Free hand sharpening techniques

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p_atrick
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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby p_atrick » Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:23 pm

Zatx wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:19 pm
GarageBoy wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:37 am
Any tips for how to hold the knife and the stone? I'm having difficulty hitting the Apex every stroke, and sharpening away from me, I can't see the bevel

Looking forward to seeing an answer to this one. I can make one edge look amazing because I'm pulling the knife towards me, but the side that faces away from me is terrible.
I found myself in the same situation. I switched to my non-dominant hand to keep the edge always facing me. That poses a new set of issues, but it might be worth trying for several rounds of sharpening to see if this helps.

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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Vivi » Fri Jan 18, 2019 7:50 pm

Pelagic wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:13 pm
I actually look on the other side and check my angle (on the side I can't see) before I start. I may pause and double check frequently on blades with a large belly. I'm also training myself to use my left hand so that I can constantly observe the apex making contact.

I like stone in hand just as much as using a table.
I like stone in hand for sharpening, but for reprofiling I prefer having it on stand.

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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Eli Chaps » Fri Jan 18, 2019 8:53 pm

Most of us have a preferred side and for most of us that will be the side we pull toward us. Now, you can, as said, develop a technique that uses both hands to pull the blade toward you regardless of side. You can also sharpen side-to-side instead of push-pull.

Me? I'm a push-pull old school dude. First thing is to go slow. Second thing is to not confuse water stone techniques with non-water stone techniques.

I can't say this enough, use a marker on the bevel. And not just at the start. Keep using it. If you mark the bevel and make a couple passes and see that you're hitting it off angle and make hand adjustments and then it looks like you're hitting the angle how do you really know? If you were high before and now too low, the marker will be gone but your angle will still be off. The goal is to take it all off, shoulder to edge, in one stroke. So if you make hand adjustments that look like they are right, re-mark the bevel and verify.

Relax and go slow. If you're hitting the right angle you'll start to feel it and you'll feel if you dig into the stone. Stop. Reset and try again.

Let's all say this together...There is no such thing as muscle memory. There is no such thing as muscle memory. There is no such thing as muscle memory. It's a myth. A phrase coined somewhere along the line in sports or whatever but the only part of the human body that can have memory, is the brain. Muscles only repeat things because the brain says to do so. You muscles and nerves only feel things because your brain says to and your brain interrupts the inputs and makes decisions based on them.

Why is this important? Because we're not focused on our hands, we're focused on the feel and our knowledge of what makes a sharp edge and what we are seeing and experiencing with our strokes. If you think you should be striving to some enlightened state wherein your muscles can just pick up a blade and go to town, then you're going to get even more flustered than regular sharpening can cause you to be.

If it is muscle memory, then how can we adapt to new angles, different blind types, and so on?

Understand the why, and the how will follow.

Also, study your blade before sharpening. Non-matching bevels are VERY common in production knives. The angle may be the same from side to side but one bevel is often wider than the other. Know this before you begin so you know if it is something you're doing or something that was there before your started.

Long way around the barn to say that on the push (away) strokes, you need to be even more focused. And don't confuse focused with tense. That's so easy to do when we're really trying to do well at something. It's amazing how tense our bodies can become, just thinking of something challenging, let alone attempting it. Relax.

Accept that you will mess up. Accept that your edges may not split atoms in the beginning. Define what sharpness you need and desire. Build on success. For the most part, unless you sharpen a lot and often, we all struggle at times no matter how long we've been at it. It is super easy, but at the same time, if it was super easy, no one would talk about it.

There's lots of ways to skin the sharp-knife cat and if folks have methods that work for them, more power to 'em. I've been sharpening knives for forty odd years and I raise a burr on one side, raise a burr on the other side, de-burr and refine. People will say burrs are bad. I disagree and have never seen anything convincing to support it. I can't shave paper towels with my edges but they are plenty sharp and they last. But to each their own.

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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Vivi » Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:34 pm

I'm not sure why folks on this forum take issue with the phrase muscle memory. It's been an accepted fact for ages.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_memory

Obviously the muscles themselves don't remember things, it's a symbiotic relationship between the brain and muscles, but it is very much a real thing.

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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Eli Chaps » Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:59 pm

Vivi wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:34 pm
I'm not sure why folks on this forum take issue with the phrase muscle memory. It's been an accepted fact for ages.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_memory

Obviously the muscles themselves don't remember things, it's a symbiotic relationship between the brain and muscles, but it is very much a real thing.
Yeah and facial pores open.

