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Feb 1, 2011 04:50 PM

Knife Sharpening at home [moved from Boston board]

I feel like I can touch up my knives nicely on my own. However they are used frequently and I consider what I can do to be tune up sharpening only. I like to have Stoddards give them a nice hand sharpening every year or two. They come back like new knives at a level I can't achieve on my own. Am I doing something wrong?

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  1. Yes.

    What are you using for sharpening?

    If you really hack your knives on bone or something then they might really need some work, but short of that, with a stone like this:

    Or even just this:

    You can get your knives so sharp I can shave with it.

    For me it's just laziness. Shlep all my knives somewhere, shlep back to pick them up. In the same timeframe I could sharpen every knife in the neighborhood.

    112 Replies
    1. re: StriperGuy

      Rather than getting a single 1200-grit stone, I would recommend going for a combo stone:

      ... then you can choose either a toothier edge for general purpose slicing, or a smoother edge if you want to do a precise chiffonade or similar work.

      1. re: davis_sq_pro

        The first one I linked to had combo stones ;-).

        An 800 / 4000 is fine.

      2. re: StriperGuy

        Thanks! I had been using just a plain old sharpening steel, so this is very helpful.

        I have various types and brands of knives. I have one Global that I have been told has some peculiarities in sharpening it to the correct angle? For this I actually touch up with one of those two slot manufacturers sharpeners. Can you provide any insight on using a stone like you recommend for a knife like this as well.

        1. re: Gabatta

          You cannot SHARPEN a knife with a steel. You can bring the edge back a bit, but a steel will do nothing for a really dull knife.

          Once you learn to use a stone (Insanely easy, yet for some reason people seem intimidated by it) you will laugh at the thought of paying someone to do it.

          Those Global's have some goofy double angled edge, etc. but that's really just marketing. Here on their own web site they have sharpening instructions:

          1. re: StriperGuy

            I gave up trying to explain this to my younger son who wanted to borrow a steel I have to "sharpen" his knives. He wouldn't listen to me (of course - I'm his mother!), so I just gave up.

            I have a stone I bought in Chinatown that I *thought* I lost. Found it before I moved in December. Now I have no idea where it is... of course. I've only used it a few times, but when I did, I thought it gave me a pretty decent edge on my knives. I google-searched & found some good videos showing how to use them online.

            Edit: just read further & see that you provided a link to a video, Striper Guy! Good video.

            1. re: threedogs

              Do keep in mind that those inexpensive, rough, aluminum oxide stones that are usually available in Chinatown stores will take a LOT of metal off your knives.

              They get em sharp, but the water stones mentioned below are much gentler. I use the rough stones if I have a major ding in a knife and want to get it out fast.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                That's good to know. I don't currently have any really good knives, but will order one of the ones you mentioned when I can. Eventually along w/some good knives, too, hopefully.

                1. re: threedogs

                  Up above I have linked to some very reasonably priced, but top notch quality knives from Chicago cutlery. You don't have to spend a fortune to get a really good blade.

            2. re: StriperGuy

              What is the difference between "bringing back the edge" and "sharpening" ?
              I'm just a home cook for two -- when my knives get dull I use a little thing like this
              and my knife is sharp again. I cut whole chickens into parts, vegetables, steaks for stir fry, that sort of thing. I guess I go through 2 chickens before I want to sharpen again.
              The knives I have Henckels and Forschner and Russel (old) knives.

              1. re: blue room

                Sharpening is one of the ways to bring back an edge, but not the only way. The other popular method is honing. These are honing steels:


                Honing can bring back an edge back from a rolled edge -- by realigning the edge.

                I think Alton Brown has an entertaining video on this:


                The tool/gadget you have is interesting because it works in between as a honing steel and a sharpner.

                1. re: blue room

                  A knife edge can relax, especially one of the "western" steel knives, like those you have. (Janpaese steel is typically harder and less prone to the edge relaxing) To bring back the edge, one would typically run the edge across a steel, these usually come with sets or can be purchased seperately. The objective is to realign the rolled or relaxed edge by drawing the knife across the steel at the proper angle (22 degrees for western knives). This will work for quite a while but eventually the knife will actually need the edge reshaped by removing metal, typically refered to as sharpening. There are a lot of interchangable terms that get thrown around and some of the terms commonly used among kitchen knife "sharpening" are used somewhat differently than when sharpening other cutting implements.

                  Realigning the blade can be refered to as steeling or some refer to that as honing, which can also refer to the final stage of the sharpening process on a very fine sharpening stone, sharpening can be either reshaping the edge on a grinding wheel or the use of a coarse sharpening stone. Really depends on who is writing about or talking about the subject.

                  1. re: blue room

                    Those gadgets are pretty decent sharpening devices for folks who don't want to use a stone.

                2. re: Gabatta

                  Japanese knives like the global are sharpen at about a 15-17 degree angle. Westen knives are sharpen at about 20 degrees. The hardest part of sharpening with a stone is maintaining those angles especially when you are using Japanese knives.

                  1. re: bgazindad

                    It's not too difficult: Just mark the bevel with a marker, err on the side of too acute an angle, and then correct (over the course of just a few strokes) until you're cutting all of the ink off.

                      1. re: bgazindad

                        I guess difficulty is quite subjective. Personally, I rank the difficulty of the process I described somewhere between that of boiling a large pot of water and that of making sure to turn the microwave off before the popcorn burns. YMMV.

                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                          I always tell people that sharpening a knife is not that difficult, but you made it sounds even easier.

                3. re: StriperGuy

                  Or pick up something like this:


                  I'm nearly convinced that I once got a job solely because a chef saw how sharp my beat up old knives were. Pick your angle, single-sided, double-bevel, whatever - takes out all the guess work.

