12 replies [Last post]
groovy mike's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Joined: 03/19/2009
Posts: 2502
Any knife sharpener advice?

I have whet stones and oil stones and a couple cheap commercial knife sharpeners.  None of them really deliver the razor's edge I would like to get to.  Do you prefer oil stones, water on teh sones, or some dry method of sharpening best?

Critter's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4018
I was taught how to sharpen a

I was taught how to sharpen a knife more than 50 years ago and have found out that once you know how to do it then it really doesn't matter what type of stone that you use.  I started out on a wet stone and then went to the oiled stones and have always been able to get a keen edge on any of them.  The key is in the angle that you hold the knife at and the big problem is that most knife manufactures recommend a different angle for their knife that the others say don't work.  Perhaps that is why all my knifes have the same angle on them and that is the one that I hone into them. 

One other thing is that I have had good luck with a ceramic crock sticks that stick into a holder and then you run the knife over them.  They do seam to put a finer edge onto the knife but that edge seams to disappear fairly quickly when you start to use them.  The problem with them is that you need to have the edge already there for them to do any good.   

WesternHunter's picture
Offline
Joined: 05/05/2006
Posts: 2368
I agree

Critter pretty much has the same opinion as me.  Knives and knife sharpening were an intense hobby of mine from about age 10 until about 10th grade or so.  As a result I acquired some pretty good skills in sharpening, as well as ruining many a knife in the process.  I still have a fondness for knives and sharpening, but have done it so often that it simply has run it's course with me and I now do it because it needs to be done or used, not really because I overly enthused about it.  It still is an interest of mine though.

Angle is critical - more sepcifically a constant and consistent angle.  The steepness or shallowness of that bevel is going to be determined by two main things: a) thickness of the blade. b) the task the edge will be suited for to cut. 

I've used them all - common hardware store grade bench stones, high quality Arkansas stones,  Japanes water stones, ceramic rods, diamond hones, butchers steels, meat-packets steels, bench grinders, various files, leather strops, etc etc...

For knives I settled on and now prefere a course/fine bench stone at least 8"x3" and either a fine ceramic rod or smooth steel rod.  The bench stone can be of any abrasive as long as it's quality and even in shape - a common man-made stone, Arkansas stones, diamond hones, whatever is available.

On a bevel that's already established and has a keen edge but is dulling I simply touch it up with a ceramic rod or butchers steel.  This can be done several times before you even need to touch it to a stone.  When the time comes that the butchers steel or rods are no longer producing satisfactory results it's time to re-establish the edge/bevel.  Most times on well maintained knives the fine side of a stone is sufficient to do this.  Finish it by swiping the edge on a smooth meat packers-steel or ceramic rod to polish or burnish the edge microscopically.  You can also finish the edge by stropping the edge on course denim or canvas stretched over a smooth even 2x4. 

 

groovy mike's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Joined: 03/19/2009
Posts: 2502
Thanks guys

Thanks for the knife sharpening advice guys. It sounds to me like you agree with what I was afraid of. There is no magic pill. It just takes time and effort to do it right and nothing will serve but practice and lots of it.

WesternHunter's picture
Offline
Joined: 05/05/2006
Posts: 2368
that's really it

Practice practice practice......that really is the key.  There are lots of items on the market like blade guides and electric sharpeners and such.  But I'm too insecure to want to rely on technology to do things that I can do with my own knowledge and skills.  When it comes to stuff like sharpening and working with your hands I find that no amount of technology can take the place of muscle memory and developed skills, especially when you're in the middle of nowhere while fielddressing a bull elk miles from civilization.  I went through I don't know how many cheap dime store knives practicing this stuff when I was a kid.  I guess I mis-spent my youth. :D    I'm sure as an adult it wouldn't take you long to get the hang of it.  My philosophy has always been that knife and axe sharpening is a skill every outdoorsman/sportsman should aqcuire, yet to my amazement few ever do.  One reason I like carrying a razor sharp sportsmans hatchet in my pack when hunting or camping is so that I can use it for the heavy duty cutting tasks and save my knives for the more intricate and precise stuff.

