Guides for freehand sharpening

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Woodpuppy
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Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby Woodpuppy » Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:09 am

I recognize the need to freehand sharpen, but I’m reluctant to ruin the bevel on my knives. I generally use the sharpmaker, but there are times it is too slow with the medium sticks, and it’s also been suggested that using a wider benchstone would also help preserve the straight edge of the wharncliffe blade.

Along these lines I’m thinking of getting the doublestuff 2 and some guides to help me keep the bevel angle right. Has anyone used guides? What do you think of something like these:

https://smile.amazon.com/Wedgek-Angle-G ... +15+degree
:spyder: My other blade is a Kelly Perfect :spyder:

VashHash
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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby VashHash » Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:28 am

Is it really free hand if you're using guides?

I would suggest practice instead of using guides. After awhile you just know how to hold the knife to the stone.

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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby Eli Chaps » Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:42 am

Image

N. Brian Huegel
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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby N. Brian Huegel » Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:46 am

Angle guides can be most helpful, especially when learning. Watch their video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKIojuevy2Y

The real key, however, is the large 10" x 4" DMT diamond stones (220, 325, 600, and 1200 grits). Large stones give you maximum cutting (grinding) ability which translates into fewer strokes, i.e. fewer angle wobbles (facets) ... more precise angles...less steel removed...more efficient sharpening. With the DMT double sided (two grits ...two stone) you could then add a fine Spyderco 302F and ultimately a 302UF for edge polishing. The real key is practice, practice, practice. Once you master the large stones then you should be able to produce an acceptable edge with a DoubleStuff2. Any lastly a 10X-20X jeweler's loupe is essential to actually seeing what you are doing.

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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby FK » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:11 am

Agree on the blue plastic wedges,
Very accurate to set proper angle.

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FK
Member since Feb 17, 2001

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Pelagic
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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby Pelagic » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:44 am

I've placed my thumb on the spine before while sharpening, so i knew i had the same angle on both sides (thumb barely grazing the stone's surface with each pass). I think guides can be nice if you have to re-profile to a more acute angle and remove a ton of steel in the process, if you don't own one of those fancy sharpening systems that do everything for you, that is. Unfortunately I've only used a jig/guide once for this purpose so I can't really recommend a good one.
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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby Deadboxhero » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:48 am

No guides, Eli Chaps knows what's up. Get a permanent maker and Mark the bevel. Adjust the angle to take off the maker. Use a cheap knife to practice.
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vivi
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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby vivi » Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:51 am

Pelagic wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:44 am
I've placed my thumb on the spine before while sharpening, so i knew i had the same angle on both sides (thumb barely grazing the stone's surface with each pass). I think guides can be nice if you have to re-profile to a more acute angle and remove a ton of steel in the process, if you don't own one of those fancy sharpening systems that do everything for you, that is. Unfortunately I've only used a jig/guide once for this purpose so I can't really recommend a good one.
Yep, once you develop the muscle memory, it becomes pretty automatic. When I reprofile my knives I don't shoot for a specific angle or stress over perfect strokes. I know the general thickness I'm going for with each knife and how I'll need to hold it to achieve that.

The sharpie method is invaluable. Use it, and use the visual feedback to correct your sharpening strokes. Sometimes we put more pressure on one end of the blade than the other, or aren't getting the tip just right, and learning how to visually inspect the blade every 10-20 strokes and correct your mistakes is the quickest way to progress.
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Woodpuppy
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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby Woodpuppy » Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:59 pm

Thanks y’all. I have used the marker trick, even on the sharpmaker, for quite some time. Have 7x & 10x Hastings triplets. Yes, practice on less important knives. Just looking to see if others have found the guide wedges useful for practice. Since I use the sharpmaker almost exclusively, getting the proper angle is quite important to me. I’m not into thinning the blades out... yet.

I wonder if I wouldn’t be better off for now with a set of cbn rods for my sharpmaker. This would allow faster stock removal while sticky to my familiar tool.
:spyder: My other blade is a Kelly Perfect :spyder:

vivi
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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby vivi » Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:23 pm

Sharpmakers work as a bench stone setup like this:

Image

You can also use the slots on the bottom, but that only works with knives that have thin scales.

