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Q&A -- Knife Maintenance and Sharpening


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I just got a good ebay deal on a Arkansas Stone system-the tri hone with Med and Hard Arkansas. I'm old school + low $,so a batch of waterstones at $50 each..and they wear fast....no gonna happen. At work we have Diamond"steels" and the classic Norton triple stone (which I finally purged of salad oil),so I'm looking to the Arkansas to slightly improve on that.

Waterstones come with a "grit #" like 1000 or 4000. What's the approximate "Grit" of a hard Arkansas or the finer Black Arkansas? How do these do with the steels at 60+ hardness,like VG 10?

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Please post questions relevant to Knife Maintenance and Sharpening here.

Hi Chad,

Thanks for a phenomenal tutorial. After much deliberation I got myself a forschner fibrox handled chef's knife, it is good and I plan to care for it well.

I think I made one little discovery that might be helpful to others. The mousepad trick you mention can also be done with a "sanding sponge". This is a thick spongelike item with a sandpaper surface on one side; search the term on google for many places to get one.

Thanks,

Aaron

You'll find the sanding sponge is a bit limited as I have never seen one with a very fine grit. Of course...you can use it as backing for a fine grit paper in phase 2.

Look at the tutorials descriptions of double bevel. This REALLY works great on a Forschner. Forschners -it's worth note....are quite compatible with most any steel-even ridged. I'd NOT use the electric sharpeners-you want an edge more acute than stock. Your working edge will need a tune up more often than a harder steel but if you "thin" the blade with a low back bevel,you can get the working edge right in just minutes.

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  • 2 weeks later...

is the V-Sharp thing on ebay any good?

i have a henckels chef knife bought few years back, and a Victorinox - Chefs Knife Extra Broad 20cm

i am using a sharpening stone, and to be honest i dont think i am doing a good job. especially on the henckel that was scarred by a person that would sharpen it (marks like grinding on it)

so , do i get a vsharp, learn to use the stone better (how?) or get a Kershaw knife that goes for cheap (bloody roommate stole it when she moved out)

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  • 4 months later...

I own an Edge Pro system and use it with a fair amount of success on most of my kitchen knives. Over the past year, I've bought a couple of Japanese knives, which now seem as if they'd benefit from a true sharpening on the Edge Pro, rather than just a few swift passes on the ceramic "steel."

But, I'm worried that they're going to be, shall we say, not as sharp as they were when I first used them - that is, I'll screw them up, either the angle or the edge or both.

The first knife is a Tojio DO Gyuto and the other one is a MAC MSK-65 Santoko.

Any help would be greatly appreciated - and I mean in simple terms...are they double beveled, for example? How do I sharpen them - is each side sharpened to the same angle? Thanks for any and all advice...

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Thanks, Mitch, for asking this. I have precisely the same issue: I feel confident about sharpening my western knives (mostly Wusthof, but some Henkels and Chicago Cutlery thrown in there) but very hesitant about my Ken Onion Shun chef's knife.

Chris Amirault

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Thanks, Mitch, for asking this. I have precisely the same issue: I feel confident about sharpening my western knives (mostly Wusthof, but some Henkels and Chicago Cutlery thrown in there) but very hesitant about my Ken Onion Shun chef's knife.

I've been at the Blade Show in Atlanta for the last several days and missed this. Sorry for the slow reply. I'll do a lengthier post tomorrow, but the short answer is that the Edge Pro Apex will work just fine with your Japanese knives. If you are worried about the swarf scratching the sides simply tape them with some blue painter's tape. The edge angles are going to be steeper than your western knives -- about 16° per side for the Ken Onion and 12-15° for the Tojiro and Mac. The Magic Marker Trick comes in handy here.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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I own an Edge Pro system and use it with a fair amount of success on most of my kitchen knives.  Over the past year, I've bought a couple of Japanese knives, which now seem as if they'd benefit from a true sharpening on the Edge Pro, rather than just a few swift passes on the ceramic "steel."

But, I'm worried that they're going to be, shall we say, not as sharp as they were when I first used them - that is, I'll screw them up, either the angle or the edge or both.

The first knife is a Tojio DO Gyuto and the other one is a MAC MSK-65 Santoko.