Critter's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4018
Yep you have to waist a

Yep you have to waist a couple of knifes to really learn how to sharpen them.  I started on on that my dad gave me back when I was around 7 or so.  I packed that knife until I lost it somewhere along the way.  I couldn't tell you how many fish that knife went through since I was too young to hunt.  That and letting teachers borrow it while I was in school.  My how times have changed, now you would be kicked out of school for having a knife with you. 

I got one of these knifes for X-Mas and plan on trying it out in Arizona this coming spring.  Right now the blades are sharp enough to shave with and it came with 12 extra ones. 

http://www.havalon.com/

WesternHunter's picture
Offline
Joined: 05/05/2006
Posts: 2368
times

Critter wrote:

 I couldn't tell you how many fish that knife went through since I was too young to hunt.  That and letting teachers borrow it while I was in school.  My how times have changed, now you would be kicked out of school for having a knife with you. 

My dad can tell you some stories about that. He told me about these boots he had as a kid.  He was a small boy in the early to mid 1930's, he said a lot of boy his age had these ankle boots their parents would order through the Montgomery Wards cataloge.  The boots had a knife pouch sewn on the outside ankle area and they came with a small folding knife in that ankle sheath.  They all wore these boots to elementary school and nobody batted an eye over it.  My dad's old enough to have been my grandfather.  When I was a boy of 10 years old he bought me my first pocket knife.  He got a lot of criticism for that.  His only response to defend it was - every boy had a pocket knife when I was growning up, nobody ever got hurt!!! 

You see, a lot of his generation was one that grew up chopping firewood, building fences, working combines and other farm equipment, sawing lumber, etc.  They were smart enough to know that a knife blade needs to be handled with care, they didn't need warning lables on everything warning them that the object can be dangerous if mishandled.  What's wrong with people today that we need warning lables on everything from light bulbs to saw blades????  You sure are right, times have changed.

groovy mike's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Joined: 03/19/2009
Posts: 2502
yes indeed

yes indeed!

Tndeerhunter's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Tennessee
Joined: 04/13/2009
Posts: 1110
sharpening

I have settled on a similar method as Westernhunter, using a rod as my chosen method. I have a smooth steel rod which I've owned and used for many years that mysteriously disappeared after a hunt a while ago. I finally found it still packed away and was for sure glad I had because the oil stone I was using was working, but not nearly as well for me.

Best knife I ever had was a fairly inexpensive 4" Gerber folder that took a very good edge with that steel rod. It would last for two or three field dressing chores easily and then re-sharpen pretty quickly. It was stolen out of my checked bag when returning from a hunt. I now lock my knives in my gun case whenever I travel on a hunt; lesson learned! Yes

jaybe's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: S.E. Michigan
Joined: 10/19/2010
Posts: 817
Stones

I use a stone that has two sides, coarse and fine.

Oil is the preferred lube, but water will work in a pinch.

I never have good luck with the ceramic rods - same as was stated, the edge doesn't seem to stay.

But I have a friend who swears by them and he cleans and butchers all of his deer - several every year.

 

Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: NE NV
Joined: 03/18/2010
Posts: 383
After more years than I care

After more years than I care to admit I've been learning how to properly sharpen blades with stones & oil.  It's a challenge, just about a lost art & I totally respect those that can consistently do it right.  For me, one day I'll be right on & the next time I'll turn on a half dull blade into a can't cut butter chunk of steel.  So far the only tool that seems to work every time is the Lansky sharpening system.  Guides that grip the blade guarantee blade angle & different stones from very course to very fine get the edge hair popping sharp.  I'll admit it's kind of cheating but they do work. 

Related Forum Threads You Might Like

ThreadThread StarterRepliesLast Updated
Best knife & sharpener?blackbear407/28/2007 18:26 pm
Knife SharpenerWishIWasHunting306/07/2012 21:45 pm
This knife is suitable for fishing?babyblack401/21/2011 08:54 am
Getting A Tactical Knifesmithmr1811/23/2010 15:09 pm
Correct Way to Sharpen a KnifeIllinois_Dave911/22/2011 19:10 pm