                  1. re: loper

                    That's fine if you like to play with gadgets, but those are really WAY more fuss and expense then they are worth and in the end make the really simple process of sharpening your knives FAR more complicated than it needs to be. Seriously, I could teach a 10 year old how to sharpen a knife with a wet stone in 5 minutes.

                    Here is a VERY good, very simple video. If you use a Japanese wet stone, soak it water for 5 minutes before you use it:


                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      Polite disagreement. I have plenty of experience with stones, but find that this particular "gadget" allows far greater precision by giving you a constant angle. Greater precision allows for greater speed, less metal ground off the knife, and a longer lasting edge. It's not for the average home cook who wants to work his or her knives once a year, and there is certainly nothing wrong with just using a stone, but I have found this specific product to be more than worth the "fuss" (of which there is basically none), and expense. $150 to care for and extend the lives of what can easily be over a thousand dollars in knives doesn't seem like such a big deal. You have to wade through a load a crap in the knife-sharpening gadget world, but this is actually a worthwhile product - been using one for years while my other stones gather dust. Veering back on topic - sharpening stands have been popping up at local farmers markets in season for those who are not inclined to go through the fuss and expense on their own - some are using this same device or its professional counterpart; in any case it is worth finding someone who does it by hand using flat stones of some kind as opposed to a wheel, especially if sharpening the one sided japanese knives or similar.

                      1. re: loper

                        To each his own.

                        I really don't like excessive gadgetry in the kitchen. I have some kitchen toys with very specific uses, but as rule I'd rather avoid more junk in the kitchen.

                        I cook mostly in cast iron. I roast coffee in cast iron.

                        Honestly, I think gadgets like that just scare the folks who are already hesitant to sharpen knives by making what is essentially a very simple act, and one of the oldest human endeavors, appear to be more complicated than it needs to be.

                        When humans first invented blades they sharpened them on a wet rock. That still works today.

                        I have an assortment of decent knives, every month or three I take all dozen of them out and give them a few passes over my Japanese wet stone. If they are really dinged I hit them with a coarser aluminum oxide stone.

                        In less than 10 minutes I can peel a ripe tomato or shave with any of them. I got the stone for $14 at a woodworking supply place 15 years ago. Still works great. Knives haven't lost any appreciable amount of metal. I imagine I'll still have the knives and the stone 30 years from now.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          I respect that point of view, and I'm sure your knives are in great shape.

                          For someone who sharpens monthly to weekly or even pro-style daily (which I'll go so far as to assume is not the original poster's intent, so there you go...), or who wants a precise customized edge for certain knives, I think the thing is great. I found it myself on a similar board, so I think the post has value, as does yours about the ease of using a regular stone. Neither actually answer the poster's question. Oops.

                          I use a non-venting pressure cooker to make stocks because it is faster and makes a marginal improvement in the end product. I use a rice cooker for convenience and consistency at home. I use a circulator and chamber vac because I can do things with them either better or radically different than I can conventionally. Are they "gadgets"? Are they worth the fuss and expense? Yes to some, decidedly No to others. I find them worthwhile. I also like cooking with cast iron and straight up open fires, though I'm pretty sure that when humans first invented blades, they made for a pretty crappy chiffonade.

                          I also purchase things and services retail that I could just as easily do at home.

                          (Practical advice on waterstones: due to the way they operate, they do "hollow out" from time to time and need to be flattened. Instructions for doing so and various flame wars on their efficacy can be found readily on the google.)

                          1. re: loper


                            For an every 2 months home sharpener probably not helpful to scare folks regarding "hollowing out" of water stones. Heck get a diamond stone if ya must.

                            And if it does hollow out, wet it and rub it on a brick ;-).

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              Quick question from someone who has never used a stone -- I use a steel, but my rather mediocre knives (from student days) are fairly blunt now, and the steel is not making much of a difference. I have a couple of decent knives now, but although I wistfully look at new knives, never pull the trigger.

                              Can stones sharpen fairly poor quality knives? In a good way?


                              1. re: trueblu

                                yes. it may not hold the edge for as long, but yes it is possible to put a decent edge on a crappy knife with a sharpening stone. i've done it myself. that said, a good knife in the kitchen is well worth the investment.

                                1. re: autopi

                                  2nd that you can get a decent edge onto a crappy knife for now - and when you upgrade, make sure you hold onto it. An older, cheaper, low quality knife in the kitchen is perfect for slicing open packaging, punching holes in metal lids, emergency can opening, and other assorted barbaric tasks that would make you cringe using your shiny new ones...

                                  1. re: loper

                                    Seconded. We have a set of vintage Sabatier knives, a Shun tomato knife, and an unknown-brand Japanese chef's knife that is so sharp when it's in good condition that I'm slightly afraid of it (yes, I know all about "dull knives are more dangerous," but I'm still afraid of a knife so sharp I can cut myself by inadvertently touching the blade.) We also have a plastic-handled paring knife that I got in the supermarket about 30 years ago, that I use for many such purposes as you mention above.

                                2. re: trueblu

                                  With cheapo knives you just have to sharpen them more often.

                                  Another of my perpetual refrains, the Chicago Cutlery Centurion line is a dead ringer for my fancy Wusthofs and holds an edge better! Seriously I have to sharpen the Wusthofs more often.

                                  There is a 3 piece and a seven piece set. Best possible kitchen knife bang for the buck and they look identical to the high end full tang Wusthofs.