Any help would be greatly appreciated - and I mean in simple terms...are they double beveled, for example?  How do I sharpen them - is each side sharpened to the same angle?  Thanks for any and all advice...

Both the MAC and the Tojiro have a pretty standard double sided bevel, ryoba in Japanese. Neither, as far as I can tell, is asymmetrical in the way you'll find on some less westernized Japanese knives, so a standard 50/50 bevel will work just fine. In fact, I have or have had both of those knives and put a straight 50/50 bevel on them with ease.

If you set the Edge Pro to 15° you should be pretty close to the factory edge angle. You can either use the Magic Marker Trick to adjust the arm up or down to match the factory edge or standardize on the 15° mark for repeatability. Or you could take them even lower. I keep nearly all of my western-style Japanese knives at 10° or so without requiring undue maintenance.

The Tojiro in particular benefits from regular thinning. The outer jacket of soft stainless creeps down toward the harder core edge as the knife is sharpened over time. Thinning the shoulders back every once in a while will keep that from happening. A 10°/15° compound bevel would work nicely here, though it would take a little work with a coarse stone to jump right into. You could simply set the stone arm a little lower, use the coarse and medium stones to do some initial thinning, then reset the arm to 15° (or whatever you settle on) and sharpen as normal. Doing that each time will ensure that the edge doesn't get too thick and that the hard steel core is doing the cutting.

The softer jacket of the Tojiro scratches easily, as does the suminigashi cladding of the Shun. If that bothers you, tape off the sides of the blade with blue painter's tape. That will keep the swarf and stone grit from scratching the blade.

However you choose to approach it, don't worry about the Edge Pro not being up to the task. The Edge Pro stones are about as close to Japanese waterstones as it is possible to come. They work beautifully on Japanese knives.

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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  • 7 months later...

Hey, thanks for the great info and taking the time to answer people's questions!

A combination of me doing a lot of research on sharpening and my wife wanting sharper kitchen knives lead to her and my in-laws getting me an Edge Pro Apex system for Christmas!

As a wedding gift, we got a block set of Wusthof Classic knives ( http://www.wusthof.com/en/database2-classic.asp?a=8419&s=cl ). Doing the magic marker trick on the Santoku Oriental cook´s knife, it appeared to me that the angle was around 12-13 degrees per side. That seemed a lot more acute than I expected. The other knives appeared to be around 15 degrees. I kept the angles what they were as I sharpened them.

I don't believe the knives came with a double bevel, and the Edge Pro instructions and video that came with it do not mention doing a double bevel, but touching up with the 320 and/or ceramic steel often, and putting on a back-bevel only after it takes a long time to touch-up the edges.

Another thing I've noticed on the knives: I set the angle for the "body" of the knife, but as I get towards the tip, it seems to be cutting more on the back and of the bevel and not the edge, as if it's more of an obtuse angle. If I continue until I get a burr at the tip, it seems the cut bevel is longer at the tip than the rest of the knife. Am I doing something wrong with my Edge Pro?

So I guess my questions are,

1. What is your opinion of the knives?

2. What do you think of the angles on them?

3. Should I double bevel? Or just keep them "touched up"?

4. Does the tip of the knife have a different angle? Or am I sharpening the tip wrong?

Thanks again for providing so much info and support to us sharpening n00bs!

Robbie G

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Hey, thanks for the great info and taking the time to answer people's questions!

A combination of me doing a lot of research on sharpening and my wife wanting sharper kitchen knives lead to her and my in-laws getting me an Edge Pro Apex system for Christmas!

As a wedding gift, we got a block set of Wusthof Classic knives ( http://www.wusthof.com/en/database2-classic.asp?a=8419&s=cl ).  Doing the magic marker trick on the Santoku Oriental cook´s knife, it appeared to me that the angle  was around 12-13 degrees per side.  That seemed a lot more acute than I expected.  The other knives appeared to be around 15 degrees.  I kept the angles what they were as I sharpened them.

I don't believe the knives came with a double bevel, and the Edge Pro instructions and video that came with it do not mention doing a double bevel, but touching up with the 320 and/or ceramic steel often, and putting on a back-bevel only after it takes a long time to touch-up the edges.

