Monday, 6 July 2015

Folders and hunting knives

This  is a really cool Benchmade folding knife that I sharpened for my brother.  The reason the tape is shown is that I used the picture on a  forum to illustrate how I protect the blade while sharpening on the Edge Pro.

I used to use blue painters tape, masking tape but for years I was never thrilled with it because it would slip off the blade as it got wet. I use a lot of water when I sharpen, especially if I am polishing the bevel . This tape that I got from the post office is fantastic, it will not come off.

The Edge Pro can very quickly scratch the blade as the grit from stones rests in the water suspension that sits on the blade table so it I just tape the blade to prevent it getting scratched. Now a lot of knives I get are already in rough shape so I don't worry about that too much.

A scratch in the blade is pretty much there for good so the last thing I want to do is any cosmetic damage. Especially in a blade like the one above.

I often use the Edge pro for this type knife, I just find it easier and it excels at creating not only a very sharp edge but one that is visually appealing.

I finished the knife with a Shapton Pro 15,000 grit stone.

Now the knife in this picture is very very old, it is hand made by "Grandad" and handed down to the Grandson who brought it to me. The edge was in rough shape and imperfect, well it was handmade, pretty cool actually.

He had two like this and I did one on the Edge Pro Professional and the other freehand. The freehand process is a little faster and creates more of a convex edge which is very good for this type of knife, it  adds strength to the edge.

My next video is going to be on sharpening the tip of a knife.

Thanks for visiting my Blog, I am very grateful.


Monday, 29 June 2015

Tomato, Takeda and Takamura

I've gone on a video rampage.

 I lived on the edge and did the video without any pre-cutting. The purpose of the video was to prove (to me :) ) that one can still have slice a tomato beautifully despite having a polished edge.

It was Ken Schwartz who first told me that we can still have nice blend of refinement and bite, we just need to focus on sharpening and bring those two sides of the knife together as precisely as possible at the Apex of the knife.

I know that in the past and every now and then I over refine the edge,  this doesn't mean the edge won't perform, it is more overkill than anything. When I first started getting very serious about sharpening, when the obsession started growing. I figured I had some nifty ultra fine stones so why not used them.  That was then, now I realize that a 5k or 6k finish on these dream knives as I call them is perfect. Heck, the knives are sharp enough after 1k to be honest.  In fact,  80% of the knives I sharpen go home with a 2k edge.

SO to be clear, I do not usually refine the edge as much as I did in the video but saying that, I don't believe it hampers the performance of the knife.

Also...I didn't Over Refine the edge, i.e. I didn't use a progression like 1k, 2k, 3k, 5k etc. The only time I have done that is when I am creating a Relief Angle and shooting for a mirror finish. That primary edge would not be that highly refined.

Sharpening knives is journey as I have mentioned several times, we need to test ourselves and try different things, we need to make mistakes to learn from them. This is after getting a good grip on the basics but still, don't be afraid to step outside the sharpening box and see if something works. It may come in handy someday.

OH and if I pronounced the names of these beautiful knives incorrectly, my apologies, I shall correct myself for the future videos.

If you watched this, I thank you very much.


Sunday, 28 June 2015

Video - Takamura and me Part 1

This is the video I spoke of in a previous post, it is just me using a coarse stone on the Takamura.

If you like it, thanks for watching, if not, thanks for watching :)


Edge Retention

Hey folks.
One of the most common questions I get is "how long will my knife stay sharp"?

I used to stress about this aspect of the sharpening process but only with restaurant knives, I say I USED to stress about it.

I have since come to realize that there are just too many variables involved after I give a sharpened knife back in order for me to make a accurate prediction on the "how long" question.

I have turned it around to the knife owners and ask them "how long will YOU be able to keep it sharp?"

When I give a knife back, I can guarantee that is very sharp and will be able to handle any situation with flying colours. However, in the professional kitchen setting, where often the cooks don't even own the knives, are they going to take steps to protect the edge at all.  Or are he knives thrown without any regard to the edge, are they subjected to Steeling Abuse ?

Hell yeah, I have seen it happen and therefore I no longer feel guilty if "my knives" lose their edge in a few weeks. I do what I can in terms of angle and grit choice to finish the knife on. However, as I said there are so many variables with the big one being the steel.  Is a 40 dollar knife used for 8-12 hours a day going to stay sharp long?

The picture above is just something for kicks, I think some folks should keep a screwdriver in their block of knives so that they are not tempted to use the knife for purposed other than cutting food.
As seen in the paring knife before and after pictures above.

As for steel.

Even these awesome knives:

Takamura above and Takeda below.

Even these beauties are going to get dull, now due to their hardness they will hold the edge longer of course than your average Henckels or Wusthof but yup, in time and sooner than you think, they will lose their edge.

People need to Sharpen Up, they need to  be conscious of the fact that the edge is microscopically thin and will not stand up to the force subjected to it indefinitely, despite the quality of the knife. I've said it a million times, develop a Sharpening Plan so that you never have to use a dull knife.

There is no magic formula, no "edge of eternal sharpness" that I can apply to a knife, use it yes, use it for cutting as much as possible but just keep in mind that you need to have it touched up and a thirty year old $30.00 Steel is not going to do the trick.  

