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Location: Montana
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Knife sharpening articles

I dunno if anyone is interested or why i hadnt asked before, but since there is so many knife nuts around here I thought Id share some of the articles I have written on knife related topics for various media and groups, sharpening and such. They are in my Links page on my website. http://www.highcountryknives.com Enjoy and let me know if they are of interest or helped in anyway.

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Knife sharpening articles

I only saw two articles, none on how you sharpen. I would be intrestede in reading that. I've only owned one custom knife, a Track. It was made by a guy named don Phifer, partner was ray schmidt. They sold out many years ago to smith & Wessom.

They recommended using 400 grit wet and dry paper and a leather strop to sharpen and the flat ground everything. I had their sharpering tool but haven't seen it in years. It seem's to me they said what I needed toi do was polish the edge and keep teeth straight with the leather. Also, although the knife took a very sharp edge, it never felt all that sharp. I'm trying to remember and I seem to recall they cut a 4" hemp rope 65 times without resharping.

Another thing they told me was not to cut into a stone to sharpen an edge as it's easier to maintain the proper edge angle and flatness by dragging thr edge. The feather that gets gragged to the edge get's cleaned with the leather. Always seemed to work very well.

Coment's?

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Knife sharpening articles

Well both of those articles are actually a lead up to sharpening, wich is nothing more then polishing. anyone can polish. the more important things about sharpening are in the first 2 articles. So rather then focusing on actual sharpening i focus on what goes on and why which most eople dont know. How you describe your technique is simulair to mine altho i go up in grit much more as well as use several different kinds of leather and polishing compounds depending on the type if knife and its intended use, i.e. a competition cutter verses a hunter.
Proper stroping on a backed board takes the wire edge off and then polished said secondary edge. SO yes both those articles ARE how to sharpen, the why of it.

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Knife sharpening articles

Romey,

I'm suprized that we haven't seen more people in in this. Knife sharping is a talent that relatively few have down. I wonder how many know how much more trouble and more dangerious it is to use a dull or poorly sharpened knife?

I really appreciate your effort, good articles! Thumbs up

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Knife sharpening articles

Thanks for the articles also. When it comes to keeping a good edge I get so frustrated at times. And I agree, nothing more dangerous that attempting to use a dull knife, that extra pressure required ends up someplace.

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Knife sharpening articles
Don Fischer wrote:
Romey,

I'm suprized that we haven't seen more people in in this. Knife sharping is a talent that relatively few have down. I wonder how many know how much more trouble and more dangerious it is to use a dull or poorly sharpened knife?

I really appreciate your effort, good articles! Thumbs up

I am glad you all enjoyed it and appreciate your comments. I have run into several things about people and there knives. One Id say only 30% really know how a knife should cut and less know how to get it there one of these reasons is simply this, the way factory knife are made. The style of edge angle and heat-treat or lack there of. Factory companies started making the edge at thicker angle to make up for their lack of proper heattreat.
Another thing I see VERY often is "This is my granddads knife; he would hone it for hours as do I and look how sharp it is! (Shaving their hair on arm) There isn’t any secondary angle left on said knife because its been stoned so much. Yes its hair cutting sharp and if one uses arm hair as a indication of sharpness ,in essence what one has done is regrind a knife to do what? Shave arm hair.
But when butchering time comes around a whole table of knives come out from same person because that and others sharpened like it can’t hold an edge for long against hide ,tendon and bone.
Shaving hair is a by product of a sharp knife, not an indication. To prove this at cutting contests I have taken completely soft MILD steel bar, filed an edge with a file, no honing ECT. Shaved my arm hair then wacked a 2x4 and showed a completely rolled over edge. This was a demo to other knife makers who some hadn’t a clue.
I guess my point is if a person hasn’t had or seen a GOOD knife and I don’t mean just a “sharp” knife how is one to know? Most don’t and you’ll go through a hundred factory knives to find one good knife something most people don’t can’t or won’t do. Most people will defend ,right ,wrong or otherwise a product they have put their hard earned money into even if it’s not worth the drive to buy it. You really see this in the “tactical” knife circles, which is a whole another laughable subject.

Great west , You said it.
Wasting time taking all day to cut something when a knife is dull doesn’t really hurt anything but what happens during that time can.
Years ago when I was doing an internship for school I had to work in a big packing house. I worked in the boning room. I made the same cuts day after day removing the same 2 bones out of a Butt of beef, made 3 cuts on the side and trimmed over an inch of fat off the back, turning it into a roast. All three things are very very hard on an edge.
One day I was making a cut, a pulling motion (pulling to me) knives were getting dull ,(we were cutting semi frozen beef) line running to fast to slick the edges up and I pulled hard on a cut, stabbed myself square in the heart, and hard!
Luckily I had on a steel protective shirt that stopped the blade but I can guarantee you when it happened, I almost had a massive bowel movement till I realized that vest saved me.