But what do I know? I mean, some people think other people put too much stock in precise bevels.

My point remains, it is about the brain. The muscles just follow.


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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby anagarika » Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:20 am

Zatx wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:19 pm
GarageBoy wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:37 am
Any tips for how to hold the knife and the stone? I'm having difficulty hitting the Apex every stroke, and sharpening away from me, I can't see the bevel

Looking forward to seeing an answer to this one. I can make one edge look amazing because I'm pulling the knife towards me, but the side that faces away from me is terrible.
I switch hand but always with edge away. I use the spine height from the stone as guide, to be adhered to (usually when reprofiling), more with muscle memory too ;) and when apexing rely more on the feel and feedback.

Once I have it reprofiled, the subsequent touch up relies on feel and feedback.
Chris :spyder:

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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Dee » Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:11 am

Anagarika has something here. Use the spine height off the stone as your guide. Put the spine on the same place on your thumb pad (or other finger) for each stroke and graze the bottom of that finger across the stone as you stroke. Keep the spine placement on the finger pad consistant and the slight grazing consistant and you will maintain a very consistent angle. Use an angle wedge as you set up your finger pad placement and you will know what degree that angle is.
Dee

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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Bloke » Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:57 am

GarageBoy wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:37 am
Any tips for how to hold the knife and the stone? I'm having difficulty hitting the Apex every stroke, and sharpening away from me, I can't see the bevel
I met a fellow many years back who sharpened with the stone inclined to the required angle (per side) on a home made Sine Bar setup sitting on a bench. He held the knife with blade stock horizontal and rotated the stone 180deg to grind the other side. A lot like a SharpMaker spun 90deg. :)
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anagarika
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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby anagarika » Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:24 am

Bloke wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:57 am
GarageBoy wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:37 am
Any tips for how to hold the knife and the stone? I'm having difficulty hitting the Apex every stroke, and sharpening away from me, I can't see the bevel
I met a fellow many years back who sharpened with the stone inclined to the required angle (per side) on a home made Sine Bar setup sitting on a bench. He held the knife with blade stock horizontal and rotated the stone 180deg to grind the other side. A lot like a SharpMaker spun 90deg. :)
Our brother Unit / Ken does the same. ;).
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Um6MvhCucaQ
Chris :spyder:

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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Bloke » Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:45 am

anagarika wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 5:24 am
Our brother Unit / Ken does the same. ;).
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Um6MvhCucaQ
Thanks for the link, Chris.

Definitely takes some of the guess work out. :)
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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby standy99 » Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:33 am

Was a butcher for 20 odd years and learnt to sharpen on wet stones early as my father was a butcher also.

The biggest thing I notice in all the YouTube videos nowadays is how long and how much time they spend sharpening.

Second and most annoying is how scared many are to scratch the blade face.

Keep it Under 5 minutes and use the knife and find where you need to concentrate by using the knife.
Looking sharp and being can be two different things.

Practice practice practice.
Offer to sharpen everyones knife you know that is not knife person. ( a beginners attempt is usually better than the blunt unsharpened knife you are given )

The one bit of advice I would give to someone new to sharpening knives is the more you steel a knife the less you have to sharpen a knife.
( if I had a choice of a steel or a stone only the steel would win every time )
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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Zatx » Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:52 am

standy99 wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 8:33 am
Was a butcher for 20 odd years and learnt to sharpen on wet stones early as my father was a butcher also.


The one bit of advice I would give to someone new to sharpening knives is the more you steel a knife the less you have to sharpen a knife.
( if I had a choice of a steel or a stone only the steel would win every time )

I know Vivi is against using a steel, but this is a very effective way to reduce how often a knife is sharpened which in turn increases the life of a blade. In commercial butcher operations, a knife can generally process 2-4 carcasses before needing sharpening, but this is only with the butcher steeling the blade every few cuts. Without steeling, a knife would not make it through a single carcass. Most large-scale butcheries send their knives out to a third-party for sharpening, so steeling versus sharpening saves them money. It's important to note that when cutting meat the apex isn't being dulled by the animal's soft tissue, the apex is being rolled when hitting hard bone and cartilage.

I agree with Vivi that using a ceramic hone to touch up a blade is better for 95% of us knife knuts who are using our knives to cut open the boxes of the new knife that just came in the mail. But, in commercial kitchens and other hard use applications where the knife is the primary tool, steeling is the most efficient (and cost-effective) tool for maintaining a sharp blade.


