Best method to sharpen a knife?

What skills to learn, what tools to get
TopHatFox
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Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by TopHatFox » Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:22 pm

My kitchen knife was dull, so I found a little tool that has three rolling wheels--each one more fine than the previous--and a plastic guide slot to pass the knife through. Kind of like this thing:

https://www.google.com/search?q=knife+s ... NgjTZ8c%3D

All I did was pass the knife forward progressively through each wheel until the edge of the knife went from a plateaud-mountain shape to a pointy-mountain shape.

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What are some other methods of sharpening a knife? I've used the underside of a ceramic plate before, and one of those stick-shaped knife sharpeners. One of my friends even used a grinding wheel to sharpen their knife!
Last edited by TopHatFox on Fri Sep 25, 2015 6:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

jacob
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by jacob » Fri Sep 25, 2015 5:27 pm

There are very many different methods. For a minimalist, this is adequate for straight edges.

http://www.amazon.com/Fiskars-Pocket-Kn ... 0001WOTEU/

I have one---which I no longer use. It works adequately. BTW if you're vegetarian and don't need to cut meat, just get a serrated edge and abuse it. Even dull "saws" cut vegetables easily. The minimalist stuff is not nearly as effective as when actual skill is introduced. Water stone or scary sharp (<- what I use for both kitchen and woodworking stuff) if you care to practice and are able to hold your angles old-school style. If you like to work (spend very many minutes) and can't hold a constant angle, Lansky makes interesting stuff. Sorby and Tormek if you're both lazy/pressed for time and incompetent.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by black_son_of_gray » Fri Sep 25, 2015 8:01 pm

@ Zalo: We have both the kind of sharpener you mentioned, as well as a sharpening steel. FWIW, my SO prefers the steel, and so do I. Quick, easy, and simple. And puts quite a nice edge on our chef's knife. Maybe the steel is better if your knife edge is already in pretty good shape/maintenance.

jacob
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by jacob » Sat Sep 26, 2015 7:36 am

Steel doesn't sharpen or put an edge on. It realigns the existing edge but it doesn't remove any metal. Same as a razor strop. Also why you move the edge away from the steel rather than push into it which you'd do if you were sharpening it.

Sclass
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by Sclass » Sat Sep 26, 2015 9:32 am

I use this two sided whetstone 1"x2"x8" I bought at a restaurant supply for $3. I think it came from China. Nothing fancy, aluminum oxide. Works better than my diamond whetstones I bought at a rummage sale.

http://www.bakedeco.com/nav/product_det ... ng%20stone

I use it to maintain my Swiss Army knife collection. It's all in the technique. You can ruin a blade fast with these blocks if you don't know what you're doing. YouTube has great videos showing proper technique.

The less gimmicky the sharpener the better the edge I find. Basically what Jacob says.

I recall my mom as a saleswoman for Chefs Choice back in the 80s ruining every one of her knifes with their junky contraption they made back then. Over sharpening gone wild.

BlueNote
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by BlueNote » Sun Nov 15, 2015 6:39 pm

Make sure your knife if made with Carbon Steel not Stainless Steel. Stainless steel is soft and will require a lot more sharpening then carbon steel. Carbon steel will rust but the rust can be scrubbed off easily with a little bit of gritty cleaner like comet. Carbon Steel will keep an edge longer and will only require occasional sharpening (recommend a whet stone). However you'll want a sharpening steel to hone the blade back to a nice sharp edge occasionally . A properly maintained chef's knife and a pairing knife are all most people will ever need in the kitchen if they know how to use them skillfully.

Hannibal
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by Hannibal » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:06 pm

I second what Bluenote said. For the most part, steel is only as good at the heat treatment or tempering process. Most inexpensive stainless steel knives are garbage for serious cutting chores.

