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Sharpening, Step-by-Step

Is your knife sharp?


Magazine test - Slice a folded magazine page. A sharp blade will easily slice the paper, a dull blade will not.

Food test - The ultimate edge will grab onto the skin of a tomato or onion. If the blade slides off the edge (or pressure is required), it's dull.





If you are new to sharpening, all that you need is a hone and a stone to get started. You will need to lubricate the working surface of the stone with either water or oil, depending on the type of stone that you select



Honing 101


A hone is a regular maintenance tool to be used as often as you feel necessary. Its purpose is to align the blade's edge and increases efficiency. The trick is the right pressure and the right angle.

Pressure - Grab your knife by the handle and press the blade on a kitchen scale until you reach 4 - 6lbs of pressure.
Angle - Hold the blade against the hone and place a matchbook in between the hone and the blade (10 - 15 degree angle).



Honing, Step-by-Step


1) Anchor the tip of the hone on a cutting board.

2) Place the edge of the blade against the hone at a 10 - 15 degree angle.

3) Put your finger at the heel of the blade, and press into the steel.

4) Keeping the angle, pull the blade down in an arching motion from heel to tip.

5) Repeat 4 - 8 times on each side of the blade, moving from moderate pressure (4 - 6lbs) to lighter pressure.

6) When finished, do the magazine test or onion test to check your work.



Sharpening Stones


When the hone no longer brings the edge back to the level of sharpness you desire, it is time to use a stone to make a new edge.

Start with a lower grit stone (removes material and makes a bur or wire edge). Then move to a higher grit stone to polish.
The trick is maintaining a consistent angle and keeping even pressure across the blade (see guides for honing above).



Stoning the Blade


Use the same 10 - 15 degree angle as with the hone.

If you're right handed, hold the handle in your right hand and spread your left fingers across the blade for even pressure.

Keeping that angle, move the blade straight back and forth or make an arcing motion across the stone (pull the knife towards you, heel to tip, making a swooping motion on the stone).

Start with about 4 - 6lbs and end with about 2 - 3lbs of even pressure across the blade.

Flip the blade and repeat on the other side.

When you can feel the wire edge, it's time to move to a finer grit stone to polish.



Polishing the Blade


With a finer grit stone, repeat as above, lightening pressure as you go.

When you're finished, wipe the metal residue off of your blade, rinse and dry the stone.



Stropping for the Final Touch


Strops are set up in two stages to remove any remaining burr or wire edge and to give a very fine high polish to the blade's edge. There is a “rough” side and a “smooth” side to the leather strop.

The following description is a general suggestion for achieving a high polished edge but you may want to experiment once you become comfortable with how strops work.


Important Tips


Go slow and easy with light pressure. Stropping does not require a lot of pressure.
ALWAYS move the knife in a 'backwards motion' on the strop. Do NOT push the edge into the leather.
Use the same 10 - 15 degree angle and approx. 4 - 6lbs of pressure.



Stropping, Step-by-Step


Rub a green chromium oxide block over the 'rough' leather strop.

NOTE: If your chromium oxide came in a spray vial, make sure to shake it well before spraying most of the surface of the 'rough' leather.

Remember to drag the knife BACKWARDS on the strop.

On the 'rough' leather, strop your blade 5 - 10 times on each side.

Now switch out the rough strop with the smooth strop.

It is not important to use the green abrasive with the smooth strop. Simply strop the knife again BACKWARDS 5 - 10 strokes per side.

You should now have a highly polished edge.


Article courtesy of Bob Kramer of kramerknives.com

"Bob Kramer's custom made kitchen knives are as beautiful as they are functional. One of only 120 ABS Master Bladesmiths in the United States, Bob is a true craftsman and visionary whose knives are coveted by discerning chefs the world over. To check out his website and view images of his masterful creations, select www.kramer knives.com in the "Links" section of this website."X

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