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Why can't I sharpen my knife like a factory edge

u
ukjason May 6, 2013 07:41 PM

So I have a 1000 grit Whetstone which I soak for 10-20 mins in water to get all the air out. I lay down a dam cloth so the stone wont move, then I proceed to sharpen. To sharpren I hold the knife edge at a 15 degree angle and with my three middle fingers starting in the middle of the knife push it back and forth and equal number of times. As i move up and down the knife edge i check part that im sharpening to make sure it matches the whole length if the knife edge. then i turn it over and repeat the process on the other side of the knife. Now I think it pretty sharp but todat I just received my Fujiwara High Carbon Steel FKH-2 Petty 150mm and holly shit that is a sharp knife make my old knife seem dull. So my question is what am I doing wrong and can I achieve this lever of factory sharpness at home?

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  1. k
    knifesavers May 6, 2013 09:29 PM

    Yes but stop counting strokes and go watch these...

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...

    Jon is one of the best around.

    One grit isn't going to work magic. I did a jacked yanagiba yesterday and went though 6 grits.

    Jim

    1 Reply
    1. re: knifesavers
      scubadoo97 May 7, 2013 06:46 PM

      Agree, doesn't matter how many strokes you do, if you don't raise a burr and chase it from side to side then deburr you haven't created a new edge. I have never counted strokes. Just sharpen till I get a burr on both sides, then deburr

      A 1000 grit good enough to get razor sharp with good techique

    2. Chemicalkinetics May 6, 2013 10:21 PM

      There are many explanations and many possibilities to your questions.

      1) You may be new to knife sharpening, so it will take you a few more knives to get the hang of it. It is just a possibility. Equal strokes on both side is a good starting point, but you don't have to be exact. To practice knife sharpening, try to use your cheaper knives for practice.

      2) For the very first time you sharpening a knife, you want to able to feel the burr. This means you have sharpening the knife to the point where the two sides have met.

      http://www.egullet.com/imgs/egci/sharpen/sharpen103.jpg

      Once you have achieved the burr, then you will need to remove it in order to get a sharp edge. You cannot achieve a sharp edge if the burr is still there.

      3) Different steels are different. Your Fujiwara high carbon steel knife may simple has a better knife steel, and your other knives may never be as sharp as it. With proper knife sharpening, your Hiromoto AS (I believe you bought it) should be your sharpest knife.

      4) There are many good knife sharpening video. Jon's videos (suggested by knifesavers) are great. I find Mark's videos are bit easier for beginners. You really only need to watch video #2 - #4.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JAXyT...

      Finally to answer your question: <can I achieve this lever of factory sharpness at home>

      Yes, you can. With reasonable sharpening skill (does not have to extremely good), you should able to get your knives sharper than the factory edge. You may need another stone to help you, but it is not required, but it helps. You can a 1000 grit stone. You may want a 3000 or 4000 grit stone. I know some people with great skill can use simply use a 1000 grit stone. What you need to do is to progressively sharpen your knife with lighter and lighter pressure.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
        u
        ukjason May 7, 2013 06:56 PM

        So just go my Hiromoto AS and it's one bad ass knife much sharper factory edge than my Fujiwara High Carbon petty ( and way better build quality ) this knife feels like a knife if you know what i mean. In time and practice I will get better in sharpening, and I most likely will get another stone(3000 or 4000 grit) but for now practice practice practice

        1. re: ukjason
          Chemicalkinetics May 7, 2013 07:17 PM

          I am glad you like the Hiromoto AS and I am more glad that you have let us know about your experience. Hiromoto AS is known to be a very good value knife. Very good steel, good build, and not too expensive -- not much more than a standard Wusthof or a Henckels knife.

          Aside from all the great suggestions for knife sharpening, I find that nothing can substitute for practice. Yet, you don't want to practice on an expensive knife. So practice on an inexpensive knife if you have one. If not, just go to your local HomeGoods, TJ Maxx...etc and get a $10-15 Kuhn Rikon or Pure Komchi knife or something like that for practice.

          http://www.amazon.ca/Pure-Komachi-8-Inch-Chefs-Knife/dp/B0029XHQXK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1367979228&sr=8-3&keywords=pure+komachi

          http://www.amazon.ca/Kuhn-Rikon-2817-...

