Friday, 22 May 2015

Something Different

This is a big knife with a recurve which made it a challenge to sharpen free hand.

I chose the Edge Pro to tackle this one and I used the 1/4 inch Edge Pro stones for the recurved portion of the blade. You can see the difficulty one would have doing this freehand.

The knife is nothing special, that is to say, the steel is not the best but the contour of the blade is different than what I am used to.

I finished it off with a Chosera 10.000 grit stone and I am pretty happy with the results.

I put the Spyderco in there just to show how large the knife is. ( By the way, the scratches in the Spyderco were already there when I was given the knife to sharpen)

Just goes to show you that there are many different knives out there and many different approaches to sharpening them.

My progression was a 400 Latte, 1.5 Shapton Pro, 2k. Shapton Glass, 3k Chosera, 5k Shapton Pro and 10k Chosera.

Lots of stones but they worked.


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Learning to sharpen, what you really need.

Now this picture does have a few things that I consider a must if you are learning to sharpen.
A water stone, the stone holder, a Sharpie, a dull knife and some water. This just happens to be in  a tray that I used to use to help keep things a little tidy. Sharpening knives can be messy.

Now the things you ABSOLUTELY need the most are things you cannot buy:

PATIENCE/PERSISTENCE and enough passion to drive you to practicing, building layers upon layers of confidence is essential.

I know that these things are a some what cliche they really are important, it's a bit of mental game and you need to be able to manage your expectations.

The main reason I am posting this topic is to talk about Japanese Water Stones. Yes I do love my Naniwa Chosera and Shaptons but don't feel you need to have these to make your knives sharp. Don't think you need a 10,000 grit stone either, you can get a knife incredibly sharp with a 400 grit stone, so the 1k is quite okay.

Stay away from the oil stones sold in hardware stores for 7 dollars though.  King stones are quite okay, they are very inexpensive at about 30 dollars Canadian for a King 800, 1000 and 1200.  You can get away with one water stone although it would be nice to have a coarse stone  in the 400-600 range or even the King 800. Your knives are probably a little dull when starting so a coarser stone will speed up the process but a 1k water stone is pretty much perfect if you just want to get one.

Don't feel pressure to go out and buy a lot of stuff to get started, one stone and a 2X4 over a kitchen sink will do the trick. Once you find out if you are hooked or not you can explore other nifty items.

The key to successful knife sharpening is developing a technique that is repeatable and effective.
Don't practice on a 2 dollar knife, it will lead to frustration because of the inferior quality of the steel, so it will be hard to sharpen and you may set yourself up for failure, you'll lose confidence.

Start on a knife that you use and if you are worried about scratching it, tape the blade up.

The purpose of this post is not to provide an instruction on sharpening but to tell you not to feel the need to go spend a lot of money.  ALSO, I am quite sure that you can do it.

People spend a lot of money on gadgets for sharpening, believe me, with one stone you can get your knifes sharper than any gadget and NOT TO MENTION how satisfying the work is.
Every single time you sharpen your knife, you are rewarded with the satisfaction that you have done it yourself and then be prepared to get sucked in because it really does feel great.

If you can take a lesson from someone that is the best route but that is not always possible.

never hesitate to contact me if you have specific questions.

Thanks folks

Monday, 18 May 2015

Miscellaneous Sharpening

Every now and then, about once a month I go to a really cool little restaurant and sharpen for about 5 or 6 hours. It is a great little spot and folks in the area bring their knives and I pretty much sharpen steady the entire time.

I get to see some pretty nifty knives and I often end up taking them home to finish off.

It is a good workout for my water stones, this is pair of 220 coarse stones, the one on the right, WAS the same size as the Imanishi on the left but this is over period of 3 months, I don't wear these out in one day that's for sure. You can see the Naniwa on the right needs a little flattening which is pretty easy with these stones. That is the problem when I am so busy sharpening, it is easy to neglect the flattening, especially when people are waiting.

I am very often asked the same questions, or hear the same comments.

"My knives are probably not worth sharpening"

I always tell folks that they are or to let me see them at the very least,  and in most cases they are worth sharpening.  Now if it is 3 dollar paring knife that has gone through hell then no, I tell them just to buy a 6 dollar paring knife or a good one and keep it sharp.

The other thing that is common is Steel abuse, or Gadget abuse. We have all seen knives for sale and in the same place is a "sharpener" of some form, a wheel or triangle thingie and it is easy to see which knives have gone through them not just by the condition of the edge but by the marks on the blade.

However, I don't blame people, they are just trying to keep their knives sharp and fall victim to trying out the "worlds best sharpener, guaranteed to work"

I have said it before but I think that in the cases of men, most of us have had an urge at one point to sharpen knives but we didn't know how exactly, not at first anyway, most of us learned from mistakes. When I started there was not computers, no Blogs, no Jon Broida videos, so I was pretty much just going from what my dad taught me and undoubtedly repeating mistakes in technique.
Of course, making a mistake isn't life threatening in the world of sharpening (not in most cases anyway, unless you are using a grinder or something that can throw the knife ).  The important thing is that we had the urge and interest and in my case, that just continued and luckily, over time I met the  right folks and learned a technique that works for me.

The other common statement/question is concerning technique, when I sharpen in the restaurant, people can see me, it's right up front so a lot of people ask about technique, different patterns, and so on. "I thought you had to use figure 8"s" for example.