As a meat eater, I stick with knives that have a scandinavian grind or a high flat grind and are made of actual high carbon steel. It will rust if you leave it in the sink, and it will definitely develop a patina over time. This is not a big deal if you keep the blade dry. Depending on the climate, you might want to oil it every so often, too.

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A scandi grind eliminates the hassle of complicated sharpening processes. Keep it at the angle the knife asks to be at and just slice back and forth on the stone until you can shave hair. It is as user friendly as you can get. A high flat grind isn't far behind, just stay consistent and sharpen at an angle of 15 degrees.

As far as a whetstone, I use a flat diamond hone. It removes some metal, albeit slowly. You can get them off Amazon for about six bucks. An old fashioned whetstone works if you can find one.

If you don't want to do that, use the bottom of a ceramic coffee cup. Your mileage may vary depending on the cup.

As far as effective budget knives are concerned, there are many options that had be had for little. Mora knives are great, Opinel folding knives work well, and Old Hickory makes excellent kitchenware that can be had for under 10 dollars. I use an Opinel folding knife in the kitchen because it doesn't require a sheath and it can be carried. All these options will last a lifetime if you take good care of them.

Knives were my hobby growing up and I spent a long time finding the cheapest and best ones commercially available. Let my loss and indulgent spending be your gain :D

Peanut
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by Peanut » Mon Dec 07, 2015 7:04 pm

Sharpening is different from honing. "Sharpening steels," those stick-like things, actually just straighten the blade. For sharpening you need a whetstone or electric knife sharpener.

disparatum
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by disparatum » Mon Dec 07, 2015 8:57 pm

Everyone will have an opinion. I think there is no definitive solution. If you try to research it too much, you'll go down a rabbit hole never to return. I took a timber framing course once, they used these (http://www.amazon.com/DMT-D6F-Dia-Sharp ... 0001WP1KQ/). They last a long time and it kept the chisels ridiculously sharp, so I just decided to use them too. (I think they had three: medium, fine, extra fine).

I think it is mostly technique though.

George the original one
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by George the original one » Wed Dec 09, 2015 9:46 pm

BlueNote wrote:A properly maintained chef's knife and a pairing knife are all most people will ever need in the kitchen if they know how to use them skillfully.
If you're vegetarian, you skip my suggestion, but I have to add a long fillet knife to that list. Fillet knife is useful for dealing with bulk meats, like large whole fish and pork/beef shoulders/shanks. You can find very decent fillet knives for under $30.

BlueNote
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by BlueNote » Wed Dec 23, 2015 9:18 pm

George the original one wrote:
BlueNote wrote:A properly maintained chef's knife and a pairing knife are all most people will ever need in the kitchen if they know how to use them skillfully.
If you're vegetarian, you skip my suggestion, but I have to add a long fillet knife to that list. Fillet knife is useful for dealing with bulk meats, like large whole fish and pork/beef shoulders/shanks. You can find very decent fillet knives for under $30.

I have thought of getting a fillet or boning knife to round out my collection. I have been using the chefs knife and paring knife for butchering and they seem to do the trick.

Sclass
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by Sclass » Mon Dec 28, 2015 11:31 pm

Got a new Christmas gift for myself. I was having trouble sharpening the serrated edge on my Leatherman Wave Tool. I found the tool on a water cooler of all places. The blades were pretty dull. I was able to sharpen the straight blade easily enough but the serrated was impossible without the correct tools. I splurged and got this Lansky conical diamond file for $7 on ebay. Unfortunately, the diameter is too small for the large serrations by just a hair. I made do with a little English. A sharpie marker on the little crescent cuts helped me keep track of where I was removing material. The diamond works fast so it's good to see where you are grinding. Just color and grind away the color till you see shiny metal. Kind of like poor man's DYKEM.

Image

I've seen some stuff online about people using wire brushes to sharpen serrated knives. I didn't have luck with this. I also saw some videos of people using V type rods but those look like they'll take off the serrations if you draw the knife across the rods allowing the rod to hop in and out of the troughs.