Another time, same thing happened, I did end up stabbing my arm, tip went under the arm guard, not enough to require a doctor but the cattle blood mixed with mine in my veins, ached so bad I thought my arm was cut off and did for days.
By the way both time those knives where sharp enough to shave hair. Both sharpened by the "exspert" knife sharpener they had working full time.
Better quality knives, PROPER sharpening skills and more responsibility on my part as a user would have prevented both accidents. I still to this day can remeber looking down at the knife in my frock wondering why it didnt hurt more that i had stabed my own heart ( before i realized i hadnt)
Id like to keep this thread going and hear your pros and cons , goods and bads of knife uses and sharpening.

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Knife sharpening articles

This would be a good thred to keep going. I see two distinct different uses with knives. Some designs are best as slicing blades and some as splitting blades. I think that the thinner slicing blade is a good butchering blade but for a general hunting blade what is needed is a stiffer, thicker, splitting blade. Not the overly heavy bowie type tho. I can find no purpose for them. You could chop up camp wood but an ax would work better.

Seem's to me that the slicing blade should be a much longer blade also and relatively thinner back. But enough back and a flat grind to stay ridgid and not flex while slicing. No need for a lot of tip control there but a thin flexably knife doesn't make good straight cut's. But the splitting type should be shorter for better tip control. I think everyone has noticed how short caping knives are, tip control, right? They all seem to be drop point too, more tip control?

I also see a lot of knives that are hollow ground. Other than as sales appeal, why? Each knife I've seen like that had a fairly weak blade and some I've seen have snapped in two pices. Other's end up with nic's in the edge, probally from being to thin. I'm guessing from lack of strength in the blade. How did they ever get so popular? I also see a lot of custom knives with blades that seem not only useless to me but with the upsweep in the tip, gotta be hard to sharpen. I'm guessing that these are made for people that collect knives, not use them?

Now how many miss-conception's do I have here?

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Knife sharpening articles

Seems to me like you have a good handle on the conceptions and I can tell you read the articles backwards and forwards. When writing the articles for a large leather working assoc i decided it would be of more use to show WHY i sharpen a blade the way i do then how. I can see from your comments what i wanted to do was a success. Im a big beleiver in letting people think on thier own then giving a recipe to be followed.

Your correct that some are suited for a purpose some not. By studying angle and using A LOT of knives I tend to stick to a 19 degree secondary edge, its thin enough to get scary sharp yet has enough “meat” behind the edge to help hold it up. Compare that to a factory 22 to 25 degree angle and you see the issues they have.

And another thing I completely agree with is if you need a axe, carry a axe, of course there are those times in emergency situations but that’s where planning comes in. When I plan a hunt that Im guiding I try to think of everything I could possibly need to bring and bring it, period.

As for blade length, well that sort of is up to the person and what someone is used to. I have found a smaller drop point to be what I like for most jobs including field dressing but when Im skinning I like something a bit longer and possibly thinner to make use of the tip and maybe SOME flex. But that’s all preference not hard science. Before I designed and made a capper just for capping i used a exacto knife. Was at the time for years best thing i used.

As for the hollow ground blades, well you said exactly WHY a hollow ground isn’t a hard user. No amount of the exotic steel or heat treat can change the fact they just don’t have the beef to maintain its edge. And why did they get popular, 2 reasons one is and the main reason I feel is that they make very nice grind lines that make a blade really look cool. Its why A LOT of Bucks have them a very nice deep sort of 3-d Effect and most factory knives followed from there and you also hit it on the head about the weakness of them, not to pick on Buck or Buck users but since I was young I have had various Buck knives and have broken the tips at the exact same spot.on every one of them. I know the person who does their heattreat and he is very knowledgeable yet heat treat alone especially the kind that has to be done for speed and quantity cant make up for bad design. So help counteract this problem they Buck have made the edge incredibly hard. Anyone ever tried sharpening a Buck knows what I mean. Hard can equal brittle very easily.

As for Custom makers making upswept or poorly designed blades well ill say this, I know a HUGE amount of custom knifmakers from beginners to guys whose work gets into the thousands. MANY MANY makers aren’t hunters, rarely or not at all used a knife outside the kitchen. It’s a very common thing. Something i was shocked at and still am.Many more don’t go into the depth of research and especially testing that I do. Some do and I respect those people as they have tought me more then I probably can remember. Youd be amazed how many times I have heard a knifemaker knowingly make a poor blade for instance a mediocre heattreat and then later see the same blade fitted up and sold. Something that greatly pisses me off from a user aspect and as another custom maker. Some I personally know make a inferiour knife to mine and charge the same amount as I charge. Most customers don’t know better till compared side by side but although that kinda bothers me, I wouldn’t put my name on a product KNOWING it can and should be better but that’s just me. As for design there are some things like as you say a upswept blade for instance I simply wont make a gut hooked blade ect ect Not because I cant, but because I shouldn’t ,do to knowing what works and what don’t.

