Friday, 23 January 2015

The ONE Japanese Water Stone to purchase.


Many people I believe are very interested in learning how to sharpen a knife. It is something most men attempt at one point in their life, something draws people to the act of taking a dull knife to a stone or some device in an attempt to make it sharper.

In my experience, just about everyone I meet mentions a grandfather out in the garage with an oil stone sharpening knives and tools.  Let's face it, knives have been around since the caveman era, so it is only natural that the urge to make a knife sharp is there inside of us.

However, with so many gadgets on the market and a "Worlds Best Knife Sharpener" on sale at just about every spot you can buy a knife, people fall into a trap, they believe what they read and worse, what they are told by a salesperson and the cycle of frustration begins.

It is unfortunate that when a person buys a knife that the salesperson doesn't talk to them about a Sharpening plan, Paderno in Halifax will do this for you but it is something people need to do. I can't tell you how many people have gone out and purchased an expensive knife or set of expensive knives only to find them all dull in 2 months or less. That is normal, for them to dull but until they found me, they had no plan to get them sharp again.

So back to the topic, ONE stone. If you could only buy one water stone because you are not sure if this is something you can catch onto than I recommend a 1, 000 grit Japanese Water Stone.

Now another good route to take is a combination stone,  coarse on one side, like 400 and fine on the other like 1,000.  However, theoretically, once you have your knife sharp with that 1k stone, you should never need a coarse stone, (SHOULD) if you are just sharpening your own knives.

You can both learn to sharpen on a 1,000 grit stone and that one stone will make your knives just as sharp as new after you get the hang of it. The problem is that people will only sharpen their knife or knives once every few months so the chance of building a muscle memory is slim.

Let's say there are two types of people in this case:

1. People who just want to sharpen a knife, make it less dull but don't really get into the art of sharpening, just know enough to make it better.

2. People who not just want to sharpen their own knives but want to learn more because they are interested in the art of sharpening by hand.

For the first group, get a King 1,000 grit stone and watch some videos on sharpening, use an inexpensive knife and go for it, practise practise and see how it goes. (Now if these people are successful...they become part of Group 2 in many cases, remember there is something quite addictive and peaceful about knife sharpening on a water stone)

For the second group, do the same but make sure you set yourself up for success, do your homework, what a video, ask questions (ask me questions), concentrate, focus and do the job in a quiet area.  The same stone will do the trick but you need to manage your expectations. You don't need to make the knife razor sharp, you won't make it razor sharp at first, your goal is to establish a process that you can repeat and will build confidence and improve consistency. Once you get  your knife just a little bit sharper, the hook is in, you took the bait and then hang on, you are now on your own sharpening journey.  Now you start looking online at different stones and better stones.

Text, email me if you have any questions, I get my waterstones online at Paul's Finest here in Canada but Chef Knives to Go in the States has the ultimate collection of water stones with free shipping too.
Believe me, my dollar was better right now, I would be purchasing more from Mark at CKtG.

The most important thing is just to get started, watch some videos and see if this is something that you think you would like. Then, for 30 dollars you can get one stone and for 20 you can get a stone holder but you don't even need that at first.

Go for it, you will be glad you did.

Sunday, 18 January 2015


This is another video, this time a full sharpening of a beautiful Masakage.

Folks, I know my videos are imperfect, nothing like the Master video maker Jon Broida who I have the utmost respect for. However, I have over 13k people who have been kind enough to visit this Blog and that means a lot. If you can get over any video editing mistakes and concentrate on what I am trying to share than you may get something from it.
I always enjoy watching videos myself and I don't care how they look as long as the instructions make sense.

I think it is really cool that you watch my videos, I am very grateful.


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Coarse Stone - Video

Hi everyone, I hope you enjoy this little demonstration of me sharpening on a Naniwa Chosera 400.

I hope the video illustrates my technique which is basically to make full use of this stone and all stones actually. I do this by treating the stone as three different stones with the the differences coming as a result in adjustments to pressure.