          Don't worry too much about a 3000 or 4000 grit stone for now. But if you ever need suggestions, then please let us know. Have fun with your Hiromoto AS knife.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
            u
            unprofessional_chef May 7, 2013 08:04 PM

            I completely agree. Practice on a cheap softer steel knife which will be easier to sharpen so you can work on your technique. The technique you use makes a big difference.

            I'm not a professional knife sharpener but from my experience to find the optimal angle that'll give you a better than factory edge you really have to do it by feel and sound. You'll notice in Mark Richmond's video (see Chem's earlier post) that he doesn't mention anything about ideal knife angles 22 deg, 20, 15, etc. Yet he shows you the magic marker trick. What he's really showing you is way to help you feel and find the optimal angle.

            It's easier to feel the contact the edge makes with a 4000 - 6000 finishing stone. The sound the knife makes will also be more apparent with a fine grit versus a 1000 grit. Which IMO is too coarse.

      2. tanuki soup May 7, 2013 06:05 AM

        I don't think you're doing anything wrong.

        When I sharpen my knives, I first use a 1000 grit Shapton Pro ceramic waterstone. That gets them sharp enough to "slash cut" paper (i.e., pretty sharp, but not super sharp).

        Then, I polish the edge on a leather bench strop charged with chromium oxide. That gets them sharp enough to "push cut" paper (or ripe tomatoes).

        You can probably achieve the same level of sharpness using stones of progressively finer grit, but the simple two-step process described above keeps my knives as sharp as or sharper than a factory edge.

        Seriously, using a strop was a major revelation for me. It might well do the trick for you too.

        21 Replies
        1. re: tanuki soup
          u
          ukjason May 7, 2013 06:08 AM

          Thanks for you input

          1. re: tanuki soup
            Chemicalkinetics May 7, 2013 06:09 AM

            Good point about the strop. It is also a cheaper options. I also have a leather belt strop and I find it invaluable. Funny thing is that I use it all the time that I no longer think about it as one of the things that the original poster can use. I probably just assume everyone has one. :)

            I am also going to add that any strop will help -- with or without chromium oxide.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              tanuki soup May 7, 2013 06:16 AM

              Agree. I've read that some folks even use old newspaper or cardboard. Maybe ukjason could try one of those free options first, and if the results are good, consider buying or making a leather strop.

              1. re: tanuki soup
                Chemicalkinetics May 7, 2013 06:22 AM

                Yeah, I have heard people used newspaper, cardboard and jeans. I would suggest that ukjason can try to use an old/cheap leather belt. One with a smooth smooth -- not the one with uneven texture, and just try to strop on it. If it improves, then invest more.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=une4Z...

                1. re: tanuki soup
                  kaleokahu May 7, 2013 07:52 AM

                  Hi, tanuki:

                  The fiber backing from a legal pad works well as a strop.

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  grampart May 7, 2013 11:58 AM

                  I picked this up at a flea market quite a few years ago. I believe it's called a "strop stick". This one looks to be pretty old, but I still use it. I like to believe it adds that finishing touch. Has anyone else ever seen/used one?

                   
                  1. re: grampart
                    Chemicalkinetics May 7, 2013 01:00 PM

                    Yeah, it does look like a strop stick. It looks to be softer or more plush than the ones I usually see.

                    http://www.ebay.com/itm/12-XL-e-Leath...

                    Great.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      grampart May 7, 2013 01:14 PM

                      You can't see in the photo, but two sides are a softer, padded texture. The other 2 are hard leather with no padding.

                      1. re: grampart
                        k
                        kengk May 7, 2013 01:19 PM

                        The palm of your hand works ok as a strop for running with scissors type people.

                        1. re: kengk
                          Chemicalkinetics May 7, 2013 01:28 PM

                          ..... Yes.... human leather.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            grampart May 7, 2013 01:34 PM

                            And, if no one is looking, the sole of my foot.

                            1. re: grampart
                              Chemicalkinetics May 7, 2013 01:37 PM

                              The only place I would (and have) use as a strop is the flat surface of my thigh.

                              It is just too dangerous to use hands or feet. :)

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                grampart May 7, 2013 01:49 PM

                                But the sole of my foot is much more leathery. ;-)

                                1. re: grampart
                                  k
                                  kengk May 7, 2013 01:56 PM

                                  And I would prefer to cut my hand over some areas in the vicinity of my thigh.