                                  This is an insane deal:


                                  And here is the 3 piece set (also available on Amazon) for rather small money:


                                  Some of the other Chicago Cutlery is not as good. Heck, both Wusthof and Henckel make some real junk in their lower end lines as well now.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    Thanks for the info all..looks like I need to buy a stone and also a few new knives!

                                    Now: I know that striper suggested a 800/400 combo stone...any particular reason for that configuration?


                                    1. re: trueblu

                                      800 / 4,000 or 1,000 / 6,000 are both nice combo stones cause they have a rougher side to get out dings and a smoother side for FINE sharpening. I think prefer 800 / 4,000 cause 6,000 is really only for woodworking tools, or if you wanna shave with your kitchen knives ;-).

                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                        While there is almost certainly no performance benefit, I go to 16,000 on occasion, then finish on a strop, with some diamond paste. Why? Because the mirror finish on the bevel looks supercool. And I believe (though can't prove) that finer sharpening creates an edge that is more durable. On the flip side, now you know why it takes me 5x longer to sharpen my knives than it takes you.

                                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                          16,000... I'll be right over for a shave. ;-)

                                          There is a school of though that for the rough use of a kitchen you actually DON'T want it razor sharp cause it will dull faster. I wouldn't pretend to know the answer to that one.

                                          I just give a few swipes on my 2,400 stone and my knife is sharp for a month.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            I don't know about dulling faster, but some people believe it will "skate" on foods. I don't know.

                                  2. re: trueblu

                                    Forschner Victorinox knives are a very good deal, the 10" chef's knife is sold for about $25.


                                    The steel used in these knives is as good as the steel in a modern Wusthof or Henckels knife. You'll see knives like the Forschner used in professional kitchens on a daily basis. I sharpen mine with a combination 250/1000 grit japanese wetstone very effectively. Next on my shopping list are a 4000 grit wetstone and a vintage American carbon steel 10" chef's knife.

                                    You don't need to use a 250 grit stone in normal sharpening, that's mostly for reshaping the edge to a new angle, or grinding down an edge that has a little nick in it, stuff like that. It's not recommended for regular sharpening because it removes metal so quickly and doesn't really do anything for you if your knife has just gone a dull from regular use.

                                    1. re: NO SLICE

                                      If you find two of those carbon steel knives let me know ;-)

                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                        4 months or so ago they had some at Stoddard's. I know they had carving knives, I'm not sure what else.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            Here's that Forgecraft chef's knife I picked up for $10 (plus shipping). Carbon steel with a light wood handle.

                                            1. re: NO SLICE

                                              Sweet. Think I recognize that knife...

                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                          You can find them on eBay for sure. I just bought a ten inch "Forgecraft Hi-Carbon" chef's knife on eBay for $10, which was apparently made by a company called Washington Forge in New Jersey, I'd guess about 25 to 35 years ago. I'm sure that it was an inexpensive offering in its day, but it should take a really good edge and I think it'll perform admirably. It had no rust and was only partially patinated (This black coating is magnetite I believe, not what you would call rust). You can find high carbon knives from Dexter, Robinson, Old Hickory etc without too much trouble. Some of them are completely unused and in fantastic condition.

                                          There's a guy with the username "ralph1396", who has an absolutely mind-blowing collection of cutlery, mostly American and European stuff. It comes at a pretty high price, and can only be purchased using the "Buy It Now" option, but he seems extremely knowledgeable and his prices are plenty fair in my opinion. It is possible, as always, to get very good stuff on eBay for not too much money if you spend some time sorting through what's available.

                                3. re: StriperGuy

                                  ah, you guys and the waterstones...I've retired mine in favor of the tormek, less than 5mins per avg blade, and I'm done

                                  1. re: BiscuitBoy


                                    I am too poor to get one. It does look like a great machine. I bet you don't even need anywhere close to 5 min.

                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                      I watched a demonstration at a woodwroking show a few years ago. The guy took a dull pocket knife and had it razor sharp in the 5 min. it took to explain the equipment. It's just difficult to shell out the $500 for an occasional sharpening task.

                                      1. re: mikie

                                        I can get a dull pocket knife razor sharp in 5 minutes with a coarse aluminum oxide stone and a water stone. Gear like the Tormek is really for someone who is sharpening a whole toolbox full of woodworking tools 2-3X a week.

                                        For needs anywhere short of that it is just a toy.

                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                          I dunno, my 3 stones set me back....$150 a few years ago I think? The t3 (smaller machine) was $375...but I do like toys like this

                                          1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                            Dude, an excellent Japanese water stone is $30 or so. Anything beyond that is just a hobby and WAY overkill for sharpening a few knives in the kitchen.

                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                              my 3k stone, was at least $60 something, can't exactly remember the other 2...maybe I was ripped off

                                              1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                If you see my links at the top of this thread there are excellent Japanese waterstones all in the $30 range.

                                                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                  Nah. Some waterstones cost more than others. Some knives cost more than others. And you should know this: some cutting boards cost more than others. A Chorsea will cost you more than that:


                                                  "Ripped off" is not the phrase I will use.

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    I've been eyeing the 1000/4000 stone here: This seems to be well regarded in the woodworking comunity. Lie-Nielson makes some of the very best hand tools around and this is what their sharpening guy suggests at demonstrations. Two sides for $50 seems to be a fairly good deal.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      The term I choose for someone who must have the priciest, most high falutin' version of something, is hobbyist. There are in it for something more than just the pure utility.

                                                      You cannot possibly tell me that a $600 knife makes food that TASTES any better than a $100 knife, or a $30 knife for that matter. The only possible exception might be sushi, but lets not go there.

                                                      Likewise for the home chef that just wants to chop some celery, you cannot possibly tell me that what stone they use to sharpen their knives makes any difference.