Heavy Coarse - Moderate to heavy pressure
Medium Coarse - Light pressure
Light Coarse - No pressure, just weight of the blade. 
All on the one stone.

I do the same with higher grit stones but I start with less pressure. The first exposure of the knife I am sharpening to the coarse stone will always involve the most pressure, I am going for Burr here so it is me and the stone working together to remove the fatigued metal and get the knife sharp.

Thanks for watching, if you are here to pick the video apart, thanks for watching.
My goal is simply to share what I love to do with folks who may or may not get something from it.


Repairing a Chip Video

Hi there,  I was informed that my videos came up as Private.

I think I may have fixed that. so thanks to you Al for letting me know.

In this very long video, I hope to show you how I fix a chip in a blade, the stone is the Naniwa 220 and it excels at this. I am holding the blade at approx 40 to 45 Deg and using a fair amount of pressure. This action will pretty much remove the edge, it will end up very dull but it's necessary.

After the nick is gone, I simply sharpened it, starting with the same Stone.


Thursday, 8 January 2015

Carter Knife

I've gained a lot of respect for Mr. Murray Carter over the years, and until very recently I never actually got to sharpen one of his knives. Then in came an Executive Chef and proud owner of this amazing knife. I see thousands of knives a year and thus far, it is probably the best one I've seen yet. Meticulously crafted and it just felt fantastic. Sharpening it was easy, I kept it simple, like Murray does, 1k, 6k and I used my new Naniwa Chosera 10k but mostly as a strop.

I went and grabbed a tomato and asked the Chef to see how sharp it was, the knife literally fell through the tomato, it was exceptionally sharp, I think we pretty much sliced up that whole tomato because we were in awe of the knife.  Pretty cool experience.

Then I got something completely different, a Benchmade Tanto folder.
I used the EP Pro for this one at 23 degrees.

Since all my stock stones are worn I used a Latte 400 to start the work then onto a 1k Shapton Glass, 1.5K Shapton Pro, 2k Shapton Glass, 3k, 5K, 8K and finally a 10K Chosera.

I sharpen the tanto at the same angle by the way,

Onto a completely different subject, Steeling.

I have long since given up counting the knives I get that have been abused by folks who think a Steel sharpens a knife and  when the knife isn't getting any sharper, they just use more pressure, which as you know just compounds the issue and really does a number on the edge.

Now in this picture you can see the damage, although it is only cosmetic damage that slapping the steel against the blade, Gordon Ramsay style does. I just cannot see how that style of steeling is going to be of any benefit. I'm not a big fan of steeling anyway and if I did Steel it would be with a ceramic hone. However, as I have mentioned, I've talked to chefs about it often and they do see a benefit to it. However, there is nothing like a whetstone to keep your knife sharp.

Scratches caused by poor steeling habits.

By the way, do you know that Naniwa has change up there Chosera line up, they now sell what they call them Professional stones, they are a little smaller but I have used the new 400 on over 100 knives and I love it, fast working and slow dishing, I am very impressed.

More pictures to follow soon.

You folks are the best.


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Happy Knife Year

Hey folks, thanks for coming here to visit my Blog.

I want to talk a little about nicks and chips and broken tips and how I deal with them.

When I started my business in 2011, I never really considered how I would deal with broken knives, so when I did  consider it, I got some knives and broke  the tips off and I went in.

Now for tips, I will confess, for stuff like this I use my Belt Sander with the sharpening belts. It would take me too long to do this work on stones and I can do it much better on the belt. I can control the reshaping of the tip nicely. All the work is done from the Spine so you don't end up losing any extra length in the blade. It takes a lot of practice but is all doable on the stones too, I've done it lots of times.

Here is a little Global, sorry for the bad exposure in the Before shot.

Now chips are pretty easy too, I do those on the 220 grit stone by "sharpening" at a 45 deg angle, (Approx 45 that is), this process is very quick. It just takes a few sweeps edge trailing and a few edge leading and the nicks disappear as the edge is worn down to the same level as the "hole" in the edge. So I'm not sharpening here, just repairing, creating large burrs until the damage is gone.

