Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Serrated Knives Video

In this video I show MY method of sharpening a serrated knives. There are several others and you can make them as simple or as hard as you like.
I didn't invent this video, I just learned the technique from watching other sources and then putting them together. I have tried several methods but this is my favourite.

If you don't have the gear I am using, try being inventive and make it simple, all you need to do is remove that fatigued metal from the serrated side and ensure the flat side is clean of any debris. A Steel may do the trick, be gentle and use just enough pressure to get the job done.

As I said, I didn't create this method and I have fiddled with it over the years. I have used micro abrasive wrapped around dowels to do this. You can try that as well if you like.


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Grey Areas

For the sharpeners out there I am sure you will agree that everything about sharpening is not exactly black and white, not for me.

I think it is important to talk about what I consider topics that for some folks may be confusing or just need some clarification. Now.....who the hell am I to clarify foggy subjects you ask. Well, that is a good question but think of it this way, I am probably older than most of you, so I have been confused a lot long than you and started asking questions many years ago. :)

The purpose of this post is to identify some grey areas. I am considering making videos on each one and I have decided not to go purchase a video camera just yet, I will make due with my LG G2 for now.

Here we go:

Again, these are topics that I found a little confusing, feel free to ignore them if you like.

- Do we need to form a burr with each stone and in fact do we actually need to form a burr. What is a burr?

- What is the purpose, do we need nifty leather strops and what about all these compounds out there and sprays and such?

- Is it important to place a target on a specific angle for a knife, or is 15-20 degrees for example okay?

Japanese hand made knives
- Do we really need one to experience sharpness and hardness in all it's glory, don't they get just as dull just as fast give or take a week, they rust, they chip, what is the fuss.

Is this knife not just as good?
This is a hard knife, 66 and it is spectacular in terms of edge retention and the edge itself is absolutely fantastic when sharpened.  Plus it has a nice handle, much nicer than most of the handles I see on Japanese knives.

The Henckels Twin Cermax
When I finally gave in to my obsession and need to accumulate stones, I was overwhelmed by the amount of brands and that has grown. I have tried a lot so I will give you my opinion on what works.
I have yet to have a lot of experience with Natural Stones and I am in no rush but when I do get one or two, I will certainly talk about them. (Out of every 100 knives I sharpen, 5 are Japanese and I just don't think the natural stones would make much of a difference on the knives I do sharpen every day)

I have changed the way I sharpen about three times and I am now extremely comfortable and confident with my method which is very common, nothing weird, in fact it is quite traditional.

This is an area I am very comfortable talking about, I don't have the Wicked Edge Precision Sharpener, I am very confident that it is excellent but I am not qualified to discuss it's merits. However, I'm pretty sure it is an awesome system, like the Edge Pro so I will talk about the differences between a guided system and my little old hands doing all the work freely.

There are probably more topics I can add here and again, I think I will make a video on them all.

I'm busy with sharpening right now but I will get to that, I love talking about sharpening and as long as folks remember that everything I discuss is just my opinion not the only way to sharpen.

I have not forgotten to do a video on Serrated knife sharpening, that will be soon.

As you know I like to finish with something unrelated. Here are some folders I just did.

Thank you

The gentle coarse stone.

Hi fellow sharpeners,

If you have followed by Blog you will notice that I have a very strong opinion regarding the importance of coarse water stones.

Now.....if you sharpen only a few knives, i.e. your own knives which is pretty much what most people do and add in a friends knife here and there than the coarse stone can be put aside. In theory, once you have your knife sharp you can keep it sharp with  the 1,000 to 3,000 grit stone.

However...what if you let it get a little dull or you need to do a little thinning or you have noticed a tiny little chip in the edge and you want to reset the bevels, you want to try something different?

I can't imagine not owning a 400 grit water stone but then again, I sharpen every single day for 4-6 hours a day so having one is imperative.  Now what if you don't need something that coarse but you do want something to speed the sharpening process up.

Here you go, I have the perfect stone for you, in addition to your 1k and up stone.

Naniwa Professional 600

I got this stone from my favourite on line store in Canada, Paul's Finest.  This is a fantastic water stone, not coarse enough to punish you if you add a little too much pressure but it measures up to the task of removing the metal you need to remove, the debris that is making your knife dull in the first place. The feedback on this one is awesome, it does not feel like a coarse stone at all, and in fact I suppose it is in the upper end of the coarse stone range.

