Knife Making :: Sharpening

This is tough to do right without a lot of practice. I have been frustrated many times in the past trying to get that final shaving edge by making one last stroke on the stone only to lose it all and have to start all over again.

I was determined to figure out a method for fool proof sharpening. It starts with the blade itself. As mentioned above if you take a close look at most knives you will find a very thick edge section. It is strong but very hard to sharpen. The ideal edge angle of fifteen to twenty degrees can only be obtained by removing a large amount of material. This is hard work takes time and is almost impossible to do with any precision.

A blade steel with good toughness can be ground relatively thin and still be durable. A thin tough edge is only half the solution. The other half is the sharpening stone. In my experience the best sharpening media is Silicon Carbide. Norton's name for this is Crystalon. This sharpening stone is available from them in different configurations with the Crystalon/India combination stone the most popular.

Silicon Carbide is the grey side of the stone and works best for initial edge forming. Silicon carbide is harder than the carbides found in the high performance tool steels referenced above so the stone cuts clean and leaves a nice aggressive edge.

Final second stage polishing for a surgical type edge can be done with the India side (reddish brown, water stones or with a Silicon Carbide dressed leather strop. I guarantee that the combination of the right blade geometry, superior steel, precise heat treating, and a good stone, will eliminate your sharpening frustrations.

See the SHARPENING heading on this website for a detailed tutorial on sharpening and for links to Norton, Lanky diamond plates and other recommended suppliers.