Some Bushcraft/ Camping Infographics

….Click the Graphic for Link….

Lots of nice stuff to check out if you are “up to snuff” on your skills and knowledge

[and… also some crazy weird Apocalypso and other “off-topic, too] 

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Sharpening Tips and Tricks from Moosenut Falls

  • 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.

Knife Sharpening~ Tips/ Techniques/ Tutorials Links

Note that some of these sites want to sell you stuff, but the info is good. These are not any kind of endorsements, just a collection of facts….

In no particular order:

Knife Sharpening: A Quik Faq

There are some basic facts that you should know about sharpening [if you already don’t].

  1. All “sharpening” involves the removal of at least some material from the blade edge
  2. It is only the exact edge of the blade that does any cutting~ the rest is merely separating material
  3. Getting the finest edge is about minimizing the friction at the cutting edge~ the smoother the edge, the finer the cutting action
  4. The angle of the edge bevel effects the type of cutting action~ slicing/chopping/cutting/shaving/paring

[1] When we sharpen a blade we work from crude removal to polishing in steps. How many steps you use, and how far into finishing/polishing you go is up to you. Sharpening to a decent cutting edge can end at any point you want and are satisfied with. With files and the coarsest of stones you can actually reshape the entire profile of a blade, change the edge angle to change the utility of the knife, or restore the edge angle on a blunted blade. These all involve serious removal of material, and are futile with higher grit stones… it will just take so long you will lose heart.

Working up to a good cutting edge is done by changing to increasingly higher grits of abrasives that remove less and less material at each level. This is commonly done with a series of graded stones or diamond hones, and finishes with stropping on leather with very high grit [1000-3000+] polishing compounds that leave the edge with a nearly frictionless, mirror-like finish.

[2] The point of separation or cut on a blade is on what is referred to as the “micro-bevel”. This is the real edge. The area behind this is really just forcing the cut material apart. However, both of these surfaces effect the cutting action. If the main bevel is still rough, the blade will have higher friction pulling through the cut. It will feel less efficient, and your results will be cruder. [Most knives are finished with two bevels… one that provides the transition from body to edge, and the micro-bevel that performs the cutting. The exception is on “convex” ground blades which curve continuously all the way into the cutting edgeWe are going to ignore convex blades for right now… if you’ve bought one, your knowledge is probably already past this faq].

[3] As you refine the blade edge you remove less and less material. This is why maintaining is better than having to restore. What you need to appreciate is that the material does not all get removed. Some of it feathers up on the opposite side from that being sharpened to form a “burr”. [You can see this best with a file or grinding wheel. A fine flange of metal is turned up away from the edge in a curve] When you turn to the opposite side, the burr gets pushed in the other direction. No matter how fine a grit you are working at a burr is produced… it just gets finer and finer. The finest edge involves reducing this burr to its most negligible point.

The second concern in sharpness is that as you refine the edge there will always be roughness on the sides of the bevel back from the edge. This causes friction and drag as the blade moves through material as you cut. The less roughness the better and smoother the cutting action. On damaged/blunted blades you have to repair the main bevel before you can set the micro.

    

At a magnified level you can always see indications of each of these, both burr and bevel grooving, as well as the “toothing” that will always remain. These all cause friction in the cutting action, no matter how minimal. How much you choose to refine them away is what is up to you.

A final consideration is that finer angles means the blade is thinner for a greater distance back from the edge. Thinner means that it becomes easier to “turn” the blade, which is the deformation and degradation of the edge… bending, toothing, and blunting. These choices are dictated by what your intended use might be for any given blade.

[4] Most edge bevels range from about 16°[most acute/finest] to 30-35°[most blunt]. The finer the beveling on the blade the easier the cutting motion. At the sharpest angles you start to be limited in just what you can cut without starting to seriously blunt the blade. If you try chopping with a 16° edge it is going to bend to the side under the impact, or possibly even chip. If you try slicing with a 35° bevel you are pushing into and against the material as much as cutting. The blade will deflect away sideways due to the wider bevel in harder things and simply give a less clean cut in softer ones… think cutting into a steak with an axe blade. You want a different angle for campfire chores than you do for cooking or whittling. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to cut carrots or onions, or to get fine curls on a featherstick for a fire, with a wide beveled blade.

Once your blade is sharp, maintaining the sharpness becomes exponentially easier. On a properly sharpened, and properly used knife, the edge can be maintained by a quick stropping on a steel or leather strop charged with a compound. This is also sometimes called “truing”. These work by straightening out any deformation of the edge and removing any burr that is caused by use.

