Travel knife sharpening options?

chd

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Joined Nov 30, 2017
This is a knife-related question more than a food/cooking question, so admins please move if this isn't the right topic... but all the equipment topics seemed to be for reviews, so here we are.

Quick summary -- I've been using an Edge Pro Apex for awhile, but I've decided to move away from that and try to really learn to sharpen freehand. I have a set of Chosera stones now, which I'm starting to work with, and we'll see how it goes.

The problem -- when traveling we usually stay at AirBnB places, which often have a kitchen (yay!), but always have awful knives (boo!). Actually, sometimes they have at least a couple of decent knives, but they are invariably in terrible condition, perhaps marginally sharper than a stick (or not).

Rather than try to travel with my own knives, which brings its own complications, I'm looking for a good travel-friendly sharpening solution. I'm not going to pack the Chosera stones; too heavy and bulky. I think next time I might just throw 3 or so of the Edge Pro stones in a bag and try using them freehand if I need to, since they are small and light, but I'm not sure how well that's going to work.

Does anyone have a travel-friendly sharpening solution you really like? Especially if it's friendly to those who like to travel light, but still able to rehabilitate a knife more or less from scratch if necessary?

Thanks!!
 

phatch

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Wet/dry sand paper. Auto parts store will have some. 400 and 1000 grit will do a lot. Some 2000 for finer polish maybe. I use it dry just for less mess and hassle. Or skip that 2k and carry a tube of flitz. Some flitz on cardboard is a good portable finish.

Lay the sand paper on a smooth firm surface. Strop edge trailing or you'll cut through the paper as it gets sharp. Same for the flitz loaded cardboard. The burr and wire edge development is different but not hard to figure out.

You can play convex edge games on soft pine or a FIRM mouse pad. If you pursue this route, drop your angle by half and use light pressure. The conforming action of the substrate changes the actual resulting angle. Too much pressure dulls by wrapping up onto the edge.
 
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Joined Sep 27, 2014
Traveling with your own knives is not complicated at all! Unless you're planning on cooking a 12 courses degustation menu in an airbnb all you probably need is a chef knife, pairing knife and a slicer? Seems to me that traveling with your stones would be more heavy than anything.
 
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Joined Sep 27, 2014
Wet/dry sand paper. Auto parts store will have some. 400 and 1000 grit will do a lot. Some 2000 for finer polish maybe. I use it dry just for less mess and hassle. Or skip that 2k and carry a tube of flitz. Some flitz on cardboard is a good portable finish.

Lay the sand paper on a smooth firm surface. Strop edge trailing or you'll cut through the paper as it gets sharp. Same for the flitz loaded cardboard. The burr and wire edge development is different but not hard to figure out.

You can play convex edge games on soft pine or a FIRM mouse pad. If you pursue this route, drop your angle by half and use light pressure. The conforming action of the substrate changes the actual resulting angle. Too much pressure dulls by wrapping up onto the edge.

I love the creativity of it but can you really make good edges and not damage the knife? I would never try this with my Japanese knives Only wet stones with my babies.
 

chd

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Joined Nov 30, 2017
Traveling with your own knives is not complicated at all! Unless you're planning on cooking a 12 courses degustation menu in an airbnb all you probably need is a chef knife, pairing knife and a slicer? Seems to me that traveling with your stones would be more heavy than anything.

Yeah, maybe I should do that, but I hate checking luggage when I don't have to and an 8" knife in a carry-on is probably not going to fly....
 

chd

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Joined Nov 30, 2017
I love the creativity of it but can you really make good edges and not damage the knife? I would never try this with my Japanese knives Only wet stones with my babies.

Well, it's not my knife... I mean, I respect it in principle anyway, but we're not talking about Masamoto or Shun cutlery here....
 
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Joined Sep 27, 2014
Yeah, maybe I should do that, but I hate checking luggage when I don't have to and an 8" knife in a carry-on is probably not going to fly....

Oh I see! Well then yes it's a problem... Maybe the stones are a better option then.
 
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+1 on the sandpaper approach. Forget the Flitz, though, unless you are slicing sashimi.

There are small sets of Arks available at good prices. One of those and a TSA-compliant vial of mineral oil will work good too. Small stones take more time than bigger stones but this is a Mcguiver situation anyway so a glass of wine and some dull timeshare knives could lead to a relaxing evening. :)
 
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phatch

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I love the creativity of it but can you really make good edges and not damage the knife? I would never try this with my Japanese knives Only wet stones with my babies.

It works fine. Grit is grit to a large degree. And if you have any thing convex it's the only way short of a slack belt.
https://www.knivesshipfree.com/knife-sharpening-videos/ covers the technique. It works fine for regular grinds as well but it's great for on the go. An envelope with a few sheets of sandpaper is all it takes.
 
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One thing that makes the sandpaper technique easier is avoiding bends and kinks in the material. I cut 3-inch strips widthwise from sandpaper sheets and sandwich them between single ply cardboard in an envelope for transport.

But more importantly, I wouldn’t strive for much better than “sharp enough”. Especially in that kind of context I would not be conducting 9-day novenas, invoking sacred words or sacrificing virgins in the quest for the optimal edge. It’s just knife sharpening, after all.
 
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The Edge pro apex is pretty portable, why won't that work just to pack it? It's really light and collapses down into almost nothing.
 

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