                                  1. re: kengk
                                    Chemicalkinetics May 7, 2013 06:27 PM

                                    <And I would prefer to cut my hand over some areas in the vicinity of my thigh.>

                                    But there is so much more meat in your thigh than your palm. :)

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                      Eiron May 7, 2013 06:46 PM

                                      Okay, I am sufficiently grossed out.... :-P

                                      1. re: Eiron
                                        u
                                        ukjason May 7, 2013 07:01 PM

                                        not sure where that conversation going

                                        1. re: ukjason
                                          Chemicalkinetics May 7, 2013 07:21 PM

                                          What? You don't know? We are trying to find a solution for your stropping material. :P

                                  2. re: grampart
                                    Chemicalkinetics May 7, 2013 06:26 PM

                                    You must have a rough life. :)

                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      k
                      kengk May 8, 2013 05:52 AM

                      Years ago I had a strop that I impregnated with diamond lapping compound. That thing really worked good. I mainly used it on my wood carving tools. It comes in microns and I have no idea how that relates to grit size. The tube I had just felt like grease between the fingers.
                      http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=pd_lpo_k2...

                      1. re: kengk
                        Chemicalkinetics May 8, 2013 06:18 AM

                        Thanks. So you put the diamond compound on your palm and then strop the knives on your hand, right? :P

                        Just kidding.

                        There are various conversion table, but here is one.

                        http://www.fine-tools.com/G10019.htm

                        5 um is approximate the same as 3000 grit size in Japanese standard.

                        1 um is then approximately similar to 8000 grit size.

                        When you get down to 0.1 um (100 nm), then it get really fine:http://www.chefknivestogo.com/ke1micb...

                        I don't think I would need something this fine though, but that is just me.

                  2. o
                    oldman83 May 17, 2013 03:24 PM

                    Try using a large marker pen on your knife to see where you are removing the metal;

                    1. j
                      Jeff C May 21, 2013 09:30 AM

                      Have you tried a sharpening system? I use Edge Pro and also Wicked Edge systems. I consistently get edges SHARPER than factory.

                      Look on line or the respective web sites for videos about these 2 systems. Wicked Edge system gives the sharpest edges ever seen.

                      there is an initial investment but I have found both well worth while.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Jeff C
                        Chemicalkinetics May 21, 2013 07:30 PM

                        <I use Edge Pro and also Wicked Edge systems.>

                        Which do you use more?

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          j
                          Jeff C May 22, 2013 08:06 AM

                          My first choice is Wicked Edge. I seem to get better results and there is less opportunity for user error.

                          I have had my Edge Pro longer. I have learned to use it and have made some modifications that make it a good fit for my uses. I like that it has a wider variety of stones and I can get a lower angle on it.

                          BUT IN 90 % OF ALL SITUATIONS I GET A SHARPER KNIFE ON EDGE PRO. ...One can set it to a 0.10 of a degree accuracy with no variation and repeat the exact settings the next time the knife is sharpened.

                          So I use both, but I am going to Wicked Edge as my #1 and Edge Pro as a back up or specialty.

                          BTW the Edge Pro forum is an amazing source of Q&A as well as support.

                          1. re: Jeff C
                            Chemicalkinetics May 22, 2013 04:28 PM

                            I have a question. The Wicked Edge looks small compare, fairly small compared to Edge Pro. Do you find it difficult to sharpen large kitchen knives (>8") on the Wicked Edge?

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                              j
                              Jeff C May 25, 2013 09:14 AM

                              It is easier to sharpen a larger knife on the wicked edge I have a 14" chefs knife (a real monster) ... easier on Wicked edge but can be done w/o much difficulty on edge pro as well.

                              Either system will handle an 8" with no problem whatsoever.

                              1. re: Jeff C
                                Chemicalkinetics May 25, 2013 09:19 AM

                                <It is easier to sharpen a larger knife on the wicked edge I have a 14" chefs knife (a real monster) >

                                Thanks. I appreciate the information.

                      2. Chemicalkinetics May 29, 2013 08:27 PM

                        Hey ukjason,

                        How has your Hiromoto AS been doing? I know you like it a lot when you first received it, but I want to see how the knife has held up for you thus far.

                        By the way, I cannot remember if it was you, but I had a conversation with someone about finding a stainless steel knife which has Japanese style handle and Japanese profile. It looks like JCK is launching the Fu Rin Ka Zan stainless steel Wa knives:

                        http://japanesechefsknife.com/Furinka...

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