                                                      The folks who pay $100 for a simple sharpening stone are the same folks who by $500, or even $5,000 stereo cables. Nice link on Amazon below. Spend your money how you see fit, but don't imply that you can't possibly sharpen a knife unless you spend $100 on a stone.


                                                      You wanna waste $100 on some fancy Chosera stone, go for it. Don't actually make your knife any sharper then I can get it with a nice combo water stone, and god forbid a $12 leather strop and some dressing if I really want to go crazy.

                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                        My buddy sent me that link to the Denon cable a while back. The "It Had to Be Blue" is possibly the funniest product review I've read. I literally laughed out loud the first time I read that. :)

                                                        And just for reference... I spent about $60 including shipping for a 1000 and 6000 stone from Mike's Tools - they're on the way. I figured it was a little better route than the combo stone, since these individual stones should be thicker.

                                                        1. re: KaBudokan

                                                          Nice purchase from Mike's tools, you won't be sorry. You might find you don't even need the 6000. I prefer the non-combo route myself. But for the 3 time a year knife sharpener the combo is plenty.

                                                          Going the non-combo route gives you two sides on each stone to wear down before you need to rub it on a brick and flatten it again, but I'm nerding out here.

                                                          1. re: KaBudokan

                                                            "I literally laughed out loud the first time I read that."

                                                            Equally amusing to me is the "What Do Customers Ultimately Buy After Viewing This Item?" list:
                                                            22% buy the movie Inception! :-D

                                                            The customer images are nicely done, too.

                                                            1. re: Eiron

                                                              This is probably my favorite, but mostly cause it ends with: "audiophiles don't mate."


                                                          2. re: StriperGuy

                                                            Sure you don't have to buy an expensive waterstone. All I wanted to say is that some stones are sold at a higher price point than others. I won't say they are "ripped off". They may not be what we need.

                                                            All Clad cookware costs a lot more than most cladded cookware too. Does the foods come out better from an All Clad cookware? I don't know. Same about cars or houses or anything, no?

                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                That is a bargain for a Damascus steel spoon!

                                                                Do knife geeks mate?

                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                  Not if I came home with a $400 steel spoon....

                                              2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                wow! that tormek sharpening system looks very nice indeed.
                                                $375..00 for a setup like that doesn't sound outrageous at all. you could easily spend that much on stones,holder,stops,compounds etc.
                                                very nice machine.

                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                    I just want to point out that $999 is for "used" cable. Brand new is $9,999 (one more 9)

                                            2. re: loper

                                              I'm with you loper. I have one of those gadgets and I swear by it.

                                            3. re: StriperGuy

                                              Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if anyone thinks they can hold an angle better than an Edgepro, they are wrong. These devices receive rave reviews from the blade experts. Some of the edges they post pics of are incredible.

                                              Some of these pics are nuts. Some are before/after:

                                              Now I don't know that you'd want a mirror polish on a kitchen knife. A rougher finish probably would slice better. But you will still absolutely benefit from a 100% consistent angle.

                                              Furthermore, you can control the angle of the edge. So if you need sharper, but less durable, such as a filet knife, you can do it. If you want to sharpen your cleaver at some real thick angle, you can do it. No practicing, no screw ups, no inconsistency, and you get to pick what works best for your application.

                                              Can you get by with a stone and hand sharpen it? Sure. It will work fine for cutting vegetables. But if you want the best edge for a minimum amount of effort, the edgepro is one of the best choices you can make. And the Edgepro Apex 5 comes with some really nice waterstones if you want to really polish that blade up.

                                              1. re: slopfrog

                                                I'm with you on the edge pro, but it matters not, whatever way you sharpen is far better than sending them away to be done

                                                1. re: slopfrog

                                                  Human beings have been sharpening knives with stones for thousands of years.

                                                  For most of human history, barbers HAD to sharpen their blades by hand. Likewise for any decent carpenter, butcher, or leather worker.

                                                  Those of us with half-decent hand eye coordination can give your knife-nerd-gear quite a run for the money I assure you.

                                                  1. re: slopfrog

                                                    Nevermind that fact that the finest blades known to humankind, Samurai swords, the original Damascus blades, Long Swords from the British Isles, etc. etc. were all, made by hand, without silly gadgets, by people who were good with their hands.

                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                      That may be the case, but by making that comparison you're implying that every single home cook has equally good and steady hands. Sure, there are people who can hold a knife at the exact correct angle without a second thought, but there are also people whose hands shake, and others with seemingly no sense of angles or precision.

                                                      Still others who think (rightly or wrongly) that sharpening with a stone is a pain, or simply not something they want to do. And still others who are anal-retentive and want exact angles. And perhaps you're getting exact angles with your super-keen knife-sense, but I'm quite certain that most of us who hand sharpen aren't. The angles of my blades absolutely change over time--such is the nature of any manual process. And I don't personally care, as long as the end product gets the job done.

                                                      But really, why does it matter if all of these people want to use a tool? It's not like they're forcing you to do so. I don't see why this is worth debating about.

                                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                        I agree with you Davis. I think for most people (me including) are not able to hold the angle as exact as an edge pro but having a minor 1-2o off is not a problem. That said I think even a great tool like EdgepPro has some limitations. Some time ago I had to flatten out an edge due to a wavy grind. Basically, there are high and low point along the edge. That I think is much easily done on a flat stone than an EdgePro. (EdgePro may even make it worse because it will grind more on the low points making them even lower)

                                                        I just won't brother about arguing the EdgePro vs Free hand sharpening. We have more similarities than differences. We are the people who believe in keeping our knives sharp, and we are the people who don't use electric sharpeners.... etc. In the big picture, we are on the same team.

