testing for sharpness

I watched a show on the tube where they were sharpening knives and then using the fleshy parts of their thumbs and fingers to test for sharpness. My Dad could somehow make anything sharp enough to shave with, and taught me to drag the end of my fingernail lightly along the edge, a slight resistance meaning scary sharp.
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Sounds a bit dangerous if you don't know what you are doing there. I prefer just to try the common method of slicing off strips of paper with the blade.
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wrote:

In which direction? I like to go in the plane of the paper, myself. :)
Mark
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wrote:

I think he meant a crosscut.. I don't think a blade is sharp until it will resaw paper..
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Yeah, it's surprising how many people prefer to slice off strips of their fingers instead.
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On 7 Dec 2004 14:17:38 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I prefer the thumnail test -- YMMV
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I always seem to have patchy arm hair....bad habit I picked up from a knife and sword-making buddy of mine.
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Knifemaker's Mange. Confused the hell out of my acupuncturist. She thought it was an iron deficiency, but I explained that was one mineral I certainly wasn't short of.
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Rather than dragging anything that belongs to you along the blade, turn the blade crosswise to your thumbnail and, with the blade at about a ten degree angle from square to your thumbnail, just drop the blade down onto the nail gently, moving it slightly toward you. If it's truly sharp it will catch on the nail; it it's anything less than sharp it will skid.
Tom Dacon

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That's on the FLAT of the nail, not on the edge, by the way.
Tom Dacon

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to catch the sharper it is.
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On 7 Dec 2004 14:17:38 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

The sharper the steel the more effort it takes to cut meat. this seems weird but you need bigger teeth on the edge to grab meat and such. I had learned this when I got my first handmade Japanese kitchen knife. I sharpened it to 8000 and it was sharp. it fell through a spud but you had to saw meat with it. took it down to 1000 grit and man it cut meat like crazy. running a finger over the edge of a woodworking tool works well. You look for a slippery or oily feeling edge. the sharper it is the oiler it feels. I like this method because you can find any bad spots or missed burr's I have never cut myself doing this. it takes some force to do so. but don't do it on a kitchen knife (G)
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Steve Knight wrote:

I think Leonard Lee explained this phenomenon in his sharpening book, but I can't remember the explanation.
You're absolutely right though. A knife that's sharp enough to shave DNA out of a hair cell won't cut meat worth a damn. Meat knives need some tooth. Tomato knives too.
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because courser teeth have less surface touching so they grab better.
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Asked my barber this same question. He's over 70 and I assumed he would know something about keeping a blade pretty sharp. He showed me by putting the blade at an angle on the top of the thumbnail. Adjusting the angle until it just stopped sliding. Also showed me his arkansas stone, and that when barbers purchased a blade, it came fully sharpeded and that all the barber had to do was use the leather to keep it that way.
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If you're going to cut wood, why not test across the endgrain of a nice pine scrap? Shine = sharp.
Oh yes, cutting resistance is also a good indicator when using this process.

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To test carving tools for sharpness, nothing beats trying them on a piece of wood. Across the grain you can see where more work is needed. The best way to sharpen a knife to cut rope is on concrete. This makes a really terrible edge (for woodworking) but leaves plenty of teeth for severing the rope fibers.

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"Dave W" wrote in message

What!? ... and then have to go through all that sharpening crap all over again?
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(G)
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