat, but for a couple of years have been using a 2in wide belt sander for the coarse grind. I then use a series of diamond and ceramic stones, and finish off with a strop charged with aluminum oxide polishing compound. With each set I provide some instructions: Knife Care and Safety Care - Proper care matters more than price. *Always use a cutting board - a plate will instantly dull a knife. *Don't wash knives in the dishwasher. *Touch up the edges often using a smooth steel or ceramic. *Protect the edges in storage. Safety - Don't regret a careless moment forever. *Think about what you're doing and where your fingers are. *Put the knife down if you're being distracted. *Keep the knives visible - don't hide them in sink of dirty dishes or in a cluttered drawer where fingers may find them. *Never try to catch a falling knife. *Walk with the knife held up high and visible. *Warn others that the knives are sharp. *Promote safe practices.
 
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quote:
*Walk with the knife held up high and visible. *Warn others that the knives are sharp.
Doing those two things simultaneously at the picknic in the park may lead to, uhm, how shall I put? a serious misunderstanding. [Wink]
 
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I started telling people to do that after seeing too many times where someone had a large chef knife held at waist level, turning in a crowded kitchen and someone almost walking into it. Another common one is someone talking with the knife in their hand, waving it around while they explain something, and again someone almost walking into it. You can get away with that with most knives that I get for sharpening, but not ones that effortlessly slice to bone.
 
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