A sharp blade cuts easily, cuts clean, and cuts long.

 

[top image from KnivesShipFree.com … one of my favorite, drool-worthy sites]

 

Putting a Fine Edge on Things…

When I was at the Great Pumpkin hammock hang last month, my friend R3l@X gave me a knife sharpening mini-seminar. I am fairly proficient, and have a variety of stones that have accumulated over the years, but I wanted to see if I could up my game. His system is based on the Lansky System of graduated hone stones and various polishing compounds on leather strops. I was way beyond impressed with the results, and ordered my own set when I got home.

From the Lansky site:

“The Lansky Deluxe Controlled-Angle Sharpening System [5 Stone] features:

  • Extra Coarse Black Hone: (70 grit) for re-profiling the bevel grind
  • Coarse Red Hone:  (120 grit) for edge reconditioning
  • Medium Green Hone:  (280 grit) for sharpening and less frequent touch-ups
  • Fine Blue Hone:  (600 grit) for most frequent touch-ups to keep your blade paper-slicing sharp
  • Ultra-Fine Ceramic Yellow Hone:  (1000 grit) for polishing the edge for a razor sharp edge
  • Honing Oil:  Specially Formulated for sharpening
  • Easy to use, multi-angle clamp:  to hold the blade securely
  • Guide Rods:  One for every hone
  • Extra long knife clamp screws for thicker blades
  • Storage/carrying case to hold all system components
  • Complete easy-to-follow multi-lingual instructions”

I ordered two additional diamond hones in Coarse (120) and Medium (280) grits because I knew that I had some, old, worthwhile blades that would require aggressive reshaping.

As you can see in the product materials, you clamp the blade in the jaws of the clamp, select an angle [17°/20°/25°/30°] that closely matches the existing edge, and using the rod mounted on the hone stone to maintain that angle with the slots, you gently slide the hone upward against and into the blade while sliding it sideways as well. The technique takes only a couple of passes to master, and yields superb results.

One of R3l@x’s tricks is to blacken the cutting edge of the blade with a “Sharpie” marker. Then you make 1 or 2 passes with the ultra fine, 1000 grit hone. That stone is so fine that it only polishes off the marker, and reveals how much the blade needs actual “grinding” down with the more aggressive stones to place/extend that polish right to the cutting edge. Any black between the polished of area and the cutting edge needs to be worked down. There are some other tricks and techniques that make using the Lansky System easier and more efficient… I will go into those when I do a planned tutorial on Basic Knife Sharpening sometime soon.

You just move up through the gradations of grit, moving from actually changing or improving the edge profile, thru simply refining out the grind marks, and on until you are merely polishing the final, “hair popping”, razor-sharp edge.

The results are astounding! I took the sad little neck knives that I bought for next to nothing out of Sham Shui Po, last seen in the post “You Get What You Pay For…”,  and achieved an unimagined sharpness that upgraded them from classic POSes, to really “OK”. I had them relegated them to survival kits just for batoning fire stock. Now they can shave tinder as well. They were the proof for the Lansky System in general, and the two diamond add-ons as well.

 

Using the Lansky is simple and effective. Combined with further finish honing on stropping compound sticks, you can easily get great results. The action is one that you can do semi-mindlessly while you listen to music or chat around a campfire. At an Amazon price of only $40 , and given the life it can quickly bring back to nearly any knife, in nearly ANY condition, that needs sharpening, it is close to a no-brainer to pick up.

Later, as needed, you can add the diamond stones, arkansas stone hones, a 2000 grit Super Sapphire Polishing Stone, as well as shaped stones that let you work on serrated and curved blades like “karambits”. They also offer two stands and a C-clamp to support the blade clamp.

Look for my upcoming [check the sidebar] Sharpening Tutorial to see some results.

 

Amazing Freebie !!

The famous “THE ASHLEY BOOK OF KNOTS” is now in the public domain, and has become available for  >>download<<  in a number of formats over at the Internet Archive.

As kids, being wharf rats on Martha’s Vineyard Island who were always around boats, my younger brother and I were huge fans, readers, and users of “The Ashley”. Clear, concise, and incredibly comprehensive, as well as entertaining, this is, simply put, THE book. We poured over it for hours, and I know that old copy still has a treasured place on my brother’s bookshelf.

While you can get it as a DL now, I would urge you to get the hardcopy as well. This is a book to pass down the generations to turn kids on to how cool knots and ropework can be.

First time they make their own Turks Head sailor’s bracelet on a rainy day they will be hooked.