Another thing I've noticed on the knives: I set the angle for the "body" of the knife, but as I get towards the tip, it seems to be cutting more on the back and of the bevel and not the edge, as if it's more of an obtuse angle.  If I continue until I get a burr at the tip, it seems the cut bevel is longer at the tip than the rest of the knife.  Am I doing something wrong with my Edge Pro?

So I guess my questions are,

1. What is your opinion of the knives?

2. What do you think of the angles on them?

3. Should I double bevel? Or just keep them "touched up"?

4. Does the tip of the knife have a different angle? Or am I sharpening the tip wrong?

Thanks again for providing so much info and support to us sharpening n00bs!

Robbie G

Congratulations on the new Edge Pro! My tastes have moved away from the heavy German style, but the Wusthof Classics are very good knives. They'll serve you well, especially now that you can keep them in top condition. I'm surprised that you are finding the edge angles that acute. Wusthof, Henckels, et al, usually come with 20-25° per side edges. If yours are ground finer than that, great! They'll cut much better.

After your knives have been sharpened multiple times the edge will start to thicken. It is at the same angle but you are moving into the thicker portion of the knife. Double beveling (which in the book I called a compound bevel to avoid confusion with western-style double bevels and Japanese chisel-style single bevels) is a way to thin the shoulders of the edge for better performance while maintaining a robust cutting edge. You don't have to do it at all, or, as the Edge Pro materials suggest, you can hold off until touchups become a problem. Either way is fine. I find factory edges way too thick for my tastes so I thin them as soon as I get a new knife. But that's just me.

And, yep, you've discovered one of the dirty secrets of knife sharpening. The tip of the knife is thicker than the main cutting edge. If you imagine a top view of your knife blade, the spine forms the widest part of a triangle. The sides taper down to the edge. And if the cutting edge were flat (as it is on some santokus, nakiris, and usubas) it would be of uniform thickness. However, the sweep of the belly on a western-style knife means that the tip, usually at the centerpoint of the blade width, is going to be ground from a thicker section of steel. To keep the aesthetics of the bevel nice and even, the grinder changes the angle slightly. So, yes, it is a little more obtuse. The way I work around that when I use an Edge Pro is to set the blade stop with the very tip of the knife positioned right on the corner of the blade table with just a little of the edge showing. That means the heel of the knife and the lower portion of the cutting edge stick out a little farther than they should, but the bevel width stays more even as it follows the sweep up to the tip. Give it a try and see what you think.

Take care,

Chad

Edited by Chad (log)

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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  • 1 month later...

Kudos to Chad for the instructions he has kindly provided.

I'm facing a dilemma here. I recently bought from Korin a Togiharu Santouku and a 2-sided stone for maintenance. It was a beautiful knife, but it did not perform as well as I hoped for. At first I though it was simply a matter of the edge, and using the instructions here, I brought it down to a gleaming 15 degrees that is literally scary sharp. A cherry tomato dropped from 6 inches above it would impale itself on the edge.

However, on return to the cutting board, the knife still did not perform well in the sense that when slicing hard vegetables ie potatoes, halving onions sort of jobs, there is alot of resistance in the blade. Since there is no doubt in the sharpness of the edge, I can only speculate what's causing my problems.

1. Thickness

The santouku is 2mm thick at the thickest part of the spine and this thickness is constant for about half the height of the blade after which it tapers down to the edge. This is the thickest knife I have owned since previously all I used where stamped Globals and Henckels. Also, being a santouku, the thickness of the blade is pretty constant throughout, unlike a chef's knife which can get very thin near the tip.

2. Surface Finish

Another suspected culprit is the mirror finish of the knife which could have resulted in extremely high water tension or very effective vaccums between the surface and the, say, potato. In fact, it takes quite an effort to pry a slice of potato off the blade, it was even difficult to slide it off along the surface. I only noticed that not many knifes in the market have a mirror finish on the blade surface. Could it be because of this?

Well, I hope someone can provide me with some explanation and perhaps a solution to this. Thanks for reading.

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Chad, another kudo for the "Edge in the Kitchen" you've given me. I had at my Western knives (a 15/20 bevel) last weekend, but for the first time I sharpened the Japanese knives I have: a Ken Onion Shun chef's knife, a Gekko nikiri, and a Mac paring knife -- all now razor-sharp with a 10/15 beveled edge. The course and the book were my Beatrice. You rock.

