- Using a black “Sharpie” marker, draw a band of color along the very edge of the blade about an 1/8th” wide. Then when you run the blade over your stone you can see if you are taking material from the true edge or whether you are too far up on the shoulder/body of the knife. You want to be working the micro-bevel, not further back.
- [This also works if you want to remove material from behind the micro-bevel when re-edging a blade… just make the Sharpie band wider, and attempt to leave the color on the edge itself]
- You do not have to use much pressure. A little is better than a lot. Let the stone do the cutting and removal.
- Use some oil to help float the blade on the stone, and keep cleaning the surface of your stone or hone as you work. the minute steel particles that are being stripped off the blade will clog the pores/grit of your stone. Eventually, you are just working on the build-up without any cutting action from the now buried stone surface. I use a drop of WD-40 wiped off with a paper towel. It will lift the debris right up and off… re-oil the surface and continue. [Diamond hone “stones” usually recommend water for lubrication, but the WD-40 trick works for cleaning]
- Oh, yeah… that business about shaving hair off your forearm to “test” sharpness…? Don’t. You just end up looking patchy, and might cut yourself. Instead, just touch the blade edge to your thumbnail at the angle you would cut a steak. If it catches, you are getting sharp… if it slips, keep working.
- Get a cheap magnifying glass or loop. Looking at the edge close-up is a full education as to what you are accomplishing and what you still need to do. [Plus a magnifying glass is still just as cool as when you used one as a kid… take it camping, it’s worth the weight for the fun.]
- The consensus jury is way, way out on the issue of whether it is better to sharpen into the edge or away from the edge. Whatever you like. My personal take is that it is easier to accidentally steepen the angle and shove the blade into the stone, dulling it, if you are working into the stone. I move the blade back from its edge. I think this also allows the burr to pull away from the edge instead of being forced back under or up.*
- Likewise there is no real consensus on whether you should work toward yourself or away on the stone surface, regardless of how you draw the knife across it.
- Pressure, direction, angle, orientation… Find which works best for your own comfort. Your results, and the speed with which you achieve them will tell you what is right for you.
- Also, remember that you can over-sharpen a blade. Going ultra-sharp on a chore knife just means it will dull faster because the edge is “too” delicate. If your knife performs the chore as needed, it is sharp enough.
- Finally… an oldie-but-goodie. You can get a quick-fix sharpening done by using the rough, unglazed ring on the bottom of your favorite ceramic coffee mug.
My last suggestion is to find some old knives , and try out your sharpening licks on them. You might be really pleased to discover that you have rescued what would otherwise be a POS, and, at the very least, you won’t be wrecking a good knife on your learning curve. [Check out a Goodwill… old carbon steel kitchen knives show up in the bins there all the time. Give ’em a couple of surface licks with some steel-wool before you hit up working on the edges]
*with the new Lansky System I am using the only real way to use it is gliding the stones into the blade, up and across… exactly opposite to what I ordinarily do, but the results speak for themselves.