Now I am trying something different with my dull knives, you won't need to do this if you are just touching up your semi dull knives:

I start with the Naniwa 220 stone to get the ball rolling, reset the bevels, repair and little nicks and make the knife sharp. Then I move to the 400 and sharpen with reduced pressure and I follow that up with the 600. This process is quick but it builds what I will call a very stone foundation edge, one that  is nice and strong and sharp and easily ready for a 2k stone to finish the process.

As I have told you before, I always use my stones in a pattern, a three stage pattern with each phase being different only by the variances in pressure.

Again, Phase one.....lots of pressure to produce burr.
Phase two - medium pressure to start removing burr and work on coarse stone refinement
Phase three - no pressure, concentrating here on cleaning the edge debris, burr removal.

This is what I do with the first coarse stone and the only difference that I make with every other stone is that I don't start with lots of pressure, it isn't necessary..

A clean edge is key and I perform this task by stropping on my 13k Stone with weight of the blade pressure only and doing this 6-10 times. Now I do this with every stone but you can just do it with the last stone, as long as the edge is clean, i.e. burr has vanished. That makes sense I hope, what is the sense of doing all the work to sharpen the knife if there is any burr remaining?
Clean it and it isn't that hard to do.

To summarise, most folks don't really need a stone as coarse as 220 or even 400 but it sure doesn't hurt to have one in the 600-800 range.

Also.......don't forget a stone flattener, the Atoma 140 is the best I have ever used.

Take care

Monday, 9 March 2015

Shaptons Pond of Sharpness

Hi there,

Sharpening knives is messy, I use a lot of water and it isn't exactly clean water, not the gritty water that is produced from the process of sharpening. Although the Shapton Pond is  expensive
($300 Cdn) I finally pulled the trigger and ordered it. It has solved my messy water issues, it's an extremely sturdy platform and holds a large volume of water.
The stone holder which in this case is also made by Shapton doesn't move around much at all, sometimes on a coarse stone it will slip a little but that's only if I am pushing hard and in fact, it is good indication (when the stone holder does move that is) that I am using too much pressure and I ease off a little.

The large stone in the picture is the Imanishi 220, I already have the Naniwa 220 and it was interesting comparing the two. After several knives on both there is clear winner. The Naniwa is superior stone in many ways.

The Imanishi has good points, the Burr formation is rapid as it is on the Naniwa and it excels at repairs and bevel resetting but the water management is an issue for me. The stone is like a filter and the water just pours through it almost as fast as you can put it on. It remains on the surface of the Naniwa for quite a bit longer and for that reason is much easier to use.
In fact, I put the Imanishi up for sale, I can't see myself using it. Now if I didn't have the Naniwa I would keep it for sure, it really does the job well.

Speaking of sharpness:

I am frequently surprised by people who give me some knives but hold a few back because in their mind it is sharp enough, or "it is only a year old so this one doesn't need to be sharpened"

I don't think this is a matter of them not wanting to pay to have it sharpened, I think it is a case of folks just not really knowing what a truly sharp knife is like. I can remember when I first started sharpening professionally how startled I was at times by the edges on knives that I had just done on the Edge Pro, then later on I was able to create similar edges by freehand sharpening.

A lot of people, most in fact have never experienced that level of sharpness and I know you all know what I mean. For those of you who sharpen you know that the edge attainable is quite something and while there are many different levels of sharpness, you can get to a level well beyond the factory edge on just one stone.  

For those waiting for some new videos, I have decided to wait until I get an actually video camera which shouldn't be too long. I have been looking around and now that I have done some research I am completely convinced that the video quality will be much improved and that is important to me.

I've seen a lot of sub par videos and it turns me off, despite the quality of the sharpening. I am not saying that the video I made is award winning or anything but I know I can do better.

Please have patience


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Old knives Rock

I get to see some fantastic knives, they are shipped to me from various parts of Canada and I never know what to expect.