Going for the double-bevel on the Japanese knives made me finally see the light -- literally, as it gleamed off that beautiful edge. Call me vain, but I'm now thinking that I want to get a finer stone for finishing. I have only the basic two water stones that were delivered with the old Apex EdgePro: 180 medium and 220 fine. The EdgePro website is now sending out "220 Grit Medium Fine & 320 Grit Extra Fine" stones with the Apex kit. From what you wrote in the course and book, that 320 is equivalent to a 1200x Japanese water stone. That should do the trick, yes?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Finally I settled for Spyderco fine grit ceramic stone recommended and bought from a dealer in Western Australia he runs a knife and Japanese sword collector's club. I explain my background as my father and I were fine clockmakers and watchmarkers so naturally we used many sharpening stones soft and hard high and low grit to shapen and polish watch mechanism and tools.

When I was a kid I use to look at my dad through the process of sharpening his razor blade and then shaving with it with his eyes closed and he would never bleed from any cut.

Anyway I just use a small collection of knives mainly German Wustoff and use utily or 2 thin blade knives to cut difficult things like tomatoes, parsley stalks, onions, celery or plums.

thin blade knives are easy to maintain and when slicing stop slices rolling off the chopping board.

Coming back to this dealer he told me that Japanese water stones these days are not what they used to be as the Japanese quarries have been exhausted the stones nowadays are made of reconstituted material.

He continued saying the there is a separate chapter to sharpen swords but that does not apply to kitchen stuff.

Anyway as I have children and young people visiting besides my wife dos not care which knives she uses anyway and I am afraid for their safety so I choose not to over the sharpen but keep an edge just enough to last me say 20 degrees and kept deep in the chopping block.

But I do keep Dad's (my own) Argentinian facon in pretty good shape encased and that is sharp only used to eat meat.

Finally, I would be interested to know how to sharpen and keep a serrated knife and a expensive potato peeler in good nick?

Edited by piazzola (log)
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And, yep, you've discovered one of the dirty secrets of knife sharpening. The tip of the knife is thicker than the main cutting edge. If you imagine a top view of your knife blade, the spine forms the widest part of a triangle. The sides taper down to the edge. And if the cutting edge were flat (as it is on some santokus, nakiris, and usubas) it would be of uniform thickness. However, the sweep of the belly on a western-style knife means that the tip, usually at the centerpoint of the blade width, is going to be ground from a thicker section of steel. To keep the aesthetics of the bevel nice and even, the grinder changes the angle slightly. So, yes, it is a little more obtuse. The way I work around that when I use an Edge Pro is to set the blade stop with the very tip of the knife positioned right on the corner of the blade table with just a little of the edge showing. That means the heel of the knife and the lower portion of the cutting edge stick out a little farther than they should, but the bevel width stays more even as it follows the sweep up to the tip.

Chad,

Do you note this technique in your book?

Thanks,

Starkman

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Kudos to Chad for the instructions he has kindly provided.

I'm facing a dilemma here. I recently bought from Korin a Togiharu Santouku and a 2-sided stone for maintenance. It was a beautiful knife, but it did not perform as well as I hoped for. At first I though it was simply a matter of the edge, and using the instructions here, I brought it down to a gleaming 15 degrees that is literally scary sharp. A cherry tomato dropped from 6 inches above it would impale itself on the edge.

However, on return to the cutting board, the knife still did not perform well in the sense that when slicing hard vegetables ie potatoes, halving onions sort of jobs, there is alot of resistance in the blade. Since there is no doubt in the sharpness of the edge, I can only speculate what's causing my problems.

Hey, thanks! Sounds like you're dealing with the problems associated with high moisture foods. The moisture causes adhesion and drag. There are a couple of solutions. Cutting faster, as counterintuitive as it sounds, will keep foods from sticking quite so much. So will wetting the blade a bit. A little moisture causes sticking. A little more helps the food release more easily.

Give those two things a try and let us know how it turns out.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Going for the double-bevel on the Japanese knives made me finally see the light -- literally, as it gleamed off that beautiful edge. Call me vain, but I'm now thinking that I want to get a finer stone for finishing. I have only the basic two water stones that were delivered with the old Apex EdgePro: 180 medium and 220 fine. The EdgePro website is now sending out "220 Grit Medium Fine & 320 Grit Extra Fine" stones with the Apex kit. From what you wrote in the course and book, that 320 is equivalent to a 1200x Japanese water stone. That should do the trick, yes?