                                                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                          "And perhaps you're getting exact angles with your super-keen knife-sense, but I'm quite certain that most of us who hand sharpen aren't."
                                                          I'm almost certain that the absolute best hand sharpeners still have a degree or more of wiggle room in their strokes.

                                                          That said, machine-perfect angle holding isn't necessary for a very sharp edge. Some even view the minor convexing that comes with free handing to be beneficial for edge retention.

                                                          I'm right there with you though that the Edge Pro is a good device for anyone who wants to go that route. I've used one - it's great. I still free hand though.

                                                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                            Most home chefs don't have to be as precise as those who make Samurai swords, far from it.

                                                            My point is that most home chefs also don't have to be intimidated to get a stone and whack away, they'll have nice sharp knives all the time with minimal effort and expense.

                                                            But furthermore, and really my point in all of this: most home chefs don't need to be intimidated by the knife and gadget fanatics who claim you can't possibly do a decent job with a stone, and risk destroying your knives if you don't get some pricey doohickey. Have your gadget fetish fine. But really, sharpening a knife is easy, there's no mystery to it, and you don't need to spend a fortune on it either, period.

                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                              "most home chefs don't need to be intimidated by the knife and gadget fanatics who claim you can't possibly do a decent job with a stone, and risk destroying your knives if you don't get some pricey doohickey"

                                                              Ah, now I see where you are coming from. Yes, I think many home cooks are caught in a visous cycle of "I don't want to ruin my knives by sharpening them myself" and "I cannot afford paying someone to sharpen them"

                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                I only got the EP because I wanted fast great results, that being said I may or may not go to stones in the future , I use a stone at work for for getting a finer edge on cutting tools and playing around sharpening utility knife blades and exacto blades but I'm paid by the hr so wasting time there makes the day go faster

                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                    Indusrial mechanic , by wasting time I mean when I'm running a mill or lathe instead of sitting there watching it , I'm usually playing around with a stone and throw away blades, I also made a belt splicer out of a clothes iron that worked as good as our 100$ an hour contractors equimnt. All the while I could have been reading the paper

                                                                    1. re: Dave5440

                                                                      I played with mills and lathe when I was in school. I had to manually crank those hand wheel, but I bet you have the nicer eletrical/computer control ones with AutoCad and stuffs -- so you can played around other stuffs.

                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                        No the tool room has all the fancy stuff, the lathe I use was built in the 40's and the mill was going to scrap but we got it instead I just grabbed a couple of power feeds that the tool room threw out because they didn't work, fixed them and grafted them on I just have to watch the read outs when i'm doing something

                                                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                                                          That's awesome. I love old machines. They just don't build 'em like they used to. At least not at a price most outfits can afford. I keep hearing rumors that there is a HUGE mill on the installation I work at. Supposedly it came off a World War II destroyer and is the size of a large room. All manual of course. I really want to see it.

                                                                          Machining by hand is a rapidly dying art. One of the reasons I love old Swiss rifles. The things are put together like fine watches, and its almost all handmade. The tolerances and finishes are amazing. I don't think they could be built that way today.

                                                          2. re: StriperGuy

                                                            Yes this is true but someone who sharpened a Samurai sword would have been a master who's family had been doing this for centuries. Your father was a sword sharpener and his father was sword sharpener and your destiny is to be a sword sharpener. These are dying arts.

                                                            I can sharpen free hand and by EdgePro but the EP does a better job. Now you can argue that the imperfections by hand sharpening result in an edge that is closer to a convex edge and this would be true and that even with the EP the amount of pressure will vary as will the angle at which the stone passes over the blade. All this has an effect. Thank goodness for most of what we use our knives for all of these imperfections don't result in an ineffective edge. Yes people have been sharpening on stones since the stone age but we have come a long way in allowing those with little experience to produce really nice edges with an easy to use jig like the EP. It's not for everybody. I really like the Zin feeling when hand sharpening but I am humbled by the very clean and even edge from the EP.

                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                              I'd like to see a pic of an edge sharpened by hand that looks as good as those I linked to. Maybe there is somebody out there who can do it, but I've never seen anything close. Convince me.

                                                              1. re: slopfrog

                                                                "but I've never seen anything close. Convince me."
                                                                I've seen work that's close. Heck, my better work is fairly close. Not quite as pristine, but definitely in the same ballpark.

                                                                I like a challenge - I'll try to develop a patina on my hiromoto (it gets nice and dark behind the edge for the sake of contrast) and then sharpen the bevel clean without thinning behind the edge. I'll take some pics when I do. The real problem is gonna be my camera work - I don't know that my camera can fully do it justice.

                                                                Like I said upthread, the Edge Pro is a great little device. But someone's gotta step up for freehand sharpeners. Consider your challenge accepted.

                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                  Mine is pretty close as well, but I ain't gonna spend the time to fuss and photograph it.

                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                    I'm really looking forward to this challenge thing, I like to watch a good competition. You guys have me convinced I can sharpen by hand, so this weekend I'm picking up the stones. My son-in-law on the other hand, I'm confident couldn't get a good edge with an edge pro. It will be intersting to see what kind of edge you can get vs the edge pro and what kind of edge I can get with a freehand stone.

                                                                    1. re: mikie

                                                                      "My son-in-law on the other hand, I'm confident couldn't get a good edge with an edge pro."

                                                                      Wait till he read this entry.

                                                                      1. re: mikie

                                                                        "You guys have me convinced I can sharpen by hand, so this weekend I'm picking up the stones. "

                                                                        I was one of those guys who started out being intimidated by sharpening on my own. Literally 3-4 weeks ago I would have never considered it, primarily because of ignorance - lack of information.