For swiss army knives with straight edges this DMT stone works well. The curved portion of the blade is always a little tricky but I finally got the hang of it. I test by shredding up documents. Not quite razor blade sharp but I'd say about 75% there. If the edge is too fine it rolls over too easily.

I previously thought the red stone was too fine but the diamond cuts really well and leaves a fine edge. With a little practice you can feel when the stone is cutting the blade and when it is not. You don't need too many strokes with a diamond stone. I notice my Victorinox Swiss Army knives require more stroking than a Wenger knife. I'm not sure what I like more. The Wenger is softer but it is easier to touch up on any junk stone. The Victorinox requires a bit more work. The difference is insignificant on a diamond stone. Five strokes intead of three to get it touched up.

Wait, I think Victorinox and Wenger are the same company. I have pre-merger knives.

Image

Fun stuff! It's always nice to have sharp tools.

Forgot to mention. This summer I improvised with 600 wet dry sandpaper and a flat counter top while I was moving. All the stones were packed away and I'd been dulling my pocket knives on various jobs. For a poor mans sharpening stone it is hard to beat a 2" strip of wet dry paper taped to a counter.

Sclass
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couple of new things I found

Post by Sclass » Sun Oct 27, 2019 3:23 pm

I picked up these diamond hones from Harbor Freight for only $6. They're usually $8 but I used this weekend's 30% off five items under $9.99 gimmick coupon. I am pleasantly surprised. They are really good. There is a coarse, medium and fine (blue, yellow and red). I tucked the blue away because it is a little too coarse to sharpen knives. The yellow and red are plenty effective. They cut so well I only need to stroke the knife five times or so per side and it is razor sharp. Little pressure required.

They come mounted on these thin pieces of plastic. Not like my Red DMT to the right. So I hot glued them to blocks of wood. You can really hear them cut. No skating. The red HF is much coarser than the red DMT. But for veggies and meats I don't mind if the edge isn't "polished". A little microserration is a good thing.

Not bad for the price. Great for keeping tools effective for a long time with very little cash outlay. I guess if I were really cheap I could use a river stone from my landscaping or a ceramic cup bottom. But I'm kind of a sucker for hones. These are great low cost tools to keep your cutting instruments effective for a long time.

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Second discovery is using a white plastic eraser to clean the diamond stone. I have this red DMT stone shown above in the old thread and here. It has gotten less and less effective over the years. I actually bought it at a close out for the outlandish price of $15 nearly 30 years ago. It had been used as a demo. At the time it costed about $75 in 1992 dollars. They were kind of a novelty item back then. I never liked the way it cut. It seemed slow and the knife would skate on the top. More and more as it got older.

So while watching YouTube last night about diamond hones, somebody said to use an eraser to rejuvenate them. The surface needs to be cleaned off. Mine was dirty. It had oil, food and gum buildup. I went to work with the eraser and wow! it cuts better than it ever did. Amazing trick. This is a fine stone so it cuts slowly with a polished edge...but it makes the unmistakable sound of cutting and not skating as I stroke the knife over it. I'm storing an eraser in the box from here on.

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These are very cost effective tool saving tools. Check out youtube for sharpening videos if you are intimidated by free hand sharpening. Diamonds rock! An interesting thing is under magnification the 30 yo DMT has little black diamonds on the surface, while the HF tools ones have glistening frosty clear diamonds. :?:

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by 2Birds1Stone » Sun Oct 27, 2019 4:55 pm

I've used one of these for the past 10 years, for everything from my kitchen knives, down to my Becker BK2.

AccuSharp 001C Knife Sharpener AccuSharp https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00004VWKQ/re ... TDbHEN4KBT

Super simple to use, and puts a great edge on any knife I've put through it.

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fiby41
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by fiby41 » Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:20 pm

There's a bicycle which you can ride. When you shift a gear, the sharpening wheel in front of the handles rotate on pedalling. There's a metal sheet on the other side of the sharpening wheel to catch the sparks flying. These men go door to door sharpening knives.