Yup, it'll definitely be an improvement. Ben Dale (owner/inventor of Edge Pro) is a proponent of coarser, more toothy edges for kitchen knives, but I find a more polished edge cuts better and lasts longer in the kitchen. When I use my Edge Pro I take my knives up through the 800 grit stone and sometimes use the polish tapes as well. That puts the level of finish about on par with my hand sharpening, which usually goes to 6,000 to 8,000 grit depending on which water stones I'm using. That's probably overkill, but what the hell. I like it.

If you are going to purchase an additional stone anyway, throw in the 800, too. Once you've established your edge with the coarser stones, using the finishing stones is a matter of a few strokes (less than 10 or so) to really take the edge to a pretty remarkable level.

Take care,

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Finally I settled for Spyderco fine grit ceramic stone recommended and bought from a dealer in Western Australia he runs a knife and Japanese sword collector's club. I explain my background as my father and I were fine clockmakers and watchmarkers so naturally we used many sharpening stones soft and hard high and low grit to shapen and polish watch mechanism and tools.

When I was a kid I use to look at my dad through the process of sharpening his razor blade and then shaving with it with his eyes closed and he would never bleed from any cut.

Anyway I just use a small collection of knives mainly German Wustoff and use utily or 2 thin blade knives to cut difficult things like tomatoes, parsley stalks, onions, celery or plums.

thin blade knives are easy to maintain and when slicing stop slices rolling off the chopping board.

Coming back to this dealer he told me that Japanese water stones these days are not what they used to be as the Japanese quarries have been exhausted the stones nowadays are made of reconstituted material.

He continued saying the there is a separate chapter to sharpen swords but that does not apply to kitchen stuff. 

Anyway as I have children and young people visiting besides my wife dos not care which knives she uses anyway and I am afraid for their safety so I choose not to over the sharpen but keep an edge just enough to last me say 20 degrees and kept deep in the chopping block.

But I do keep Dad's (my own) Argentinian facon in pretty good shape encased and that is sharp only used to eat meat.

Finally, I would be interested to know how to sharpen and keep a serrated knife and a expensive potato peeler in good nick?

Interesting story about polishing watch mechanisms. Thank you for sharing it.

Many, if not most, Japanese water stones today are synthetic or are natural stone powder in some form of binder. True quarried natural stones are hard to find. However, that is not really a problem. The synthetic stones, while they feel different than the natural stones, are more consistent and more accurately graded. I like them a lot.

There are four ways to keep a serrated knife sharp. Serrated knives are sharpened only one one side. The back side is usually flat. Grinding the serrations often leaves a burr that keeps the knife from cutting as well as it can. Simply laying the back of the knife nearly flat on a fine stone and removing that burr will often improve the cutting ability of the knife. Similarly, when the edge dulls it can often be refreshed with the same method, sharpening at a very low angle on the back side of the knife. Over a long period of time this will eventually remove the serrations.

You can pretend the serrations don't exist and sharpen as normal on your stones or sharpening system. This will remove the serrations over a shorter period of time than the previous method, but it does work.

You can sharpen the serrations individually with a fine tapered diamond rod, a V-shaped ceramic file or simply a dowel (or even a screwdriver or pencil) wrapped with fine grit wet/dry sandpaper.

Finally, you can use a V-system (like the Spyderco Sharpmaker) or crock stick setup, going very slowly so the rods glide in and out of the serrations. The triangular rods of the Sharpmaker are particularly effective for this.

Hope this helps.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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And, yep, you've discovered one of the dirty secrets of knife sharpening. The tip of the knife is thicker than the main cutting edge. If you imagine a top view of your knife blade, the spine forms the widest part of a triangle. The sides taper down to the edge. And if the cutting edge were flat (as it is on some santokus, nakiris, and usubas) it would be of uniform thickness. However, the sweep of the belly on a western-style knife means that the tip, usually at the centerpoint of the blade width, is going to be ground from a thicker section of steel. To keep the aesthetics of the bevel nice and even, the grinder changes the angle slightly. So, yes, it is a little more obtuse. The way I work around that when I use an Edge Pro is to set the blade stop with the very tip of the knife positioned right on the corner of the blade table with just a little of the edge showing. That means the heel of the knife and the lower portion of the cutting edge stick out a little farther than they should, but the bevel width stays more even as it follows the sweep up to the tip.

