Knife Sharpening ... what am I doing wrong

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Joined Jul 9, 2014
Ok guys so basically I have started trying to sharp my own knives.

I currently own a normal victorinox chef knife and a combined sharpening stones. I have barely any knowledge in this field and I consider this an experimental phase before I purchase better knives in the future.

Basically my issue is this, after I sharpen my knife I manage to cut through paper and slice tomatoes very thin but (this may sound disgusting to some) I usually try to shave of some hair of my arm to see if its razor sharp and I never manage, I seen this in some videos on youtube. 

For sharpening what I do is first start on the dark side then finish of on the lighter side, I do around 10min on each side. I have never tried with a different knife but I am assuming that I am doing something wrong.

Any suggestion or pointers?
 
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Joined Apr 25, 2014
If you can cut paper and tomato skin, then you did well.

I sharpen straight razors and they are very very thin and very fragile.  A knife isn't meant for the same tasks.  Don't worry about shaving.

ps I take razors to 10k+ grit before they shave well.  A double sided stone is not fine enough probably.
 
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"Don't worry about shaving."

I'm so glad you said it first; that was my thought but I'm not in the mood for public shaming or humiliation today. Ha ha.
 
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Joined Nov 15, 2012
Firstly understand that you have a Vic.  Without too much effort it can get very sharp, to where it will easily shave [arm] hair, but because the steel is relatively soft and stainless it cannot hold that sharp for long, and actually the first few strikes on the board will wipe it away.

If you just want to impress yourself then, after you have thoroughly deburred (a fairly recent post shows Jon Broida using the best technique I know of) and the knife is sharp as you know sharp, then take a few stropping strokes per side at a time, and very lightly, a dozen or so per side total.  Make your initial edge relatively acute as you will need to raise the spine a bit to be sure your stropping strokes are hitting the edge.

But be warned!  This may give you the urge for a new and considerably more expensive knife.  And possibly the need of bandaides.

Rick
 
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I use an old (about 20 years) 10" vic cimeter once in a while in my kitchen.  I've carried this sword around all over the place and it always comes in handy.  I upkeep the knife the same way as you've described.  It is easy to sharpen on a double sided stone.  I've found that once sharp,  a smooth sharpening rod realigns the blade nicely with about a dozen strokes per side.  In a pinch I can run it along a medium grit diamond sharpening rod, and then back to the smooth rod for a few more strokes.  The knife is actually closer to 30 years old but sat around at my grandfather's house before I began using it (he bought it in Germany in the 80's).  I'm pretty sure that the knives are manufactured the same way as 30 years ago unless recycled steel is in the mix. These knives (I've used a bunch over a couple of decades) are easy to have rebeveled when dull and come back to life afterwards. You want an approximate 20 degree angle when sharpening on the stone with a vic knife.  Go form tip to heel back and forth while alternating sides after about 5 strokes per side.  I feel the blade on my thumb after every dozen strokes to check for the micro bevel. After you feel the toothy micro bevel is about even on both sides, sharpen it only  from tip to heel while alternating sides at each stroke until the blade starts to feel smoother to touch.  Once you feel that the blade bites evenly is when you hone it on the smooth rod.  These blades are easy to get a scalpel edge on.  I hope this helps. 
 
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Joined Jun 3, 2015
Hi Keith, I too own a victorinox and it's as they say very easy to sharpen. I just sharpened mine yesterday and it is very very sharp and the angle I'm using is about 12 degree each side. I sharpen on a 800grit ceramic stone and a fine stone I bought from a Chinese store. My sharpening technique is based on Mino Tsuchida of global knives and I can also say that the edge can last a month or two of heavy use if you're not hitting the cutting board too hard. Watch Mino Tsuchida and try to use his technique, I learned a few sharpening techniques and that is the one I prefer.
 
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Joined Jul 9, 2014
Hey guys, I checked out the videos you told me cysoon, damn that technique looks a bit hard, yes my knife cuts paper and tomatoes very thin with ease, I also asked my friend to get his knife(just like mine) which is brand new and it to cannot shave and it has a factory edge which I assume it should be good.

