Freehand is fine if all you want to do is slice tomatoes. A rough edge
with a fairly blunt angle (30 degrees per side or 60 degrees) would
work. For some uses, a fine edge with a more acute angle, perhaps 15
degrees per side, works much better.
That takes a lot more strokes than 30 degrees per side. A single stroke
that's a couple of degrees too steep can ruin it. A good edge at the
curve and the tip can be important, and in my experience it's hard to
keep the angle right freehand.
J Burns wrote, on Sat, 19 Jul 2014 10:02:58 -0400:
Funny you mention that, as I had started to resort to running water.
I put the stone on a cloth at the top separator of the kitchen sink
and ran the water on top as I slide the knife across.
Unfortunately, the stone wobbled as the sink separator was about the
same size as the stone, so I abandoned the running water idea, but,
as you have, I've also given up on the messy oil.
I'm not sure what sodium bicarbonate is supposed to do though.
Why not just use water?
Does the CO2 bubbling lift up the particles out of the stone's recesses?
I don't know an explanation. I read about a couple of professional
sharpeners who found that oil stones work dry. Mine wouldn't - maybe
because they were full of oil.
A pair of rubber gloves and baking soda make it easy to remove soap scum
in the shower. Maybe that's why I tried it on oil stones.
J Burns wrote, on Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:44:29 -0400:
OK. Baking soda just makes carbon dioxide bubbles in
water, so, I think the millions of tiny bubbles might
simply agitate the metal shavings out of the recesses
of the stones.
Otherwise, I don't see what it would accomplish in
addition to plain water.
Baking soda bubbles in acid, but I don't see any bubbling on a stone.
Now I remember how I started using it. A pair of fine alumina ceramic
rods, set in a wooden base like rabbit ears, makes a nice kitchen
sharpener; you need only keep the blade in a vertical plane.
A black streak will appear on the rod. It's metal scraped from the
blade. That will clog the rod, so you rotate the rod slightly for a
fresh surface. When there were no fresh surfaces, I'd scrub the rod
with scouring powder.
Then I discovered that baking soda did the job easier. I don't know
why. Later I got the idea of using it on an oil stone. I understand
oil floats particles so they don't clog the stone. A watery "gravy,"
made by sprinkling a little soda onto a wet stone seems to do the same
thing. I can feel the improvement.
I'll have to try the soda. I mostly use three knifes. A Magna Wonder Knife,
a small cheap knife, and a small steak Gunsu, in the kitchen. Most of the
other stash is junk, except for a really thin high carbon steel knife of my
grandparents. That's so easy to sharpen on the rods. The rods work well on
the serrated Magna.
Online, I see that the Japanese system is to soak water stones in water
and baking soda before use. I see it's an old trick of Army cooks to
boil a clogged sharpening stone in water with baking soda.
I was able to get my Cub Scout knife sharp enough to hurt myself, but
most of my injuries were blisters from whittling.
At 11, I bought a leather-handled Schrade, similar to a K-bar, with a
sheath, for $1.57 new. I sharpened it with a device that looked like a
big, wide yo-yo: a 2" round stone with a 3" wheel on either side.
At 15, I woke up on an overnight hike, and everything was fog. Not even
paper would burn, and birch bark wouldn't get wet kindling going. We
had nothing to eat raw. With that cheap knife, I whittled through the
wet wood on a pine log and made such a big pile of dry shavings that I
could get wet wood to burn. We gorged on oatmeal.
At 25 I bought a Case Sodbuster Jr. Everyone but me admired it. It
wouldn't take a sharp edge, and the blade didn't lock for safety.
At 28, I bought a folding Gerber that weighed about 9 ounces. It was
very sturdy. After I put a very sharp edge on it, I couldn't think of a
use. One evening, I came in from the field and heard there would be an
inspection in the morning. I was a mess and the barber shop was closed.
I used that knife to cut my hair and dry shave my neck, and I passed.
Later, I used it for butchering.