Chad,

Do you note this technique in your book?

Thanks,

Starkman

I didn't, unfortunately.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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And, yep, you've discovered one of the dirty secrets of knife sharpening. The tip of the knife is thicker than the main cutting edge. If you imagine a top view of your knife blade, the spine forms the widest part of a triangle. The sides taper down to the edge. And if the cutting edge were flat (as it is on some santokus, nakiris, and usubas) it would be of uniform thickness. However, the sweep of the belly on a western-style knife means that the tip, usually at the centerpoint of the blade width, is going to be ground from a thicker section of steel. To keep the aesthetics of the bevel nice and even, the grinder changes the angle slightly. So, yes, it is a little more obtuse. The way I work around that when I use an Edge Pro is to set the blade stop with the very tip of the knife positioned right on the corner of the blade table with just a little of the edge showing. That means the heel of the knife and the lower portion of the cutting edge stick out a little farther than they should, but the bevel width stays more even as it follows the sweep up to the tip. Give it a try and see what you think.

Hi Chad - thanks so much for this guide!!! I'm a little confused by the statement above... I understand that if you look at the cross section of the blade from the handle to the tip, it forms the triangle you discuss, with the spine forming the widest point of the triangle, and the edge forming the tip of the triangle... but if you look from the top down, with the handle towards you and the spine on top, the blades are tapered so that it forms another triangle (two long sides - that is the length of the blade, and the short side that is the thickness of the blade at the bolster). So, while the point of the western knives may be technically in the middle of the width of the blade, the blade thins as you go from bolster to tip, so the point isn't really that thick - it's much thinner than the thickness of the blade at the same latitude at the bolster. Unless of course, we're talking about a stamped blade, in which case it is of uniform thickness.... but most quality western knives are not stamped blades, but forged ones that taper from bolster to tip...

A question I have with the Edge Pro is that the sharpening mechanism is fixed at one point so the sweep is circular - but a knife edge isn't circular - it's usually flat (or close to it) running from the bolster to about the middle of the blade, and then sweeps up to the tip... so I don't understand how you can maintain a consistent angle with a circular radius sharpening A) a straight edge or B) a circular edge with a different radius than that of the Edge Pro without constantly moving the knife back and forth and constantly adjusting the blade stop to the width required....

Help and thanks!!!!

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Hi Chad - thanks so much for this guide!!!  I'm a little confused by the statement above... I understand that if you look at the cross section of the blade from the handle to the tip, it forms the triangle you discuss, with the spine forming the widest point of the triangle, and the edge forming the tip of the triangle... but if you look from the top down, with the handle towards you and the spine on top, the blades are tapered so that it forms another triangle (two long sides - that is the length of the blade, and the short side that is the thickness of the blade at the bolster).  So, while the point of the western knives may be technically in the middle of the width of the blade, the blade thins as you go from bolster to tip, so the point isn't really that thick - it's much thinner than the thickness of the blade at the same latitude at the bolster.  Unless of course, we're talking about a stamped blade, in which case it is of uniform thickness.... but most quality western knives are not stamped blades, but forged ones that taper from bolster to tip...

A question I have with the Edge Pro is that the sharpening mechanism is fixed at one point so the sweep is circular - but a knife edge isn't circular - it's usually flat (or close to it) running from the bolster to about the middle of the blade, and then sweeps up to the tip...  so I don't understand how you can maintain a consistent angle with a circular radius sharpening A) a straight edge or B) a circular edge with a different radius than that of the Edge Pro without constantly moving the knife back and forth and constantly adjusting the blade stop to the width required....

Help and thanks!!!!

Hey, Kenneth. You are correct. There is a taper from bolster to tip. The distal taper, as it is called, does keep the tip from being inordinately thick. Even with the distal taper, though, the tip is still thicker than the edge, at least on most German, French & American made knives. The other part of the problem, as you rightly note, is accommodating the arc of the blade as it sweeps toward the tip. You'll have to check with Ben Dale, inventor of the Edge Pro, for the detailed explanation, but because the blade is not fixed to the blade table -- i.e. you do, in fact, move it across the table -- you are sharpening with a series of arcs rather than one big one.