                                                                        Just yesterday I received a 1000 and 6000 whetstone I had ordered. I sharpened 3 knives - all from a fairly low end block set I had. By the time I did the third knife, I actually felt like I had a pretty steady hand and a pretty consistent angle.

                                                                        I was able to get all 3 knives sharp enough to slice a ripe tomato paper thin by only the weight of the knife. They were probably comparable to the factory sharpness of the Shun and Tojiro knives I've used recently.

                                                                        I'm not entirely sure if getting sharper than that was limited by my own lack of skill or by the cheap knives. Likely a combination of both, with more of the issue coming from my technique and lack thereof. Still, having been trained only by watching the videos on the chefknivestogo website, I felt pretty good about it.

                                                                        I would definitely benefit from having a rougher stone for these knives, as they're all a bit beat up.

                                                                        The last knife I did took about 15-20 minutes. I'm also sure I cold spend a bit more time on these - after sharpening this one, I was able to see a few small nicks in the blade that still didn't come out through my process.

                                                                        I can't shave with these, but I could definitely cut any food I come across with them. That's the point right? :)

                                                                        Today I'm probably going to sharpen the Victorinox forged paring knife I bought a couple weeks ago. Was not particularly sharp out of the box, but I'm assuming it will take a better edge than the knives I worked on yesterday.

                                                                        By the way - a tip for anyone brand new to this. I thought it was much easier to manage the larger knives I sharpened yesterday than the small one I started with. I would start with a bigger knife first. :)

                                                                        1. re: KaBudokan

                                                                          "I thought it was much easier to manage the larger knives I sharpened yesterday than the small one I started with. "

                                                                          Agree. Easier to hold onto the knife and easier to gauge the angle.

                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            Just curious Chem (and anyone else who wants to chime in) - do you sharpen in small sections of the blade length like Mark does in the Chefknivestogo videos, or do you stroke the entire length of the blade along the stone?

                                                                            My gut tells me that if you can maintain the correct angle in one continuous stroke along the length of the blade that would be ideal. I tried that and almost immediately felt it was beyond my skill level for my first sharpening experience. (Then again, I gouged the 6000 stone once with the small knife I started with while doing small sections as well... lol)

                                                                            1. re: KaBudokan

                                                                              "do you sharpen in small sections of the blade length like Mark does in the Chefknivestogo videos, or do you stroke the entire length of the blade along the stone?"

                                                                              Yeah, the two different schools of thought, huh? I am sure you know the advantages disadvantages.I started out with the section method but I have switch to something in between. Instead of sharpen each section 10 times, then move to a new section, then 10 times, then move... , I move the along the blade slowly as I go back and forth. In other words, like a "W" motion.

                                                                              P.S.: Gouging a high grit stone is pretty normal.

                                                                              1. re: KaBudokan

                                                                                Check out this YouTube video(if you already haven't)
                                                                                "Japanese Knife Imports-Sharpening a Aritsugu A Type Gyuto" Very informative,but maybe a little anal for most.

                                                                            2. re: KaBudokan


                                                                              To your post below, I am of the "whole blade in one gentle sweep" school.

                                                                              Also, In most Chinese markets they sell VERY rough, two sided, aluminum oxide stones that are perfect for roughing out serious dings. Dirt cheap too, <$10. I used to sharpen with this years ago when I didn't know better, but they take off way too much metal for regular sharpening.

                                                                              To Cowbardee, getting rather serious there. Rock on. With that progression you won't need your Gilette in the morning any more ;-).

                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                              I have done it. Challenge completed. And I did.... ehhh... alright.

                                                                              I tried to develop some patina on the Hiromoto gyuto, since I thinned it on my last sharpening. Strangely, this was harder than I remember it. After leaving unwashed after a couple cutting sessions with middling results, I just forced a patina with white vinegar. I did a full sharpening progression, just to make this a real challenge - 500, 800, 1k, 2k, 4k, 6k, 8k, strop.

                                                                              As for the sharpening, I won some and lost some.

                                                                              -The sharpening wasn't perfect - there were a couple areas where I went too acute and you can see the patina bevel line gets wavy. But it was my first try, and these results are realistic
                                                                              -My camera work still isn't good enough to show the edge as well as I'd like
                                                                              -You can clearly see scuffs all over the sides of the knife. These are from old sharpenings and thinning sessions (and also from use) - years ago. It takes practice to sharpen, and I wasn't always good. Again, realism.
                                                                              -I lent out my 12k stone a while ago, so I finished only up to 8k. Not quite the mirror shine of slopfrog's pics, but not as far from it as my crappy photography would have you believe.

                                                                              - The bevel angles, especially on the back side, are VERY low. The back side is below 10 deg, which I believe you can't accomplish on the Edgepro (someone correct me if I'm wrong). This can be harder to keep consistent, and the results still aren't terrible.
                                                                              - You can't tell, but the knife is very nice and sharp
                                                                              - The dark patina with a clean shiny primary bevel always looks cool.

                                                                              Here are pics. Some before shots:

                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                Nice job kiddo. I would also reiterate an earlier point. I think it is tougher for EdgePro to fix a wavy edge (uneven edge) than the flat waterstone approach.

                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                  Good point, Old Man Chem. The Edge pro is not especially well designed for that particular type of repair.

                                                                                2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                  Nice work , does your camera have a macro setting? you could try that and the EP stops at 10deg but i've heard you can get some sort of plate to sit on the rest to set it lower

                                                                                  1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                    That WAS the macro setting.

                                                                                    Interesting on the edge pro with lower angles. Still, I wonder how much lower - thinning behind the bevel on that Hiromoto, I'm sharpening.... I don't even know... pretty dang low though.