Something to try if you haven't. I get my edges a bit sharper this way than using the SM as intended.
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Eli Chaps
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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby Eli Chaps » Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:31 pm

Woodpuppy wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:59 pm
Thanks y’all. I have used the marker trick, even on the sharpmaker, for quite some time. Have 7x & 10x Hastings triplets. Yes, practice on less important knives. Just looking to see if others have found the guide wedges useful for practice. Since I use the sharpmaker almost exclusively, getting the proper angle is quite important to me. I’m not into thinning the blades out... yet.

I wonder if I wouldn’t be better off for now with a set of cbn rods for my sharpmaker. This would allow faster stock removal while sticky to my familiar tool.
I grew up teaching myself, more or less, how to sharpen knives on stones. This was back when we read the Live Sea Scrolls for entertainment. ;) I'd say for twenty or so years I was only so-so at it. I went to a KME for a long time and am now going full circle back to primarily freehanding.

1. It's okay to mess up. Don't be intimidated.

2. Angle reigns supreme but don't freak out about it. I know, contradictory in a sense but here's the thing, find the right angle for your blade. Use the marker to find the proper angle. Make a few strokes and then reapply the marker and make sure you have it. Then you're good. You can stray a little bit and your edge won't notice. It isn't terribly hard to maintain that angle once you have it. Muscles do not have memory. Your brain does and it picks it up pretty fast.

3. Go slow. Don't try to go fast when you're learning or even when you're first starting a sharpening session. Go slow. Observe, check the angle, etc. You'll get to a good edge faster by going slow and maintaining good technique than going fast with poor technique.

4. Form a burr. This will be controversial for some, but form a burr. When you have all the fundamentals down and can readily repeat results, then you can dive into the deeper world of to burr or not to burr. Form a burr. Then form a burr on the other side. Then work both sides alternatively.

5. Define sharp. For me, sharp is the blade will shave arm hair. From there it is just degrees of sharp. If your blade can shave arm hair, it is sharp. It doesn't have to whittle the hair on a flea's butt for you to be successful.

YOU CAN DO IT!!!

The other day here on the forum someone asked about ZDP189. Everyone raved about how easy it is to sharpen on simple SiC stones. I've read this many times around the internet. I only have one knife in this steel and ya know what? I can't sharpen it worth a **** on SiC. I'm not a bad sharpener. I don't know what my issue is. I honestly think my SiC stone is not for me and am going to look at some other brands. But, point being, just because I'm struggling with this one knife/steel, doesn't mean I suck. It just means there's something I'm missing. You'll run up against your own challenges and you'll sort them out.

Give it a try. You can free hand sharpen.

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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby The Meat man » Mon Oct 01, 2018 6:44 pm

Good post Eli. You'll conquer ZDP soon enough. :)

I don't own a guided sharpening system (yet), so any sharpening beyond the Sharpmaker is done freehand, including S110V and Maxamet. I must say I was surprised how easy it was for me to sharpen these "super" steels (sorry Larrin :) )on my SiC waterstones. I'm certainly not a pro but in both cases I was able to get a nice clean bevel. I do a few deburring strokes on the Sharpmaker at 40° and it gets hair popping sharp.

I will say that Shawn from BBB Knives (aka Deadboxhero) has been a great help to me in refining my technique. I recommend anyone interested in freehand sharpening to watch some of his YouTube videos. He is a professional far above my skill level and he makes it look easy. :)
- Connor

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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby Forest Green » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:33 pm

Guides will never teach the edge of your thumbnails to feel the burr, nor the smoothness of the correct angle on the strop.

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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby Spydergirl88 » Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:39 pm

Woodpuppy wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:59 pm
I wonder if I wouldn’t be better off for now with a set of cbn rods for my sharpmaker. This would allow faster stock removal while sticky to my familiar tool.
Yes. Gives you more confidence when you can get results faster than the brown rods IMO.

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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby Pelagic » Mon Oct 01, 2018 9:11 pm

Vivi wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:51 am
Pelagic wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:44 am
I've placed my thumb on the spine before while sharpening, so i knew i had the same angle on both sides (thumb barely grazing the stone's surface with each pass). I think guides can be nice if you have to re-profile to a more acute angle and remove a ton of steel in the process, if you don't own one of those fancy sharpening systems that do everything for you, that is. Unfortunately I've only used a jig/guide once for this purpose so I can't really recommend a good one.
Yep, once you develop the muscle memory, it becomes pretty automatic. When I reprofile my knives I don't shoot for a specific angle or stress over perfect strokes. I know the general thickness I'm going for with each knife and how I'll need to hold it to achieve that.