I will now buy a new stone as I have no idea what grit mine is and will start practicing the Mino technique.

Thanks for the help
 
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Joined Jun 3, 2015
Hey guys, I checked out the videos you told me cysoon, damn that technique looks a bit hard, yes my knife cuts paper and tomatoes very thin with ease, I also asked my friend to get his knife(just like mine) which is brand new and it to cannot shave and it has a factory edge which I assume it should be good.

I will now buy a new stone as I have no idea what grit mine is and will start practicing the Mino technique.

Thanks for the help

I suggest getting some low end knives and practice sharpening on some Chinese sharpening stones before attempting to sharpen your better knives on your better stones. It's actually very easy Keith, steady hands and keeping the right angle is all you need. Oh and make sure you use the whole surface of the stone, the way I do it is I use the middle of the stone for the belly to the heel of the knife and the sides for the top part of the knife
 
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Will do :) I, will see where I can some sharpening stones as they are not common here :) thanks for your help !!!
 
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If it's basically sharp and cuts well but either 1) won't shave hair or 2) will only shave hair on one side of the blade then you almost certainly haven't removed all the burr.  You can do this on the stones but it generally takes more grits and/or more time, you can use felt or the end of a wood block, and often you can deburr on a ceramic hone.  A brass rod works if you're careful.  With felt you just slice through it lightly, same with wood.  On a brass rod you need to use a stropping motion.

It's best to work the burr mostly off on the stones.  As you sharpen some steel will kind of "flow" like frosting while you ice a cake. That peak of steel flowing off is called a burr.  Each time you flip the knife and work the other side the burr gets work hardened and weakens a bit.  Eventually it will peel off (and hopefully you're going light enough at this point not to create a new burr).  You don't want to rip off a big honkin' burr because you'll leave the edge somewhat jagged; it's best to refine the edge and work the burr a bit.
 
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I don't know if anyone said it, but skimming the thread it didn't seem like it, but the first 2 posts mention something similar...


It doesn't matter if you can slice hair, or paper.  A lot of people mention that it isn't a good indicator if you do those things.  It's just something people seem to do in order to test it out, but it seems it can also KILL your edge to cut papper and such, but I don't know much, as I'm a newbie.


The real indication is if you can slice, what you intend to slice, you're golden.  If you cannot slice that tomato, that's your issue, not the arm hair.
 
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Joined Jul 9, 2014
Well, I know but I need a comparison :) its not easy to explain sharp over the internet so I just gave an example ...

Anyway I re sharpened my knife, using the method showed by Mino, I can say it much sharper now, tested it on a piece of paper and able to cut strands easily again I cant shave any hair :p I am saying this as about 4years ago I owned a 30cm Global chef knife and it was amazingly sharp but I never sharpened it so I am wondering if its the blade or my technique ... I know practice makes perfect but I need to make sure my practice is correct and not get into any bad habbits.
 
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Joined Mar 19, 2009
You better get a very good Japanese waterstone. Its difficult to sharpen any knife with a mediocre stone.

Besides a good stone will last you for years and is a good and necessary investment.
 
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Joined Apr 25, 2014
So you go buy expensive fine stones, polish up your victorinox's edge and maybe it now shaves hair.  Maybe you cut yourself or get razor burn, poetic justice for doing dumb stuff IMO.  Does that make it a better chef's knife? Cut food better? Does it last longer between sharpening? The polish won't hold on that steel, and the geometry hasn't changed.

Never tried shaving with a kitchen knife, and I never will
 
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I never told you to shave your hand, like I said I need an example and I have seen this done before I did not ask if its safe or not.
 
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Joined Apr 25, 2014
Flatten with something you know is flat.  Diamond plate is a metal plate coated wtih diamonds.  They come in a few different price ranges.

I use the one from japanese knife imports and it works fine.

If you flatten with something not necessarily flat, then the surfaces will at some point align to each other, but may or may not be flat.

If your stone has low spots, you'll get a convex bevel, which is not the worst, but maybe unintended depending on what you're doing.
 

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