That “Bowie” upsweep isn’t even a real bowie blade, I think westerns from the 40`s and 50`s sorta made that popular and before long public knowledge of a bowie was a large upswept blade. When researched one would find most “bowies” of the period 1840 to 1860`s were a straight clip point, possibly a false edge depending if they were the english bowies from Sheffield or the famous California bowies. Heck although noone knows what the very first Bowie for Jim Bowie looked like we do know what his brothers knife looks like, same maker (James Black)made for him a month later. Look at the High Plains hunter on my sight, thats more likely to be as close to a original "Bowie" style as one can get minus ofcouse the size. Yet everyone that holds it as went on and on about how well balanced and how you can tell what its job is for. Basically if you cant tell what a blade is designed for , it prolly dont have one.

tim
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Knife sharpening articles

When i was in college, i had all kinds of time to sharpen knives, etc. now it seems like it is way cheaper and easier, just to take the knive's to someone and have them do it. yes i can still sharpen knives and i do on occasion. but for the couple of bucks i will have the pro's do it.

tim

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Knife sharpening articles

I understand time constraints but with a good knife you should only have to strop it a few times a year to keep a keen edge. On a side note Ill tell everyone about a "professional” knife sharpener experience I had a few years ago.

A few years after I started making custom knives, when I was really into research and experimenting to gain a higher performance blade. I met a guy who sharpened knives, saws ECT for a living through the Blacksmith I was apprenticing under. He had been telling me I should try and see how good this guy could sharpen a blade as my instructor being old school had him sharpen some saw blades and they were freshened up pretty good. Well at the time I had just finished a blade for testing heat treat, it was and is still to this date the sharpest keenest edge I have seen on any knife and not be hollow ground. It was a flat ground blade with no secondary edge which is called zero ground. You can simply slap the middle of a piece of paper and it will make a slit in the paper or another example is you can push a arm hair over with the edge and it will cut it in half without pressing against the skin.
At any rate we happened to be at this fellows shop one day and he was showing me around his shop, he had some nice equipment for most part, surface grinder, small belt grinder and saw sharpeners , he keeps insisting he should sharpen my knives for me and wants to show me "how its done". I for sure wasn’t going to hand him a blade I had 30 hours into so handed him my clip knife in my pocket which did need sharpened as I use it from everything to cutting baling twine to wire with.
He takes it over to a small belt grinder that runs at a incredibly high RPM and proceeds to take to "sharpening" He leans into it rather then using a light touch and I think its odd that he has no bucket of water around to cool the blade as he goes, I watch my blade start to turn the colors I knew was going to happen, he completely takes the secondary edge off and then goes to a buffer wheel ( I have used a buffer to sharpen with before so I wasn’t surprised about this, though was still in shock at what he had done at the grinder) and Let me tell you , the very first thing I learned from a master blade smith was " This buffer is the most dangerous tool in a knife shop" I watched with my friend and Blacksmith teacher as we both stood in amazement at the mangle of my knife as he touches it to the buffer, which catches and slings, WHACK and sticks into his cement floor point first a inch from his toes, Lucky for my blade one of the tests of proper heat-treat on my blades is dropping it point first from above my shoulders onto concrete, and break or deflection of edge and I scrap that blade.. At which point he picks back up without a word (apparently this is the norm in his shop) and moves onto the next grit of buffing compound , then hands it back to me with a large happy impressed smile waiting for me to be wowed.
What I had was the completely ruined knife that had most people who weren’t a knifemaker would not have been able to fix. The edge glinted light like a steel 2x4, perfect indication of a now COMPLETELY rolled edge. As we leave my friend, now out of ear shot of the sharpening man says “Ill pay for that knife bud" which I says no I THINK I can re heat treat it and regrind it.
What did I learn from this? Same reason I Saddle my own broncs and kill my own snakes
If my life or income may depend on it, Ill do it myself. Just some food for thought on outsourcing.

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Knife sharpening articles

I think there's an important lesson there. There are guy's that have all the tools to sharpen knives and there are guy's that sharpen knives. The two to often get confused. The pro is the guy that charges for it. Some pro's are very good, some just have all the tools and none of the skills.

Many years ago I found out how to make one of those 2x4 edges. As I recall, no amount of extra sharpening get's rid of it. You just keep rolling it over to the other side. I've never done it but my guess would be that to fix it you'd first have to re-heat treat the blade as the edge appears to be not much more than tin! No, maybe tin is harder! Big smile

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