You can do the same on the Edge Pro by raising the pivot arm so that the stone is hitting the very edge of the edge. 

If the nick is very deep, it takes longer of course but it works, then it is just a matter of sharpening the knife at the "sharpening angle" 

It is quite common for me to receive knives in this condition but I also find that once repaired, they don't seem to come back to me damaged, people are either being more careful or the repair and sharpening process strengthens the blade.

It just takes some courage to fix and I'm going to do a little video on it the next time I get a damaged knife.

 I undamaged them. 

 When I was learning to repair tips, I often had this hump to deal with, it is just a matter of grinding away at the spine, this knife had severe tip damage, I broke it off with pliers and played around with it until I got it right. All part of the learning process.

Most of you won't have to worry about this, you're careful with your knives.

I'll be back soon


Friday, 2 January 2015

BURR - Still some disagreement

Hi folks, Happy New Year.

Gees I am glad that holiday season is over, I think I put on 90 pounds from snacks and drinks.

 A couple of years ago I finally solved the Burr dilemma that plagued me for years, the question being, whether or not it was necessary to form a burr on every stone.

The answer is clear to me now from a logical point of view. "NO" not necessary after the first burr formation with the first stone, which is always the 220 or 400 stone for me.

The 220 Naniwa Lobster above is now my favourite 220 stone, I love large stones as well.

Folks who say that it is necessary to form a burr on every stone, do so because they believe that the burr is the only way to know the the edge of the edge is being hit with the stone.  It is not the only way but I also have to come to realize that if you do sharpen and raise a burr on every stone, that is quite fine, it's not doing a lot of extra metal removal and as I have always said, the key to sharpening is to develop a pattern that works for you. Something that is repeatable over and over and if it works for you, go for it.

My point is that the burr when formed is the fatigued metal that has been pushed over to the other side of the blade by the abrasive action of the stone.  So to me, it is not necessary to repeat this action, once you get rid of that old tired out metal, why would you need to create additional burrs. Once the fresh steel has been exposed once, than it is a matter of refinement.

NOW, what is just as important is burr removal with every stone, often, if I start with a 220 stone and go to another coarse stone like a 400, the burr will always form again, very quickly. However if I go to a 1k stone from a 220 or 400 the burr doesn't come that quickly.  

Do not worry about the formation of subsequent burrs, it just happens, my point is that you don't need to sharpen until you get a burr on very stone, that is not necessary but you do need to make sure the edge is very clean, no burr left when you are done.

I don't find it difficult to remove the burr, it is all about pressure, very light strokes will do the trick or even using the Murray Carter method of running the blade over a piece of wood with just weight of the  blade pressure. (I always feel like I am going to ruin the edge when I do that, so I don't do it very much at all)

BURR formation is critical, sharpening and neglecting this is like driving a Ferrari and keeping it in 3rd know how much of a drag that is, I hate keeping  my Ferrari in 3rd gear.

Hey did you see the article in the paper?

As long as the burr is formed at least once that is the important thing, if you like forming it on every stone so that you know you are hitting the edge, if that works for you than continue to do that.

I just know I am hitting the edge because my angle is consistent and I look at the edge often to make sure, I can see the scratch patterns and know if I am on track but remember, I'm old, I have had the opportunity to sharpen a lot of knives, thousands of them so my muscle memory is good.  You need to do what works for you and what builds confidence. 

Keep it simple, we often worry about silly little things that we read on forums and such, stick to the basics and you will find  the joy of sharpening just as meaningful as anyone who fusses over sprays and compounds and this and that.  

I keep thinking about those delightful old men in Japan who sharpen knives for 40 hours a week, what do you think they use?....I think they use 3 stones and water to get the job done. 

Here is to sharpening knives every day in 2015, so far for me,  I'm on track.