That's the problem with systems like the Lansky or Gatco. They're fine for short-bladed knives, but once you get over three inches or so the arc of the stone can't match the edge without repositioning the jig. With the Edge Pro you are playing connect the dots with a series of arcs. And because you don't (or shouldn't) swing the stone past the edges of the blade table, they are short arcs at that. You also rotate the knife on the table as you move from heel to tip, presenting a (mostly) straight section of edge to the stone. It's a compromise, but it's the best compromise I've found so far (aside from freehand sharpening, that is).

Hope this helps. If not, and if you still have questions, email or call Ben Dale at Edge Pro Inc. and report back here. Ben always takes time to answer questions. I'll be eager to hear what he has to say.

Take care,

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Hi Chad - thanks so much for this guide!!!  I'm a little confused by the statement above... I understand that if you look at the cross section of the blade from the handle to the tip, it forms the triangle you discuss, with the spine forming the widest point of the triangle, and the edge forming the tip of the triangle... but if you look from the top down, with the handle towards you and the spine on top, the blades are tapered so that it forms another triangle (two long sides - that is the length of the blade, and the short side that is the thickness of the blade at the bolster).  So, while the point of the western knives may be technically in the middle of the width of the blade, the blade thins as you go from bolster to tip, so the point isn't really that thick - it's much thinner than the thickness of the blade at the same latitude at the bolster.  Unless of course, we're talking about a stamped blade, in which case it is of uniform thickness.... but most quality western knives are not stamped blades, but forged ones that taper from bolster to tip...

A question I have with the Edge Pro is that the sharpening mechanism is fixed at one point so the sweep is circular - but a knife edge isn't circular - it's usually flat (or close to it) running from the bolster to about the middle of the blade, and then sweeps up to the tip...  so I don't understand how you can maintain a consistent angle with a circular radius sharpening A) a straight edge or B) a circular edge with a different radius than that of the Edge Pro without constantly moving the knife back and forth and constantly adjusting the blade stop to the width required....

Help and thanks!!!!

Hey, Kenneth. You are correct. There is a taper from bolster to tip. The distal taper, as it is called, does keep the tip from being inordinately thick. Even with the distal taper, though, the tip is still thicker than the edge, at least on most German, French & American made knives. The other part of the problem, as you rightly note, is accommodating the arc of the blade as it sweeps toward the tip. You'll have to check with Ben Dale, inventor of the Edge Pro, for the detailed explanation, but because the blade is not fixed to the blade table -- i.e. you do, in fact, move it across the table -- you are sharpening with a series of arcs rather than one big one.

That's the problem with systems like the Lansky or Gatco. They're fine for short-bladed knives, but once you get over three inches or so the arc of the stone can't match the edge without repositioning the jig. With the Edge Pro you are playing connect the dots with a series of arcs. And because you don't (or shouldn't) swing the stone past the edges of the blade table, they are short arcs at that. You also rotate the knife on the table as you move from heel to tip, presenting a (mostly) straight section of edge to the stone. It's a compromise, but it's the best compromise I've found so far (aside from freehand sharpening, that is).

Hope this helps. If not, and if you still have questions, email or call Ben Dale at Edge Pro Inc. and report back here. Ben always takes time to answer questions. I'll be eager to hear what he has to say.

Take care,

Chad

Chad - thanks so much for clearing that up... I thought that that's how it would have to work - but whenever I looked at the video of the Edge Pro, it didn't seem that he was doing that - it just looked like he swept the stone over the knife as he held it in one spot on the table.. It makes perfect sense not to bring the stone past the left/right table edges - that way, the arc is so short, it's essentially straight, for all intents and purposes...

Thanks again!!

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  • 1 month later...

Hey Chad, (or anyone!)

Bought the book a couple of weeks ago and I love it... slowly but surely learning to sharpen my knives on waterstones.

I know someone who isn't going to go with a manual system anytime soon, but was looking at electric sharpeners. Basically, it looks like there are some new electric ones that will go down to a 15 degree angle from Chef's Choice - are these the real deal? Or is there a catch I'm not seeing? I just wanted to see if anyone had experience with these before I recommend something like that.