This is another very old Henckels:

The owner said she had it for 50 years and she said she remembers it being old when she got it.
I sent pictures to Zwilling and they estimate that it is 80-100 years old.  Pretty cool, absolutely no damage to it and besides the handle showing some signs of it's age, it is a knife I would love to own.
 It was easy to sharpen, Naniwa Chosera 400, 1k, 2k and I finished off with an Imanishi 4k which does an amazing job polishing the bevels.'s sharp, the carbon steel as you know takes an awesome edge. I can't wait for the owner to see it.


Saturday, 28 February 2015



What is up with all the damaged knives I have been receiving, and all of them Japanese?

Except for the ones below and these are the exception.  Seven of the hand made Japanese knives I get to sharpen are damaged, they have nicks in the edges and some as bad as these ones.

I know it must be very frustrating for people who finally pull the trigger and buy themselves one of those fancy hand made knives that everyone says are the best.

I am often asked if I could sell Japanese knives, like Masakage, Takeda, Misono. Well to be honest, I am glad that I don't, it would be pretty stressful handing one of those over to a customer only to have it returned the next day with a chip out of it. This is after me telling the person how good it is.

It would only take a few of these incidents to start impacting my sharpening business and it would be freaking stressful to deal with.  Yes, I could tell people what to avoid, what to expect but it still happens.

I have 3 damaged knives inbound from Ontario all with damage and in my experience, it is not always neglect, not something stupid the owner did. In the pictures here, it is neglect, you can tell that they used the knife for something it was not designed for, like cracking lobsters open.

Everything can be fixed, that is not the issue, the problem is that we/they are telling people that Japanese hand made knives are the best in the world but I have seen thousands of European knives and Grohmanns come in without any damage at all.  Of course the steel is softer and has more flex, it is more forgiving. I think that is the key, you screw up with a knife with that measures 64 on the Rockwell hardness scale and you're going to pay for it.

On the other hand, that knife can take an astonishing edge and slice like a dream and some folks never have an issue.

Nothing wrong with this one, I just put it here :)
The picture above is a 20 year old Henckels that had never been sharpened beyond the factory edge.

ON another topic and the picture above reminded me of it.

I am sure you have heard that a knife with a edge that is highly polished like the one above will not slice a tomato well, it is so fine that the edge will run over the tomato and not bite in because it has no "teeth"

This is true in many cases but not always, IF the knife is sharpened so well that the two planes meet perfectly at the apex, i.e. with a lot of precision, the knife will bite regardless of the final stone used.
I've proven this many times, and there are times when I am a little off and I do have to apply some pressure but other times, especially with those Japanese knives (before they break that is :) ).

I personally like a polished edge but we can achieve that now with stones in the 2k range, quite easily so we have the best of both worlds.

To sum up:
Am I trying to say not to buy a hand made Japanese knife from a place like Knifewear or Chef Knives to go or Paul's Finest?

HELL NO. They really are quite something to use, the edge is pretty cool and if you just know that it can't take any twisting while stuck in food, think of it as a little fragile but don't be scared of it. It is a knife, the blade smith made it to be used, not to be treated like glass. 

What a freakin life eh.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Repairs with Coarse Stones

I am not exaggerating when I say that for every 10 knives I get, 3 of them have significant damage. However, this is only applicable to hand made Japanese knives and some brands such as Shun.

I very rarely receive any Henckels, Wusthof or Grohman, or similar brands of knives with any damage to the edges. Broken tips caused by a mistake but not chipping.

The first picture doesn't highlight the nicks in the edge very well but believe me they were present. It must be disappointing for folks who purchase expensive knives like this only to have them damaged. I don't know if it is neglect on the owners part or an issue with the steel, the heat treatment and I suppose that in many cases it is both. 

The good news is that with the right water stone, this stuff is easy to fix and I used a 220 for these knives. The average time is 15 minutes to remove the nicks but sometimes it is 45 min as in the case of the really bad Shun below.  
I doubt you will need to worry about this too much but if you do get a nick, get the coarsest stone you can and just "sharpen" it at about 45 deg, you want to remove the metal all along the edge evenly until you have reached the "bottom of the hole" so to speak, as far up into the blade as necessary. This of course will remove the edge but that's okay, it is a simple sharpening after that.

This is one aspect of sharpening where a little courage is needed but trust me, it is very rewarding work. I have seen videos of repairs being done at 90 degrees, but I like to work at 45 or even 55 deg, and raise a burr over and over until the damage is repaired.

I will do a video on it.