The sharpie method is invaluable. Use it, and use the visual feedback to correct your sharpening strokes. Sometimes we put more pressure on one end of the blade than the other, or aren't getting the tip just right, and learning how to visually inspect the blade every 10-20 strokes and correct your mistakes is the quickest way to progress.
Whenever I'm done, i look at the bevel and tilt the blade back and forth, seeing how it reflects light. If it looks like an actual mirror (as far as angling) i feel good. There is always a HINT of convex, even to the most experienced sharpener going for the perfect V bevel. If you're familiar with compasses, degrees, mathematics, geometry, long time knife sharpening, etc. you know what degrees are and can tell as you tilt a knife's bevel and look at how light reflects off of it, you can see if your sharpening was off by a few degrees.
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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby JD Spydo » Tue Oct 02, 2018 1:13 am

Of all of the "sharpening guides" out there for sharpening knives there is only one I really recommend>>not including high tech systems like Edge Pro, Wicked Edge, Hapstone ect.

But there is a company out of Ely, Minnesota that sells sharpening equipment to commercial meat packing houses. They are called "Razor Edge Systems". They make two different sharpening guides>> one for blades less than 4 inches long and one for blades longer than 4 inches. I sometimes use those when sharpening fixed blades on any of my benchstones. And those Razor Edge guides really are good tools. I'm sure that there are other sharpening guides out there but the Razor Edge guides do work and they work very nicely.

I'm not sure but I would almost bet that Norton, 3M or any other companies who make sharpening stones would probably have them. But what VIVI said about just practicing is also good. I think everyone should learn to sharpen on benchstone freehand just to develop the skills in case of power outages or just being somewhere that you don't have your sharpening tools handy. I would even call the people at Razor Edge Systems to send you a catalog>> they are nice people and they are good about helping people with their sharpening tools.

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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby vivi » Tue Oct 02, 2018 2:14 am

Pelagic wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 9:11 pm
Vivi wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:51 am
Pelagic wrote:
Mon Oct 01, 2018 7:44 am
I've placed my thumb on the spine before while sharpening, so i knew i had the same angle on both sides (thumb barely grazing the stone's surface with each pass). I think guides can be nice if you have to re-profile to a more acute angle and remove a ton of steel in the process, if you don't own one of those fancy sharpening systems that do everything for you, that is. Unfortunately I've only used a jig/guide once for this purpose so I can't really recommend a good one.
Yep, once you develop the muscle memory, it becomes pretty automatic. When I reprofile my knives I don't shoot for a specific angle or stress over perfect strokes. I know the general thickness I'm going for with each knife and how I'll need to hold it to achieve that.

The sharpie method is invaluable. Use it, and use the visual feedback to correct your sharpening strokes. Sometimes we put more pressure on one end of the blade than the other, or aren't getting the tip just right, and learning how to visually inspect the blade every 10-20 strokes and correct your mistakes is the quickest way to progress.
Whenever I'm done, i look at the bevel and tilt the blade back and forth, seeing how it reflects light. If it looks like an actual mirror (as far as angling) i feel good. There is always a HINT of convex, even to the most experienced sharpener going for the perfect V bevel. If you're familiar with compasses, degrees, mathematics, geometry, long time knife sharpening, etc. you know what degrees are and can tell as you tilt a knife's bevel and look at how light reflects off of it, you can see if your sharpening was off by a few degrees.
I've noticed the same thing, my free hand edges always have some convex to them. Might not look as pretty as using one of those fancy clamp systems, but they still cut fine.
Current carry rotation:

Pacific Salt 2 LC200N | Manix XL M4 DLC | Aqua Salt

Dee
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Re: Guides for freehand sharpening

Postby Dee » Wed Oct 03, 2018 2:06 am

Woodpuppy, get the 12dollar blue wedges. They will help you stay within a degree or two constant while you develop technique. Get large stones, it is easier to maintain consistent angle on a large stone, even with the wedges. Use your sharpie and loupe. As mentioned, my freehand on shapton glass stones 320, 2000, 8000 (vg 10 & zdp & d2 & s 30v) all have a slight hint of convex under magnification. But the edges are mirrored and very sharp.


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