Just be careful with the knife, store it properly and never put it in the dishwasher and if you keep it sharp it will be so much more enjoyable and effective. 

As a baseline, start with a 3 month rotation. Most people have a Go To knife that they use most often so naturally that will get dull first.  At the very least, get all the knives you own sharpened professionally and then go from there. Even if it is once a year, that is a Sharpening Plan.

Professionally of course doesn't necessarily mean Good. 

If you are interested in having your knives sharpened just ask the individual how he sharpens knives, ask him about his Japanese Water Stones....if there is dead silence for a few seconds, you should back away. Most folks who do sharpen by hand with water stones like me are very eager to discuss their technique, we love talking about our obsession and sharing information.

I finished the beautiful Takeda in the picture here on the Naniwa Chosera 10,000 grit ultra fine, ultra cool water stone.  

EDGE RETENTION is OUR responsibility, I will do my part to sharpen it an angle and finish conducive to edge retention, however that is just a start, your part involves handling it properly and taking care of it and perhaps maintaining it with a good ceramic hone or very good Steel hone and using proper steeling technique, a gentle process not that slapping motion that some people think looks cool. 

I found another awesome place to purchase knives online in Canada and the owner, Chris is pretty cool, extremely knowledgeable and he carries dream knives. He also is a gifted handle maker.

Fine Japanese Kitchen Knives

The Takeda and Takamura above are from his online store and he was kind enough to let me sharpen them.

Thanks for being here.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Video - Me and a Takamura dream knife

The tricky part of this one was the impossibly acute angle that I did my best to sharpen it at, 12 degrees. My muscle memory is built around 17-20 degrees so sharpening at 12 deg is a challenge indeed.
It is an absolutely beautiful knife, made of powdered steel Takamura called R2 and it can hold that angle well. This knife had not been sharpened in 2-3 years but the edge was surprisingly quite good.

Now the video starts off mentioning Part 2, don't worry about that, I did a video on the same knife where I used a Naniwa Professional 600 to thin it a little but it is basically just me sharpening.

Thanks for watching it.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

My Sharpening Station

Hi there, I just thought I would show you folks where I spend many hours of my life standing and doing what I love to do.

This is an extremely sturdy wooden dresser that has spots for the stones, (designed for wine bottles). The height is perfect for me and the light from Lee Valley is fantastic. Lighting is very important and this one is the best I have ever seen.


Friday, 19 June 2015

Sharpen Up!

Maguro Bocho
I had the pleasure of meeting a fantastic Chef named Dennis Johnston, he is a pretty cool guy with the most amazing collection of knives I have ever seen, including Murray Carter dream knives.  The extremely long knife in the picture is designed solely for filleting blue fin tuna, the big ones that they process every day at the famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. (Other places too of course)

Dennis uses the unique cleaver for cutting soba noodles.

The purpose of this post is to talk about sharpening though and geared towards those who are starting out. I'll just throw some pictures in here though because I like that.

These beautiful MAC knives are the Thomas Keller edition, I really love MAC's they are not difficult to sharpen and will become extremely sharp. They  have a very nice edge right out of the box as well.

When you are learning to sharpen, it will be tempting to cumulate Japanese Water Stones and perhaps focus on gathering the best and most stones you can afford.  I did this myself and now that I am smarter I have another approach to pass on:

Focus on technique with one stone, the 1,000 grit stone is absolutely perfect, it is all you need to make your knives sharp, it will grow with you as your skills grow.
When you introduce more stones to the process you introduce the possibility of making mistakes and undoing the hard work and progress you made on the first stone.

Take one 1,000 grit stone, whether it is King stone or Naniwa Chosera or Shapton Glass, as long as it isn't a stone you picked up for $7.99 at the hardware store.

Get comfortable with a technique and position that you can easily repeat hundreds of times over and over and develop the muscle memory necessary to achieve truly sharp edges. Don't worry if that takes what seems like an eternity. If you have a 30 King stone and you are not getting the knives sharp enough to slice telephone book paper, don't thank that buying a 1,000 grit Naniwa Chosera is going to  do the trick. It is likely that the stone is not the culprit. Just keep at it and always picture in your head what it is  you are trying to achieve. You are bring the two sides of that knife together at the Apex of the knife perfectly, that is your ultimate goal to bring them together at a microscopically small point and this takes time.

I am learning to play guitar, it is brutally difficult but is all based on building muscle memory, what looks simple on youtube or when my instructor  plays is very difficult for me. However I can see progress and I am not giving up.

What about a coarse stone, something you will find handy to repair an edge like this one. I see these all the time.
What you could do is purchase a diamond plate like the DMT Extra Coarse or the fantastic Atoma 400.
You could use that for two purposes, as your coarse "stone" and also as your stone flattener.

Repairs are not difficult but time consuming and something to worry about later down the road.

You will get to a point where frustration sets in perhaps and you see guys on videos creating beautiful mirror edges that seem razor sharp. What you don't see is the frustrating periods they went through, the mistakes they have made, I've been there.

Remember, at least you are trying and I just can't believe how many people haven't done even that. Or, they try to take the easy way out and just get something you plug in.

Keep up the great work and never hesitate to contact me if you need help.

If you like, you can send me pictures of your work and I would be happy to post them here in my blog with your permission.