[EDIT TO ADD: I always use a steel on the knives in my kitchen, but it has nothing to do with efficiency, it's primarily because my wife yells at me when I sharpen her knives to hair-splitting sharpness because she always manages to slice off the end of her thumb when I do it.]

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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Vivi » Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:14 am

I worked as a chef for 8 years and I had better results touching up our knives with a fine sharpmaker rod than using our steels, whether grooved or smooth. Steels do remove slightly less steel but a fine SM rod isn't very aggressive.

Definitely agree with Standy99 that you shouldn't take more than five minutes to sharpen a knife (reprofiling is another story), and don't worry about scratching them.

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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Doc Dan » Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:36 am

Bloke wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:57 am
GarageBoy wrote:
Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:37 am
Any tips for how to hold the knife and the stone? I'm having difficulty hitting the Apex every stroke, and sharpening away from me, I can't see the bevel
I met a fellow many years back who sharpened with the stone inclined to the required angle (per side) on a home made Sine Bar setup sitting on a bench. He held the knife with blade stock horizontal and rotated the stone 180deg to grind the other side. A lot like a SharpMaker spun 90deg. :)
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Zatx
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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Zatx » Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:12 am

Vivi wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:14 am
I worked as a chef for 8 years and I had better results touching up our knives with a fine sharpmaker rod than using our steels, whether grooved or smooth. Steels do remove slightly less steel but a fine SM rod isn't very aggressive.
Agreed, but ceramic stones and meat packing facilities don't mix well. For one, stainless steel is easy to clean and second, you don't have to worry about dropping a steel and it breaking. ;)

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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Vivi » Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:03 pm

Zatx wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:12 am
Vivi wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:14 am
I worked as a chef for 8 years and I had better results touching up our knives with a fine sharpmaker rod than using our steels, whether grooved or smooth. Steels do remove slightly less steel but a fine SM rod isn't very aggressive.
Agreed, but ceramic stones and meat packing facilities don't mix well. For one, stainless steel is easy to clean and second, you don't have to worry about dropping a steel and it breaking. ;)
Yep, drop a ceramic butchers steel once and you can kiss it goodbye.

Never had any issues keeping em clean though. I ran my SM rods through our dish machine hundreds of times. Made sure to place a plastic container over them so they didn't bunce around too much.

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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Pelagic » Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:16 pm

Steels are great for getting the most out of an edge. Just know that you'll get less and less edge retention every time you use it until the next full sharpening.

Just a bit ago I sharpened someone's shun chef's knife with a DMT 600 sharpening rod, ending with multiple very light alternating passes. No detectable burr. Tried to slice a free hanging paper towel, no dice. Then I took an actual steel and did about 10 ultra light passes per side. Sliced the paper towel clean.
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Are you a magician? :eek:
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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Deadboxhero » Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:56 pm

Let's see it :D

I wanna see more cutting action in the thread! :D

Pelagic wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:16 pm
Steels are great for getting the most out of an edge. Just know that you'll get less and less edge retention every time you use it until the next full sharpening.

Just a bit ago I sharpened someone's shun chef's knife with a DMT 600 sharpening rod, ending with multiple very light alternating passes. No detectable burr. Tried to slice a free hanging paper towel, no dice. Then I took an actual steel and did about 10 ultra light passes per side. Sliced the paper towel clean.
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Re: Free hand sharpening techniques

Postby Pelagic » Sat Jan 19, 2019 2:13 pm

Deadboxhero wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:56 pm
Let's see it :D

I wanna see more cutting action in the thread! :D

Pelagic wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:16 pm
Steels are great for getting the most out of an edge. Just know that you'll get less and less edge retention every time you use it until the next full sharpening.

Just a bit ago I sharpened someone's shun chef's knife with a DMT 600 sharpening rod, ending with multiple very light alternating passes. No detectable burr. Tried to slice a free hanging paper towel, no dice. Then I took an actual steel and did about 10 ultra light passes per side. Sliced the paper towel clean.
Do you find it hard to believe? I'd get a real kick out of that.
Pancake wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:20 pm
Are you a magician? :eek:
Nate wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 4:32 pm
You're the lone wolf of truth howling into the winds of ignorance
Doeswhateveraspidercan wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:17 pm
You are a nobody got it?


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