Sclass
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by Sclass » Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:49 pm

Holy Toledo fiby41!

https://youtu.be/xv3cJrvSBhk

mferson
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by mferson » Tue Oct 29, 2019 9:34 pm

I have the Sharpmaker by Spyderco, and it is easy to use.

Campitor
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by Campitor » Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:25 am

I prefer ceramic sharpening stones to get a super sharp edge. I keep the knife sharp by using a honing steel (mine's made of stone) to keep the edge tuned for as long as possible. Sadly the DW doesn't like sharpening and prefers using my knives until they dull then she resorts to the OXO serrated knife I purchased because it made me sad to see her cutting with the dull serrated knives - yes serrated knives dull no matter how fine the teeth. Using a dull serrated knife is like using a dull saw on wood. The bonus with stones is they can be used to sharpen woodworking chisels which is something the sharpening gadgets with the "V" grooves cannot do.

I've also used various grit sandpapers taped to a dead flat ceramic floor tile (bathroom rebuild leftover) but I purchased the stones because they provide more clearance to sharpen knives at the proper angle. And in the long run you'll spend more on the sandpaper method because they obviously wear out faster. Water stones can get expensive, need frequent flattening, and wear out quicker than diamond/ceramic stones. The bonus of water stones is the wearing and water keep the sharpening surface clear of debris that retards sharpening. The ceramic/diamond stones seem to take longer for sharpening but perhaps it may have been a result of the quality of the diamond/ceramic stone.

Once you get a knife sharp enough to cut paper standing on edge, you'll never be satisfied with "good enough" knives. And you can use 1 knife to do just about anything if it has a super sharp edge.

Video for reference: https://youtu.be/7dFFEBnY0Bo

Sclass
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by Sclass » Wed Oct 30, 2019 7:08 am

Reminds me I have these super cheap serrated steak knives that came with a gift box of Omaha steaks fifteen years ago. Unbelievably they are still sharp despite being used as fruit cutters, sandwich cutters, bagel splitters, avocado cutters, melon cutters, deboning knives and box openers. Daily use.

I cannot say they are a super scary sharp instrument but they still cut well without sharpening. Kind of a mystery to me. They have a fine alternating serration that was apparently designed to always have some sharp serrations as the blade wears out. Like grooves that go way up the edge. It’s all in the grind that looks like stripes going up the face of the knife. I should post a photo. It is kind of a miracle the cheapest knives I own are the most often used.

Funny thing is I got a set of Sabatier Lagouile steak knives that have roughly the same edge design and they’ve dulled after a few years of use on holiday roasts. So higher cost didn’t mean better edge design.

I’m not sure how it all works. My guess is that only 50% of the serrations are sharp at any one time. Regardless they still cut well enough (like a saw) that I don’t toss them.

I’ve sharpened up every knife I own with the Harbor Freight diamond stone I show above. My latest thought is it is too aggressive. I’m afraid I won’t have much knife left if I keep this up. It only needs about four strokes and I can see the coarse grind marks on the edge of the blade when I use the red (fine) stone. Like I said, micro serrations cut well but it is not exactly a polished edge. On the plus side it sharpens the blades very quickly.

That is an impressive video. I’m starting to understand why the Japanese word for sharpening is directly translated as polishing. This guy uses multiple stages of grit to get his knife like that. His angle is also extremely aggressive and I bet that knife doesn’t hold that Uber sharp edge terribly long. I guess that is what it takes to get a surgically sharp instrument. Overkill for my needs.

George the original one
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Re: Best method to sharpen a knife?

Post by George the original one » Wed Oct 30, 2019 12:46 pm

How many of you use the ceramic knives? The one or two times I've used one, I was impressed (double impressed if you count the unintentional bloodletting damage I did to myself!).

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