Again, really loved the book!

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I know someone who isn't going to go with a manual system anytime soon, but was looking at electric sharpeners.  Basically, it looks like there are some new electric ones that will go down to a 15 degree angle from Chef's Choice - are these the real deal?  Or is there a catch I'm not seeing?

These machines do a decent job. They put a very robust edge on the blade (it actually puts on 3 different bevels, and the smallest one at the edge is much more obtuse than 15 degrees). The machines are a good choice for people who want a serviceable, strong edge that can take a lot of abuse.

They're no good for knives that have already been sharpened to an extrememly accute or asymmetrical bevel ... a knife like that will just get torn up. And I don't know if they'd work well on extremely hard steels, although it's unlikely that your friend will have any.

Make sure anyone who uses a chef's choice machine knows that the coarsest wheel is only to be used when necessary. If it's used regularly, all the knives will wear out before their time.

Notes from the underbelly

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Make sure anyone who uses a chef's choice machine knows that the coarsest wheel is only to be used when necessary. If it's used regularly, all the knives will wear out before their time.

Amen!

I always recommend to my customers not to use any sort of electric machine or so called "professional sharpening services". By definition it removes too much metal and it changes the geometry of the knife. And I have seen way too many knives in my time that have been badly ground, resulting in a wavy edge that has a part that will not touch a cutting board surface.

My recommendation is always to use a honing steel daily and a diamond rod occasionally. If it is someone who just cannot tackle a honing steel and get angles right, use a pull through hand held model like the Wusthof "Knife-Life" 2 stage.

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Still more questions! It's been an absurdly wet spring and early summer here in the northeast, and despite my care (washing & drying them immediately), my two new Japanese knives -- the Gekko nikiri and the Mac paring knife -- have been getting little rust spots. Sometimes they coincide with where the knife edge touches the magnetic bar; sometimes they appear elsewhere. The Mac paring knife, for example, has a touch of rust at the heel near the handle.

What to do? Redouble my efforts at drying? Should I make a paste of Bartender's Friend and gently rub them out? Get something other than the magnetic strip for the Japanese knives?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Still more questions! It's been an absurdly wet spring and early summer here in the northeast, and despite my care (washing & drying them immediately), my two new Japanese knives -- the Gekko nikiri and the Mac paring knife -- have been getting little rust spots. Sometimes they coincide with where the knife edge touches the magnetic bar; sometimes they appear elsewhere. The Mac paring knife, for example, has a touch of rust at the heel near the handle.

What to do? Redouble my efforts at drying? Should I make a paste of Bartender's Friend and gently rub them out? Get something other than the magnetic strip for the Japanese knives?

One of the minor problems with developing an addiction to high performance knives is having to give up a little stain resistance. Higher carbon, higher hardness Japanese knives are less stain resistant (more likely to rust with less provocation) than their German/Euro counterparts. It just comes with the territory, but the tradeoff is well worth it. With that said, let your knives air dry a little before putting them back on the magnetic bar. Even with vigorous towel drying they are still going to be a little damp. When you put a damp surface in nearly airtight contact with another surface you are going to get rust spots. I tend to get them at the tip when the non-knife nut members of the family do dishes and leave the knives tip down in the drain cup at the back corner of the dish drainer. You are correct, a paste of Barkeeper's Friend or a little Flitz metal polish will do the trick -- as will a green scrubby pad and some Comet or other abrasive cleanser. Don't sweat it, and consider it the price of marital harmony.

One sushi-chef trick to keep in mind is to rinse a freshly washed knife in nearly boiling water. Ever notice how when you open the dishwasher your plates are dry but the flimsy plastic containers aren't? That's from heat carry-over. Heavy ceramic plates absorb heat and radiate it out again, drying the plates once the water stops running. So if you rinse your knife blades with very hot water they absorb enough heat to help drive off any residual moisture after you are finished towel drying.

So -- rinse with very hot water, towel dry as best you can, air dry to let residual heat drive off any remaining moisture, and don't sweat it if you need to do a little touchup with a green scrubby now and again. Any degradation of the edge (remotely possible, but possible nonetheless) from rust will be removed at the next sharpening. No biggie.

Hope this help.

Take care,

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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