A sharp knife that will keep its edge helps in butchering. Even the
best blade will get gummed up and need washing, and it's dangerous to
make a lot of cuts with a long, sharp blade while laboring on a carcass.
I found a $10 knife that works better. It looks like brass knuckles
with a sort of curved box-cutter blade. Because the blade is short,
it's safer. Because the tip is close to the hand, it's easy to control.
There's also a slitting blade, like the protected blade of a letter
opener. It's a breeze!
At 38, I bought a Gerber pocket knife with an orange handle of miracle
nonslip plastic. It was also noncleanable plastic. What good is an
orange handle after it turns black? So I bought a couple of $3 pocket
knifes, one yellow and the other orange. The bolsters aren't as strong,
but the handles stayed bright. The steel takes and holds a slightly
sharper edge than the Gerber. (Steel is a relatively cheap part of
knife manufacture, so cheap knives can have good steel.)
So many seemingly harmless uses will dull a "razor" edge that now I use
EMT shears when possible, such as opening shipping cartons.
At 44, I spent $50 (sale price) for a Chicago Cutlery chef's knife. It
took such a sharp edge that I made a scabbard on the underside of a
shelf, to protect my fingers as well as the edge. Using it is a treat,
but it stays there most of the time because the cheap Sears knife my
grandparents owned is usually more practical. It will take a fairly
impressive edge but won't keep it. I cut only on a board, but dings
soon appear. I've never figured it out. I've never bitten down on
metal or seen a glint in my food, and they're easy to remove by
sharpening. I don't bother to sharpen it until I have trouble with
things like tomatoes.
There's an expensive-looking fileting knife in a spring-loaded scabbard
with a built-in sharpener. The steel won't hold an edge, and passing it
a dozen times through the sharpener makes no difference. I don't often
need that knife, and sharpening it with a clamp and stone is quick.
I use a swivel peeler a lot. It helps to sharpen it with a fingernail
board from the top and a ceramic rod to clean up the burr on the bottom.
It peels easily, but I have to avoid my fingers!
My paring knifes usually serve well if a little dull. Sharpening
doesn't take long.
On Sat, 19 Jul 2014 05:27:36 +0000 (UTC), "Danny D."
Best thing I have found is the small ceramic sharpeners. I have one
that's similar to this (mine has longer ceramic elements)
I also use mine on serrated knives and it works fine to sharpen them
too despite what some people claim.
That's how I got started with ceramics. It was hard to keep the little
rods from getting dull by accumulating metal. So I switched to the kind
with 8" rods stuck in a board.
I see Lansky now sells kits with a board, a pair of 5" medium rods, and
a pair of 5" fine rods, and holes for a 25 degree or a 20 degree edge.
I think the old kits were set for 40 degrees. If I wanted a more acute
edge, I'd put the blade in a clamp to guide a rod. (For some knives and
some uses, 40 degrees is more practical than 20.)
I should receive my Accusharp 001 sharpener tomorrow.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
Gotta ancient Buck 110 folding hunter I'm dying to try it on. I
woulda never given this sharpener a 2nd glance, until I saw EriK
Salitan (Life Below Zero) sharpening his skinning knife with an
Accusharp. Skinning knives gotta be sharp. Plus, it gets rave
reviews all around the web. We'll see. I'll reply tomorrow. ;)
Got it. Used it. Favorably impressed.
Original Buck blade steel is no easy chore to sharpen. This sharpener
did it with ease. You can feel --and see-- the results of the metal
removed from knife blade. After NOT sharpening this knife for
decades, it was down to letter opener duty. With jes a few passes
with the Accusharp, it's now sharper than it was. Is it "scary
sharp"? No. But, it is "cut tomatoes" sharp, something this knife
has not been in years. I recall pooh-poohing a food prep cook for
using a similar Henkels or Wustof carbide sharpener in a restaurant
kitchen. Silly me. They really work.
Based on price, convenience, and efficacy, I'd recommend this
sharpener to anyone looking for a cheap, easy to use, practical knife
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