                                                                                  2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                    Last few shots here. Hope you guys like em. I'd like to point out that (obviously) there are better hand sharpeners than myself out there, and that I'll surely get better with time as well.

                                                                                    Still, I've been talking up hand sharpening on this site for long enough - even with imperfect results, it feels good to put my money where my mouth is every once in a while.
                                                                                    Last after shots:

                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                      Ok, so after messing around with my camera, with which I'm embarrassingly inept (you can still zoom once you're in macro?!), I've got a few better pictures. These will be the last ones, since I don't want to blow up this thread with a billion OCD snapshots of knife edges. I might ask the mods to take down some of my first pics.

                                                                                    2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                      On the EdgePro Apex you need a riser to get lower angles like a 10 degree or lower. The Pro model can do it without the riser.

                                                                                      Nice job CBAD Good pictures. Edges look very even

                                                                                  3. re: slopfrog

                                                                                    Okay, here are a couple of photos of my Henckels Professional S chef knife. I just spent about 10 minutes cleaning it up, first on a 1000-grit stone, then 6000, then 16000, and finished with a quick strop with some aluminum oxide powder. Recently I've been stopping at the 6000, so it doesn't look as nice as it could. (It seems like the more work I put in at the higher grits, the shinier things get on latter sharpenings.)

                                                                                    But of course, other than for taking these photos, the goal is not shininess, it's cutting things. And the blade is scary sharp. Notice also the tip, which I've paid special attention to getting nice and pointy. In case I need to stab someone while I'm cooking. (There is probably no other reason, but hey -- it looks cool!)

                                                                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                        Davis is correct. I think some of us can sometime get distracted and decided that the shinnest and most even bevel must also be the most useful in the kitchen. Not really. They are sometime the same, but sometime they are not the same. For people who are interested in a primary bevel on a back bevel. The back bevel needs not to be shiny. Some people like to change the cutting angle along the edge. They want a sharper angle at the knife tip and a wider angle at the knife heel (or some other variation). By defaut, the bevel line will be differrent along the edge. For people who are trying to correct an uneven grind, the bevel line better not be even. If it is, then the edge will not be even and will not be touching the cutting board flat. To correct an uneven grind, the thinner part of the blade should have a narrower bevel, while the thicker part of the black should have a thicker bevel.

                                                                                        It is not wrong to aim for a shiny bevel and an even grind, but we not forget the more important points.

                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                          Do you have any experience changing a double bevel to a single, here's why all this sharpening talk got me iching to use my EP, only problem I only have my right hand so I clamped my knife on the rest with the blade stop and went nuts I decided to take it down to 10deg from about 12~13 it was, this took a really long time this time as the width of the bevel is twice as wide and i'm not done yet, but my right hand gave up before I could get done. But I got to thinking I like to try a single bevel and at this point it wouldn't take to much longer to just go through the bevel on the back side, anybody tried this before?

                                                                                          1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                            No. I have double bevel knives and I have single bevel knife, but I have never converted a double bevel to a single bevel. I know people put a bias to their knives, but I don't know anyone put a full blown single bevel. I think that will be tough, right? I mean a double bevel knife is not just double bevel at the edge area. The entire blade grind is ground on both side, so I don't know how one can do this .... unless you are thinking about flatting/thinning the entire blade?!

                                                                                            In addition, depending on what knife you have, it may not be a good idea even if you have the time and effort. Many double bevel knives are tempered so the best and hard part of the steel is the center. As you shift the cutting edge to one side of the blade, you could very well be using a suboptimal part of the steel.

                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                              On my knife the core is hard with the soft overlay on both sides and i'm well below the line(it's visible) it started as a 70~30 bias on the right and at this point there might be 1/32 left of the back bevel, I'm going to keep going as if it doesn't work it will be a short job to redo the back side

                                                                                              1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                                Sounds like you're going to grind about 10 years worth of service off your knife. But hey, anything in the name of science :-)

                                                                                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                  Maybe, but what the hell if it's better it was worth it, if not lesson learned, but it sure looks purtty with that wide beaming bevel

                                                                                                  1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                                    Many Japanese chefs I know convert their double bevel gyuto to single bevels. I used to do the same thing, but I stopped. I don't really think it's a good idea. The main reason they do it is to save time sharpening. When you're used to sharpening a single bevel blade, you use a lot of pressure, mostly on the forward stroke, and you get used to removing a lot of material fairly quickly. When you do that all the time, it's not a simple transition to sharpening the back of the knife with the same amount of power and speed with an edge leading stroke, so a lot of people just sharpen the blade on the front. Obviously if the outside of the blade is laminated in a different material this is a really terrible idea. For homogeneous knives it can still work, but the performance will change. Among the people I've seen doing this (dozens including myself), the fact is that even though their double bevel gyuto cost them $125 or so, it's the cheapest knife they own and they use it for rougher tasks, and they sharpen it quickly on rough stones without caring how long the knife lasts. We use those gyuto for things like rough chopping vegetables on hard plastic chopping boards, and then sharpen on 800 grit stones for 30 seconds at the end of the night using a lot of power. The edge retention is not as good, but if you aren't using it heavily then to some people the added time to do a double bevel isn't warranted. The knives still cut very well, but unless you only want to get a few years out of it, doing it is not really a good idea.

                                                                                                    1. re: la2tokyo

                                                                                                      Well it's too late to turn back now, But I can't see how it will affect the lifespan(at least on mine it's RC66) but I will find out rapidly once it's finished , i'm also using an EP so the sharpening pressure is quite light compared to a stone.