I tell people the technique can be different but it has to be something you can repeat over and over and over and be comfortable with. Also of course, you need to be abrading the metal, so the stone must be removing and refining as you work.  The key question is, "Is the knife sharper than when you started?"
Try to cut a tomato, if the tomato bends before the edge digs in than the knife can be made sharper so that it slices effortlessly. If you can make the knife slice instead of tearing that is awesome.

The knives in the two pictures here all belong to the same person, I will have a good time working on these. The one immediately above will be tricky though, how the hell am I going to get into that curve :)

Until next time.
Thanks so much for looking and reading.


Saturday, 9 May 2015

Video on knife edge maintenance

This is long and don't feel the requirement to watch the whole thing. However,  it is what it is, I needed to discuss certain aspects of knife edge maintenance and I found it difficult to shorten the narrative.

Remember, you have a lot of options in keeping your knives sharp, first and foremost is the act of getting it sharpened in the first place. You either do it  yourself or have someone do it professionally and not somewhere that uses a grinder of any type.
If you call a place and they tell you that they have very expensive

If you call a person and they tell you that they use Japanese Water Stones, pat yourself on the back for finding the individual, contain your excitement and then take your knives to that person.

Edge maintenance is part of cycle, your edge maintenance may just be having me sharpen your knives once every 2 months, thats fine.

I see a lot of knives that have been abused by a Steel, folks who stubbornly insist that all they need to do is use a Steel and that is just plain incorrect. You need to have the metal removed eventually, but anything you can do in the meantime, in between sharpening on stones may be of benefit.

I hope you enjoyed the video and if so, thank you for watching. If you didn't enjoy it and watched it, thanks for watching.

Hang in There

I have been working on my next video which will be on knife edge maintenance.
Instead of just putting something together quickly I have been talking to several chefs and folks in the know from different parts of the world. People that I have a lot of respect for and people who have taught me some new things about the subject.

I also need to write up the script which I have almost done so bear with me.  Another thing I did was get myself a good ceramic hone, I've owned several but ended up either selling them or giving them away so I went to my fav online Canadian knife place, Paul's Finest and ordered an Idahone ceramic hone. (Of course the other very cool Canadian spot to shop for knives and sharpening supplies and other very nifty items is Knifewear, great people there)

In the meantime, I have been busy, here is a well used Naniwa Chosera 400 grit stone beside the new one I just got from Paul's Finest. Now the one on the right is the Professional series so it was never as thick as the one on the left but still, you  can see it is well loved.

I spent a good part of the day yesterday at a beautiful restaurant called Le Caveau in the Valley, a fantastic location with a winery too.

So, thanks for hanging in there, I plan to have my video up sometime this week.

Peter Nowlan

Thursday, 30 April 2015

I'm Back

I just got home from an all inclusive in the Dominican Republic, literally just walked in the door 15 min ago and came right to my Blog.
Being at one of these resorts provides you with a lot of opportunities to just think, among other things but I really had a lot of time to think about my Blog and how I could improve it. I think folks enjoy videos a lot, regardless of the fact that they may not look professional and believe me, I'm working on that.

There was a professional Videographer there and he gave me some ideas about my videos, he was using his camera and mostly a GO PRO for the week.  However, he did tell me that an iPhone 6 does some great video as well and that is what I used the last time.

I really thought a lot about knife edge maintenance and how to shoot a video on that so that will be coming up soon.

Please have a little more patience as I get my next video put together.

Sharpening thought provoking fluid.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Knife Edge Maintenance

I am going to do another video on what I consider the best way to maintain your knife, there are a few and I'll go over them.

It's all fine and dandy to get your knives sharpened but how do we keep them sharp other than bringing them back once a month.?

I am sure most know this but you need to understand what is making the knife dull, this knowledge will help you appreciate what is required to rectify that and restore the edge.

The edge of a knife when sharpened or honed is a beautiful thing, the Apex, the edge of the edge, the sharp part is subjected to force, it's doing the work so that edge fails. Even though it may be composed of very hard steel, it can only take so much. If you are just cutting lettuce and being very careful that the edge doesn't impact the cutting board (that is not an easy thing to do), naturally the edge is not getting hit as hard as others. Most folks use the chef knife to cut everything and despite best efforts the edge is going to take a hit. It folds over, it crumbles so to speak and that is what makes it dull. Now it can happen slowly, little parts of the edge at a time but eventually, the entire edge is out of alignment. This is not an indication of abuse or anything, it is normal.

I have had very expensive knives in my hands that were just terribly dull so don't think you can avoid the problem by going out and buying a 500 dollar knife. In fact, that knife will probably get duller quicker because it will used more than others.

How do we fix it:

1. Have it resharpened, that fatigued metal has to go and it just takes a little while and the knife can me made razor sharp over and over and over.

2. Use a Hone like the ceramic hone in the picture, I prefer ceramic hones but a good steel hone will suffice and the Black MAC I have heard is an excellent Hone. When used properly as in the picture below it has the ability to push that fatigued metal back into place and thereby giving it some more life, more time before the metal has to be removed.

(My problem with this method is that it is only a short fix, that steel or ceramic is pushing fatigued metal back and forth. Now if is removing that fatigued metal that is good but still, it is not sharpening the knife, it is maintaining it. The issues arise when people continue this process for too long and stubbornly believe that they are sharpening the knife)

3. The best way to maintain a knife edge is on a water stone, a 1,000 - 5,000 grit stone, think of it as a  rectangular steel. This method takes a little skill but is easily done and effective as it removes that fatigued metal instead of just pushing it around.

This is the video I will work on and it is just a matter of using some light trailing strokes on a very frequent scale. Every day that could be done and I guarantee that edge will stay sharp longer than any other maintenance method.