                                                                                                      1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                                        I'm not saying that having it as a single bevel will affect the lifespan, just that the way we were doing it wasn't exactly a finesse thing. We just sharpen with a lot of force to form a burr as quickly as possible on a 800 or 1000 grit stone every day. On a traditional Japanese single bevel knife that force is distributed over a large area because the bevel is large, but if you put all that force on one side of a thin gyuto it gets worn down pretty quickly. If you do it slowly and lightly, the way one would normally sharpen a gyuto, the lifespan would be the same.

                                                                                                        As long as the softer laminate is above the edge you're grinding, the knife will work fine. And when you want to resharpen it again there's no flipping back and forth, you just power through on one side until you get a big burr and then polish it off. I still think there's a big advantage of convenience doing it that way. I don't use a gyuto more than fifteen minutes a day anymore, so I quit the single bevel gyuto thing because I try and keep one knife that will cut in a straight line through something big like a watermelon. With a single beveled knife that kind of thing is harder to do.

                                                                                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                Correctomundo Chem. If you hold your blade against a straight edge you will notice that the blade starts to angle away from the vertical plane somewhere around 5/4 to 2/3 of the way down from the spine. It would be very difficult to make a single beveled knife from a double. It should be mentioned that a Japanese traditional style single beveled in hollow ground on the back side.

                                                                            2. Gabatta,

                                                                              Look like you have plenty advises. I will chip in my own. I recommand using a waterstone at ~1000 grit level. It is aggressive enough to fix minor chips along a knife edge, and it is refine enough as a finishing stone for most people. The rest is really about practicing and watching a few youtube videos. I am sure you understand this: without more specifics, I cannot tell what is the problem of not able to acheive a desirable result.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                Totally agree, the 1,200 I linked to way above is really all you need:


                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                  Agree with you. Although people say 1000 grit stone is verstalie. It does not mean exactly 1000. Anything around 1000 is just as good. That is a good suggestion. Suehiro stones are good (or so I heard) and this is inexpensive with free shipping too. :)

                                                                              2. I use a Chef's Choice electric sharpener, M120. It runs about $150. It's a three-stage device that removes very little metal. The stropping/polishing stage is quite good and gets the most use. It's my "goto" tune-up setting.

                                                                                I like this device for my two dozen or so knives. I've used a stone before but I find this device to be fast and efficient.

                                                                                My knives are quality European steel, not Asian. Is there something I'm missing?

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: steve h.

                                                                                  steve h. I don't think you're missing anything.You enjoy your European steel,some love Japanese steel,some custom blades.
                                                                                  You know what you like and you like what you know.It's not a question about what is best but what is best for you.
                                                                                  Sharp steel is the best steel.

                                                                                  1. re: petek

                                                                                    What rest. do you work at petek?

                                                                                      1. re: petek

                                                                                        restaurant, i was cutting corners or are you in a institution kitchen

                                                                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                          I work at a catering company, that might change in the near future,but I have worked in many restaurant kitchens throughout my illustrious career :D

                                                                                2. Just as anything, proper form is extremely important if you care deeply about keeping your things in proper working order.

                                                                                  Make sure to do some reading before attempting to sharpen knifes on a stone or any other method. In my opinion, the stone is the best. My reason, is because you can get the best angle possible while working with both hands and not one-hand-to-a-tool, like when your using a sharpening rod - one hand on the rod one on the knife.

                                                                                  Quick tip:
                                                                                  Smooth movements, while maintaining even dispersion of pressure on the knife to the stone is best. 5 slow swipes on the stone are better than 20 OK ones with the rod, and in the end those 5 may just save your knife from wearing out in awkward places like the butt end.

                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: FrancoD

                                                                                    Where did all the posts go? I get the e-mails but nothing is here, geez it sounded good

                                                                                    1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                      Looks like we were edited by the Moderator-Gestapo. :-(

                                                                                      1. re: threedogs

                                                                                        Wow did it get that bad, I just got the first line of each post , good one about paris H , chem

                                                                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                                                                          Rumor has it, was close to turning into a knife fight.

                                                                                          (Bad joke, I know, but can't help it. ;-).

                                                                                              1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                lots of pointed opinions and sharp wit here...what a bunch of cut-ups

                                                                                                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                                                  I'd like to be the first guy to bring one of these to the knife fight...

                                                                                                  (Bad joke, but you guys know what I was shooting for.)

                                                                                                  1. re: KaBudokan

                                                                                                    Fun thread, and educational, too! Kabudokan, you need to read the Indian newspaper article about the retiring Gurkha soldier who took on a train load of [gun] armed robbers with his knife, real Charles Bronson stuff.

                                                                                                    Striper guy has me convinced to buy a decent water stone. I dropped my aged Chicago Cutlery classics off for professional sharpening yesterday. I use a steel at home and have [and use] one of those $20 wusthoff diamond wheel sharpeners, which I have had for years and I'm sure is now worthless. Explains why I have had the knives professionally sharpened every year or so, at $4.50 a blade. No more ....

                                                                                                    1. re: RxDiesel

                                                                                                      "$20 wusthoff diamond wheel sharpeners"

                                                                                                      Those don't last too long.

                                                                                    2. Okay, I know I'll be taken to task for not being enough of a "foodie," but please go electric.

                                                                                      Go to most any kitchen equipment store and for about $50 you'll come home with the Chef's Choice electric sharpener/honer. It will do the regular "tune up" honing, as well as the twice yearly true sharpening process.

                                                                                      It works, its 100% consistent, and because it's so easy you'll probably do it more often than the traditional sharpening. I admit that I have never been able to figure out how to use a sharpening steel, though I have had good experiences with sharpening stones.